GUEST ARTICLE: Stephen Root (owner of the famous red Swingline stapler in Office Space is an iconic screen presence in his own way. And so when a movie starts off with him insisting that he has psychic powers – that he can stop a hamster’s heart – a certain type of cinemagoer is bound to pay attention.
The Men who Stare at Goats is a new release movie in Australian cinemas this week. It tells a story (based on a non-fiction book by the same name, written by Jon Ronson) of the US Army’s research into psychic warfare techniques in a mix of flashback and events in modern-day Iraq.
Goats stars George Clooney as “Jedi Warrior” Lyn Cassady and Ewan McGregor as reporter Bob Wilton who is writing up the story of these pyschic soldiers.
In supporting roles are Jeff Bridges as hippy soldier Bill Django, and Kevin Spacey as psychic soldier ring-in Larry Hooper.
Long-time Clooney collaborator Grant Heslov is the director of the feature. Visually, the film is fine: it’s a classic celebrity vehicle, with some clever camera angles on occasion, some beautiful wide shots of the desert, but there are no Oscars here.
If anything, the film is a little slow in places: the trouble with a celebrity vehicle is that there tends to be extra footage where an editor should be a little more strict.
In a sense, it’s one of those cases of if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the best jokes in the film. Having said that, there are plenty of laughs to be had, and enough plot developments to hold the interest of the viewer.
Is there a deeper message to the film? There is a sense of bewilderment on how military projects might be funded, and what justifications are used for starting and stopping such projects.
A couple of scenes discuss the notion of torture in the military, but it’s quite obscure in its coverage, and – while agreeing that torture is a bad thing, there’s no suggestion that anyone can do anything about it. Though I haven’t read the source book, I’ve been led to believe there are a couple of chapters devoted to torture in the military.
Should you watch it? The critics would say that it’s somewhat mediocre, with a Metacritic 54% and a Rotten Tomatoes 54%, but if you’re in the mood for funny performances from Clooney and McGregor, and don’t mind the occasional slow scene, then you’ll enjoy watching The Men Who Stare At Goats.
This guest article has been written by my friend David Phillips (@cafedave on Twitter). David is a Digital Marketing Manager at the University of Technology Sydney.
If you’re a blogger or an expert about a topic I cover on this blog I encourage you to contact me and I’ll consider publishing your guest article here including generous attribution and back links back to your website as thanks for your contribution