Men Who Stare at Goats, The – A Movie Review

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Nov 132009

Men Who Stare at GoatsReporter Bob Wilton is in search of his next big story when he encounters Lyn Cassady, a shadowy figure who claims to be part of an experimental U.S. military unit. According to Cassady, the New Earth Army is changing the way wars are fought. A legion of “Warrior Monks” with unparalleled psychic powers can read the enemy’s thoughts, pass through solid walls, and even kill a goat simply by staring at it. Now, the program’s founder, Bill Django, has gone missing and Cassady’s mission is to find him. Intrigued by his new acquaintance’s far-fetched stories, Bob impulsively decides to tag along. When the pair tracks Django to a clandestine training camp run by renegade psychic Larry Hooper, the reporter is trapped in the middle of a grudge match between the forces of Django’s New Earth Army and Hooper’s personal militia of super soldiers. In order to survive this wild adventure, Bob will have to outwit an enemy he never thought possible.

Genres: Comedy, Thriller, Adaptation and War; Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.; Release Date: November 6th, 2009 (limited); MPAA Rating: R for language, some drug content and brief nudity.

Cast: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Rebecca Mader, Stephen Lang and Robert Patrick

Directed by: Grant Heslov

Lay and I went to see this last weekend. The movie is supposed to be based on fact (from Jon Ronson’s book) but the concept is so silly that director Grant Heslov and George Clooney  really can’t help but make fun of it, and there are some good laughs here. Just no real story.

Ewan McGregor plays journalist Bob Wilton, a jilted husband who goes to find a big journalistic adventure to provide his masculinity to his backstabbing wife. But he winds up stuck in Kuwait waiting to get into Iraq. One night he meets Lyn Cassidy (George Clooney), a familiar name to him from a previous interview he did years before about psychic-spies. Lyn was the best in what was called the “New Earth Army”, started by Vietnam-Vet Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) in the 80’s to create soldiers with super-powers who could prevent conflict. The Army was later dismantled and used for evil purposes by the movie’s antagonist Hooper (Kevin Spacey) but Lyn tells Bob he’s been re-activated, and has a secret mission to do in Iraq. Bob, thinking Lyn crazy but interesting at the same time, decides to ride along with him and go where the action is. Along the way, Lyn tells him stories of others dubbed, “Jedi Warriors.”

Most of the movie is flashbacks, beginning with Iraq War 2003 and chronicling all the way back to the beginning of New Age warfare. There are weird and crazy laughs. The lines are good too. “We tried invisibility but then worked it down to just not being seen”, Lyn tells Bob during on of their discussions. Clooney is perfectly eccentric as a guy who lives by the mindfulness-over-warfare principal and McGregor is a whiny, but solid straight-man. Bridges is also terrific as this free-spirited hippie. Only the laughs and flashbacks (which feel like a series of sketches) aren’t enough to distract from the fact that “Goats” really has no compelling narrative. The forward-moving story in Iraq 2003 has very little momentum. Spacey appears later on again as the villain but the conflict is weak and the movie has more than over-stayed its welcome.

All-in-all, it’s probably worth seeing, but I’d wait to rent the DVD.

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Superman Returns

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Jul 052006

Superman_Returns.jpgAfter a long visit to the lost remains of the planet Krypton, the Man of Steel returns to earth to become the peoples savior once again and reclaim the love of Lois Lane.

Directed by
Bryan Singer

Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden, Parker Posey, Frank Langella, Sam Huntington, Eva Marie Saint, Marlon Brando, Kal Penn, David Fabrizio, Tristan Lake Leabu, Ian Roberts, Vincent Stone, Jack Larson

Lay and I picked this movie hurriedly last evening. We went based on the fact that the Yahoo ratings gave it a B+ from viewers and a B from critics. I don’t know where that come from.

Special effects? Good.

Script? Terrible. No plot. No depth. No meaning. This film rendered Superman as a meaningless hero, a hero with no archetype. In the original film, he represented America in the Cold War. Here, he represented nothing but a Hulk.

First, there is the casting?the most important part of any film attempting to match an original that has become so iconic, its actors have replaced the comic book characters in America’s collective conscience. Newcomer Brandon Routh most definitely looks the part (besides being too young), but has half the screen presence of Christopher Reeve. Although Superman isn’t known for his emotional instability, it seems that Singer played it safe by limiting Routh’s range to avoid having the new Superman give a poor performance. Instead, we are left with almost no performance.

Kate Bosworth is equally as bland as Lois Lane (and again, too young for the role). And with her lifeless brown hair that left me aching for her typical screen blond, she isn’t even much to look at. Kevin Spacey’s performance as Lex Luther also left something to be desired?though I’m not sure exactly what. He’s hardly the lovable Lex that Gene Hackman played. The rest of the cast was decent, with the exception of Frank Langella. His dull portrayal of Perry White made me wish they had grabbed J. K. Simmons straight out of Spiderman to talk about his barber.

The film had no depth whatsoever. I cannot see how anyone can come away with anything meaningful from this film, when Superman was, and is, daily created to be a meaningful hero in not only comics but also in people’s minds. This was a real waste of money considering how many directions this film could have taken.

Just a few instances: Lex Luthor could have been a villain of global corporatism, political domination, totalitarianism, and on and on and on. He was just another goofball Hackman incarnation.

And Superman? For what did he stand in this film? Nothing but another hack “savior” figure.

Wait until it comes to the dollar theater if you see it at all.

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American Beauty

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Jun 262004

American Beauty (1999)

A man tells his tale of how he turned his miserable life around and turned everyone else’s upside down as a result.

Directed by
Sam Mendes


Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, Chris Cooper, Peter Gallagher, Allison Janney, Scott Bakula, Sam Robards, Barry Del Sherman, Ara Celi, John Cho, Fort Atkinson, Sue Casey


Very emotionally intense movie. I enjoyed this film.

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