Talent, research, and dedication aren't always enough. Sometimes ya gotta pick your spots. If Infamous had come out a year and a half earlier it might well have earned many Oscar nominations. It is an excellent evocation of the six years author Truman Capote dedicated to the creation of his masterwork, In Cold Blood, and is anchored by a pluperfect performance by Toby Jones, who looks and sounds exactly like Capote. This is not an actor playing Capote. This is Capote come back to life to play himself.

Only one problem. Been there; done that. In September of 2005, just thirteen months before Infamous was released, another excellent film (Capote) came out, which covered the exact same story, within the exact same period of time, with a very similar spin, and with another acclaimed performance (by Philip Seymour Hoffman). The earlier film grossed about twenty million dollars, pretty solid numbers for a cerebral film about a flamboyantly gay writer and his relationship with a convicted mass murderer. The first film also won an Oscar for Philip Seymour Hoffman. It's reasonable to say that the first film exhausted the public demand for this tale, as well as the academy's quota of awards to be given to Truman Capote impersonators and films featuring them.

That's a shame, because Infamous is a film of comparable quality to Capote, and Toby's performance is (I'm about to commit a sacrilege here) as good or better than Hoffman's Oscar-winning turn.

The basic difference between the two films is that Infamous is the more visceral, Capote the more cerebral. The Infamous version of the story is not based on a formal biography, as the first one was, but rather on a series of gossipy interviews conducted by George Plimpton in his book, "Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career." The Hoffman version kept a great emotional distance in the interactions between its characters, and left much unsaid, often building a wall between itself and its audience, and living in the minds of its characters. Infamous lives in the passions of its characters. The quasi-sexual relationship between Capote and Perry Smith is right out in the open, whether historically accurate or not. Killer Perry Smith admits to being in love with the author, and Capote reciprocates to the extent that anyone can love a man who has slaughtered four people and will soon hang. They exchange a sexual kiss in the privacy of Smith's cell, and Smith publicly kisses Capote goodbye when he is led off to the gallows. In this latest version of the story, Capote is not merely manipulating the killer to create a better book, but is genuinely involved with his heart, and is distraught after Smith's hanging. His failure to intercede on behalf of the killers was not a matter of callousness, but powerlessness. It is the thesis of this screenplay that the emotional devastation of watching Smith hanged was what ultimately caused Capote's life to disintegrate and his career to founder after the publication of In Cold Blood. This version of Truman Capote is deeper and more capable of genuine emotion than the one Hoffman created in Capote. Hoffman's version of the character was brilliant, but possessed neither emotional depth nor a moral compass.

They are both good movies, but Capote is a film to admire from afar, while Infamous is more engaging and a better story (if perhaps not as likely to be true). Infamous has more gaiety in the New York social whirl, and more tension in the Smith/Capote encounters. It has higher highs and lower lows than the first film. It also has a brilliant supporting performance from Daniel Craig (the new 007), who brings intensity and intellectual strength to the role of Perry Smith. While the first film showed a cold and manipulative Capote pulling Smith's strings like a puppet-master, Infamous shows them as duelists, exchanging the position of advantage from time to time. Capote gets severely reprimanded by Smith when his efforts are obviously insincere and manipulative. This version of Perry Smith is every bit Capote's intellectual equal. Smith is even an incisive critic of Capote's earlier books, because the killer has to study the works intensely in order to determine whether Capote is the sort of man to whom he should trust his life story. While Truman still manages to manipulate Smith to some extent, he has to reach deep inside himself to do so, because Smith is not easily fooled by Capote's first superficial efforts. In doing that, Truman eventually lets down his guard and offers his real self. Although he is a man who never really loved, he comes as close as he ever did with Perry Smith. Only after sensing that does Smith soften and co-operate with the book.

I really am never comfortable in cobbling films into the vocabulary of "better" or "worse." Oh, of course I do it for fun now and again as we all do when he have a beer or two and somebody at the bar says, "Best sports film?" Who can resist that? But I'll start taking it seriously only when somebody can offer me a methodology that will allow me to evaluate whether Pulp Fiction is better or worse than Fantasia. And it's not just that I hate trying to rank disparate films. In the case of Capote and Infamous, the films are as similar as any two films can be, and I'm still not comfortable in listing them vertically. But I will say this without qualification: although I am open to the idea that Capote is a smarter film, and will acknowledge that it is certainly subtler, I like Infamous better. In fact, much better.


Uncredited hooker


The Quiet

This is an odd movie. At times it seems to aspire toward status as an Oscar-baiting drama about dysfunctional families, ala The Hours. At other times it borrows from Southern Gothic melodrama, like The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. At other times it plays out like a conventional Hollywood thriller. At still other times it flirts with the conventions of the lurid, youth-oriented exploitation thriller, in the manner of Wild Things. The trailer goes for something still different, and makes it seem like a horror film.

It's a little of each of those, and they don't always blend easily, so that it forms a cinematic cocktail with a consistency less like a smoothly blended martini than like a rusty nail. No matter how hard you try to blend in that drambuie, it always leaves that weird oil slick floating on the surface.

The film begins with a dark-haired cheerleader telling her blonde friend what a great family she has: successful mom, handsome dad, beautiful home. This conversation will soon reveal itself to have been darkly ironic. The blonde's household is about as dysfunctional as possible. Her mom is a pill-popping space cadet and her dad is fucking her. The already volatile situation is brought to the boiling point by the family's adoption of their godchild, a deaf teenage girl who has suddenly found herself orphaned. While the cheerleader is one of the most popular kids in school, her new step-sister is a freakish outsider who is even rejected by the losers, and sits completely alone at lunch.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter portion of the film soon takes over, as all of the family members start to confide their innermost secrets to the deaf-mute. It is just a way of getting things off their chests without actually betraying any secrets because, well, she can't hear what they're saying anyway. Various people at school do the same thing, including a sincere guy who courts the deaf girl in earnest, and confesses all his innermost secrets with his back to her.

The next phase of the film turns is the Oscar-baiting portion, in which the incestuous father confesses how he hates himself and wants to quit the abuse, and the cheerleader daughter informs him she is pregnant, and so forth. We then find out that the mother really knows what's going on, but withdraws into her own drug-addled state and ignores the situation.

I suppose by now you have guessed that the deaf girl is not really deaf, and has quickly learned the secrets of the family, the school, and probably the Chinese Navy for all I know, since everybody has conversations around her as if she were not there at all.

The daughter decides that she doesn't want to sleep with dad any more. Dad gets upset at her. At this point the film becomes a thriller, with all of the major characters locked in a tense situation which will soon come to a head.

The critics blasted it, with both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes showing scores in the twenties, and only 12% of the critical "cream of the crop" gave it positive reviews. Like most critics, I found it too dark and serious to be erotic fun, and too sleazy to be taken seriously. Younger audiences had no such problems. The film is rated a most respectable 6.6 at IMDb, with a wide disparity between the perceptions of younger and older audiences. Females under 18, for example, rate it a spectacular 9.0, and their male counterparts are not so far behind that with a 7.7, but females over 45 rate it a mere 4.6, and the top 1000 voters score it a wishy-washy 5.7, Even that score seems high for a film with a 12% rating by RT's "cream of the crop," so it's obvious that this is just one of those movies which audiences like much more than critics do.


Edie Falco



Just in passing, there is no flesh of any kind in the "unrated" School for Scoundrels.


* Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

* White asterisk: expanded format.

* Blue asterisk: not mine.

No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.







Crooked Hearts

Crooked Hearts (1991) was pretty thoroughly trashed by Scoopy when it was first released. I would love to present an opposing viewpoint, but felt the same way. It started with an interesting cast and seemed promising, and then we had a steady string of tragedies that robbed me of any interest in the film. Tom (Pete Berg) drops out of school at Berkeley and returns to his family. We learn that failure is a tradition with them. He has returned because his girlfriend managed to get pregnant and married. He is not the only one that can't stay away from home, as his much older brother Charley (Vincent D'Onofrio still lives at home and seems to have no ambition beyond getting laid occasionally. His younger brother Ask (Noah Wyle) seems to be the heart and conscience of the family, little sister Cassie (Juliette Lewis) is disturbed enough to have a sleep disorder, and dad (Peter Coyote) and mom (Cindy Pickett) at first seem normal.

Then the chain of tragedy starts, as do the spoilers

1) Tom discovers that brother Charley made his girlfriend pregnant.

2) Charley decides to burn down the family house.

3) Charley leaves dad's personal love letters from his mistress for Tom and Ask to find. It seems dad did the nasty with the girl Charlie was sweet on.

4) Charlie burns down the family home.

5) Tom and Ask decide to burn the letters. The wind blows them into the road. Ask is run down and killed while trying to retrieve them.

End Spoilers

IMDb readers say 5.7. The film is supposedly based on a first novel from a Texas English teacher. Oddly, all 10 who commented at IMDb seemed to love this film. Perhaps the following excerpt from a comment explains. "This is the sort of dark little film which is original and wonderfully written but too subdued and depressing to ever gain wider acceptance. The tale of a family's descent into mutual distrust and self pity is not something most people would be willing to watch, regardless of the work."

This is a C or C-, obviously good enough to entertain some genre fans.



Tom does manage to find another girl, Jennifer Jason Leigh, who shows breasts.



 Charlie's date, Sasha Moisewitsch, also shows a breast.









Strip Search

Maggie Gyllenhall is like an Everyready battery, always ready to get naked for the Camera. Here's Maggie in all her full-frontal glory in Strip Search.






Red Riding Hood

Whoa, baby, don't show this one to your kids. This stylish but gory 2003 horror/thriller from Italy (English soundtrack) is nothing like the title might suggest, but it's good Dario Argento-style horror, very well done.

Jenny is a 12-year-old who winds up with her grandmother in Rome when her mother abandons her. Lonely and despairing, Jenny's only friend is George, who has a disturbing habit of going around in a wolf mask and cape. Together, Jenny and George unleash a murder spree on Rome, as Jenny seeks to right perceived wrongs. If Jenny sees someone doing something she dislikes, that person could well wind up dead. Thieves, bigamists, even people who simply are rude to her, become targets.

Enhanced by a soundtrack that sounds like it came from a Broadway musical, this is a first-rate horror flick.


Antonella Salvucci







Notes and collages

The Ladies of Sci-fi/Fantasy

The Faculty and Disturbing Behavior

..these two films hit the theatre at about the same time...between the two I would pick "The Faculty" as the better piece of work. "Disturbing Behaviour" leans towards the original "The Stepford Wives" while "The Faculty" leans towards "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

....robotic invasion verses organic invasion: whatever you prefer...

Crystal Cass in Disturbing Behavior Laura Harris in The Faculty






"The Hunger"

Episode "FLY-BY-NIGHT"

When a war veteran, Sonia (Kim Feeney), is admitted for post-war stress in a hospital, she recognizes a violent man being admitted as a vampire (Giancarlo Esposito) and offers to help him. In exchange he offers her, to take away all the bad memories from the war. The sex scene in this episode was very hot, Kim Feeney looked great on it.


Kim Feeney








Veronique Bannon

and one with Bannon kissing Brigitte Paquette







Bai Ling, who never appears in public without taking the time and trouble to whip out a nip or two.

The latest from Hugo, the Michelangelo of the keyboard.

Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada
Carla Romanelli in The Sensuous Nurse
Ursula Andress in The Sensuous Nurse
Rebecca DeMornay in And God Created Woman
Leonor Varela in Pas Si Grave
Maria Soccor in Shadowboxer
Vanessa Ferlito in Shadowboxer