Confessions of a Dangerous Mind appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Even with all the movie’s stylistic choices, it usually looked terrific.
At all times, sharpness appeared excellent. Never did I discern any hints of unintentionally soft or muddled images. Instead, the movie consistently came across as crisp and detailed. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, and I also witnessed no indications of edge enhancement. As for print flaws, I noticed a smattering of small specks but nothing serious.
As I discussed during the body of the review, Confessions utilized very erratic color schemes. At times the palette looked warm and natural, while other sequences would appear radically desaturated. Many shots presented an odd tint that made the scenes look like they were from colorized black and white movies.
Despite the many variations, the colors remained accurately represented. It seemed clear the oddness stemmed from the original photography and the transfer replicated the tones well. Black levels also seemed firm and dense, while low-light shots came across as detailed and appropriately opaque. Overall, this was a fine transfer that presented the movie well; only the handful of source defects knocked it below “A” level.
Despite a generally limited scope, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack presented a solid piece. The forward spectrum offered the heaviest level of information. Music showed terrific stereo delineation, as the score and songs all displayed great definition. Effects also popped up in logical places, and those elements melded together smoothly to create a nicely seamless sense of environment. Some localized speech showed up as well, but not much really stood out about the mix. The surrounds mostly added general ambience and reinforced the forward realm; occasionally I heard specific information from the rears – like the flight of a jet across the back or TV studio audience applause - but they remained fairly passive.
While the soundfield didn’t attempt much, the quality of the audio seemed excellent. Speech always came across as distinct and warm, and I noticed no problems connected to intelligibility or edginess. Effects didn’t often play a huge role in the proceedings, but they remained clean and accurate. Those elements showed no signs of distortion or other concerns, and they were appropriately dynamic. Music worked best. Score and songs seemed vibrant and detailed, and those pieces worked especially well in regard to their bass response. Low-end was nicely deep and warm. The mix lacked the ambition to rise above a “B”, but Confessions sounded good nonetheless.
How does this Blu-Ray compare with the original DVD from 2003? Audio seemed a little fuller here, but both remained pretty similar. Picture showed the biggest step up, as the Blu-ray boasted notably stronger definition and clarity.
Except for a still gallery, all of the DVD’s extras repeat here. We start with an audio commentary from director George Clooney and cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific track. That factor causes some minor problems because the two men present very similar-sounding voices. Given our familiarity with Clooney, I’d think I’d encounter no trouble distinguishing one from the other, but it often seems surprisingly tough.
In any case, the pair present an erratic and generally ordinary discussion. Not surprisingly, technical matters in the visual domain dominate their comments. We get a lot of information about camera work and the flick’s look. They also tell us about the movie’s occasional creative in-camera effects; those tales present a charmingly low-tech series of solutions. Other positive parts of the track stem from comments about their influences, some fun anecdotes, a few notes of bits you might otherwise miss, and the pair’s general rapport. They joke together a lot, and after a slow start, Clooney becomes very engaged in the process for most of its running time.
Unfortunately, way too much of the commentary just extols the flick and its participants. Clooney constantly tells us how much he loves this shot or that cue. Banal praise dominates the piece and weighs it down pretty badly. Yes, some good material does appear, but those elements become buried under the happy talk. At times, the commentary seems like a lot of fun, and the good rapport between Clooney and Sigel makes the praise easier to take. However, it remains an inconsistent and essentially average chat overall.
After this we find a collection of seven Behind the Scenes featurettes that run a total of 22 minutes, 52 seconds. These mix movie snippets, glimpses at the set, and interview clips from the real Chuck Barris, Clooney, production designer James D. Bissell, costume designer Renee April, storyboard artist J. Todd Anderson, and actors Barrymore, Rockwell and Rutger Hauer. They cover a nix variety of subjects. They chat about the potential truthfulness of the story, casting and how Clooney became the director, some tricky filming methods, Rockwell’s take on Barris, visual stylings, and Clooney’s directorial work. As usual, the behind the scenes shots offer the best elements, but the comments seem reasonably informative as well. This piece doesn’t give us a rich and coherent documentary, but it provides a fairly nice glimpse at some major topics.
Next we get 11 Deleted Scenes. These fill a total of 23 minutes, and most of them detail Barris’ mental breakdown. These seem moderately interesting at times but not better than that. (By the way, for those curious, the first one gives us a quick look at Rockwell’s schlong.
The sequences can be viewed with or without commentary from Clooney and Sigel. They usually let us know why the clips were cut, and they also toss in a few decent notes. Overall, though, the commentary seems a bit spotty.
When we examine the Sam Rockwell Screen Tests area, we discover three separate segments that last a total of seven minutes, 11 seconds. These seem unusually accomplished and lack the roughness normally seen in this sort of material. They definitely deserve a look.
A short documentary called The Real Chuck Barris takes six minutes, 15 seconds. It intercuts movie clips with interview remarks from Barris, Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, Jaye P. Morgan, Dick Clark, Jim Lange, and the Unknown Comic. To call this a documentary seems like an overstatement, but it presents some interesting thoughts about the man. It’s too short to offer much substance, but it’s intriguing nonetheless.
In the area titled Gong Show Acts, we look at five performances that last a total of four minutes, 53 seconds. I thought these would either be shots from the original TV show or modern day interviews with those performers, but instead they essentially offer more deleted scenes. Rockwell does Barris as he introduces the acts, and then we watch them. Most seem pretty unexceptional, though the final one – “Mae East” – might be the oddest thing I’ve seen in a while.
The disc opens with ads for Swingers, Killers, Jackie Brown, and the Scream trilogy. These also appear under Trailers, but no ad for Confessions shows up here.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind boasts an intriguing concept, a great lead performance, and a cast that includes some very big names. Unfortunately, it suffers from “tries too hard” syndrome, and its general lack of coherence makes it only sporadically interesting. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture, audio and supplements, so it’s a good release – too bad the movie itself is so hit or miss.
To rate this film visit the original review of CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND