Friday, March 16, 2007

Capote Redux

I watched Infamous tonight, the movie that told almost the same exact story as Capote, though in a slightly different tone. To get us started, I direct you to this sharp, insightful review by Jeremy Fox.

Fox thought Capote was "outstanding," which is maybe the only place I disagree with him. I thought that movie was overly dour, too interested in its own grimness, especially given the real Capote's wit and practiced effervescence. I thought Infamous captured more of that, though Fox is right that, "We’re too convincingly told not to take (Capote) seriously, so that when we’re supposed to see him as a tragic figure, the pathos just isn’t there."

Still, Toby Jones (above) is ten times more naturally evocative of the writer's aura than Philip Seymour Hoffman. I thought Hoffman deserved the Oscar that year, but since then I've come to think that the effort of that performance was easier to respect than to love or even fully believe. Fox also writes (I know, I linked to the full review, so I should just let you read it) -- "(Infamous director Douglas McGrath's) understanding of Capote’s ability to win people’s confidence is perhaps richer than that shown in the earlier film, and this is an essential point about the man..."

Perhaps I put more weight on getting that one essential thing right than Fox does. And it's gotten right here partly because, more than Hoffman, who is talented in all kinds of ways, Jones has an easy and convincing charm. Like Fox, who rightfully criticizes Infamous for its staged "interviews" with certain characters and for its casting of Sandra Bullock as Harper Lee (ahem), I believe Capote was a tighter, better movie. But I don't think either one is perfect, and I think the perfect one would star Toby Jones.


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