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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Comedy > Action > Spy > Murder > Television > Surrealism > Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (2002/Miramax/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Track 29 (1987/Image DVD)

Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (2002/Miramax/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Track 29 (1987/Image DVD)


Picture: B-/C+     Sound: B-/C+     Extras: B-/D     Films: B-/C+



Surrealism and ironic comedy are two approaches to telling stories in unusual ways, especially when the circumstances call for it, as following films show.


George Clooney made his directing debut with Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (2002). Based on the controversial biographical book by TV producer/comedian Chuck Barris (played well here by the great Sam Rockwell) that while he was a rising star making hit TV shows like The Dating Game, he was suddenly also fighting The Co0ld War working for the CIA!  It is, of course, hard to say if this is true or how true it is, but all the known spy agencies have done far less likely things that we do know about, so Barris’ claim is not totally impossible.


Directed like a 1970s thriller with a little comedy, we get inside several worlds effectively: the CIA spy world, Barris’ life, the counterculture days and the rise of television as a great and powerful medium in its last golden period.  Clooney also gets a great cast together including Drew Barrymore as Barris’ girlfriend, Rutger Hauer and Julia Roberts in a great, hilarious turn as a covert spy.  Clooney makes this believable even if one questions if it ever happened, though maybe it did, but we could be cynical at worst and say Barris did this as one last stunt (like The Gong Show recreated so faithfully here) so he would not just be remembered for his fun TV shows that at the time were idiotically attacked for being “the end of civilization” and the like.  As compared to the hatemongering TV and horrid reality TV of today, Barris’ shows are a breath of fresh air!


Extras include Gong Show acts, Sam Rockwell screen tests, a Behind The Scenes featurette, The Real Chuck Barris featurette, Deleted Scenes with optional commentary and a really impressive feature length audio commentary by Clooney and Director of Photography Newton Thomas Sigel.



Nicolas Roeg’s Track 29 (1987) continued his surreal explorations of life and the human psyche, but this time, he collaborated with Dennis Potter (who wrote the classic deconstructive musicals The Singing Detective and Pennies From Heaven).  An unhappy, married woman (Theresa Russell, who became his muse at this point) is married to a toy train addict (Christopher Lloyd in what amounts to a send-up of his Back To The Future role) and wants more.  Enter a traveling loner (Gary Oldman) with a mother complex and madness follows.


Of course, the story is not that simple, but Roeg was not as consistent at this point and the work is not up there with his classics like Walkabout, The Man Who Fell To Earth (both reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) and the underrated Eureka.  Most filmmakers could not juggle what he does here, but the result just does not have the impact of his better work despite a great cast (also including Colleen Camp, Sandra Bernhardt (here almost in a sly Scorsese innertextual reference) and Seymour Cassel.  However, it is worth a look just by the challenging nature of the film.  There are unfortunately no extras.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Mind looks and sounds pretty good, but seems to come from an older HD master.  I expect a newer master would at least show more improvements on the image with can be soft at times it should not, but this is still a decent presentation.  The Anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Track is softer and from a clean print, yet it also seems like a slightly older video master.  Color can be good, but detail is an issue more than it should be.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo also shows its age, but has faint Pro Logic surrounds since this was a Dolby A-type analog theatrical release.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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