by Greg Muskewitz
George Clooney directs game show host/producer Chuck Barris’ “unauthorized” autobiography in which he claims he was an undercover CIA hitman.The movie allows ample opportunity to show that Clooney is not a director (was anybody ever under the impression that he could be?), but a gamester, a gimmick man, an experimenter in the worst sense. Apart from the fact that screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has no room for his independent voice, as heard in Being John Malkovich, Human Nature, and Adaptation, there is an uneven exchange of silly-williness. There’s a brand of Kaufman’s antics, created on his account, and then there is the trappings of trying to make someone else’s material his own. Alas, at least his effort is more than Clooney’s: you can try to make your mark on something not yours, and then you can try to pass trash off as your mark. With the occasional docu-snippet from Jim Lange, Dick Clark, etc., making noise about Barris and his ways, the rest of the ordeal is filled with Clooney not just bringing attention to his gratuitous and awfully-acted pat-on-the-back role to himself, it is a shoddy quilt of tricks and gimcracks — discolorations, solarizations, neon enhancements, etc. It’s a constant ad taken out to say, “Hey, look, it’s me George Clooney pretending I can direct a movie. Oh, and here are my friends Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, et al.” The movie is a joke, a bad joke; the performances are uncontrolled, polarized, incompetent and embarrassing. (It’s a bad enough joke that Miramax, “the premiere independent studio” would sanction a movie that does nothing but embrace Hollywood in every sense of the word.) Clooney, who aside from some decent television roles has never been much of an actor, so when actors with an ego the size of his think they can direct as well, it’s best to take cover inasmuch as shards from the bursting ego are sure to fly. With Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rutger Hauer.[Not to be bothered with.]
"... a shoddy quilt of tricks and gimcracks ..."
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originally posted: 04/11/04 14:36:25