We've all had the fantasy of being recruited, right? Someone just approaching us, saying we fit the profile of what they're looking for, offering us an opportunity. Maybe a movie producer spots you and say "I want you to start in my film!" or a fashion designer say "I want you to be the face of my company!" or a CIA boss says "I want you to murder foreign threats to the United States!" - we've all been there, right?

Chuck Barris wrote his autobiography "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind", and rather than just talking about his rise from NBC page to pop-song writer to TV producer to Gong Show host, he revealed that he had been a CIA assassin all along. The Company would send Barris around the world to take out enemies, while maintaining his cover as a big shot in the world of television. The stress of leading a double-life wears Barris down, damages his personal relationships, and pushes him to the brink.

It took a little while for me to get into this movie. This was George Clooney's debut as a director, and I think his ambitions may have been a bit high. The screenplay was written by Charlie Kaufman (who I love), but is definitely a quirky acquired taste. Maybe there was some clashing between Kaufman and Clooney, but there were just various artistic choices that weren't pulling me in right away. There was a balance, however, with some great long tracking shots and some oldschool camera tricks. Once the main story got going, a fantastic performance by Sam Rockwell, along with solid support from Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts, Rutger Hauer, and Clooney himself sold me.

Regardless of the truth of Barris's autobiography, you have to give him credit for the idea. Obviously the CIA would deny their involvement, and them doing so only lends a bit of believability to the whole thing. That is, until Barris himself admitted it didn't happen, that he had applied to work with the CIA but got rejected, and wrote the book as an 'alternate universe' reality. DAMMIT there go my hopes of being a secret assassin.

[Celluloid Hero] gives "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" a 7 out of 10.




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