Movie Report: Men Who Stare At Goats (2009)

Book coverI saw this film in the theatre with my beautiful wife probably on a date night–I mean, 2009 was a busy year for us, what with my sainted mother passing away, my brother returning to the St. Louis area, and our decamping Old Trees for Nogglestead. Still, a year is full of individual days that fit around the big events or the not-events of less consequential years. So we undoubtedly deployed our then-teenaged and by now nearly thirty babysitter and went to see this movie.

You know, I said about Jet Li’s Fearless:

But it’s an interesting film once you peel away the layer of Chinese propaganda film that hovers over all.

* * * *

So, well, yeah, a good story wrapped in Chinese anti-Western propoganda.

You could make a similar statement about a bunch of George Clooney films: A good story if you ignore the anti-American, anti-military, and especially anti-Iraq War message wrapped around it (see also Three Kings et al.).

A journalist, portrayed by Ewan MacGregor, loses his wife to an editor and makes his way to the Middle East to report on the war there and re-establish his manhood. He hooks up with a former (?) military man who participated in a paranormal research program who has a mission in the Iraq War, although he is not sure what it is. Through a series of flashbacks, the military operator, played by George Clooney, tells of the origins of the unit when Jeff Bridges, playing the Dude character, becomes a flower child and soaks up New Age stuff like a sponge and runs the military research unit like a commune, but it comes crashing down when a more military-minded and potentially inferior “gifted” officer, played by Kevin Spacey, fouls it up.

So it’s got some wryly amusing moments in it. It doesn’t really acknowledge the paranormal, leaving it a little ambiguous but certainly nobody here is a superhero at best.

But, yeah, a mocking tone that questions the military and its involvement in the Iraq War. While the Iraq War was still sort of going on. But more intelligent than anything that would come later with The Message.

And I have it on DVD in case I want to watch it again in another fifteen years.

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