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Overall Rating

Awesome: 33.03%
Worth A Look34.86%
Just Average: 11.93%
Pretty Crappy: 7.34%
Sucks: 12.84%

9 reviews, 55 user ratings

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Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
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by Natasha Theobald

"Sinners can't be choosers."
4 stars

Somewhere along the line, I forgot that I was watching a movie directed by George Clooney, but it took me a while. You can learn about an actor by watching their work, but film is a director's medium. That is where you learn about the artist. So, what did I learn about George Clooney? If the movie speaks to the man, he's not afraid to be dark, he's not afraid to be sexual, and he's not afraid to not be liked. I found all of that deeply satisfying.

The film is based on Chuck Barris' autobiography, his own account of the events of his career and his life. According to Barris, not only was he responsible for giving the world some kitschy television mayhem, he was also responsible for the deaths of more than thirty people, as an outside contractor used by the CIA. In fact, Chuck was using his day job to cover for his other work, chaperoning young couples on their TV fix-ups to countries where he could mix the business of show with the business of espionage, or, rather, the post espionage clean-up, the part where information leads to identification and elimination.

Barris, as played by Sam Rockwell and written by Charlie Kaufman, is not a hero. He's not even an anti-hero, as I think of it. If one were struggling to find an A word to fit him, asshole might be most descriptive, if rather vague. It is an understatement to say that this is a flawed character. He is beyond flawed. It's very hard to stay with him at times, as he garners little sympathy or understanding. The thing is, I can respect that. Give me a film about an unlikeable guy. I'd like to know how his mind worms around. Rockwell's performance is good, because he doesn't pander. He doesn't try to give this guy humanity by shedding a small tear or giving a sweet speech. This character is unrepentently himself, love him or loathe him.

Drew Barrymore plays Penny, a girl as sweet as Barris is sour. For some reason, Penny knows him and loves him anyway. She does shed some tears, but she accepts what he is able to give her, for the most part, and seldom lets her natural, sunny disposition become marred by his surly behavior. There is another woman, many other women, but one in particular is played by Julia Roberts. Her attraction to Barris is odd, her expression of that attraction is odd, but the relationship is interesting for comparison.

There are lots of great actors portraying other characters, including Clooney himself as the guy who first approaches Barris' would-be assassin. Rutger Hauer, for example, is welcome as another man in the murky, non-television world Barris inhabits. There also are real life figures, including Dick Clark and Barris, offering interviews and insight. I've always thought Barris had an interesting face, and seeing it now intrigues me further.

This film has a unique visual style, with interesting use of color and light. The cinematographer was Newton Thomas Sigel. The world created is sometimes hyper-real and sometimes utterly surreal. Light is used in interesting ways on actors' faces, particularly with Clooney, whose character is a shadowy, possibly fictional presence. There is one remarkable scene by a swimming pool, and I will probably buy the DVD because of it.

This film also is not afraid of silence. There are times of chaos when everything drops away but the score. Simple tones play under the pictures of the scenes in a really interesting, arresting way. The visual impact of an event, or the emotion underlying the event, is greater for the simplified auditory, if that makes sense.

I admire the audacity of this film, its daring. I admire the characters, who aren't easily corralled or identified by type. I admire that Sam Rockwell was so willing to show his ass, literally and figuratively. And, I admire the lack of sweetness or sentimentality, the brusque 'take it or leave it' quality of the character, the story, and the film. Thank goodness for people with voice and vision who aren't afraid to be different enough that everyone won't like them.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6500&reviewer=317
originally posted: 12/07/04 12:58:53
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/12/13 Jeff Wilder Doesn't totally work. But ambitious and entertaining enough to merit a viewing. 4 stars
12/05/08 K. Sear Quirky and witty just as we have come to expect from Kaufman. 4 stars
11/25/08 Leo T alot of fun, screwed up plot...but in the best possible way 5 stars
7/31/08 Monday Morning Tried to watch this twice, only got 20 minutes in twice. Terrible. 2 stars
11/18/07 Erica Munro Worst movir I ever saw!!!! 1 stars
7/23/07 fools♫gold Total romantic bullshit with devilish feel-good music and a damned killer! 5 stars
12/14/06 R.W.Welch Hard to take seriously but a good yarn nonetheless. Rockwell right on. 4 stars
11/13/06 AJ Muller Clooney-the real deal; Rockwell-phenomenally gifted. Immensely entertaining and fun. 5 stars
8/18/05 ES do you like movies that are crazy and don't mean a thing? = then watch this! 1 stars
8/05/05 Zack Great film! 5 stars
5/06/05 Naka WOW! 5 stars
12/16/04 Ken Cenerelli Complex study of a true spy or man with dementia. 4 stars
12/08/04 frosty Seemed to drag. 3 stars
9/23/04 Agent Sands No one saw it, so they all SUCK! One of the most well-crafted movies of recent memory. 5 stars
8/12/04 Rocky A boring and ridiculous lie about a loser I didn't care about. Waste of time. 1 stars
5/12/04 Mickey With A C A must see 5 stars
5/05/04 Ken Rockwell should have got the Best Actor Oscar! 5 stars
4/16/04 Alex Fun and weird. Rockwell is sublime. 5 stars
4/16/04 The More You Know like nic cage's Sonny, if Sonny acted out his own fantasies...clooney directs a lil' better 3 stars
4/15/04 gordon purcell Imaginative direction, always interesting and Rockwell does a great GONG SHOW Barris 4 stars
4/14/04 Charlene Javier Good but not great! 3 stars
2/24/04 Soulis Rockwell as Barris is as good as DeNiro playing Jake Lamotta 5 stars
12/31/03 mercie its full of crappp 1 stars
10/14/03 Jinnvisible Not Bad ... ................................................................Just Average 3 stars
10/07/03 mike this movie kicks ass...seriously cool 5 stars
9/29/03 B P 1 stars
8/10/03 John Bale Dark comedy in candy floss colour, not always on target but a good directorial debut. 4 stars
7/05/03 macaulay culkin II the very most exciting film ever seen 5 stars
6/24/03 Chris It's a great movie 5 stars
5/17/03 George Jung Great directing wasted on a shit script. 3 stars
5/16/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!) Probably THE greatest directorial debut for an actor so far in history! 4 stars
3/22/03 Winthrop J Applesmythe III brilliant. 5 stars
3/15/03 GD Williamson Almost preposterously good. Walked out of the theatre beaming. 5 stars
3/12/03 nick2k very nice...i like the cinematography alot. very noir... 5 stars
2/26/03 Vangela annoyingly smug. clooney has become unbearable. the new "rat pack" is a joke. 2 stars
2/18/03 Frodoshairytoes Great movie - Clooney is a god! 5 stars
2/17/03 Banshee Incredible all around...Rockwell deserves that Silver Bear he won in Berlin this weekend. 5 stars
2/04/03 Andrew Arnold Best movie i've seen since 5 stars
2/04/03 john great 5 stars
2/03/03 jimmybigglesworth Lot's of subtle stuff. I'd like to see it again soon. 4 stars
2/03/03 puckfreak Very entertaining!!! 4 stars
2/02/03 Zeitgeist Great acting...though the characters don't s Chuck Barris is the asshole you hate to love. 4 stars
2/02/03 Angie R A good death scene at the end and nice cinematography...fun rental... 3 stars
2/01/03 dan interesting story, well packaged and great acting 4 stars
1/27/03 ruethewhirl it's a floor wax, and a dessert topping! 5 stars
1/27/03 Jenga Fascinating, really got me thinking about today's entertainment industry. 5 stars
1/27/03 J. F. Murphy Sam Rockwell is great, everyone else sleepwalks . A bad joke of a flick. The pits. 1 stars
1/27/03 Brian Great Cast, Strange Story, Well Presented 5 stars
1/24/03 Jake Could the cast be more annoying? Waste o'time 1 stars
1/22/03 Empress of Misrule Needed more Gene, Gene the Dancing Machine! 4 stars
1/14/03 Ayla Khan funny and bent enough to be interesting 4 stars
1/06/03 Caiphn M&R: Then why rate it, fucktards? 3 stars
1/01/03 Craig Shiner HORRIBLE 1 stars
12/27/02 Matt and Rob Haven't seen it, but it looks good! 5 stars
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  31-Dec-2002 (R)



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