Our movie maven Susan Bower set up a terrific movie discussion theme (Zoom, Sept 8) with ten Bearbrass movie fans evaluating two films Capote and Infamous that came out in the same year 2006 about the same subject – how novelist Truman Capote came  to write his epochal fact/fiction work In Cold Blood. The novel in turn was about two drifters who brutally murdered a Kansas farming family in 1959. Truman Capote, an effeminate exhibitionist but a great writer, seized on the tale and spent years relating to murderer Perry Smith in Smith’s condemned-man’s cell. The conflict of interest between Capote as novelist/fact-fiction writer and Capote as a genuine friend, lover ? and confidante of the murderer made for two subtle and engrossing films.
Our group was split on everything including which was the best film and why, and whether Seymour Hoffman did a better job in the lead role in Capote, than Toby Jones in Infamous. The actors playing the murderer Perry were also dissected as plausible or over-acting their part. Was he too gentrified and empathetic in Capote, and was his true nature more as his sister described him in Infamous, as willing to kill anyone if he was in the mood?
The character Truman Capote was also anatomised by our group. “Nasty and narcissisistic” was the consensus. Susan helped us acknowledge the directorial techniques including, in Infamous, the start in glowing colors and gradual diminution of tones to dark shades as the murderers’ execution neared.
Neil B. remarked that Capote’s work In Cold Blood was on the syllabus when he was in Canadian education realms and he had thoroughly endorsed the decision.
Whatever, the film Capote cost $US7m and grossed $US50m, but Infamous cost $US13m and grossed only $US2.5m, Susan noted. Moral: don’t be second to hit the audience, especially if your rival has the most recognisable title (“Capote”). (Susan’s take: “Neil who pointed out that the possible reason Capote was the more successful film because well, the title gave the subject matter away. There’s only one Capote and several Infamous people. Wish I’d have said it though.”)
Pics Below: Left to right - the real Truman Capote, Toby Jones' version (Infamous); Seymour Hoffman version (Capote).
The vexed remaining after our chat was “What the hell was Gwyneth Paltrow doing playing a torch singer in the opening of Infamous that seemed to have nothing to do with the plot?
Susan was congratulated on her great topic selection, her inspired carriage of the discussion and her expert insights into the films.
(Linda R. missed the group portrait above by a whisker). IF this story libels anyone present, we recommend lawyer Zarah Garde-Wilson who has good connections.