Thursday, November 12, 2009

- F i l m R e v i e w s -

The Men Who Stare at Goats
By Mary McNaughton . . . The Men who Stare at Goats is an absurdist dark comedy about the creation of the top secret U.S. Army battalion The New Earth Army, inhabited by “Warrior Monks,” whose mission is to employ New Age tactics to confound, pacify, and therefore neutralize the enemy. They train in techniques that include remote viewing, becoming invisible, walking through walls, and in Goat Lab, stopping the hearts of animals with their minds. This may seem unbelievable and crazy, but what makes it both fascinating and troubling is that it reflects a true story. Most of the film is taken directly from the 2004 TV documentary The Crazy Rulers of the World (Episode One currently viewable on YouTube), by Jon Ronson, who also wrote the accompanying book that shares this movie’s title. Although Kevin Spacey’s malevolent spoiler and Ewan McGregor’s journalist/narrator have been added to give conflict and structure to the movie, the quirkiest and most compelling characters in the movie have real-life counterparts.
. The best is played by George Clooney, at his eye-popping, double-taking comic peak as he embodies psychic warrior Lyn Cassady, a sincere New Earth believer, he careens through the Iraq desert after being “re-activated” to fight terror. It is worth the price of admission to watch him explain the battle tactic “sparkly eyes” to his foil, McGregor. Another character recognizable from the documentary is Lieutenant Bill Django, who envisioned, created, and trained the psychic warfare battalion, played by a well-cast Jeff Bridges with his usual stoniness. Although this film will not appeal to everyone, those interested in a light-hearted, funny take on the extremes of our bureaucracies are in for a treat.

Goats Notes - On Thursday night, November 5th, the screening at Landmark’s Guild 45th included some very special attendees from New Moon Farm Goat Rescue and Sanctuary in Arlington, Washington.. Before the packed film-crowd, sanctuary owner Ellen Felsenthal introduced us to Lily and Emmett, two goats from the farm, who enchanted the audience with their engagement and inquisitiveness. Ellen explained that she saw the screening as an opportunity to raise awareness about New Moon.
Lily and Emmett with Ellen Felsenthal (right) of New Moon Farm, on the red carpet at Guild 45th in Wallingford.

. Of particular concern is the recent passage of the ordinance that allows goats within the Seattle city limits. She said, “And that’s one of the problems:
. People want to get a goat to clear their yard, and then once the yard is cleared – what do you do with the goat, right? I really love the concept of goats being considered pets, but the reality is they don’t belong in the city. These guys need a lot of space; they’re very intelligent and curious.”

. While there are 300 pet dog rescuers in Washington State, and 23 horse rescuers, there are only four who take in farm animals. Since Ellen started taking in goats in 1999, 681 goats have gone through her farm alone. To learn more about New Moon Farm Goat Rescue and Sanctuary, or to make a donation, visit

The goats receive their fans, following their appearance at the Landmark Guild 45th.

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Paranormal Activity
By Heather Bartels … Have you been sent a link to that video where you're told that if you look really closely, you'll see Michael Jackson's ghost in his bedroom? You know, the “Gotcha!” video that ends with the sudden appearance of a ghastly face, usually Linda Blair's, and a loud scream? If so, congratulations! You've gotten the complete Paranormal Activity experience while saving yourself an hour and a half and ten dollars.
. If you've seen the trailer for Paranormal Activity, you already know the entire plot (and most of the scares as well). A twenty-something college student moves in with her boyfriend after, whoops, neglecting to inform him that she's been haunted by a demon for most of her life. The boyfriend, Micah, buys a fancy camcorder to 1) get proof of what happens while they sleep, and 2) harass her for days about filming what other things happen in bed. Micah is the kind of guy who never asks for directions. This is clear after enduring an hour's worth of him insisting, “I can take care of this! This is my house and you're my girl and I'll get rid of this demon!” While the last few night scenes are good and creepy on their own, their impact is dulled by the preceding annoying arguments and exaggerated bumps in the night.
. Being a horror movie lover, I'm looking for a fairly solid experience from a film that is being called “the scariest movie ever.” Good acting, an original plot, and quality cinematography are all very important to me, but not as important as the film actually being scary. That's kind of the point, right? When the majority of a flick's scares could be explained away by the couple having a cat they didn't know about, it loses a lot of the desired effect. When I wake up in the middle of the night because my keys have been knocked off the counter or a cupboard door has opened, I just throw a pillow at the offending feline. No cameras necessary.
. If you've really got a craving for some shaky-cam, ambiguous-ending, credit-free fare, spend another night with The Blair Witch Project. At least they did it first.

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