First there were competing movies about volcanoes (Dante's Peak, Volcano) and then asteroids (Deep Impact, Armageddon) and now...Truman Capote?

Yep, this second take on the Tiny Terror (as the diminutive writer was known) was shot around the same time as Capote but was held for release until this year. It's easy to see why. Infamous covers the same dramatic ground as the Philip Seymour Hoffman star vehicle--from the Kansas family killings to the murderers' execution.

Fascinated by the case, Capote (Toby Jones this time) heads to the Midwest with gal-pal and novelist Harper Lee (Sandra Bullock--fine here but no Catherine Keener) and while doing research for a book becomes obsessed with one of the killers, Daniel Craig. His true-crime tome, In Cold Blood, creates a sensation--but at a steep price for the author, who never again produces a significant work.

It's tough following Hoffman's Oscar-winning turn, but with his slight stature and fey manner, Jones makes quite a convincing Capote. Like Jones' performance, Infamous is less subtle in tone than Capote, with more emphasis on the writer's early Kansas days--a big fish in a small, backwater town--trying to win locals' favor with anecdotes and witticisms. Since Capote himself was such an over-the-top character, this more comedic approach doesn't feel inappropriate, just...different.

Things turn darker later as director Douglas McGrath delves into the connection between author and killer, exploring complexities in their relationship only hinted at in Capote. Unfortunately, McGrath also interweaves "interviews" with Capote's friends, and the clumsy device, which allows some narrative shorthand and commentary, proves a distraction.

Still, audiences shouldn't dismiss this version thinking they've already "seen" the Truman show, because Infamous is a worthy film in its own right, with plenty more drama than volcanoes and asteroids can provide.
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