Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Director: Geroge Clooney
Genre: Biography, Comedy,Crime
George Clooney is a persuasively attractive man. From his deep voice to his hypnotic facial symmetry, he is the driving force behind most of the films in which he takes part. To make things more difficult for the rest of us men, in the early 2000s he also decided he’d excel at directing. What’s shocking is that his charming, engaging powers work even when he’s not visible. In his first film, Clooney proves that he firmly understands how to play to an audience, putting forth this challenging biopic that explores the depths of one man’s mind and that also serves an exploration of technique.
The onscreen story comes from the “unauthorized autobiography” (of the same name) of Chuck Barris, which was crafted to screen by the enigmatic Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). It follows the erratic life of Barris, who is most known for creating The Newlywed game and The Dating Game, and hosting The Gong Show. Barris claims to have worked for the CIA, and takes credit for killing 33 people. In the film, Clooney focuses on the erratic, unreliable nature of Barris and his testimony, building the story with comedy to relieve Barris’ outrageous claims and, at other times, toying with the idea that this all actually happened.
There are many reports of the problems Confessions of a Dangerous Mind encountered during production. But it’s difficult to call these “problems” given that they resulted in the casting of Sam Rockwell as Chuck Barris. Rockwell is one of the most underappreciated actors today, and this film is a testament of his ability to encompass our imagination (Also, check out Moon). Somehow, in spite of his character being unreliable at best and dishonest at worst, Rockwell gives a performance that is very sincere. Naked. No, literally. Naked. We are subject to his naked body throughout the film, but it is all good.
The rest of the casts offer up some fantastic performances. From Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts in their best roles (Yes, I said that), to Rutger Hauer and Geroge Clooney assisting in small parts. Not to mention that it offers a few really cool cameos and the voice of Marlon Brando.
This film relies on Thomas Newton Sigel’s varied styles of cinematography and Clooney’s strong direction. Their ability to illustrate different time periods and cultures with the use of colorful (or not so colorful) backdrops, and their use of lighting to express Barris’ fluctuating mental state is top notch craftsmanship. Kaufman’s script brings on an idea of mental instability, flaunts an element of “what if?,” and somehow ends up as a masterpiece about regret and life disappointment.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind marks one of the great directorial debuts of the current century. Clooney is a borderline prodigy with his development of suggestion through driection. It might not hurt to be working with a screenplay penned by the now-legendary Charlie Kaufman, but, at the same time, bringing that sort of eccentricity from print to screen is no small feat. This is a movie constantly questioning our perception, ethics, and reasoning. This film deserves to be viewed, and Netflix has made that easy for you.