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Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

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Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by Sevens on Thu Jan 14 2016, 01:03

Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’
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Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’
Posted on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 by Jack Giroux
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It’s not an accident Confessions of a Dangerous Mind wasn’t shown as last week’s Charlie Kaufman retrospective. Although the Anomalisa writer and co-director received sole credit on George Clooney‘s directorial debut, he had very little involvement in the film, and he wasn’t happy with the end result.
After the jump, read Charlie Kaufman’s thoughts on Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

I remember listening to George Clooney and cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel‘s audio commentary for the film, and I was surprised that not once did Clooney even mention Kaufman. In the audio track, though, he mentioned a variety of changes he made to the screenwriter’s work, both on the page and in post-production — which Kaufman wasn’t a fan of.
On Marc Maron’s podcast (via The Film Stage), Charlie Kaufman discusses Confessions of a Dangerous Mind:
I didn’t like it. That was a movie in which I was not consulted. I mean, George Clooney changed the script, he didn’t talk to me during production. We kind of didn’t get along. I was invited to see the movie when he was pretty much done and I wrote a bunch of notes and gave them to him and I guess it was offensive to him.
With directors Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Spike Jonze (Adaptation), Kaufman didn’t simply hand in his script and collect his check; he was very much involved. The Synecdoche, New York director never says too much about his apparently nonexistent collaboration with Clooney, but around the release of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, he was honest about his brief experience on the film:
EMILY: How did you feel about the way Confessions of a Dangerous Mind turned out?
CHARLIE: I’m not happy with that movie. I wasn’t involved in the making of it the director wasn’t interested in things that I was interested in when I was writing the script. I think he had a different plan. I don’t really want to have this conversation – I guess so but um, I wasn’t involved in it.
EMILY: How come sometimes you’re in control and other times you have to sit back like other Hollywood writers and say, “I sold the script – it’s theirs now?”
CHARLIE: I didn’t really sell it to them [in the case of CoDM]. I wrote a script that was an assignment. He came in and decided to become the director. It wasn’t written for Clooney. It was a complete ten years, maybe ten years down the road — with a bunch of different directors attached at different times. Different stars — it was kind of like “the movie that couldn’t get made.”
In terms of screenwriters having their work butchered, I’d say Kaufman got off easy compared to other horror stories we’ve heard. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind — at least to me, maybe not Kaufman — is hardly an embarrassment to have your name on. It’s an excellent film, and it’s arguably still Clooney’s best directorial effort. Kaufman’s frustration, though, is completely understandable.


Last edited by Katiedot on Fri Jan 15 2016, 12:59; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added text)

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by Donnamarie on Thu Jan 14 2016, 02:25

That's fascinating to me.  I never heard about this before.  Obviously George and Kaufman didn't get along and didn't appreciate each other's vision for this film.  I've still not bought the DVD.  I've been meaning to especially to watch the commentary.

Thanks Sevens!

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by carolhathaway on Thu Jan 14 2016, 06:26

I really liked the movie. It's quite strange, but I guess that it's because - obviously - they couldn't say if this guy is a killer or not. But the sequences were really fascinating, ynd you just don't know if that's just imagination or reality.
The extras are very interesting as well.

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by it's me on Thu Jan 14 2016, 09:46

Love that movie

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by carolhathaway on Thu Jan 14 2016, 10:38

***SPOILER (if anyone hasn't seen the movie)***

About Charlie Kaufman:
The movie good quite good reviews. I don't know Kaufman's script and I don't know how this movie would have looked like if it his script had been transcripted 1:1 and / or if another director had made it.

Drew Barrymore said (I think it's an interview on the DVD extras) that she always wanted to play the part of Chuck Barris' girlfriend (I think her name was Penny), the script was passed around in Hollywood for years, but nobody wanted to make this movie. From what I read later was that nobody knew how to handle it because it's based on Chuck Barris' memoirs and that he confessed to be a murderer. So if his memoirs were true he would have had to be prosecuted. But the CIA denied that he worked for them and that he was an assassin. By the end of the movie I still didn't know if his memoirs are true but it didn't really matter to me.

So I think that wasn't easy to handle because it's much more difficult to make a movie about a real person than about a fictitious person (like George played in 'The American').

I especially liked Sam Rockwell as Chuck, I think he was brilliant!

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by Donnamarie on Thu Jan 14 2016, 12:17

It's an intriguing, odd and clever story that George told on screen. I've watched it only twice.  I need to watch it again.  I will pick up on something I didn't notice the first time I watched it.  George's camera work, the lighting and the overall look of the movie stands out to me - and Sam Rockwell's performance which I thought was spot on!

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by carolhathaway on Thu Jan 14 2016, 13:37

Donna,
for me this stands out as well. Anc it's one of those movies where I discover something new every time I watch it. Which happens often when a movie has many facettes. (I just remember George talked about a certain movie - I can't remember which one it was - and described it as a 'huge club sandwich of a movie', and I thinknthis one is such a club sandwich.)

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by carolhathaway on Thu Jan 14 2016, 13:45

But I can also imagine that a writer has a certain vision of the movie when he writes the screenplay, it's 'his baby'. And when he sells it or the studio he writes it for takes it or gives it away, it's like putting this baby up for adoption. And he still sees it every day and has a certain vision how his baby is going to evolve, how the adoptive parents should educate it. And he can't do anything when they don't think the same way or his child is delinquent...

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by Donnamarie on Thu Jan 14 2016, 14:07

Yep carolh, some of this animosity must have been at play between Kaufman and George.  The screenplay was passed around Hollywood for years from what I read.  It would be interesting to know more of the backstory as to why no one wanted to take it on, and why George decided he wanted to do it.  Maybe he talks about it in the commentary attached to the dvd but I don't know.

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by fava on Thu Jan 14 2016, 15:18

I like the movie.  But it was George's first effort and maybe it would have been better if he had left the writing to Kaufman--who has done some brilliant work.  As I have said before, George needs to stop tinkering with the writing.  He is OK, but a bit simplistic and it might be better if he let the writers write and concentrated on the rest of the film.

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by it's me on Thu Jan 14 2016, 17:08

Julia in it too Smile

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by LizzyNY on Thu Jan 14 2016, 20:39

fava - You're right. I agree that writing is George's weak spot but not in this movie. I've seen it several times and each time I appreciate it even more. Everything is so well done - every aspect right on target - I only wish his later efforts had been as good.

Carolhathaway - The club sandwich reference is from George's "Inside the Actor's Studio" interview. It was used by the host, James Lipton, when they were talking about "O Brother Where Art Thou?".

I don't know why it was so hard to get this movie made, but it might have something to do with the fact that a lot of people thought Chuck Barris was nuts! To this day I don't think anyone knows if there's a lick of truth in his story, but it really does take a huge leap of faith to believe it.

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by fava on Thu Jan 14 2016, 20:54

Lizzy-- I think that is the central conundrum that makes the film interesting.  George was not doubt attracted to its ambiguity. My opinion-  Chuck was nuts.

Hate scene where Julia(?) licks all over someone's face (my memory might have the specifics wrong).  Wonder if it's a George addition or if it was in the original script.  Love the atmosphere of most of the movie though.  Wasn't this the movie where G met Krista?

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by Donnamarie on Thu Jan 14 2016, 21:47

fava, yes George met Krista when he signed her for the role of the girl in the pool.  And so started that relationship.

It's a toss between this movie and GNGL as to which was his better directorial effort for me.  But I think Confessions was a more ambitious film because of the story itself.  It's offbeat and yes it does leave you wondering how nuts Barris might have been.  Or was he leading everyone on with this incredulous story laughing to himself that we the audience would be so gullible?

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by Katiedot on Fri Jan 15 2016, 13:02

I remember that this was hinted at several times before, but I haven't ever read Charlie Kaufman say outright that he wasn't happy with the film.

I'd guess he had his vision for the film which wasn't the same as George's.  I still think it's George's best film yet as a director.  LOVE it!

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by it's me on Fri Jan 15 2016, 13:09

Multifaceted 
Full of surprises too


Love it me too 
Yes

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by Nicky80 on Sun Jan 17 2016, 16:13

I must be the only one and I know I said it before but I really don't like the movie. I got so bored with it that I stopped in the middle. I really don't get the story. I watch it again when I'm older. Maybe then I'm more fascinated LOL  Razz Razz Razz

I wonder if Charlie and George met again after years or still don't get along.

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by Sevens on Sun Jan 17 2016, 17:12

I'vewatched the movie twice and still fascinated by it. So beautifully shot. Love the period tone of the story. The leading roles' performances are on top form.

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by party animal - not! on Sun Jan 17 2016, 18:15

The cast list is unbelievable!

Soderberg and the Weinsteins producing.

Then, in no particular order Tommy Hinkley, Krista Allen, Richard Kind, Julia Roberts, Maria Bertrand, Jerry Weintraub, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Cera, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and - oh - one George Clooney

Hollywood is a small village!

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by Katiedot on Sun Jan 17 2016, 18:25

Not so sure that Krista Allen belongs on that list of 'greats'!

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

Post by fava on Sun Jan 17 2016, 18:42

party animal - not! wrote:The cast list is unbelievable!

Soderberg and the Weinsteins producing.

Then, in no particular order Tommy Hinkley, Krista Allen, Richard Kind, Julia Roberts, Maria Bertrand, Jerry Weintraub, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Cera, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and - oh - one George Clooney

Hollywood is a small village!
My recollection is that many of the cast worked for scale as a favor to George is his first directing gig.

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Re: Charlie Kaufman Wasn’t Pleased With ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’

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