Confessions one of year’s best

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

If you are reading this before Friday, get in your car and drive as fast as you can to Sioux Falls to see George Clooney’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which is one of the best films of the year (and by year, I mean 2002, which still isn’t over for movie fans) and an altogether goofy, kicky and occasionally brilliant delight.

It’s enough to make one want to crown screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (also responsible for the even goofier, kickier and more brilliant Adaptation) emperor of movie-dom.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind also sums up the movie-going year that was 2002 by taking the predominant theme of the year (truth and reality versus perception) and making it the center of a mind-blowing trip through nearly 40 years of American history.

Think of it as Forrest Gump: The Shady Underworld Edition.

No one (least of all me) knew Clooney had this hyper-realistic head-trip in him.

His performances have always been capable and affably amusing, but he has never suggested directorial brilliance.

Here, he is heavily influenced by colleagues and friends like Steven Soderbergh and Spike Jonze, but he fights through their influence to find his own voice.

The story Clooney is so capably telling is the story of Chuck Barris, creator of numerous game shows, including The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and The Gong Show, which he also hosted. In his “unauthorized autobiography,” which the movie is based on, Barris asserts that he was a CIA operative for the duration of his television career, killing over 30 people.

While this is likely not true, the movie details Barris’s version of reality with glee, playing up the spy movie cliches of Barris’s story and subtly asking us, “Where does fiction end and reality begin?”

It’s an important question in an age where the media invents the story more and more often and people often won’t bother to seek out the truth.

Clooney and Kaufman know exactly where they want to take this disturbing tale and they are aided at all turns by the performances of an agreeably sultry Julia Roberts and a marvelously stiff Clooney.

The movie, however, belongs to Drew Barrymore and Sam Rockwell, who turn in performances which should be recognized for Oscar nominations, but most likely won’t.

Rockwell, in particular, sells this story with aplomb so we buy it completely.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is a hilarious and challenging movie, well worth the time of any movie buff.5 stars