George Clooney's directorial debut is not perfect....yet what he has given us is a structured, interesting tale about a game show host turned CIA operative. Starting very strangely with a dirty, naked man in his apartment, the movie progresses through a collection of espionage, murder, comedy and near-insanity that you just can't help but enjoy.
Sam Rockwell turns in a great performance as the would-be hitman, and is supported brilliantly by Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore and good ol' George himself. To begin with, George's performance is a little sketchy, and it will take a while to get used to theat moustache, but he does eventually settle down and play a very cool role that is hard to characterise as 'friend or foe'.
Damage to the finesse of the movie is done by the limited camera techniques used for effect. Even though there are some very well storyboarded and executed scenes, due to the constant mood and pace of the movie, it is easy to notice when a scene runs dry. But, the movie picks itself up well and all the performances are consistent after the first 25mins.
I went to watch this at the cinema just due to the boredom of the day, but I was pleased to find a funny, witty, independent movie that will become an excellent DVD to own. Treat Yourself :)
Some hated this - I thought it was brilliant in places. And a little akin to the spy world itself - it's absurd at times and often hard to believe that this kind of crap actually goes on.
Sam Rockwell is his usual brilliant manic persona (go to "Seven Psychopaths" after this) and the quality leading ladies Drew Barrymore and Maggie Gyllenhaal excel too.
If however you're going to buy on BLU RAY - stick with the UK variant because no matter how cheap the 'US' disc may appear - it's on Lionsgate and is REGION A LOCKED - so it won't play on our machines unless they're chipped to be 'all regions' (which few are).
Use the following Amazon reference - B005GJTNFI - in the search bar above to get the right BLU RAY issue. It clocks in at about a fiver and is well worth the buy...
This film is perplexing in that it provides an excellent vehicle for Sam Rockwell's acting talent and as such gives you quite a cinematic ride, but the story itself is, in my view, vapid and a bit silly, and purely out of an entertainment factory without any sense of real life, and not enough charm to compensate. Of course it trades on this unreality in the sense that it is set in a totally media-oriented world, and Rockwell is superbly charismatic as the games show host. Some of the material on these shows is very funny. But the pitch of the film is not very likeable. I have to admit I am not a film noir fan and that villains - or ambiguous ones - hold very little appeal for me. I don't even get Orson Welles on the Ferris wheel, so I'm not likely to be taken with any other cinema creations of the same ilk. What I did enjoy was Rockwell in all his zany brilliance, and as always he shows us his rear end and even gets to put something up it - only for the purposes of smuggling, I hasten to add, but it was nonetheless a new cheeky high from an actor who has never been afraid to put himself on the line or use his sense of being completely and playfully at ease with his body - see Choke for proof of this - to add to the film. I'm still waiting to see the film that will really use his comic skill, daring, and heart to the best possible effect - as it is I already think he has been seriously overlooked, and the films aren't ever quite as good as he is.
on 20 April 2013
An absurd, very dark, very funny story that is in no danger of taking itself too seriously. Excellent acting all round, it's a pity that critics seemed none too keen on it.
on 3 September 2015
A striking debut behind the camera for George Clooney. A visionary approach and an original way to talk about a character stuck between the double face of entertaining industry and international politics, between spies and tv producers, between show business and Establishment business. A biography that looks like a giant metaphor of American dream and way-of.life, that becomes an american way-of-lie.
After all, there is no big distance between masses manipulation and political one.
They say Soderbergh helped him make the film and I think that the student surpassed the master.
Excellent blu ray both from visual and sound point of view.
Close on the heels of his ADAPTATION, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman scored again with CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, based on the (fictional?) autobiography of the same title by Chuck Barris. It's also George Clooney's initial outing as Director.
At the very beginning when the audience sees a bearded and naked Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell) standing as if in a trance while a frumpy housekeeper vacuums around him, the viewer suspects that the film will be something special, outrageous, or both. This is the starting point for an extended flashback as Barris recalls his young adulthood, when it seemed everybody but him was having sex, to his successful career as a TV game show creator and low-brow polluter of the American airwaves ("The Dating Game", "The Newlywed Game", "The Gong Show"). Pretty standard stuff except that along the way Barris is seduced by a penchant for violence into a double life as a CIA contract killer, and the schizophrenia brought on by his double life almost proves his undoing.
Rockwell is superb in the leading role, as is Director Clooney, who plays his square-jawed, no-nonsense CIA recruiter and control, Jim Byrd. (Byrd to Barris: "Listen, you're thirty-two years old and you've achieved nothing. Jesus Christ was dead and alive again by thirty-three. Better get cracking.") Drew Barrymore does a swell job as Penny, the on-again, off-again love of Chuck's life, but she's deliciously upstaged by Julia Roberts in a new sort of character for her, that of the seductive and deadly femme fatale spy, Patricia. ("Prove how much you love me, baby. Kill for me. Then I'm all yours".) Brad Pitt and Matt Damon have hilarious two-second cameos on stools. And there's one scene where a Federal official lectures The Dating Game contestants on the dire repercussions of introducing risqué material into their game show appearance that alone is worth the price of admission. I don't know who that actor was, but he deserves an Oscar for a one-minute speech.
This is a movie that perhaps has to be seen twice to be fully appreciated for the deft and clever use of camera perspective, scene and timing changes, and almost-overexposed color, all of which keeps the audience on its toes wondering what's coming next. And the Big Question: who's The Mole?
This is one of the best dark comedies that I've seen in a long while. It was one of the must-see films of 2002/2003. Bravo, bravo!
on 1 March 2004
I went to see this with some trepidation. George Clooney has certainly racked up a fair amount of screen time and A-list pals, but directing is, after all, a whole different kettle of fish. I was, however, pleasantly relieved/surprised by Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. It's pretty darn slick for a directorial debut and George Clooney has certainly been paying attention over the years, especially to his friends the Cohen brothers and Steven Soderbergh. Chuck Berry's controversial story is engagingly told, cameos from afore mentioned A-listers aren't too 'look at me!' and the whole cast turn in good performances. Although the film is faithful to Chuck Berry's version of events, (he claims to have been a government assassin whilst presenting junk-TV game shows) there room left for doubt. In short, this film is pretty entertaining and pretty classy - worth seeing.
on 23 January 2013
I'm writing this review to get some balance against the only other (at the time of writing) review. Sam Rockwell is the business. As you can tell I'm a fan but I couldn't imagine anybody but him bringing this story alive. It's got a dark comic mood that runs through it that is captivating. I don't know if these events really happened to Chuck Barris but if they did...what a life! Blu ray is blu ray what do you expect - it's clearer than dvd!!
on 9 November 2015
This film can't make up its mind what it wants to be - satire, black comedy, conspiracy thriller, farce, or expose of sleazy American TV game shows. It really is all over the place all of the time. In addition, it's hard to have any kind of sympathy for any of the characters or care about what happens to them. In fact I kept wishing that they would all just get killed in the number one hobby now sweeping the USA - a massive gunfight.
on 15 November 2003
Supposedly a 'true story' the film is based on the 'unauthorised autobiography of Chuck Barris' one of whom you have probably never heard of, but have watched his game-show concepts many a time.
The film begins with a middle-aged man who isolates himself in a flat away from the public, ex-girlfriend (Drew Barrymore) and moreover reality. Sitting at his typewriter, Chuck (Sam Rockwell) narrates how pathetic life is in general and the common thoughts of young hopefuls who dream that in ten years time they will be highly successful, but by the age of sixty, retrospectively analysing where it all went wrong. Five short minutes into the film I have already placed the film into the Drama bucket, until suddenly the camera cuts to a real-life commentary from some random woman, who obviously was acquainted to Chuck. This is shortly followed by commentary from the man himself Chuck Barris, looking like your average elderly man living next door. Somewhat bizarre, you have to give Mr. Clooney benefit of the doubt, this being his directorial debut you can hardly expect him to weigh up to the likes of Scorsese and Peter Jackson, and so I will turn a blind eye. I mean surely it cannot get any worse...
The plot lightens up later, with Chuck blagging his first job at NBC as a tourist guide, and I must say this is the first stage in the film that I become impressed with Mr Clooney. In one continuous shot, the camera centres on Chuck who is grouped with a bunch of tourists being shown around the works of NBC by a girl guide, with the camera swiftly moving onto Chuck now being a tour guide himself, showing a couple around the NBC building. The shot is worked wonderfully well and is clearly emphasised through the smooth movement between the girl guide and Chuck perfected by the scripted NBC dialogue of what both guides are saying simultaneously.
Chuck has bigger ambitions and in hope of sleeping with a woman at work applies for a promotion at NBC. Moving on from here, we see Chuck flying out with reality TV- Show concepts left, right and centre, all of which attract little attention from any TV producers. Chuck now laid off from work, with no one interested in his ideas for a television breakthrough is intruded by Jim Byrd (George Clooney) a CIA specialist in search of his next employee. Agent Byrd having studied Chuck all his life insists that he fits the profile to be a very good killer for the CIA and persuades Chuck to go to a special training camp, where he will learn the necessities of the CIA.
Being involved with the CIA is obviously top-secret classified information and so we have the joy of watching Chuck ducking and diving around in order to prevent anyone, especially his girlfriend, sussing him out. This becomes all the more cumbersome when an ABC executive finally decide that they want to run his show 'The Dating Game.' With the intention of quitting the CIA to solely concentrate on his TV show, Chuck is confronted by Byrd who delivers an irresistible proposition. The CIA will fund couples on 'The Dating Game' to holidays in Eastern Europe and whilst the fortunate couple are having a romantic time away; Chuck will be on his latest mission plugging European Communists.
The film then takes you on board a roller-coaster ride, bringing in the likes of Julia Roberts, lots of killings, terrible talentless people, freakish flashbacks of Chuck in his youth, two quick famous cameo friends of Clooney (I won't spoil it for you), and a clever little twist at the end.
From an overall perspective of the film, it's really not as bad as the first five minutes would suggest. Clooney experiments with the camera and does so quite well, Sam Rockwell, unknown to me before this film, is impressive and Drew Barrymore shows she is more than just a pretty face.
In time, 'Confessions Of Dangerous Mind' could well be regarded as a masterpiece.