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George Clooney Gets My Goat (New movie a "cinematic Katrina" )
New York Observer ^ | November 3, 2009 | Rex Reed

Posted on 11/05/2009 10:36:51 PM PST by tlb

The Men Who Stare at Goats, the latest George Clooney fiasco, is like getting stung by a wasp on the inside of your eyelid. You are blinded to all reason and the agony lasts for days.

Despite Mr. Clooney’s easygoing charm and obvious good looks, his film choices point to an appalling lack of both intelligence and taste. He just doesn’t seem interested in narrative movies that make sense, and even worse, he has an exasperating tendency to turn his projects over to buddies and basketball cronies, whether or not they have any talent. (In George Clooney movies, talent is optional.) The result is a depressingly high track record of incomprehensible bores like Solaris, Syriana, Michael Clayton, the dumb, overplotted Ocean’s flicks by the overrated Steven Soderbergh … the list is long. In fact, the marvelous and insightful Good Night, and Good Luck is the only major exception in a career notable for frat-house one-liners and photo op mugging over artistic quality.

At the press conference for The Men Who Stare at Goats in Toronto, when asked what drew him to a movie this bad, he deadpanned, “I’ve known Grant Heslov [the director] since 1992, and he has some compromising photos of me, so I really had no choice.”

It’s hard to believe this is the same Mr. Heslov who helped write Good Night, and Good Luck, about Edward R. Murrow and the McCarthy witch hunts. He may be Clooney’s longtime filmmaking partner, but he is certainly no director, and this wobbly, one-legged directorial debut proves it.

It’s supposed to be a takeoff on Dr. Strangelove, with all of the slobbering, winking, brain-dead overacting on display in the abominable Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?; it pastes together disconnected stories from a book by Jon Ronson about the U.S. Army’s use of parapsychological research in Iraq. Ewan McGregor, who shows up in what feels like at least half of the movies released today (and seems to get worse in each one), plays a down-and-out reporter from Michigan who travels to Fort Bragg in 1983 to interview a top-secret brigade of psychic and paranormal soldiers trained in New Age warfare. The result is surreal and patently absurd as he tags along to Kuwait as a war correspondent with a gang of illogical military muttonheads trained to make themselves invisible and impersonate Jedi warriors in Star Wars epics, run through walls and kill goats by staring them to death.

Dedicated to ending the “war on terror” without violence, these “warrior monks” hike across the Iraq desert in search of the founder of the “First Earth Battalion”—a pony-tailed acid head freak named Django (Jeff Bridges, re-creating his performance as the Dude in The Big Lebowski). As part of their combat training, he encourages his foot soldiers to stop shaving, grow long hair, wear Jedi robes and dance—a natural for Mr. Clooney, who is in civilian life a dance instructor. They spout nonsense about steroids and solar cooking on sand dunes and perform sadistic experiments on animals, and their nemesis is new recruit Kevin Spacey, whose special talent is spoon bending. They’re all crazy and none of their theories work, and neither does the movie.

The structure is nothing more than a series of anything-goes contrivances. It is never clear what the goal is (the reporter narrates: “I was on a mission—even I didn’t know what the mission was”), although when recruited to find the hideout of General Noriega, the Jedis say, “Ask Angela Lansbury.” Paranoid and nutty as an Almond Joy, Bridges uses pension fund money to hire hookers and, inspired by the discovery that the Russians are torturing kittens in the name of psychic warfare, uses Barney the Purple Dinosaur’s “I Love You” song as a torture technique of his own. When he finally gets a dishonorable discharge, you wonder why it took the Pentagon so long. Using his Jedi powers for evil instead of peace, Mr. Clooney comes unhinged and has Jonathan Demme–homage nightmares called “the silence of the goats.”

It’s episodic and broadly incoherent; the direction is all over the map; and the acting is so atrocious it wouldn’t get past a Saturday Night Live dress rehearsal.

There’s a big difference between comic acting and just plain goofing around, but nobody in this movie seems to know it. Mr. Clooney knocks himself out making fun-house faces, but shows no real talent for political satire. (Didn’t the people who financed this trash remember him in Three Kings?) The script by Peter Straughan is demented jabberwocky that just makes you groan. Example: The Jedi motto is “I will drink your blue water, live in your red clay and eat your green skin.” Huh? Say what?

This cinematic Katrina is only 93 minutes long but seems like 93 days of hard labor.


TOPICS: Arts/Photography; Humor; Music/Entertainment; TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: clooney; review; rexreed; turkey
A non-terrorist story might be a good change. Rex Reed isn't the sort people on this board would generally like, but he takes movies seriously.
1 posted on 11/05/2009 10:36:53 PM PST by tlb
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To: tlb
Kevin Spacey, whose special talent is spoon bending

Actually, Spacey's special talent is man bending.

2 posted on 11/05/2009 10:49:10 PM PST by Darkwolf377 (Hope and Change in 2010)
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To: tlb

BTW, while I’d probably agree with him in this instance, Rex Reed is to intelligent film criticism what Barack Obama is to modesty, a complete stranger.


3 posted on 11/05/2009 10:50:27 PM PST by Darkwolf377 (Hope and Change in 2010)
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To: Darkwolf377

My brother and I who never like any movies, just flat out loved the trailer for “Men who stare at goats”.

We’ll be seeing it when it comes out up here.

As for the reviewer, “political satire”? Please. This is just good natured fun. The reviewer might try actually having some. He seems drier than King Tut’s mummy. If he laughed he’d probably fall apart like dust.


4 posted on 11/05/2009 10:54:56 PM PST by BenKenobi
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To: BenKenobi
He's a terrible critic.

Haven't seen the trailer, but the description in the article makes it sound like fun!

5 posted on 11/05/2009 10:57:42 PM PST by Darkwolf377 (Hope and Change in 2010)
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To: BenKenobi

I don’t even have to see it to know it’s going to be gay. Clooney will make it so. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


6 posted on 11/05/2009 11:00:14 PM PST by fr_freak
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To: Darkwolf377
abominable Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

I thought that movie was pretty funny. "R-U-N-O-F-T"

7 posted on 11/05/2009 11:08:29 PM PST by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: tlb
In fact, the marvelous and insightful Good Night, and Good Luck is the only major exception in a career notable for frat-house one-liners and photo op mugging over artistic quality.

Of course, we understand your need to carve out an exception for an homage to the usual anti-McCarthy nonsense, but there's no need to do that for Good Night, and Good Luck Rexy, ol' girl. That one sux, too.

8 posted on 11/05/2009 11:08:38 PM PST by FredZarguna (It looks just like a Telefunken U-47. In leather.)
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To: tlb

Wow, he makes it sound like a Burt Reynolds movie from the seventies.


9 posted on 11/05/2009 11:09:33 PM PST by Boiling point (If God had wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.)
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To: USNBandit

Me, too. Res Reed has deplorable taste.


10 posted on 11/05/2009 11:11:12 PM PST by Darkwolf377 (Hope and Change in 2010)
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To: USNBandit
Well, one reason might be that O Brother, Where Art Thou? isn't a project by one of George's buddies. It's a Coen Brother's film. Rex Reed is, frankly, worthless.
11 posted on 11/05/2009 11:11:57 PM PST by FredZarguna (It looks just like a Telefunken U-47. In leather.)
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To: BenKenobi
We’ll be seeing it when it comes out up here.

Yeah, I'll be looking forward to renting it from a Redbox (which is how I see all my movies these days).

In giving poor reviews to this picture, Reed praises a film I didn't care for (Good Night, and Good Luck) while panning two Clooney films that I loved (Three Kings and Oh, Brother...) so this one might actually be good.

12 posted on 11/05/2009 11:25:35 PM PST by Drew68
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To: tlb

Holy Crap, I had no idea Rex Reed was still around.


13 posted on 11/05/2009 11:26:18 PM PST by lawnguy (The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil-Cicero)
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To: tlb

I read a fair number of Reed’s reviews (because I love movies) but unlike some critics I can’t rely on his opinion lining up with mine.

In the course of his review of the Coen bros. A Serious Man
he refers to The Big Lebowski as ‘dreadful’ (IMO it’s extremely funny and a fave of mine, one of just a few DVDs I own) and about the Coens’ Best Picture winner No Country For Old Men (a very very fine film I have watched 3 times) Reed kvetches about ‘a confusing and maddeningly unsatisfactory ending’.

Rotten Tomatoes rating on Goats is a modest 59% so I may rent it eventually but the moral is, I guess, that Reed has an underdeveloped funny bone (yes No Country was a black comedy as well as a thriller and morality tale).


14 posted on 11/05/2009 11:30:44 PM PST by midway
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To: tlb
Rex Reed isn't the sort people on this board would generally like, but he takes movies seriously.

For a second there I thought he was about to say bad things about "The Big Lebowski", or about Jeff Bridges' performance in it. That wouldn't have been cool.
15 posted on 11/06/2009 12:39:17 AM PST by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: Darkwolf377
"Actually, Spacey's special talent is man bending."

I would've said frontwards-bending, but I think we're both in agreement.
16 posted on 11/06/2009 9:15:17 AM PST by RightOnTheLeftCoast (Obama: running for re-election in '12 or running for Mahdi now? [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahdi])
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To: midway
"...[regarding] the Coens’ Best Picture winner No Country For Old Men (a very very fine film I have watched 3 times) Reed kvetches about ‘a confusing and maddeningly unsatisfactory ending’."

That tears it. NCFOM was a freakin' masterpiece, one of those gets-inside-your-head films that never quite leaves you. Brilliant and engrossing and supremely well done, and marvelously acted, with every single player delivering total perfection. If Reed felt the ending was maddeningly unsatisfactory then he missed the entire freaking point of the movie. Yes it's maddeningly unsatisfactory!! That's the point!

What a dunderhead. What a nimrod. Jeesh.

You, meanwhile, have good taste.
17 posted on 11/06/2009 9:21:44 AM PST by RightOnTheLeftCoast (Obama: running for re-election in '12 or running for Mahdi now? [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahdi])
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To: RightOnTheLeftCoast

Chigurh was amazing.

Still cannot believe that performance.

He also pans Ocean’s 11, which I thought was completely awesome.


18 posted on 11/06/2009 1:20:33 PM PST by BenKenobi
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To: BenKenobi
"Chigurh was amazing. Still cannot believe that performance."

Wasn't he stunning? There are moments in cinema when an actor owns a character so utterly that their merest inflection of expression or voice conveys entire volumes. One example: In the second of the Bourne movies (the first two were nifty, IMHO; too bad the third sucked), when Matt Damon was being interrogated by the police and responding with stone-faced silence, a slight flicker in his eye communicated his intent and signaled the moment of his escape. For me, the moment revealed Damon's capability as an actor and separated him from the rest of the current pack of action-movie stars. But in Javier Bardem's astonishing turn as Chigurh, there was a whole movie full of such moments, such as his momentary flash of surprise, cloaked anger, finality and maybe a little sadness as he offered the doomed young widow the heads-or-tails bargain. His was perhaps the single most relentlessly effective dramatic performance that I've ever endured. And if Reed can't appreciate that, well he's a worthless old troll. I'm just amazed that he missed the entire point of the movie. The entire point.
19 posted on 11/06/2009 4:05:23 PM PST by RightOnTheLeftCoast (Obama: running for re-election in '12 or running for Mahdi now? [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahdi])
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To: BenKenobi

By the way, dittos on Ocean’s 11. Very enjoyable.


20 posted on 11/06/2009 4:10:23 PM PST by RightOnTheLeftCoast (Obama: running for re-election in '12 or running for Mahdi now? [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahdi])
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To: tlb; the_conscience; Alex Murphy; 1000 silverlings; Gamecock
abominable Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

Huh? Anyone who doesn't love that movie is a toad.

21 posted on 11/07/2009 7:47:23 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: blue-duncan

ping to 21.

“Do not seek the treasure.”


22 posted on 11/07/2009 7:48:32 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg

Rex Reed reminds me of the bad part of a hangover.


23 posted on 11/07/2009 8:07:27 PM PST by the_conscience
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To: Dr. Eckleburg; Alex Murphy; 1000 silverlings; Gamecock

“I thought you wuz a toooad?”

I was teaching a Greek poetry course when the film “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” first came out. I immediately took up Homer’s “The Odyssey” to take advantage of the movie.

I have the dvd, saw it at the theater and on television many times. I have worn out the cd in my car, the only place I can play it and K refuses to ride with me if she knows it is on of the cds to be played.

Tim Blake Nelson’s “I’m In the Jailhouse Now” is the highlight of the movie. K and I flew to Norfolk to attend the concert “Down From the Mountain” with John Hartford, Emmy Lou Harris and Allison Krause with my son and daughter in law. They bought the tickets.


24 posted on 11/07/2009 8:16:18 PM PST by blue-duncan
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To: blue-duncan; Alex Murphy; 1000 silverlings; Gamecock; the_conscience
Ulysses Everett McGill: “Truth means nothing to a woman, Delmar. Triumph of the subjective.”

Say hi to Kay for me.

In Greek.

Iambic pentameter.

25 posted on 11/07/2009 8:34:34 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: the_conscience
Lol. I didn't even read the byline. Rex Reed?

He'll always be Myra Breckinridge to me. 8~)

26 posted on 11/07/2009 8:46:53 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg; Alex Murphy
Indeed.

I am looking forward to his upcoming movie Up In The Air.
In the last 12 months I have flown over 120,000 miles (7 trans-Atlantic, two long-haul inter-Continentals and 4 trans-continentals, a handful of mid-continentals. In a perverted kind of way I have become addicted to flying and am looking forward my next flight.

It has gotten to the point that I walk to to the check-in and they great me by name. In fact, Mrs Gamecock took a flight a couple weeks ago and they asked if she knew me.

One thing I have learned is that once you cross certain mileage thresholds the airlines start treating you much better than if you only fly a couple of times a year, to include showering you with free upgrades and other wonderful things!

Anyway, I can almost understand the Clooney character's fascination with frequent flying.

27 posted on 11/08/2009 5:56:58 AM PST by Gamecock (A tulip, the most beautiful flower in God's garden.)
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To: Gamecock

Wow. What a year you had. And now thankfully you’re back with us.

Here’s an interesting article on the movie from “Vanity Fair” —

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/style/2009/11/up-in-the-air-screening-has-new-york-elites-pondering-lay-offs.html

It does look like a good story. From a book, apparently.


28 posted on 11/08/2009 11:29:51 AM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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great=greet


29 posted on 11/08/2009 12:27:05 PM PST by Gamecock (A tulip, the most beautiful flower in God's garden.)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg

Reed’s just ticked he never got thrown out of Woolworths.


30 posted on 11/08/2009 12:31:19 PM PST by Tijeras_Slim (Live jubtabulously!)
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To: tlb

Portions of this were filmed at the Albuquerque Shooting Range, they really made it lok like a military camp.


31 posted on 11/08/2009 12:32:53 PM PST by Tijeras_Slim (Live jubtabulously!)
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To: All

Am I the only woman alive who can’t stand Clooney? He makes me want to vomit.He’s such a douche,and really isn’t that great-looking. You want a REAL actor? Check out Bob Gunton. He is one of the best I’ve ever seen,AND he served in Vietnam. Eat that,Clooney!


32 posted on 11/15/2009 5:40:46 PM PST by POWERSBOOTHEFAN (Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord,For His Name Alone Is Exaulted)
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