Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

Sam Spiegel's first business partner in Hollywood was a musical director and producer called Boris Morros, who was born in Russia in 1895, and revealed in 1957 that he'd been a double agent in order to get his father out of the Soviet Union. A long forgotten movie of this double life in showbusiness and espionage, Man on a String, was made in 1960, starring Ernest Borgnine as Morros. George Clooney's directorial debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, tells a similar story about another real-life figure, but this one is a bizarre comedy rather than a Cold War melodrama. It's scripted by the artful Charlie Kaufman, author of Adaptation and Being John Malkovich.

Kaufman's source is the self-styled 'unauthorised autobiography' of Chuck Barris, creator of numerous schlock television series, including The Gong Show, The Newlywed Game and, perhaps most famously, The Dating Game, which was adapted by British TV as Blind Date. In this unreliable memoir, Barris claimed that, in addition to his television work, he was recruited by the CIA, trained as a hitman and employed to assassinate the nation's enemies in Europe and Latin America, his cover story being that he was accompanying Dating Game contestants to exotic places. Can you imagine Cilla Black blowing people away for MI6 while chaperoning Blind Date couples to Berlin and Mexico City?

The movie begins with Barris undergoing some kind of breakdown in 1981 and holing up in a New York hotel to write his memoirs. As played by Sam Rockwell, he is a geeky figure with a strong resemblance to Mike Myers in his Austin Powers persona. He has no luck with girls until he breaks into television in the late Fifties. Then they start throwing themselves at him. He is only capable of producing vulgar audience participation shows that the masses watch and people of taste despise.
One day, his life is transformed by a furtively handsome stranger, a mustachioed CIA agent (George Clooney), who initiates him into the world of spies. His life of danger and service to the free world begins.

Like Kaufman's earlier scripts, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind involves real characters in fictitious or partly fictitious circumstances, and it merges fact and fantasy in the way they mingle in our own daydreaming minds. Barris is a Walter Mitty figure who compensates for his sense of inadequacy by creating a secret life. This is never spelt out, though the beautiful femme fatale (Julia Roberts) he meets in the shadows on his various assignments remarks: 'Very few people have delusions of being the guy down the block who works for an insurance company.' As in other Kaufman movies, Barris is uncertain of his own identity and driven by self-loathing.

The movie is a lite version of The Singing Detective; we are never much involved with its protagonist and his problems the way we are in Dennis Potter's series. In fact, reality and fantasy are equally absurd. The sets of the TV game shows that constitute Barris's workaday environment, with their flat, garish colours, are as unreal as the low-key, desaturated settings of the Cold War espionage plot.

Clooney directs with panache and clear enjoyment. There are neat touches such as having Brad Pitt and Matt Damon lose out in The Dating Game to a clumsy slob who later shows up as a double agent. There's also a hilarious scene in which a representative of the Federal Communications Commission, sent to establish proper moral standards in The Dating Game, inspects the contestants in the style of a drill instructor modelled on Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge.

The movie is in part a nostalgic celebration of the bland inanity of US TV in the Sixties and Seventies, and accompanying the final credits is a stirring version of 'There's No Business Like Showbusiness' by one of the great stars of the time, Clooney's aunt, Rosemary.

to assassinate - dokonać zamachu, zabić
bizarre - dziwny, dziwaczny
breakdown - załamanie nerwowe
to chaperone - służyć za przyzwoitkę, chaperone - przyzwoitka
delusion - złudzenie
despise - gardzić
drill - musztra
espionage - szpiegostwo
furtively - ukradkiem, tajemniczo
garish - jaskrawy, za jasny
geeky - głupkowaty, palantowaty, geek - głupek, palant
hilarious - bardzo śmieszny, przezabawny
hitman - człowiek od mokrej roboty, płatny zabójca
to hole up - ukryć się, zaszyć się
inanity - bezsensowność, banalność, głupota, inane - głupi, bezsensowny, banalny
to merge - łączyć, mieszać
to mingle - mieszać się
panache - stylish, original and very confident way of doing something - kunszt, wirtuozeria
protagonist - bohater, protagonista
resemblance to - podobieństwo do, to resemble - przypominać kogoś lub coś, być podobnym
to reveal - ujawnić, wyjawić
schlock - kicz, dziadostwo, chłam
self-loathing - nienawiść do siebie
slob - leń
spell out - wypowiedzieć, wymówić
stirring - wzruszający
unreliable memoir - wspomnienie, pamiętnik, na którym nie należy polegać (częściowo zmyślony)


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