Thursday, August 4, 2011

THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS

George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey


"No goats. No glory."



The weird title of this film should give you enough insight to expect a really absurd and bizarre plot line. And true enough it won't disappoint you one single bit.

Based on Jon Ronson's book of the same name, The Men Who Stare At Goats is about a top secret US government program which explored the possibility of using paranormal powers against military enemies. These so called "psychic spies" of The New Earth Army tried, for example, to make goats drop dead by staring at them. They also experimented with "attack bees", trying to walk through walls, making subliminal sounds and invisibility.

The film takes off as insecure reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) follows a lead into a story told by a supposedly psychic American spy named Lyn Cassady (George Clooney). This takes him right smack in Baghdad during the Iraq War.

McGregor narrates every minute of this film by often helpfully over-explaining information that is already visible onscreen. It reminded me so much of Matt Damon’s character and his annoying voice over in the "The Informant".

George Clooney, however, is sublime. Isn't he always? He plays the possibly psychic—or maybe just psychotic— "jedi warrior" with the nuanced stillness of a Zen master. It's a sly, comic version of his character in the much misunderstood "Syriana".

This satire had some funny dialogue along with effervescent bits of weirdness mostly courtesy of Clooney who desperately tries to convince the naive reporter of his psychic powers. This is probably his least important film yet certainly not the oddest movie (remember "Burn after Reading"?) in his illustrious career.

Sadly the movie doesn't truly explore nor reveal anything concrete. The ending offers some closure by letting the reporter find his true worth. A really bizarre movie that falls in between the cracks of dramedy and military satire. While it has a fine cast and some wry humor, this story of an experimental U.S. military unit with allegedly psychic powers never really gets off the ground. Like most psychic research, this film is inconclusive and unsatisfying to all but the truest of true believers.

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