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Infamous (1/10)

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