by Tony Medley
How long is 118 minutes?
7,080 seconds and I counted every one of them. It’s hard to determine
who does the worst job of acting, but there’s a long list of candidates,
beginning with Toby Jones as Truman Capote. But he’s given a run for his
money by Sandra Bullock, who plays Harper Lee. She can’t hold a candle
to the job done by Catherine Keener last year in “Capote.” Bullock’s
southern accent is so feigned she looks like Joaquin Phoenix trying to
sing Johnny Cash. But she’s not alone. Wait until you see Sigourney
Weaver as Babe Paley as she looks at Truman with such concern in her
eyes. Just as you think nobody could be that bad, up pops Juliet
Stevenson as Diana Vreeland. Oy Vey!
And whoever thought that
Peter Bogdanovich would make a good Bennett Cerf needs to take another
look at Cerf. If you’re having a movie where the main draw is a David
Fry-Rich Little type impersonation of Truman Capote, you should try to
get an equally good impersonation of the others. Bogdanovich, who plays
Cerf as boring and bland, is monumentally miscast as the urbane Cerf.
Worse, this one has the same
benign take on the murders of the victimized Clutter family in Kansas,
just giving them a wink and a nod. We are not shown them as real people
living real lives; never shown their terror at being brutally murdered
for no reason in the middle of the night. No, their murders take up only
a few minutes in the middle of the film and one of their killers, Perry
Smith (Daniel Craig, the new James Bond, who appears to be so short he
might make Alan Ladd look like Kareem Abdul Jabbar) is viewed, oh, so
sympathetically. Gee, he really didn’t want to do it (cut the father’s
throat and blow the son’s head off with a shotgun). Contrasted with the
unsympathetic showing of those murders is the so touching treatment of
Smith’s execution. Apparently writer-director Douglas McGrath doesn’t
like the death penalty for monsters like Smith, but he doesn’t mind
their cold-blooded murders of innocent people.
To paraphrase Cassius, How
many times, in ages hence and accents yet unborn, are we going to have
to endure this same story. How many times have major motion pictures
been made of this deplorable tale? First was the movie version of “In
Cold Blood.” Then, last year, “Capote.” Now, this, which is almost an
identical copy of “Capote,” only with worse acting. I was hoping that
“Infamous” would tell the story of Truman either before “In Cold Blood,”
or after. After is a good story, how he betrayed all his glitterati
friends, like Paley and Vreeland, in his unfinished “Answered Prayers.”
That would be a good story. But, no, McGrath has chosen to tell exactly
the same story told in “Capote” last year. This one is based on a book
by George Plimpton, but it’s still the same story.
7,080 seconds, and every
second seemed like an hour.
September 14, 2006