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Movie Review: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Story: Can you recall when the dumbing down of America began? Could it have been with the arrival of TV shows such as The Dating Game,'The Newlywed Game or the best of 'em all - The Gong Show? This very entertaining, quirky film, directed by George Clooney, scripted by always amazing, Charlie Kaufman and based on the unauthorized autobiography of Chuck Barris, (which was written by Chuck Barris himself) might just give you some insight on our society's directional change. OY!

The premise is that while Barris was creating, producing and starring in these TV shows he was hired and trained by the CIA to be a freelance murderer. He claims to have killed 33 people during his tenure in this profession. Farfetched? Who knows? With what we know about our government today, it could very well be true. I bought the story.

This is a sophisticated looking film considering it was Clooney's directorial debut. It is deliciously shot with bleached coloration (this seems to be a trend), odd angles and interesting segues. His production partnership with Soderbergh is evident. His influence is all over the film.

It is an interesting combination of comedy and darkness. I had some hefty belly laughs and some head scratching along the way. It was an enjoyable couple of hours.

Acting: Sam Rockwell as Chuck Barris has the role of a lifetime. He nails this portrait of Barris without becoming a cartoon. He is in almost every scene and I was fascinated by his portrayal of this bizarre character. George Clooney gave himself the deadpan role of the CIA recruiter and is always nice eye candy. Drew Barrymore is usually quite annoying but was sympathetic as longtime, suffering, girlfriend, Penny. Julia Roberts, as another CIA operative was not very believable, but the plot was so over the top I bought her role anyway.

Predilection: I like writer Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkevich, Adaptation) and would probably see any project with which he was involved.

Critters: I did not see any critters - however as the end credits rolled I saw the usual no animals were harmed during the making of this film - either that was another joke or the critters ended up on the cutting room floor. Ouch!

Visual Art: Some bad abstract paintings.

Blatant Product Placement: NBC, ABC and the CIA.

Soundtrack: Funny

Opening Titles: None. Simply a statement in black and white stating this film is based on 150 interviews, tapes and notes.

Theater Audience: Crowded. I think I saw some Gong Show alumni.

Quirky Meter: 4

Oscar Worthy: No

Nit Picking: Needed some editing. It would have been better at 90 minutes (the length of three Gong Shows).

Big Screen or Rental: Oh, why not the big screen? If you want to get to know Sam Rockwell (and I think you should) here are some rentals for you: Welcome to Collinwood, Heist, Charlie's Angels, The Green Mile, William Shakespeare's a Midsummer Night's Dream, Galaxy Quest, The Thin Red Line, Safe Men, Celebrity and Basquiat.

Length: A bit under 2 hours.