Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Capote vs. Infamous

I've recently had the privilege of watching both Capote and Infamous back to back. Both movies were lovely in their own right, with each having outstanding points. I found that what Capote lacked, Infamous made up for… and vice versa.

Hopefully I can assume that the reader has seen either or both movies, or at least has an idea about the Clutter family killings in rural Kansas in the late 50's.

In Capote, Phillip Seymour Hoffman was channeling Capote or something, he had the mannerisms, the feeling and most importantly the voice down pat. After seeing this performance I was left wanting when I saw Toby Jones in the same role… it seemed like he just wanted to act like a stereotypical gay man… but Capote was much more. Jones had a funny, squeaky voice, but it fell short for me.

Perhaps I should say in advance that I really like Sandra Bullock before the next part… Sandra's portrayal of Nelle Harper Lee in Infamous was lovely and believable. I love hearing her slip into a southern accent… mmph.

Daniel Craig… yes, the new James Bond, played a deliciously dark Perry Smith in Infamous. To me this character was probably closer to reality than the one portrayed in Capote. Infamous was not afraid to discuss the fact that Capote and Perry had a very intense relationship, even extending into love. It also brought out a part I can vaguely remember from the book about Perry's explanation of why he killed the first person… it was in a homophobic moment in which he was trying to divert his accomplice Dick Hickock's attention away from raping the daughter and Dick suggested that Perry liked boys better and would prefer to rape the son. After this Perry slit the throat of the father in a rage.

Infamous also went a step further with some assumptions about why Truman was never able to write anything else… mainly that he was quite distraught for many reasons as the men were eventually hanged for the crime. Truman slipped into an alcoholic phase which he never came out of, and was never able to accomplish another work of any significance.

Infamous made another assertion which I've heard somewhere in the past, that the reason Nelle Harper Lee was never able to really publish anything after "To Kill a Mockingbird" is because Truman was a ghost writer for her. When he wasn't able to write, then she was similarly stricken. In Infamous, Harper's character hints at the intense pressure of the expectations an author feels after production of a book of such huge proportions. In the movie it was her answer to Truman's subsequent problems, but you could tell that the meaning was double.

Personally I wish that Philip Seymour Hoffman could have been in Infamous instead of Capote. The vehicle was better, and it would have made the whole thing more believable for me. When he won the Oscar for best actor I felt that Heath Ledger was robbed for Brokeback… but now that I've seen Hoffman's performance… I can completely understand the nomination and the award. Truthfully I've never enjoyed him in any other movie in which I've seen him. He was in "The Talented Mr. Ripley", and "Magnolia", "Patch Adams", and I think I remember him in "Cold Mountain" as well. He seems to always play the officious little prick… and I guess in a way he did the same with Capote… but in this case, it worked fantastically. I wonder if the man himself is as arrogant as he ends up playing in these movies.


Anonymous said...

I just watched Capote. I wrote a paper anout this book four years ago, my senior year of collage, and never understood the amount of courage, understanding, and intelligence that a person would need to hold to take on a project like this. This movie showed me a sort of understanding that is hard to find.

Lucio Etchamendi said...

I watched the other day on cable Capote ´cause when I saw the trailer Hoffman looks to me not the right choice for Capote. And I was right. On the other hand, Toby Jones for me is perfect, and the movie is far better than "Capote". Specially the interviews with other people. In both movies are minor mistakes regarding the book, but I guess, on behalf of the movies. Such as in Infamous they´re both in the same place, when the only time they shared jail was in death row. Other thing I noticed on Infamous is that they show Dick killing the women. In the first movie (on black and white) they do not show who kills the girls, as Perry afterwards assume the four killings (but is not listened).

le0pard13 said...

I think you gave these fine films a wonderful examination, SnB. BTW, I gave this review a shout-out today. Thanks for this.