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Starring Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock and Daniel Craig
Based on the book "Truman Capote" by George Plimpton
Written and Directed by Douglas McGrath

IN SHORT: for the art house. [Rated R for Language, Violence and Some Sexuality. 120 minutes]

There are two things that bear repeating before we get on with this: we don't compare to Source Material (meaning you shouldn't have to read the book or know the real life circumstances of a story to "get" the movie; nor do we fall into the "the other film was better" camp. No comparisons will be made to last year's Capote -- and we'll be damned if we can tell you where to find our earlier review, which seems to have vanished off of every PC we have and site we service.

All we'll say betwixt this film and that film is that this year's Truman Capote (played by Toby Jones) looks more like the real life guy than last year's (Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman) and while the timeframe and overall stories of the two individual films are about the same, the focus of each is a wee bit different. This year's model delves heavier into the social Capote, framing the recreation of the "In Cold Blood" material with fictionalized recollections by Capote's Park Avenue clique and social crowd. These include nights at the swanky New York nightclub El Morocco where chanteuse Kitty Dean (Gwyneth Paltrow) wows the black tie crowd and posh dinners at the home of close friend Babe Paley (Sigourney Weaver), wife of Bill, founder of CBS.

It's hard to recreate real life events of the recent past. The writer and/or director (one and the same in this case) has to decide how much (his) audience knows of the situations and move on from there. We'll only drop the other two New York names we recognize: publisher Bennett Cerf (Peter Bogdonavich) and writer Gore Vidal (Michael Panes). If no bells are rung by this point, this film will do you no good. McGrath assumes you know most of the names -- only the Paleys are defined -- before moving on with the story, in which Capote and lifelong friend (and "To Kill A Mockingbird" author) Nelle Harper Lee (Sandra Bullock) head for the midwest to examine -- the effect of a gruesome murder on the small town of Holcomb, Kansas.

Capote isn't exactly welcomed with open arms. The local detective on the case, Alvin Dewey (Jeff Daniels), doesn't care much for the press attention, let alone a flamboyant, effeminate New York writer and his wife -- given the time frame of 1959 through the mid 1960s, the homosexual lifestyle wasn't flouted, or so we've been told, and the "h" word itself wasn't much more than a word in a dictionary to most of local folk. Capote's homosexuality was well known to his home circle and the "commentary" as seen in the film includes his partner, whether Lee's presence was as a deliberate "beard" is not addressed. To all other appearances, she is his secretary. To the locals, she appears to be the missus, eventually dining in the local homes and never correcting them when she is addressed as "Mrs. Capote".

Capote and Lee, at first, are not exactly welcomed in Holcomb, not by the reg'lar folk and not by the eventually caught and convicted killers Perry Smith (Daniel Craig) and Dick Hickock (Lee Pace). Here comes the proverbial fork in the story -- suggesting that Capote develops a love interest in Mr. Smith. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't. It's kind of hard to get pulled in deeply to a story when it is quite beyond you. We've got gay friends. We've seen enough of 'em die, too but to say that that kind of love is the same as heterosexual love, just genetically mixed up, is a wee bit facile. On the positive side, the film isn't "explicit" in any way that should get in the way of anyone who wants to see it just for its film value. It isn't badly made. It just isn't of much interest to us.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Infamous, he would have paid . . .


If you prefer the usual art house fare, sup here.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.