Showbiz autobiographies don't come any stranger than Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, a fractured kaleidoscope of film styles--from sitcom to paranoid horror--accompanied by an infectious musical mosaic. It's based on a memoir by Chuck Barris--the mastermind behind The Dating Game (the format we know in the UK as Blind Date) and The Gong Show--which interweaves a fairly straight account of his toils in the television industry with outrageous fictions about his secret life as a CIA hit man. First-time director George Clooney takes Barris' bizarre book and--working with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, who similarly mutated the truth in Adaptation--makes an extraordinary picture, with an awards-quality performance from Sam Rockwell as Barris.
Clooney takes the secondary role of Barris' enigmatic boss, and there's sterling work from Drew Barrymore as Barris' ditzy regular girlfriend and Julia Roberts as an espionage dragon lady. It's an acidly witty film that consistently turns the tables on its hero and the audience. Priceless tiny gags include: a silent Brad Pitt and Matt Damon as contestants of The Dating Game and Barris coming up with the idea for a TV quiz show while half-listening to a CIA instructor explaining torture techniques.