> Volume 5 > Number 04

Volume 5, Number 04

This Week's Reviews:  Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

This Week's Omissions:  Intacto.

Capsule Reviews:  Darkness Falls, Empire.

George Clooney

Sam Rockwell
George Clooney
Drew Barrymore
Julia Roberts
Rutger Hauer
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Jerry Weintraub

Release: 31 Dec. 02

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind


Chuck Barris was commonly considered the man who was ruining television in his heyday. There was The Dating Game, where people were left to court each other through smarmy, packaged replies to boring questions; there was The Newlywed Game, where people were provoked to give out every personal detail about themselves; and there was the The Gong Show, where people were allowed to unleash their nonexistent talent for the masses to laugh at them. As Barris says himself, he had found that "any American would sell out their spouse for a washer-dryer or a lawnmower you can ride on."

In his 1984 autobiography, Barris tried to toy with audiences one more time. If he couldn't get the TV networks to bankroll another abasing show, he might as well make fun of his readers by telling them a lie and making them believe it. It worked: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind somehow convinced people that Barris was a CIA operative during his The Gong Show days. If that's not bad enough, a movie of the same name will now leave millions more scratching their heads and wondering how he did it.

No one in his or her right mind would really believe Barris' claim. However, the passion with which he tells it keeps it from ever reaching the same sadistic abuse of Andy Kaufman's Tony Clifton -- Barris make a case for this claim so consistently that even the holes that he cannot fill (the story has been refuted but never dies) are quickly forgotten in his abyss of self-flagellant pride.

Barris called his book "the unauthorized biography," in hopes of getting a small smile out of bookstore customers. Even if that book may have seemed the least amount unauthorized (I cannot really comment since I've never read it), the movie adaptation it begets screams of Barris' authorization. The genius and the edge are driven so tactfully by Charlie Kaufman's screenplay that one almost gets the impression that Kaufman may have simply been a front for Barris. Even when the film takes the more depressing side of Chuck Barris' life, the whole story is dealt with a form specially created to provoke audience sentiment for his plight.

The Barris ghostwriting theory is helped by Kaufman's recent adulation for his Adaptation. script. All the originality that Charlie Kaufman had in that film is lost in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which seems to be more likely the product of Donald Kaufman. The ineptitude of the scenarios could be blamed on Barris' own assertions, but it is still disappointing to find that Kaufman was willing to let his screenplay purport an idiotic allegation by a man who is as likely a fraud as Andy Kaufman.

George Clooney serves double duty on the film by taking a supporting role as Barris' CIA contact and directing the film. While his dry readings during the film show the performance of a man less interested in his performance than in the corresponding camera shot, the direction itself has an overly auspiciousness that begins to ruin some of cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel's work. The way Clooney and Sigel (though, perhaps, at the pushing of Clooney) use tinting to change every possible shot becomes showy and tedious.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is not, however, without any merit. It handles its denouement with elegance worthy of a funeral march, and Clooney does far better on his first directorial turn than one would really expect for him. I just cannot help but wish that this was a different film, one that did not embrace Barris with the type of intense worship that he seems to be yearning for. We must remember that this is the man who wrote a book about working for the CIA so that he could get some attention again and might get a few laughs at people's expense. By all accounts, he's succeeded.

©2003, David Perry,, 24 January 2003


Darkness Falls

If you are the type of person who thinks that a horror film on the tooth fairy sounds absolutely terrifying, then Darkness Falls might be the movie for you. However, if you are like the rest of the sane population who understand that such a film needs camp to survive in the face of such an idiotic premise, then Darkness Falls should be kept at a far distance. For either audience, though, the film is still a boring variation on what worked in They.

Jonathan Liebesman

Chaney Kley
Emma Caulfield
Lee Cormie
Grant Piro
Sullivan Stapleton

Release: 24 Jan. 03

©2003, David Perry,, 24 January 2003

When John Leguizamo gets fooled by the rocks that he got, Empire tiresomely becomes the cliché parade of ethnic drugs/ gangster films, listlessly moving through the conventions invented by Scarface (as much Muni as Pacino), perfected by The Sopranos, supplemented by 'R Xmas, and ruined by Blow, Paid in Full, etc. Nothing is fresh, nothing is interesting, nothing is notable in this ugly little film. Empire, regardless of the grandstanding on the screen (and the painful performance of Denise Richards), is nothing short of forgettable.

Franc Reyes

John Leguizamo
Peter Sarsgaard
Denise Richards
Vincent Laresca
Isabella Rossellini

Release: 6 Dec. 02

©2003, David Perry,, 24 January 2003

Reviews by:
David Perry