(Review originally written at 25 March 2007)

Amazing that this movie was actual a debut for its director George Clooney. The movie is filmed with so much class and great storytelling that you would think that this movie was directed by a multiple Oscar nominee veteran director. I predict an Oscar win for best directing for Clooney within the next 10 years. He was already nominated last year for his second movie "Good Night, and Good Luck" but the subject of the movie was a bit too touchy for it to actually win.

The movie is a typical Charlie Kaufman written movie, meaning that it explores the thin line between comedy and drama, without ever fully knowing what is actually truth and fiction in the story. The movie is not serious enough to be taken fully as a heavy biopic but it's also not humorous enough to take the movie as a full comedy. Let's keep it to it that this movie is entertaining to watch, from start till finish, due to the well written story, the fine skillful directing and storytelling and also definitely thanks to the cast.

The movie is based on the life of game show impresario Chuck Barris, who also claimed that he was a CIA hit-man. It's hard to tell in the movie how much to actually take serious about the story but luckily the movie doesn't really focuses on this question. The movie its purpose is to tell an unusual but compelling story, with lots of flair and fun. The question whether it or didn't really occurred is irrelevant in this case. The movie also shows that fiction can be used in a way to spice up the truth, so I don't see how diverting from the truth can be a bad thing, as long as it's good for the entertainment and the story.

The directing is perfect to create an atmosphere that fits the story that is somewhere between the truth and fiction. There are some great film tricks in the movie, which shows that Clooney has both the creativity and the skills to bring it to the screen. Also the Newton Thomas Sigel cinematography works fine for the movie its style and atmosphere.

For this movie Clooney used a lot of big names for the cast, who mostly appear in nothing more than cameo roles, such as Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, who are basically in the movie for about 2 seconds. The many cameo's are also reason why you can't really ever take the movie really serious, since you recognize big stars in basically every sequence of the movie. This is not a bad thing, it suits the movie and its style really well. In the midst of all those big names, Clooney decided to give Sam Rockwell the main part, who I wasn't ever accustomed to of seeing in big movie parts. It was a great choice however. Sam Rockwell turned out to be the ideal choice to play this certainly unique character. Drew Barrymore was also given the opportunity to show her skills in a big movie and in a carrying role. The movie also lets Julia Roberts, Rutger Hauer and Maggie Gyllenhaal show up in good roles. George Clooney himself also plays a fine part in the movie. Every character in the movie is unique and also quite quirky but not in an extreme or over-the-top kind of way.

I'm glad that Clooney decided to become a director as well!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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