Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Crystal Hohenthaner

Crystal Hohenthaner

The Movie:Directed by George Clooney, Adapted by Charlie KaufmanMiramax Films

If you enjoy going through life thinking that George Clooney is a talentless pretty-boy and everyone else is exactly who they seem, you are going to hate Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

Confessions, starring Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts, is the most intriguing and frustrating movie I’ve rented in the last year. Much of this is due to the fact that Clooney directs it beautifully. He also plays a great supporting role.

Confessions tells Barris’ version of his life’s events over the three decades that he produced and hosted game shows.

Barris claims that during this time he was not only a hit on TV, but also a CIA hitman. The premise seems, at first, to be ridiculous, but what if the star of the Gong Show really was shooting bad guys on the weekend?

Charlie Kaufman’s adaptation of the work is both artful and delicate, while maintaining a morbidly interesting tone. The combination of Kaufman’s excellent writing and Clooney’s intense direction is a beautiful showcase for the great performances of all of the movies stars.

Rockwell, as the focal point of the film, is superb. He adds so many layers of emotion to Barris’ character that the man, although cruel, womanizing and selfish, is still likeable.

The Book:Written by Chuch BarrisPublished by Hyperion, New York, NYCopyright 2002 Barris Industries

Is it possible that Chuck Barris, the creator of the Dating Game and the host of the Gong Show, was a hitman for the CIA?

After seeing Confessions of a Dangerous Mind I couldn’t help but wonder this for days. Game show hosts don’t kill people, right?

The movie really messed with my inner logic, because after seeing the film I decided to read the book it was based on in an effort to find the truth.

Unfortunately, the book didn’t answer my question. Even now I can’t decide whether Barris is a twisted genius, a liar, or both. But one thing is for sure. He is an amazing storyteller.

The tone of the book is personal and highly revealing. It feels like a deathbed confession.

In the book Barris is struggling because, while he is a good hitman and producer and he can get ladies into his bed, he goes through highs and extreme lows in each of these aspects of his life. Much of his turmoil is internal, but he loses friends, shows and lovers along the way.

The plot develops along a fractured timeline that flashes both forward and backward throughout the book. Written from Barris’ perspective and filtered through these various times in his life the reader is given a portrait of both what the man thinks of himself and what he fears others, especially the scathing critics, think of him.

At times this depiction is so horrible that the reader will hate Barris. At other points his character wounds are self-inflicted and the reader may even be moved to sympathy for the sad man.

Because my question wasn’t answered, and because I loved Confessions so much, I bought the sequel, Bad Grass Never Dies. Now I just wish I were old enough to have seen Barris on television during the days of The Gong Show.

I remain intrigued by this story because it is either the most astounding true story ever told, or it is the most creative twist of fantasy and reality ever contrived.

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