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09 November 2009 @ 09:08 am
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.

 
 
Listening to: Robert Pollard - "Dancing Girls and Dancing Men"
 
 
 
Professor Mortis: Dr.Timprofessormortis on November 9th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)

I caught this this weekend myself, and I gotta say, the "not quite a comedy, not quite serious" approach just didn't come off for me. I agree, too, about MacGregor and the Jedi references, it just came off as cute in the wrong way and threw me out of the movie every time I saw it.

Great photo, really makes Monday more bare-able.
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: guru of badonkadonkassmonkeydiary on November 9th, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the film was absolutely trying to have it both ways. I think a more experienced director probably could have pulled that contradiction off a lot better. I think it was the slapstick running into walls really pushed it over the edge of zaniness for me.

Yeah, I had several good ones to choose from today, but that photo really jumped out at me. Glad you liked it!
Professor Mortisprofessormortis on November 9th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)

The first running into a wall scene was actually very funny to me-the ending one just pissed me off. Don't show me something as serious as how the dead-end psychic research the military did resulted in better torture techniques and follow it with that.
Diary of an Ass Monkeyassmonkeydiary on November 9th, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it was a dumb choice. I would have been ok with the shot ending just as he was about to hit.
Pallaspallasathene8 on November 9th, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
It's soooooo confusing when you post a wayback picture on a day other than Wednesday.
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: loving the monkeyassmonkeydiary on November 10th, 2009 01:19 am (UTC)
Oh, it's not a wayback. My brain just got confused by the stockings. Tag removed!
orcaarroworcaarrow on November 10th, 2009 12:49 am (UTC)
I loved the references to the Jedi. The wife and I discussed how much funnier things became when the cast Ewan. I can see where it could be jarring. For me I was constantly reminded that people like Clooney's character are the problem with the new age movement. Their ability to believe stretches the bounds of credulity. The tenuous connection betwixt facts and reality. The Dim Mak comes to mind.