*** Official "CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Crawford, Jan 1, 2003.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.
    Crawdaddy
     
  2. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is an engrossing account of the life of Chuck Barris. It tells his own assertion of a double life as the person responsible for such hit shows as The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, and The Gong Show while, at the same time, working as a CIA assassin.
    George Clooney follows Denzel Washington (Antwone Fisher) and Bill Paxton (Frailty) in a line of successful actors-turned-directors with their recent directorial film debuts. Charlie Kaufman’s screenplay is based on the unauthorized biography of Chuck Barris himself.
    Credit both Clooney and Kaufman for keeping the mystery of its subject by using varying types of conventions aptly making that line between fiction and fact almost indistinguishable while delving into the world of paranoia with the use of well-placed humor, interviews with other industry executives, overexposed colors as well as some serious moments to keep the audience wondering. Of course, all of this would not be possible without the presence of a strong lead played by Sam Rockwell. He turns out a solid performance rather than an impersonation of sorts.
    Clooney employs his other friends from previous films including cameos by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. At one point, it almost looks like a reunion of the Ocean’s Eleven’s cast. But not to worry, if you like more from this ensemble Ocean’s Twelve is in the offing.
    ~Edwin
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Strange film, won't play well here in the Midwest, but I liked it. I believe many people won't get the meaning behind this film, thus the reason why I heard the comments I did as the audience left the theater. There are too many people that want everything spelled out for them without using their minds before they can enjoy a film.




    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
    10 of 10
    I now have 7 10's on my list for the year. This film falls in at #3 on my 2002 top 10.
    Like Adaptation Kaufman has delivered an amazing script from what would appear to be a rather quirky book. How the life of Chuck Barris could appear so interesting and poignent is beyond me, but it does. Lines of reality are blurred of course, and in the end the film reminded me most in themes of About Schmidt (reflection on a failed life) and A Beautiful Mind (is this guy simply living a delusion created by stress).
    Clooney or whomever he had help him have done an outstanding bit of direction here, and the cinematography is also beautiful. I was interested in the film and had hopeful expectations, but this went well beyond them. Sam Rockwell delivers a top notch performance, though short of Oscar levels. Clooney, Roberts and Drew all bring in solid efforts in rather limited roles.
    The film is a ton of laughs, yet also thoughtful, emotional, and even sweet. I got a lot more from the film than I ever dreamed I would.
    Let me expand more here than I did in the 2002 film list post. I would like to reinforce the fact that both the direction and cinematography are about as good as you could want. The number of clever shots that work extremely well for the narrative (rather than just being clever) is amazing from a first-time director. The film plays a strong in that respect as a film by Soderbergh or Jonze might, and that really surprised me.
    And the lighting, stylization of the film's look (such as color effects) and choice of shots was also outstanding. A moment of discussion between Clooney and Rockwell with only backlit edging (they are total shadows) comes to mind.
    Also, Rutger Hauer should also get a big notice from this film. He had delivered before, but it felt like a long time since he had brought something like this to the screen despite only having a few minutes to do it.
    And the script. Well, we have Barris' own autobiography in which he claimed he was a CIA hitman to start with, and that's pretty good material for Kaufman to use as a foundation. But that and Barris' needs in life elsewhere are woven together so well, the themes of his life are so focused within the script, that I would actually give him Best Adapted Screenplay for this film over Adaptation (and that's saying something).
    Did Barris lose it in moments of stress and invent his CIA world? It seems like it, though the film never outwardly implies it in the least. Maybe Barris is just having fun with us. Either way, Rockwell makes us believe the pain, the exhilleration, and the confusion of the film version of Barris. Whether you see it as truth or insanity, the film plays equally strong (even in themes). To me that is the most amazing accomplishment of all.
    PS - I loved them using real clips from the shows such as the infamous "Newlywed Game" scene in which a woman had a misunderstanding about a certain "whoopee" question. Touches of that and of having so many of the people from Barris' shows really added a sincerity to the film.
    PSS - If people thought Donald Kaufman was a real person, imagine how many people won't question for a second the idea that Chuck Barris really was taken into CIA training and taught to be a spy in just a matter of weeks. And then there's everyone under 25 who won't even know what "The Gong Show" was. [​IMG]
     
  5. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    This was a very good directorial debut(?) for George Clooney, but he did surround himself with good people both in front or and behind the camera.

    The briskness of the Charlie Kaufman screenplay is a strong point of the film, it's able to intersplice "real" moments with a dash of "pure" conjecture that doesn't seem inauthetic or out of place given the product of Chuck Barris' fertile game show mind.

    Was it all real, all fake, or somewhere in the middle? Who cares, it was a ride that unearths many of people's foibles and insecurities, uncovers the engine in Barris' mind that got him up in the morning (or not). It also allows the viewer to explore that self-destructive/paranoid side vicariously through Chuck's own tales, imagined or not.

    Clooney does a really good job of melting away the scenes through the sets in the film in terms of conversations that take place between Barris and others. The look of the film also gives the viewers that off-kilter feeling of being in Barris' memory of events as he experienced them while never judging them.

    Rockwell disappears in the role as Chuck Barris. There's maybe only one scene of his doing a bit of dancing that recalls his dance moves from Charlie's Angels, but other than that, he's truly solid in the role, his Gong Show antics were right on the mark. The rest of the cast are good (though most of the supporting characters are underdeveloped because, well, it is about Chuck, not about them).

    Who'd imagine how racy the pilot for the Dating Game was given its inception in the 1960's. Loved the FCC riot act being given...aloud, it's almost worth the price of admission.

    I give this film 3.75 stars or a grade of A-.
     
  6. Bill J

    Bill J Producer

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    Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is a stylish and intriguing film, but the script was unable to maintain my interest. Kauffman certainly displayed his talent in Being John Malkovich, but it is not shown here. I wasn't really too interested in the story of Chuck Barris to begin with, but as the film progressed I didn't even care if some of the scenes were real or fake. I found the pacing of the film to be very deliberate and the film began to drag quite a bit after the half way mark.
    I am still uncertain as to what the point of this film was. I am not sure if Clooney wants the viewer to feel sorry for Barris or not, but I found my self increasingly unable to sympathize for him as the film unfolded.
    George Clooney's directorial debut almost reminded of a cross between an Oliver Stone and Coen brothers film, which is a good thing, but Stone usually has a more obvious agenda. However, I simply did not find the comedic aspects funny, nor the CIA-assassin aspects entertaining.
    I thought that the cinematography was excellent and possibly even among the best I have seen all year. I strongly admired Newton Thomas Sigel's work on Three Kings and this film is no different. His photography appears to capture the era perfectly, as does his choice in color scheme.
    Sam Rockwell was believable as Chuck Barris, but I was disappointed that the self-conflict portrayed in the film was far less interesting than indicated in the theatrical trailer. The very last scene in the film was extremely moving, although it was partially inconsistent with the rest.
    Although the film is slick and flaring, for a film just shy of two hours, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind feels much longer.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] (out of four)
     

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