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Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (R)
Official Site
Director: George Clooney
Producer: Andrew Lazar
Written by: Charlie Kaufman; book by Chuck Barris
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Rutger Hauer, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Rating: out of 5

Maybe George Clooney is just a naturally gifted director, or maybe he learned through osmosis by surrounding himself with other talented filmmakers. Whatever the case, Clooney does an admirable job with his directorial debut, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind. At times both humorous and disturbing, Confessions takes you on a wild journey through the mind of “The Gong Show” creator, Chuck Barris (Rockwell).

Confessions is based on Barris’s autobiography, which details his double life as a television producer and assassin for the CIA. As a young, struggling TV producer, Barris is recruited by a mysterious agent (Clooney) to become a hitman for the CIA. After intense government training, Barris finds himself in a seedy town in Mexico performing his first of many subsequent assassinations. However, Barris’s luck changes on the entertainment front, and he scores big with shows such as “The Dating Game,” “The Newlywed Game,” and “The Gong Show.” Now, Barris must balance his hectic life in television with his dangerous career in espionage. When the boundary between these two worlds becomes blurred, Barris loses his grip on reality and starts to slip further and further into madness.

Confessions uses actual game show footage and interviews with Barris’s colleagues to help tell the story and give further insight into Barris’s personality. Interesting shots and camera angles along with brilliant cinematography from Newton Thomas Sigel (Three Kings, X-Men) give the movie a unique feel and help keep it fun and engaging when the pace starts to lag.

The film’s supporting cast alone would be a dream for any first-time director, but then, George Clooney is no ordinary first-time director. Not many people would be able to play a favor card and score cameos from Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. He also managed to get Roberts to shed her sweetheart image for a supporting role as an enigmatic international operative who causes Barris more than just a few sleepless nights. However, Clooney really hit the jackpot with the man he found to play Barris. If you don’t know who Sam Rockwell is now, you’ll certainly know him soon because this role is bound to make him a star. Rockwell gives a fearless performance, successfully conveying Barris’s arrogance and eccentricity while still managing to make him charming and vulnerable. Barrymore also gives a memorable performance as Barris’s free-spirited girlfriend, Penny.

Solid direction from Clooney holds Confessions together in places where it could just as easily have fallen apart. The story itself is odd and complex, and in the hands of a less capable writer or director, it would be nothing short of a disaster. Yet, Kaufman’s witty screenplay teamed with Clooney’s stylish direction result in a surprisingly fresh and original film that is a must-see for anyone who’s tired of typical mainstream Hollywood fare.

—Jennifer Mosley


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