Confessions of a Dangerous Mind


Action / Biography / Comedy / Crime / Drama / Romance / Thriller


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Brad Pitt as Brad, Bachelor #1
Julia Roberts as Patricia Watson
Matt Damon as Matt, Bachelor #2
George Clooney as Jim Byrd
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701.42 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 53 min
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1.65 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 53 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by soymilk 9 / 10

A highly disarming dark comedy

One of Charlie Kaufman's more overlooked and underrated screenplays, 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' may have been something of a departure from the high-concept experimentalism that made his previous brainchildren, 'Being John Malkovich' and 'Adaptation' (a masterpiece and a near-masterpiece, respectively) such striking breaths of fresh air, but on no account should its ability to engage and entertain on those strengths of its own be underestimated. Taking a well-earned break from the surreal situations and the complex plotting, Kaufman turned his attention here to a much more straightforward yarn that was better grounded in reality; the twist there being that it was based on a story that, while allegedly true, just as likely never happened. 'Confessions' though is willing to give Chuck Barris the benefit of the doubt in regards to his dubious claims to have been a secret assassin for the CIA in the midst of his days as a game show host, giving life to such controversial classic as 'the Gong Show' and 'the Dating Game' while taking it from a range of human targets around the globe. It sits back and lets the scenario unfold without question – and does so with such considerable spirit and vigour that it's hard not to get lured in and pulled along for the ride. Regardless of whether the real-life Barris truly did have some incredible adventures within his time, or simply an overly-active imagination, this movie translates it into one heck of an enjoyable romp – slick, stylish and entrancing on the surface, and with a bracingly poignant and sobering tale lurking underneath.

Kaufman continues to rule supreme with his flair for developing the most heavily flawed and eccentric of characters, investing them with witty dialogue and sharp situations and, as with his previous screenplays, the humour is a pleasantly mixed bag – lightly amusing at some points, laugh-out-loud hilarious at others, even outright alarming whenever it needs to be. George Clooney's direction, meanwhile, though it stands a fair distance from the eye-seizing zippiness that we're used to seeing Spike Jonze apply to this writer's workings, is still an accomplished visual take on the material, made sensational by its meticulous attention to detail. Indeed, the film's fondness for subtle in-jokes, crafty cameos (some great ones among the Dating Game contestants – absolutely great), background gags and general all-round intricacy is partly what makes it so rewarding and worthy of repeated viewings (I was watching it for what must have been sixth or seventh time last night, and still I found myself picking up a whole range of details that I somehow missed out on the first few times around). Sure, things can move a tad slowly every now and then, but with this number of niceties up there to be marvelled at you know you're never for a second going to be bored.

It also draws a fine contrast between the two separate pursuits that Chuck Barris is called to follow – the game show scenes are colourful, light-hearted fun, the assassin scenes murky and deliciously paranoid, and Sam Rockwell, at the helm as our savvy and hapless main man, has the timing, the energy and the appeal to emerge from the two as both a comic figure and a tragic one. Kicking off as a likable, familiar kind of anti-hero, whose goofy grin and offhand ways have us smiling through the bar fights and the womanising, he gradually evolves into something more enigmatic and sorrowful; a lost, confused individual whose more innocuous contributions to society, in the form of lowbrow 'trash TV', are widely scorned (not that I've ever seen any of the genuine Chuck Barris's shows myself, but it would amaze me if they were really any worse than the kind of mind-numbing reality TV that's enjoyed popularity over the past few years), while the hidden talent he discovers in contract killing begins to understandably repulse him soon enough. One of the most effective things about 'Confessions' is just how deftly it uses its gags and its pathos, along with interview snippets from those who were acquainted with the real-life Barris, which punctuate the story at various points, to reflect upon this man, his life, and just how much he really achieved either way, arriving in the end at quite a biting conclusion. I don't think that any other rendition of 'If I had a Hammer' could feel nearly as sad and haunting as it does here.

Drew Barrymore and Clooney himself offer nice support all the while, each epitomising different ends of the Chuck Barris spectrum – Barrymore, as Chuck's bubbly girlfriend Penny, is a fun-loving innocent; Clooney, as his CIA director, is aptly subtle and mysterious. But neither of them, or anyone else involved for a matter of fact, comes even close to upstaging Rockwell, whose input is simply fantastic – there's no doubt in my mind that the Best Actor Award which, as the blurb on the DVD so proudly states, he picked up at the Berlin International Film Festival for his efforts, was well-and-truly earned.

It's not an innovative, far-out, one-of-a-kind experience (a la 'Being John Malkovich'). But it's an entertaining, well-made and entirely satisfying flick with one particularly brilliant stand-out performance, and that's more than enough to do the job. Kaufman can probably pen avant-garde better than anybody else today, but 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' goes to prove that, when in the right company, he can write 'normal' just as impressively.

Grade: A

Reviewed by Roland E. Zwick ([email protected]) 5 / 10

Fact Stranger Than Fiction

We all remember Chuck Barris as the creator of some of television's most successful - albeit notoriously mind-numbing - game shows: `The Dating Game,' `The Newlywed Game,' and `The Gong Show.' But did you know that he was also a hit man for the CIA? Well, that's what he claims, straight from his own `unauthorized autobiography' entitled `Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,' which has now been made into a movie by director George Clooney and writer Charlie Kaufman. Kaufman is known for devising elaborately absurd scenarios for his fictional films (`Being John Malkovich,' `Adaptation' etc.), yet even Kaufman, in his wildest fantasies, could not have come up with a more bizarre premise than the one this real life story affords. No wonder he was drawn to this material. They are a perfect fit. In the world of movies, who says fact isn't stranger than fiction?

In many ways, Barris was one of the men responsible for starting the trend towards `reality television' that so dominates network programming today. His most famous hits (especially `The Gong Show') were all based on the premise that millions of Americans would be willing to humiliate themselves in public for a few moments of fleeting fame – and that millions more would tune in to bear witness to the spectacle. Barris, craving fame himself, was simply savvy enough to plug into that national mood - and managed to make himself a fortune and turn himself into a household name in the process. What most of us didn't know about Barris at the time was that, while all this was going on, he was ostensibly leading a double life as a secret agent, tracking down and killing any number of `bad guys,' all in the name of `national security.'

Given the inherently incredible, jaw-dropping nature of the material, George Clooney, in his directorial debut, brings an appropriately surrealistic tone to the work. He employs a number of visual devices that help to fragment the world in which the story takes place. Certain scenes break through the constraints of time and space, as when Barris is talking on the phone in his apartment to an ABC executive, who is sitting in his office, and the two locations become one on the screen. The sense of dislocation this technique creates perfectly reflects the mental split occurring in Barris' own disturbed psyche. This style is further enhanced by the use of slightly off-kilter camera angles, color filtering and sepia tones in some of the shots. Scenarist Charlie Kaufman, as always, brings his own quirky vision to bear on the material. He cleverly balances the two `sides' of Barris' life, transitioning smoothly between those scenes revolving around his career as TV show producer and those revolving around his career as CIA operative. Moreover, Kaufman does a nice job getting inside the head of this man who is trying to fight the demons of his own past, make a name for himself in the high stakes world of network programming, cope with his own inadequacies as a person, and come to terms with the vile things he is doing in his secret life all at the same time.

As Barris, Sam Rockwell gives a terrific, high-energy performance, capturing the sadness and paranoia of a man who seems to know deep down inside that his fame is probably undeserved, built as it is on mediocre ideas and a willingness to exploit the baser instincts of human nature. Drew Barrymore brings her usual charm to the role of Penny, Barris' one true love and the only person genuinely drawn to Barris as a person, even though he is unable to commit himself to her fully, preferring instead to keep the relationship `casual' and uncommitted. Barris finds it impossible to make a real, meaningful connection to another human being, so twisted has he become in his value system and bizarre lifestyle. Rounding out the cast are Clooney himself, as the mysterious CIA agent who draws Barris into this strange netherworld of intrigue and danger, Rutger Hauer, as a fellow hit man who pours out his feelings about his chosen occupation to Barris, Julia Roberts, as the icy cool CIA operative who pops up at various moments and in various places to keep an eye on the young recruit, and even Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, who show up for a truly hilarious cameo appearance together, one that had the audience at the screening I attended howling with delight.

The $64,000 question becomes, of course, is this story even remotely true, or is it merely another case of this master showman's playing the public for all its worth? I haven't the slightest idea. The filmmakers certainly take it all very seriously, as evidenced by the fact that they have various friends and business acquaintances of Barris (Dick Clark, Jay P. Morgan) providing interviews for the film, interviews which hint at the dark possibility that the basis of the story might indeed be factual, given the kind of person these people claim Barris is. This gives the film a kind of pseudo-documentary realism that heightens the verisimilitude of what we are seeing on screen. Whether the film is really a true story or merely a grand lark perpetrated on an increasingly credulous audience, the fact is that `Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' turns out to be a thoroughly entertaining, utterly loony piece of original filmmaking.

`Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' marks an auspicious debut for Clooney as a director, who, in his work behind the camera, demonstrates a thorough command of vision and style. One looks forward to his next endeavor.

Reviewed by movieguy1021 ([email protected]) 8 / 10

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: 8/10

George Clooney's directorial debut is a compelling dramatic biopic about `Gong Show' host Chuck Barris, who claims to be a hit man for the CIA. Barris started out small, but decided to go for the big time and move to New York, where he got a job at NBC. Soon he becomes a manager type person, and creates an idea for a game show called `The Dating Game'. It becomes a hit, but he feels unfulfilled, even though he has Penny (Drew Barrymore). Also, Jim Byrd (Clooney) from the CIA recruits Barris to kill for the CIA. As we watch the movie, we don't know which is true and which is a figment of his imagination. Think of it as an R-rated Beautiful Mind.

Barris is played with great intensity by Sam Rockwell. Clooney took a risk of planting a not-well-known name as the lead. With such star power behind him like Clooney, Barrymore, and Julia Roberts, he stands out. Rockwell has starred in such movies before like Heist and The Green Mile, all three times with great acting. He brings out the inner demons of Barris. Rockwell was exceptional, and exceptionally believable. Even though he was billed fourth, he has his name out now and we can expect him in larger things.

Many scenes were standout, with their camera angles and unique way of playing it. At times it seemed like a play, with a wall disappearing, for instance. However, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind wasn't as funny as I was hoping. Sure, some scenes were quite funny (like the scenes in the beginning where it was a montage of the f-word). It had an authentic feel to the 60's (including the soundtrack), like Catch Me If You Can did. At times, it had a documentary style to it, which would have been more effective if they had more substance behind it, such as more of the interviews or none at all. Many of the camera shots were close-ups, which looked quite cool. I am a game show aficionado, so I thought that most of the time would be spent on Barris going onto the CIA, but it was evenly divided between the two, so I was happy.

At times, the mood was light-hearted, almost satirical, but at other points it was serious drama that poked at your emotions. As I said before, Rockwell is definitely lead material. Clooney did a good job portraying the CIA recruiter, and Barrymore is the other standout as Barris' girlfriend. She and Rockwell, besides good chemistry, both displayed true emotions. Roberts, as another CIA agent, put in her usual mediocre performance, though she was better than normal. However, many characters have no substance behind them, namely Roberts, who was billed third and had about three scenes (which, I guess, is better than Jennifer Aniston in Office Space).

Possible the only downpoint of the movie was that at times, it got too trippy for its own good. Even Barris didn't know what was real and what wasn't. It got a little too muddled in plot, such as who is who, at times. When Barris sees everyone who he killed, that was just…weird. Anyway, I would highly recommend Confessions of a Dangerous Mind to about anyone.

My rating: 8/10

Rated R for language, sexual content and violence.

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