Published Jan 01, 2006To those who dismissed this bio-pic of game show host, hit songwriter and maybe CIA assassin Chuck Barris comes the opportunity to re-evaluate a truly remarkable and accomplished film.
What seemed on initial viewing too flashy and lacking substance gives way to deep respect for Sam Rockwell’s embodiment of the eccentric. Snarky comments about Clooney’s ability to steal from his heroes (the Coens and Steven Soderbergh, specifically) seem petty in the face of Clooney’s self-effacing deflection of credit to his skilled co-conspirators. And accomplished they are: in order to make the film on budget, with the freedom to cast Rockwell (whom no one wanted, while A-listers fought for the role), Clooney called on a lot of friends. While yes, that’s Julia Roberts (whose cartoon-ish assassin girlfriend has been misunderstood), it also includes cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel (Three Kings, X2), who joins Clooney on a full-length commentary.
Witty and self-deprecating, Clooney downplays any skill he has as a director, but his insecurity led him down a doublegood path of preparation and ambition. Drawing more from his experience with live television than what could be accomplished with expensive post-production effects, much of Clooney’s effort goes seamlessly unnoticed.
Packed to the hilt, this DVD offers not deleted snippets from the corner of the editing room, but whole sequences that stand on their own, yet disrupted the pace or balance of the final product. Six short featurettes replace a traditional making of, and an abstruse Chuck Barris featurette answers few questions. The deeper you dig into the mysteries of Barris — particularly the did he or didn’t he questions — the more your appreciation of this film accomplishment will grow. Plus: unused Gong Show contestants, Sam Rockwell screen test, still gallery, trailers. (Alliance Atlantis)