starring Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, George Clooney, Julia Roberts
screenplay by Charlie Kaufman, based on the book by Chuck Barris
directed by George Clooney
by Walter Chaw The second of two biographies of television personalities to make it to the cinema in 2002, George Clooney's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is almost the anti-Auto Focus, tying itself to the chaotic memoirs of game-show host Chuck Barris and locating its identity in anarchic precepts of post-modernism (in sharp contrast to Auto Focus' reductive realism). Curiously, both films find a climax of sorts in a dream--I should say "dementia"--sequence wherein the stars of the show find their fantasies acted out through their small-screen vehicles. Where Bob Crane's bizarre personal life appears to be truth, however (the crux of familial challenges of the film seem to hinge on Crane not being moody and never having had a penile implant), Barris's contention that he split time between "The Gong Show" and being a fulltime CIA assassin gives considerably more pause. The real distinguishing quality of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is that it is a big-budget biopic that acts as simultaneously a satire of, and adherent to, the familiar progression of the genre--the layers of self-reflexivity so multi-foliate and rich that it comes as no surprise that screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation., Being John Malkovich) is the scribe responsible for its slipperiness.