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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Two surprisingly enjoyable films!

The past two days I’ve watched two films that I enjoyed more than I expected to.

The first was Douglas McGrath’s "Infamous." I’ve read Capote’s "In Cold Blood" which is an amazing true crime novel (oxymoronic as that is) and enjoyed Phillip Seymour Hoffman in his Oscar winning role as Truman in 2005’s "Capote" so I didn’t really expect to like "Infamous" that much cause hell, didn’t we just see this movie??? But Toby Jones’ performance as Truman Capote was a revelation! For me he reduced Hoffman’s performance to mediocrity at best. Toby was all flamboyancy, cattiness, and wit. This time around we got to see much more of Capote’s needling influence within his high society friends which enriched the character greatly. His Capote was so ridiculous that at first you didn’t think he’d ever be able win over the town folk of Holcomb let alone the killers, but little by little he does it and wins over the audience in the process. Plus, Toby is a tiny little man, like the real Capote was which helped the believability. I know they had tried to downplay Hoffman’s size and make him seem small, but it never really worked – which I didn’t fully realize until watching "Infamous." I will give the 2005 film one advantage over this new film and that’s Catharine Keener as Nelle Harper Lee. Keener is, of course, brilliant in everything she does. "Infamous" unfortunately had Sandra Bullock in the role and gawd she was awful. Even if she had been able to keep her Southern accent consistent, it still wouldn’t have been enough to make her performance believable. Toby swallowed her up. This, now that I think of it, is rather fitting, since Capote kind of swallowed up Lee in real life too. Daniel Craig was quite good too as the killer Perry Smith. "Infamous" played the Perry/Truman relationship up to sensational glory, taking it much further than "Capote" did, but it worked. Craig really pulled the tragedy and menace of the character off. Overall I felt that "Infamous" far outshone "Capote" in revealing what kind of man, lover, friend, liar, writer, bitchy little queen he really was – and with heart! HA!

Phillip and I finally watched David Fincher’s "Zodiac." We’d had it out from Netflix for a few weeks now, but neither one of us had been in the mood to watch a two hour, forty minute long movie about a serial killer whose case to this day is unresolved. We finally popped it in last night and wowza – we were pleasantly surprised! First off the cinematography and art direction were incredible. I really hope Oscar voters remember it when the time comes. The little period details from hairstyles to music to being free to smoke at work and on airplanes to the cars people drove – it was really well done. And some of the shots were fantastic, like the overhead shot that turned the corner sharply along with the cab, and the time lapse of the construction of San Francisco’s famous Transamerica Pyramid! The cast was also impeccable from the ever brilliant Brian Cox and Robert Downey Jr., the sorely underused Elias Koteas, the perfect Boy Scout Jake Gyllenhaal, and the continual impressiveness of Mark Ruffalo there would pop up in scene after scene someone else I was thrilled to see: Anthony Edwards! Dermot Mulroney! Chloe Sevigny! Donal Logue! James LeGros! Clea Duvall! For a movie about an unsolved crime the plotting still felt like we were continually trying to get somewhere and that we eventually would. There was still drama and tension and mystery and surprise. It was a great puzzle of a movie, slowly pieces would fit in one place and then you’d realize, wait, that doesn’t actually fit there, and you’d have to move it. For a movie with a really dark storyline it was actually a lot of fun!

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