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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
You can't wring much sympathy out of seeing a bad movie. Sure, you blew a couple bucks, you wasted a couple hours. But it was just a movie, right? It's not as though you were in a prison camp. It's not like they shoved bamboo under your fingernails, or beat your shins with a rubber hose. Well, not usually. Bad movies are as common as houseflies, and in general not more distressing. But now and then comes alon something so traumatic, so brutally awful, that it can scarcely be called a movie at all. Last night we survived such a film:
"Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," the new outrage from Miramax Pictures. What separates the ordinary flop from an atrocity like "Confessions?" A run-of-the-mill dud is hashed together, formulaic, and shallow; therefore light, minimally satisfying, and unpretentious. To truly torment, a film must be the opposite: slow, ruminating, self-serious. It must dispense with formula, and enter the 'experimental' realm from which plot, narrative, conflict, and drive are banished. It can't be artless; it must be 'important,' brainy, thick with literary quotations and poetic devices. Chuck Barris, creator of "The Gong Show "and "The Newlywed Game," really does claim to have been a C.I.A. assassin. He wrote a book to this effect. A skillful filmmaker might have turned that book into a small, funny, charmingly absurd picture. Instead, Clooney and Screenwriter Charles Kaufman twisted it into an abortive, operatic pseudo-tragedy. The character of Barris , played by Sam Rockwell, is totally without appeal, interest, or charisma.
The film examines him minutely from his sexually perverted youth until his burnt-out collapse as an accomplished mass killer, yet he never changes. Even his hairstyle stays the same. His loveless, interminable affair with a semi-retarded girl (Drew Barrymore, who should be fed hemlock for her performance) likewise drifts along, unaffected by any outside influence. Barris's dozens of sexual dalliances, like his dozens of murders, fall like pebbles into a dark well. What feelings he has come through mostly as grinding voiced-over monologues. The result is a muddy tableau: violent, yet not horrifying, pornographic, yet not sexy, vulgar, yet not human; both cerebral and stupid, both voluble and meaningless.
The only pleasures to be found here are in the loving recreations of TV's yesteryears. Breathes there a man with soul so dead as feels no nostalgia for the Unknown Comic, or the sound of Jamie Farr's mallet hitting The Gong? Yet if anything these flashes of lowbrow brilliance only increase our longing to escape the nightmare of "Confessions." Nothing resembles the levity of "The Newlywed Game" so little as watching Julia Roberts as a sophisticated assassin, holed up in an East Berlin hotel room with her guns, quoting Nabokov and mispronouncing his name.
Turan in the LA Times was so right. A shallow, boring unconvincing film, creating not the slightest interest in any of its characters. In the end, who cares whether the hero was a hitman or not. He is so uninteresting and unsympathetic, it never for a moment matters.
From the man who created such revolutionary concepts as "Date Game",
"The Gong Show" and "The Newlywed Game", the predecessors to modern-day
exploitational reality TV shows, comes "Confessions of a Dangerous
Mind", the autobiography of Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell). Behind the
facade of a the sexually crazed game-show producer / host lies
something way more devious: a ruthless CIA contract killer...
In his debut George Clooney shows immense promise, a well-trained eye and countless intuition. Due to the gross uncertainty regarding Chuck Barris's self-proclaimed CIA involvement, Clooney uses outtakes from interviews with various people who worked with him in the past in order to instill an atmosphere of uncertainty regarding the autobiographical truth. Using outdated lensing he also manages to transport the cinematographic feel of the times and help viewers immerse into the whacked out reality presented by Barris - an uncertain grainy world. Was he a spy or not? The answer will probably not be known for many years, if ever. The biggest fault however seems to be the overly cheeky, going for slightly over-scaled humour instead of analysis. Also detrimental is the apparent focus on the CIA-life of Barris and less on the mind of a person, who changed game-shows and television forever. Despite some admirable qualities Charlie Kaufman's script jokingly ventures too far into the obscurity of the CIA operative spy-scene (which at the same time underdeveloped and chaotic), leaving the drama hanging.
Also a movie for true fans of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" with adorable, albeit superfluous guest appearances from Matt Damon, Kevin Bacon or Maggie Gyllenhaal.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The main interest I would hold in this film would be that Drew
Barrymore was one of the stars, and since I am always eager to get my
hands on anything she touches, which in my opinion turns to gold, I
finally got around to seeing this movie about a man who detests himself
and deems himself unaccomplished despite hosting "The Newlywed Show",
"The Gong Show" and "The Dating Game", and claiming to be a CIA
operative in his book, "The Unauthorized Autobiography of Chuck
When George Clooney explains that one does not feel sorry for someone who feels sorry for themselves, but instead feels sorry for someone who doesn't feel sorry for themselves and instead tries to push themselves along, he was speaking a gross understatement. Whether or not Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell) was or was not a hit-man, I don't know or care. I found it impossible to care for the boring, self-serious characters in this film, especially Chuck Barris.
There were some amusing parts to this film, such as when Chuck Barris tricks Patricia (Julia Roberts) into poisoning herself, and Penny (Drew Barrymore) is dancing around the office, and Chuck Barris telling Penny that he was a hit-man after they got married and her reaction. I feel this movie should have been much shorter and much lighter, and Drew Barrymore's excellent and different-from-what she usually plays role the only source of lightness in this film.
although this is based on a true story, the movie didnt seem to try very hard at making things intresting. you can get lost if you dont watch closly. chuck barris has created some great t.v. game shows. the acting in the movie was good, but the storyline seemed to need something to make you watch it, which it didnt provide. it developed slowly and seemed to drag on and on. the ending needed more closure than what it had; like what is he doing now? is he still alive? has he created any other game shows? because this is a biography/based on a true story kind of movie. although the special features on the dvd shows these answers, the movie needs to show them too, for people who dont have a dvd player.
If you were a fan of the Gong show you might find some humor in this, however, this is a joke of a movie. It's very mindnumbing and probably the biggest flaw of this movie is it should have never been made. George Clooney does his best to make it somewhat intelligent, but I have to ask this, why did it take him 10 or 12 years to succeed in Hollywood with his looks and family? Obviously he is not the most intelligent guy. Oh and how daring! He has Julia Roberts in it, and also has Brad Pitt and Matt Damon with cameos. Oh wow... I'm shocked. A good independent movie is one where the cameos are surprising and different. This was just crap.
George Clooney's (way overboard) directorial debut doesn't cut the
This film is over stylized, overwrought and overzealous, purporting to be
much more grand than it had any chance of being.
The subject of the film is preposterous: simultaneously self-absorbed/self-abasing two-bit television producer, Chuck Barris, does double duty as a CIA assassin. Equally as asinine as the storyline is Sam Rockwell's unredeemable portrayal of this sex-crazed megalomaniac. There is no depth to Rockwell's Barris: he remains smug and brazenly vulgar throughout the film-- the multiple close ups of his bare rear atone for nothing.
Julia Robert's credibility takes a nose dive in this film as well, with her portrayal of Barris' undercover counter-part slash part-time lover slash rival. Ms. Roberts' uninspired performance is nearly as gut-wrenching as Drew Barrymore's portrayal of Barris' vapid, co-dependent victim of a girlfriend. Both women serve no purpose other than to underscore the misogynistic underpinnings of the film.
All in all, Clooney's handling of a potentially sassy and brilliant story leaves much to be desired. What could have been a campy and ironic joy ride proved to be nothing more than a dull and irritating psycho-drama.
I had high hopes for this movie, but I'm sorry to say they were not met. It seemed to have trouble deciding if it was a comedy, a drama or something else. Other movies have walked this tightrope much better. It was competently directed, and Clooney created some good shots, but it failed to draw me or my companion into the plot. We found it hard to really care for the characters. I doubt I will bother to watch it again when it makes it to cable/satellite....
Maybe because it was late at night and I was somewhat tired, but this
didn't keep my attention even a little bit. I actually spent the entire 2
hours organizing my room with the movie in the background, and the funny
thing is I don't think I missed anything crucial. I was able to keep up
the plot and characters without any problem.
I don't think the problem was anything more than I just really didn't care about the story. First, the fact that anyone would even think the story was real as far as the CIA side of it is ludicrous. If that were the way our government ran things we would not exist as a nation. Second, this is obviously a really disturbed man with some really serious issues and I might have found the story somewhat enjoyable if they had pointed out his flaws and tried to fix them. I know this is somewhat loosely based on fact, so there is only so much of that you could do, my point then is why make this movie????????
I went into it thinking it was going to be a masterfully "could this have really happened" sort of flick. What I got was a really disturbing image of a grown man who had no idea how to act or contain himself. The movie portrayed his life as fact, with no question of is this or is this not true, and the story that has been given is so implausible that there is no way to develop that sort of thinking on your own.
Basically, my review is that this is a stupid story about a stupid man who I don't care if I ever hear about ever again. And apart from the story the only other critique is that the movie moved as a snails pace, maybe had I seen it in the theatre I would have been more intrigued, but the actually fact is I am glad I didn't pay more than a couple of bucks to see it. In fact, I wish I could learn how to not finish a movie, instead of being my obsessive self that has to watch to the end to make sure I don't miss anything good. I wouldn't have.
This is a different type of movie. If you're into character study and personalities from their lifestyles and how they were raised, then this might be for you. Me, on the other hand, didn't find much interesting about the movie. It had decent acting, great character study and moods, but it didn't get anywhere or do anything for me. Based on a semi-true story, from the mind of one Chuck Barris, creator of the Dating Game, Newlywed Game, Gong Show among others. The interesting aspect of the story is wondering how much of the story really is true. Did he really work for the CIA and kill 33 people? I think only one man really knows that answer. I give this movie 2 *'s out of 4 *'s for character study and that alone. Not a great directorial debut for George Clooney, in my opinion. Only recommended if you like a movie about human characterization and the study of emotions and actions thereof.
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