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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English, German, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • 11 Deleted scenes
  • Audio commentary - George Clooney and Newton Thomas Sigal
  • 3 Featurette - Sam Rockwell screen tests, Gong Show Acts, The Real Chuck Barris
  • Photo gallery - 25 images from shoot
  • Animated menus
  • 7 Behind the scenes footage

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 109 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

This film is unbelievable.

And thatís its appeal. Detailing the incredible story of Chuck Barris, creator of television shows like The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game and the host of the much lauded Gong Show. Just as heís entering into television in its early days, he is offered a position with the Central Intelligence Agency (or C.I.A. to you and me). Apparently he fits the profile of a contract killer incredibly closely and he is soon jetting off around the world to shoot people. All the while, his girlfriend doesnít know about this darker side, his show grows in popularity and Chuck is suddenly finding himself surrounded by would-be assassins in his growing paranoia.

"Youíre lucky you have a job to go back to..."

Sam Rockwell gives a performance that would be much the envy of older, more experienced actors in this awesome film of hidden twists and subtlety made all the more incredible because itís true... Or is it?

Chuck himself remains tight-lipped as to whether these memoirs are fact or just the creation of a dangerous mind, and watching the film we understand itís too unbelievable to be true. Or is it? I keep coming back to that question. You think about it minutes, hours, days after watching it and some other carefully sculpted piece slots in to place and, making another connection, suddenly you have to go back to the start and rethink everything again. I love films like this. Theyíre like a gift that keeps giving.

Written for the screen by the astounding Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) his fingerprints are all over the film and thatís a good thing. Halfway through I thought how familiar this style looked and seeing it was by Kaufman I immediately realised I was thinking of Adaptation. If only all films were written this well, no one would ever complain and thereíd be no need for humble reviewers like me to tell you how good they are, because youíd already know.

Not only is Kaufman the screenwriter, but George Clooney directs a rich cast of actors who bring this story to life in awesome fashion. Unusual performances from Julia Roberts as an assassin, Drew Barrymore as a free-spirited hippy (OK, not such a stretch) and Clooney himself as a straight-laced government operative help throw the film into the upside-down-world theme. Plus, that stalwart of the B-grade film, Rutger Hauer, stops by for a scene or two and some very famous faces cameo throughout in an ironically humourous fashion.

All round, this film is awesome. You will be challenged to think a good deal, but thatís a good thing. Itís both escapist nonsense and biting satire about America. Itís also an incredible and believable story in an unbelievable way, if you follow my meaning. That is, it couldnít possibly be true, yet its very unbelievability is what makes it believable. In America, anything can happen. And in this film, it does.

  Video
Contract

With a film of this style, the picture quality goes through any number of different filters to garner different moods. The first of these that strikes us is in the first half of the film where everything has been lent a sort of cartoony style of subtle colour contrast that lends a comic strip appeal for the suspension of disbelief. However, some viewers may find it mildly irritating, as I did. Recent interviews with famous folks who knew Barris at the time have been shot under interrogation lighting washing out everything in a white haze. However, they look good (plus hide the wrinkles) and the different style helps distance us from the story and grounds us in our own reality, if not that of the film.

And of course, being so recent we are granted a full 2.35:1 cinema aspect ratio with 16:9 anamorphic enhancement. For the most part this film looks superb and any filters or effects are deliberate to capture some subtle essence required for the veering and zigzagging storyline.

  Audio
Contract

A beautiful Dolby transfer here that brings all the joys of paranoia into our living rooms in comfortable style. Presented in 5.1 surround, naturally it sounds great and with an eternally classic soundtrack plus Alex Wurmanís moderate emotive score we are easily immersed in this seedy world of Barrisí. Thereís a particular essence to the soundtrack reminiscent of cool films like Oceanís Eleven that has those cool jazz stylings and it is no surprise then to see Steven Soderbergh as executive producer here. Whether he had anything to do with it I donít know, but there are certainly a lot of old friends working on this film who have worked projects together (like Oceanís Eleven).

Dialogue is all well spoken and Sam Rockwell still manages to be legible during some rambling and drooling moments, so thereís no worries with that here. The same can be said for the sound effects. These are sometimes comical and work well toward the overall feeling of disjointedness as we slowly trip through Barrisí mind. Another awesome Buena Vista sound transfer.

  Extras
Contract

This disc is just bursting with extras here. Certainly plenty of extra info for those unfamiliar with Chuck Barrisí to help fill in the gaps, as well as some entertaining info on the film itself.

First up are 11 deleted scenes with both a play all function and an optional commentary. My highlight here was in the scene entitled Flexnerís Head Explodes because it is what it says it is. Pretty!

Seven short pieces that run together as a behind the scenes bit drop in next, again with a play all function. These are of varying length and feature interviews with Mr. Clooney and Chuck Barris himself. Sam Rockwellís screen test is next and is three short bits with timecodes and a play all function, yet again. So nice when they do that for us.

Five horrors in the Gong Show Acts are next and these arenít actual acts, but rather bits shot for the film that werenít used. Again with the play all though I doubt youíll ever watch them twice. What is more interesting is The Real Chuck Barris, a short featurette about the man and his life featuring excerpts from interviews not used in the film. This íun runs for 6:15.

Finally, a stills gallery from the shoot features 25 pics and then there's the audio commentary. This is pretty entertaining, featuring Mr. Clooney and cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigal talking about their work on the film. George really loves this film and speaks so fondly and proudly its hard not to feel how he feels, particularly after watching the film first and then listening to this straight after.

Oh, and final finally, thereís an Easter egg you can read all about in our eggtastic Easter Egg arena.

  Overall  
Contract

I really canít speak highly enough of this film. Intelligent, articulate and challenging, it is also quite funny and monumentally clever. Leave all your preconceived notions at the door, because this film will take you somewhere else anyway and you donít want to be burdened for the trip. Awesome performances all round, but in particular from Rockwell as Barris who will make you believe.

This story is so good on so many levels itís hard to define, but if you were as blown away as everyone else who saw Adaptation, expect a similar journey here. Superb filmmaking, but whatís more, exceptional storytelling.

Brilliant, brilliant stuff.


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      And I quote...
    "Strap yourself in for a brilliant Kaufman-fuelled trip through Chuck Barrisí psyche. "
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
          Diamond
    • Speakers:
          Diamond
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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