November 9th, 2009

amd: blue statue

The Men Who Stare At Goats (slight spoilers)

Great weather this weekend, sunny and warm, especially nice after the recent cold spell. Sunday, after a lovely Mexican brunch with friends at Las Bugambilias, K. and I biked farther uptown for some ice cream at Franklin Fountain and a movie at the Ritz.

The Men Who Stare At Goats is loosely based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Welsh journalist, author, and documentary filmmaker Jon Ronson. It tells the largely true story of a secret unit within the United States Army that was dedicated to the development of psychic powers. Led by a Vietnam vet turned new age guru (played by Jeff Bridges), the unit attempted perform such feats as remote viewing, invisibility, walking through walls, and stopping a goat's heart with just a stare. Through flashbacks, the film chronicles the department's rise--thanks in part to Ronald Reagan's interest in the paranormal--and inevitable fall--due largely, in the film, to a rivalry between their top psychics, played by George Clooney and Kevin Spacey.

This quest to create psychic soldiers is mostly played for laughs in the film, but with enough sincerity to fall short of outright mockery. Our entry into the secret world is via recently divorced journalist Bob Wilton, who basically stumbles into the story while failing in an attempt to cover the war in Iraq. This modern framing device allows the film to link the original unit to the current PSYOPS program, which comes up with increasingly common psychological torture techniques like forcing prisoners to listen to Barney the purple dinosaur's "I Love You, You Love Me" song on a constant loop.

Overall, I thought the movie was pretty good, although short of great. Ewan McGregor whom I usually love was cast as Wilton, perhaps unfortunately since the soldiers in the program make frequent references to the Star Wars films' Jedi Knights, one of whom he famously portrayed. That weirdness just kept hiccuping me out of the movie, but your mileage may vary.

  • Current Music
    Robert Pollard - "Dancing Girls and Dancing Men"
  • Tags