This is the version of Truman Capote's development of "In Cold Blood" that I will OWN! Philip Seymour Hoffman was brilliant in his depiction of "Capote" and deserved his Academy Award, but you were always aware while watching it that you were seeing a great actor at the top of his game.

In "Infamous," Toby Jones IS Capote; he was born to play this role. He is of the same small stature, has the same body type, the same uniquely shaped head, similar facial features and, as he is also a voice actor (Gollum in the Harry Potter films), he has mastered the characteristic Capote voice and lisp. He has laboured (...smile...) long and hard in the vineyards of British theatre. You are never aware of him as an actor; he is absolutely the central focus of an involving movie featuring OTHER actors that you can be free to enjoy:
  • Sigourney Weaver ("Alien" and "Working Girl") is Babe Paley, one of Capote's gossipy Manhattan "Swans"
  • Juliet Stevenson ("Truly, Madly, Deeply" and "Bend it Like Beckham"), is Diana Vreeland, rapier wit intact
  • Peter Bogdanovich is Bennett Cerf, editor of "The New Yorker"
  • Jeff Daniels ("Blood Work" and "The Squid and the Whale"), is the Kansas sheriff beguiled by Capote's tales of Brando and Bogart
  • Sandra Bullock ("28 Days" and "Miss Congeniality"), is Nelle Harper Lee ("To Kill a Mockingbird") just before she wins the Pulitzer.
Daniel Craig ("L4YER CAKE" and "Munich") is beyond amazing in his role as Perry Smith, one of the murderers. A child of former rodeo riders who went to seed - alcoholism, abuse, poverty -- Smith wants to elevate himself, through his artistry (he paints and writes music) and his vocabulary (he reads a dictionary for self-improvement). With his hair and eyebrows dyed a very dark brown, Craig resembles a younger Tommy Lee Jones. His British accent is completely gone and he speaks a slight "Country." He is angry, bewildered, scared and ultimately taken in by Capote, who regales him tales of his exploits with movie stars, travels and other books, which he loans to Smith.

Sandra Bullock deserves special mention for her willingness to totally occupy the unglamorous persona of Harper Lee, this includes unflattering clothing, flat shoes (and anklets!), chain smoking, awkward physical stances and a shared childhood, warts and all, with Capote. Their discussions of reality-based novels are interesting and insightful -- this is a GREAT script! Harper Lee is a non-threatening presence in Kansas, unlike Capote's flamboyant firefly. As a result, the people there talk to her, while Capote quietly stands nearby and uses his photographic memory to capture the conversations. When they repair to their hotel, between them they can reproduce the entire interview, which they then commit to paper.

This script has humor, gossip and lots of well-known faces (Hope Davis, Gwyneth Paltrow and Isabella Rossellini, among others). When the movie was over, three of us (strangers, all) stopped outside the theatre and discussed the film. We were so enthused we couldn't contain ourselves. One of the men hadn't seen "Capote" but the other guy actually lived in that Kansas town! He was a youngster at the time, so the whole drama passed him by, and he was in the Peace Corps when "In Cold Blood" came out. Now he has seen all three movies and said "Infamous" absolutely nailed it...the town, the people and the mentality. The others only tried...

Juliet Stevenson, Toby Jones and Daniel Craig are, all three, British. There is never a hint of accent! I am, once again, reminded of how well-trained British actors can be! Craig has played cold-blooded criminals and killers, but they were always well-educated and slick. This time, his Perry Smith is heartbreaking. He will make an outstanding James Bond!

Can you tell I liked it?


Sergeant York

In watching "Sergeant York" I was reminded that the ugly reaction of the isolationists in the early 1940s forced the studio to pull it after only a week or two in theatres because it was "jingoistic and war-mongering." After Pearl Harbor, it was released again when patriotism and the rationale for taking up arms had become acceptable. Make no mistake, it is an excellent film, nominated for 11 Academy Awards!

If you rent it, please, please watch the extras. Gary Cooper and Alvin York were BOTH isolationists, York, before WWI, and Cooper, when approached to play him in a movie, before WWII. The studio courted York long and hard, writing and rewriting the script, over and over to suit York's religious and political views. Of course, after struggling with the contradiction between those views, York had gone on to become the most acclaimed soldier in WWI, capturing 132 German soldiers!

Cooper was hesitant to play a living person and was isolationistic to the bone. He visited York, that in itself not an easy task, as York lived far off the beaten path. York and Cooper developed a friendship which endured.

York never changed his religious views, refused to capitalize on his fame, remained in his modest home all of his life and loved the hometown girl he married all those years before. His is a story worth telling and you will appreciate it.

The Departed

Martin Scorsese loves violent movies and he makes them a LOT! This time he has Matt Damon -- doing a terrific job as a Mob "mole" placed in the Boston PD; and Leonardo DiCaprio -- doing an even better job in a sympathetic role as a Boston PD "mole" placed in the Mob; and Jack Nicholson -- who has become an ugly, ugly parody of himself as a brutal and nutso Irish "capo"; and Martin Sheen -- being a corrupt police official; and Mark Walberg -- who will never be Marky Mark again. He's all grown up and doing fine work. In fact, his character is actually semi-sympathetic and the only one who doesn't get "popped."

Suffice it to say, Boston looks gritty and dangerous, the police force is shown to be corrupt to the core, and everyone dies. This is the remake of the Japanese film whose name escapes me right now. I'm sure you haven't seen IT, either!

Nuff said? Yuck! But beautifully shot and acted.

Whew! I just saved you the price of a ticket. My companion was shocked that everyone died but it said so in the newspaper! She just hadn't read the article.