Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Venice 2009: The Men Who Stare At Goats
An often highly amusing comedy in the vein of Catch 22, based on the non-fiction book by writer Jon Ronson, this purports to be the “60% true” story of a secret division of the US military trained in psychic powers after the Vietnam War. These “Jedi warriors” were taught how to pass through walls, burst clouds, read the enemy’s mind, and even kill goats simply by staring at them. George Clooney, channelling his best Coen Brothers’ slapshtick, is Lyn Cassady, the most gifted of these psychic spies, Jeff Bridges, back in Big Lebowski mode, plays the secret unit’s new age hippy chief, while Ewan McGregor stars as the journalist investigating the New Earth Army. Jettisoning some of the darker elements present in Ronson’s book in favour of something altogether more light and frothy, the script runs out of gas about two-thirds in, but that scarcely matters since the performances are, to a man, a blast and the gags come thick and fast. And, for the most part, are very funny. Great soundtrack, too.