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PCR # 342  (Vol. 7, No. 41)  This edition is for the week of October 9--15, 2006.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three and a half stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Infamous"  by Mike Smith
How Much Is That In Credits?...Buck....Also In Passing....No Wonder She Never Smiles....My Favorite Films, Part 41: "American Graffiti"  by Mike Smith
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Warner Independent     
Starring: Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow, Daniel Craig and Sigourney Weaver
Directed by: Douglas McGrath
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 50 mins

Here's a little Oscar trivia for you. In the history of film, only one character has earned two actors Academy Awards. Marlon Brando refused his Best Actor trophy when he was honored for playing Vito Corleone in "The Godfather." Two years later, Robert DeNiro accepted his award for Best Supporting Actor for playing the young Vito in "The Godfather Part II." I bring this up because last year Philip Seymour Hoffman won the Best Actor award for the title role in "Capote." What are the odds that a year later history could repeat itself with a nomination for Toby Jones, who equals, if not surpasses, Hoffman's performance as Truman Capote in "Infamous?"

Some history. In November 1959, Kansas farmer Herb Clutter, his wife, son and daughter are found brutally murdered in their home. News of the story reaches New York City and intrigues author Truman Capote. With long time friend and soon to be Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee (Bullock) along as his research assistant, Capote travels to the Midwest to study the case which would eventually become his best selling "non fiction" novel, "In Cold Blood." Using his celebrity to gain almost unfettered access to the convicted murderers, Capote may or may not have forged a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith (Craig). It is that assumed relationship that is studied in "Infamous."

With a wispy voice and effeminate personality, Capote was the classic fish out of water when he arrived in Kansas. In fact, his phone calls and questions are often replied to as "Yes, ma'am." However, once Capote begins telling stories of his adventures with Humphrey Bogart (he claims to have beaten Bogie in arm wrestling), he finds himself and Lee invited to dinner all around town. Once Dick Hickock, played with a great aw shucks attitude by Lee Pace, and Smith are captured, Capote begins his interviews, finding an almost eerie kinship with Perry Smith. In between his visits to Kansas, Capote returns often to the glamour of New York City, entertaining friends like Gore Vidal, Peggy Lee, Bennett Cerf and others with tales about the two murderers. However, like the true writer that he is, Capote tells the same story many different ways, using the one that gets the best reaction in his book. Throughout the years, between conviction and execution, Capote and Smith are granted a lot of alone time, which may or may not have led to an affair between the two.

Based on a novel by George Plimpton who, like Capote, was known as much for his talk show appearances and film cameos as for his books, "Infamous" gives us a look into the inner circle that gossip columnists covered and ordinary citizens envied. Director McGrath has cast his film perfectly. As Babe Paley, the wife of then CBS President Bill Paley, Sigourney Weaver is glamour personified. Gwyneth Paltrow is radiant as Peggy Lee while director Peter Bogdanovich adds a dry wit to Bennett Cerf. Sandra Bullock is perfect as Harper Lee, quietly balancing her own new found fame with her desire to help her friend. Craig gives an almost subtle performance as Smith. Knowing that he is going to die, but still eager to learn about life outside of prison, Craig again shows that he will have a fine career in between appearances as James Bond. But the star here is Jones. Last year, in my review of "Capote," I boldly declared that Philip Seymour Hoffman would win the Oscar. He did. I'm not going to make that same claim for Jones, if only because I know how fickle the academy can be. What? Another Capote? Not sure if we can do that. Instead I'll keep my fingers crossed that come nomination day Jones' name is called.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Infamous"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "Infamous" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2006, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.