Posts Tagged ‘the men who stare at goats

08
Dec
09

Movie Review: The Men Who Stare at Goats

Keep staring.

Stars Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, and Kevin Spacey. Directed by Grant Heslov.

It’s more of a “journey of life” movie than a statement on a Top Secret program on remote viewing, but here goes:

Bob Wilton (McGregor) is a reporter for a newspaper in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2002 he interviews a “crackpot” named Gus Lacey (Stephen Root) who does two things: shows him a videotape where he causes a hamster to pass out for a few minutes by staring at it and informs him that he was part of a Top Secret, government-funded program on remote viewing. For the metaphysics-challenged, remote viewing involves a person sitting in a room to be able to see where and what someone in another locale, possibly thousands of miles away, is doing and describe it all in detail. Wilton doesn’t believe in it and shelves the idea in the back of his head.

Some time later Wilton’s world falls apart: his wife leaves him for his editor who happens to have a mechanical arm. Feeling about an inch tall and wanting, nay needing, to prove something to the world he travels to Iraq to get in and cover a story. And he sits. And waits.

Calvinism and destiny intertwine and he meets Lyn Cassady (Clooney). Cassady was mentioned by Lacey as the Numbero Uno Psychic of the Top Secret Program called New Earth. “We prefer to call ourselves Jedi warriors,” he tells Wilton. It seems that New Earth was began by another man, Bill Django (Bridges). Django was on tour in VietNam when he took a bullet to his chest. He dies, crosses to the other side, and comes back. Seeing how the soldiers in the field weren’t wanting to kill for Uncle Sam he proposes a study which takes him on a quest of sex, drugs, and enlightenment. Upon return he releases an instruction manual on how peace can be attained without actual fighting but by using the powers of the mind. This is further helped by a Brigadier General Dean Hopgood (Stephen Lang) who wants to see the program created because the Russians supposedly have a program already in place to psychically screw with the minds of our country’s leadership. The program is set in motion and Django begins.

Cassady becomes the star of the group, being able to remote view better than everyone else with the exception of Larry Hooper(Spacey), another “Jedi warrior” that holds dominance over everyone but Cassady. Problems begin when the remote viewers have wrong conclusions (one says that Angela Lansbury knew the location of Manuel Noriega) and one of Hooper’s experiments lead to an officer taking his own life, the project is shut down. Cassady is currently in the Middle East on a secret mission that Wilton is never sure what it is.

Wilton never knows quite what to make or believe from Cassady who seems more Jedi reject than Jedi warrior with the exception that Cassady knows how to fight. The two become well-enough friends and go from situation to situation never sure of what’s coming next. Whatever Cassady is expecting to do or to find, Wilton is along for the ride.

I liked the movie. This is one of those difficult to sell because while it does mention psychic research programs I have heard of, the overall objective for the story is for the main character to achieve something with his life. If the movie were just about the programs it would’ve been one thing but this has the New Earth information in flashbacks while Cassady and Wilton are doing whatever they’re doing and that structure leaves something missing from the movie. I wished it was more straight-forward than the journey it really was, but that’s probably a minor gripe.

McGregor is believable but not as much as Clooney. The again Clooney is the variable and McGregor is the “everyman” constant, so it does work better that way. Bridges doesn’t channel The Dude from “The Big Lebowski” as much as he shows a variant of that personality. Spacey doesn’t do a lot for me to really expound upon.

Did this research really happen? I’m inclined to believe that it did but not entirely in the manner shown in the movie. With truth often being stranger than fiction, I could be completely wrong. With a culture that had 9 seasons hinged on the fact that The Truth Is Out There, why not? Can someone stare at a goat and make its heart stop? Can someone thousands of miles away read my To Do list just by imagining it? Interesting stuff to think about.

There’s a big “inside joke” with the whole “Jedi warrior” thing. Cassady has to explain to Wilton what one is, etc. This is a play on the fact that McGregor was in the “Star Wars” prequels. Also, his newspaper editor had a mechanical arm, which may also have been a “joke” on the series.

Do I recommend this one? I liked it and there were a few really funny parts. I suggest “rental.” Or matinée on a slow weekend afternoon. I did like it but not enough to watch it more than once a year.

If you go, watch for Robert Patrick as an American contractor. Great bit.

My grade: B-

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30
Oct
09

November Movie Releases

“The Box” – James Marsden and Cameron Diaz are a couple with a kid living in dire circumstances when a mysterious stranger gives them a box that has a button on it. Pressing the button will reward them with $1 million however, it will also kill someone else in the world they do not know. Based on the Richard Matheson story, “Button, Button.” Decide if you will press it on November 6, 2009

“Disney’s A Christmas Carol” – Jim Carrey voices Ebeneezer Scrooge in this CG take on the Dickens classic. Also stars the voices of Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Tom Hanks, Bob Hoskins, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes and Robin Wright Penn. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Opens November 6, 2009

“The Fourth Kind” – Milla Jovovich in a thriller based on the real-life story of a town in Alaska where people have been disappearing and where they fear there’s a government coverup. Opens November 6, 2009

“The Men Who Stare at Goats” – Ewan McGregor stars as a down-on-his-luck reporter who gets the inside scoop on a secret psychic military unit. Also stars George Clooney and Kevin Spacey. Based on the 2004 book of the same name. Opens November 6, 2009

“Precious” – Based on the “Push” novel about a black girl who grows up being abused by her mother, raped by her father, and ends up poor, angry, illiterate, unloved, and unnoticed. Opens November 6, 2009

“2012” – It’s not the year 2525, but it’s just as disastrous… Roland Emmerich is behind this apocalyptic movie staring John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover, and Oliver Platt. Opens November 13, 2009

“Pirate Radio” – Set in the 60’s. A group of DJ’s give a new meaning to “the boat that rocked” by broadcasting rock music from a boat in the North Seas while most of the broadcasters in England are still clinging to jazz. Stars Bill Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Gemma Arterton, Emma Thompson, and David Frost. Opens November 13, 2009

“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” – Remake/reboot of Harvey Keitel movie finds Nic Cage in the title role as a no-holds-barred cop as crooked as the crooks he takes down. This time it’s set in New Orleans. Opens November 20, 2009

“The Blind Side” – A young, African-American teenager from a broken home is taken in by a well-to-do white family. He must rise up against new challenges in his life and the family finds out more about themselves as well. Stars Sandra Bullock. Opens November 20, 2009

“New Moon” – Episode Two of the “Twilight Saga” based on the books. Opens November 20, 2009

“Planet 51” – When an astronaut lands on a planet that fears alien invasion, he has to avoid capture and reclaim his ship to return to Earth. With the voices of Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Jessica Biel, Gary Oldman, and John Cleese. Opens November 20, 2009

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” – Based on the Roald Dahl about a sly fox who lives in idyllic life that slips back into his thieving ways. This agitates the farmers and endangers the animal kingdom which must bond together in order to survive. Featuring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman. Opens November 25, 2009

“Ninja Assassin” – Asian pop star Rain is one of the world’s deadliest assassins, taken from birth and trained in a secret society. When his best friend dies he breaks free, vanishes, and waits to exact his revenge. Opens November 25, 2009

“Old Dogs” – John Travolta and Robin Williams are two business execs on the verge of the Biggest Business Deal of Their Lives and have to take care of 6-year-old twins. Uh, yeah. Opens November 25, 2009

“The Princess and the Frog” – Disney’s re-imagining of “The Princess and the Frog,” taking place this time in Louisiana. Opens November 25, 2009

“The Road” – Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel about a father and son walking the desolate earth of a post-apocalyptic future, armed with a single pistol. Stars Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, and Robert Duvall. Opens November 25, 2009

29
Sep
09

Movie News and Views September 29, 2009 Trailer Edition

“Disney’s A Christmas Carol” – Jim Carrey voices Ebeneezer Scrooge in this CG take on the Dickens classic. Also stars the voices of Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Tom Hanks, Bob Hoskins, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes and Robin Wright Penn. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Opens November 6, 2009

“The Men Who Stare at Goats” – Ewan McGregor stars as a down-on-his-luck reporter who gets the inside scoop on a secret psychic military unit. Also stars George Clooney and Kevin Spacey. Based on the 2004 book of the same name. Opens November 6, 2009

“The Lovely Bones” – Peter Jackson directed movie based on the best-selling book about a girl who is murdered and continues to observe her family after death. Stars Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, and Susan Sarandon. Opens December 11, 2009

“Takers” – Bank robbing heist movie starring Zoe Saldana, Paul Walker, Hayden Christensen, Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, Chris Brown and T.I. Opens February 10, 2010

“Valentine’s Day” – Makeups and breakups in the L.A. basin starring Bradley Cooper, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Ashton Kutcher, Patrick Dempsey, Topher Grace, Queen Latifah, ad nauseuim… Opens February 12, 2010