Enemy (2013)

Canada, Spain / 91 minutes / color / Pathé, Entertainment One, Telefilm Canada, Instituto de la Cinematografia y de las Artes Audiovisuales, Corus, Televisión Española, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Société de Développement des Enterprises Culturelles Québec, Rhombus, Roxbury, micro_scope, Mecanísmo, Alfa Dir: Denis Villeneuve Pr: Miguel A. Faura, Niv Fichman Scr: Javier Gullón Story: O Homem Duplicado (2002; vt The Double) by José Saramago Cine: Nicolas Bolduc Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini.

A highly enigmatic piece from a director whose noirish credentials are excellent, including offerings like Incendies (2010), Prisoners (2013), Sicario (2015) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017), all of which are likely to be covered here at some point. The enigma in Enemy focuses in part on the role of spiders in the movie’s subtext—apparently the cast and crew had to sign non-disclosure clauses on this matter—but primarily on what’s genuinely happening. Is the story actually one of a man finding his doppelgänger—or, really, his complementary self—or are we witnessing a protracted musing as a rather unpleasant man witnesses the pornographic death of a spider?

That last is the culmination of the movie’s opening sequence, set in some kind of exclusive live-pornography club, where seemingly well heeled men watch acts of sex and sadism. In one of these, an enormous spider is revealed, only to be crushed under the heel of a togaed woman. Witnessing the act is an as yet unidentified man, whom we’ll know with hindsight to be Anthony Claire (Gyllenhaal).

Sarah Gadon as Helen.

Cut now to the humdrum existence of meek-mannered history teacher Adam Bell (Gyllenhaal again). Each day he teaches the same class to seemingly the same students, then rides home on the same bus to have the same bonk with steady girlfriend Mary (Laurent). But a chance watching of a DVD reveals to him he has a physical double in the form of Continue reading

Infamous (2006)

US / 118 minutes / color / Killer, John Wells, Warner Independent Dir & Scr: Douglas McGrath Pr: Christine Vachon, Jocelyn Hayes, Anne Walker-McBay Story: Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances, and Detractors Recall his Turbulent Career (1997) by George Plimpton Cine: Bruno Delbonnel Cast: Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig, Peter Bogdanovich, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, Gwyneth Paltrow, Isabella Rossellini, Juliet Stevenson, Sigourney Weaver, John Benjamin Hickey, Lee Pace, Bethlyn Gerard, Lee Ritchey, Brett Brock, Frank Curcio, Michael Panes.

I must admit, I came into this movie with preconceptions. Having heard little about it (with hindsight, too little) except that its writer/director had created out of whole cloth a jailhouse romantic liaison between Perry Smith and Truman Capote, and having looked at all the bankable stars in the cast list, I’d jumped to the conclusion that it was merely a sensationalistic, opportunistic rehash of the previous year’s Capote (2005). Let me publicly, as Capote himself almost says herein, eat humble pie. This is an excellent movie in its own right, and arguably—although comparisons are pretty pointless when movies are this good—an even better one than its predecessor.

And, yes, there’s something of the star-juggling that I’d been ready to object to: Paltrow’s part, despite her high billing, is a mere cameo, as a nightclub singer, Kitty Dean; she sings her song very prettily, but the sequence is wholly unnecessary and never referred to again. Luckily it’s almost completely forgettable, so my irritation soon dissolved.

The bare bones are as per Capote, while the murder case itself was the subject of In Cold Blood (1967) and In Cold Blood (1996 TVM). Truman Capote (Jones), darling of the glitterati in NYC, is seeking inspiration for his next book when he comes across the brief New York Times report of the Clutter murder in Holcomb, Kansas. He persuades New Yorker editor William Shawn (Curcio) to commission a major article from him about the case (later that article would flower into a book, as we know), and off to Kansas he goes with lifelong friend Nelle Harper Lee (Bullock). At first no one is prepared to give the time of day to this outrageously gay popinjay, but a chance meeting with Marie Dewey (Gerard), wife of the cop in charge of the investigation, Al(vin) Dewey (Daniels), elicits an invitation to Christmas dinner for Nelle and himself, and thereafter all doors are open to them.

Infamous - 1 Arrival in Kansas

Arrival in Kansas.

Infamous - 4 News of the killers' capture

Truman (Toby Jones) reacts to the news of the killers’ capture.

In due course Dick Hickock (Pace) and Perry Smith (Craig, here with an affect disturbingly like that of Bond-era Sean Connery) are caught in Vegas and brought back to Kansas. As they await trial, Continue reading