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Men who stare at Goats - The London Film Festival

Well, what can you say when you've got  George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey in one film.  Add to that a comedy based on life being stranger than fiction. The movie is inspired by UK journalist, Jon Ronsons non-fiction best seller, exploring the bizarre activities of a secret, elite division of the US military trained in psychic powers and psychological warfare' techniques.  It is a roller coaster ride through a quirky, crazy, absurd, nostalgic adventure that amuses and entertains.


Having read in the past about the US military experimenting with Extra Sensory Perception I knew that the subject matter is based on fact.

Ewan McGregor as Bob Wilton a small town reporter who, when his wife leaves him for his one-armed boss, decides to prove himself by going to cover the Iraq war where he meets Lyn Cassady (Clooney) who, Lyn tell him, was part of an army team of "Jedi" warrior monks specially trained to use ESP and other paranormal powers as weapons, in spite of this, Bob joins him.

Through flash backs to Vietnam 1972, we see Jeff Bridges as Bill Django (reprising his role of The Dude in the Big Lebowski). who happily wangles an army job to go out and ‘investigate' the 60's Hippy culture first hand, sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

When the army discovers that the Russians are investigating paranormal because they think the  Americans have been, the fun begins and Django is called back from the field to experiment and train recruits in a New Earth Army unit:  long hair, flowers, dancing, ‘peace, love, dove' the lot. Cassady and the rest are joined by a new recruit, Hooper (Kevin Spacey) who quickly takes over and manipulates Django's dishonorable discharge.


Fast forward back to 2003, after being stranded in the desert, kidnapped and other adventures back in Iraq; Cassady reveals to Lyn that he is in fact on a secret mission and is once again a part of the New Earth Army, on a secret mission to find Django.  It turns out that Django is being held captive in a secret US militia camp run by Hooper (Kevin Spacey). 


The ending is uplifting and feel-good. This is one of those films where you know the actors are having a good time. The sound track is great nostalgia, thanks to references to the Vietnam era. It's a go-see. It is Grant Heslov's second feature.


By Lana Poole






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