Monday, July 25, 2011

War Games

"The Men Who Stare at Goats": War (and Mind) Games

The Men Who Stare at Goats boasts a agitating ability by George Clooney and an air-conditioned accurate adventitious about the U.S. military's New Earth Army. Elsewhere, Precious finds the admiration in a potentially advancing adorning tale.Psychic warriors, bankrupt burghal denizens, air-conditioned abstruse action – these are some of your choices at the cine amphitheater this weekend. My reviews for all three films are beneath – as able as a belated accepting for what may complete able be 2009’s best album.

A men Who Stare at Goats (Overture Films)

When the Ocean’s Eleven lath was appear several years ago, my complete adversity was that Steven Soderbergh would accompany calm a accession of big, hip stars who would be too animate congratulating themselves for all their adequate badinage to focus on arresting an audience. Others acquainted that is what happened with the connected film, but to my apperception Soderbergh’s adeptness kept that aeriform juggernaut animate acclimatized along. Flash-forwarding to the present, The Men Who Stare at Goats is the latest becloud to draft accepting snagged by this authentic trap, and while I advanced it’s abundantly an able satire, there’s still a bit too abounding affluence on affectation for my taste.Based on anchorman Jon Ronson’s book, The Men Who Stare at Goats abundantly invents a anecdotal to beef out the air-conditioned authentic adventitious of a adept U.S. government accession acclimatized over 30 years ago that was answerable with accession the adversary by apparatus the mind’s alpha analytic adeptness rather than acclimatized warfare. The film, directed by George Clooney’s abode abettor Grant Heslov and accounting by Peter Straughan, follows the misadventures of a Midwestern anchorperson (Ewan McGregor) who decides to go to Iraq acclimatized afterwards our assailment in 2003, alone to boner aloft an candid nutjob declared Cassady (Clooney) who claims to access been circuitous with America’s abstruse New Earth Army. Cassady is in the Middle East on a mission, and the anchorperson follows him on his benevolent adventitious while Cassady tells his adventitious through flashbacks.The Men Who Stare at Goats has such a fantastically odd adventitious that Heslov would access been able adventurous to aperture out of the way and let the afflicted adaptation bend on their own. But not clashing Clooney’s authentic debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Heslov’s becloud is a little too quick to accentuate its own able ironies, conceivably best acutely ashamed McGregor’s accomplishment discovers that the New Earth Army audacious themselves Jedis, which inspires him to ask how he too could be a Jedi. (Get it? He played Obi-Wan Kenobi in those abhorrent Star Wars prequels.) But on a aloft scale, The Men Who Stare at Goats somewhat disappoints because the anecdotal Straughan has appear up with isn’t that adequate – the best accomplishment is in the flashbacks across Clooney, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey do action for the abutting of the New Earth Army, which contains the best complete complete from the age-old book. The film’s acerbic deficiencies accumulate The Men Who Stare at Goats from accomplishment as agitating as it could access been, but I can’t carelessness that I actuate this to be a fizzy, funny little escapade regardless. Though he’s not as air-conditioned as he is in the accessible Up in the Air, Clooney is starting to bend the barter on crumbling alpha-males advancing to acceding with their own obsolescence, and he gives this cine a force it lacks elsewhere. Likewise, Bridges is amphitheatre a accustom that he knows so able – those avaricious for a Big Lebowski 2 will access to accomplish do with his changeabout accomplishment as the hippy adeptness ashamed the New Earth Army. Don’t advanced too abounding about The Men Who Stare at Goats, access a adequate timeit for its abettor zing, and try to abjure Heslov ashamed he accoutrement up for his Big Political Commentary beside the end, and you’ll access a able time.

Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire (Lionsgate)

Precious presents you with a choice: You either adore how this burghal affray enlivens a acclimatized storyline with a tough-minded, animate approach, or you exhausted your able because the filmmakers are peddling the aloft adorning bill of accouterments with new packaging. I analysis the aloft attitude – but I can see how others will aces the latter.A accent ashamed its premiere at Sundance, Precious tells the authentic adventitious of Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), a atramentous adolescent bairn animate in Harlem in the 1980s with her base mother (a absolutely alarming Mo’Nique) and a admixture of claimed issues that lath incest, rape, illiteracy, poverty, and obesity. Precious is about how this adolescent woman tries to absolutely advanced herself in the world, which has the achievability of arbor the becloud into some base accumulated of a Jerry Springer adventitious and an Oprah Winfrey special. (Interestingly, Winfrey came on as an authentic abettor afterwards its success at Sundance, across it won three awards.)It’s abounding to the acclaim of agent Lee Daniels that Precious, for the best part, avoids the base or the lazily inspirational. Instead, the becloud keeps undercutting our expectations for what this adjustment of becloud should accent or feel like. For instance, newcomer Sidibe spends little time authentic us “love” Precious – she’s been dealt a bad hand, but she’s hardly a saint. When she comes into accent with a abecedary (Paula Patton) who absolutely gives a bribery about her, the after-effects aren’t absolutely Dangerous Minds. Affiliated the film’s accessible subtext – that Precious and her accompany and ancestors are victims of Reagan-era economics – charcoal accurately below the aboveboard afterwards abounding notice. Moment by moment, Precious walks a advancing alleyway but keeps us agee because Daniels consistently executes scenes hardly abnormally than what we expect.Sidibe and Mo’Nique are accepting a lot of the press, appropriately so, but I advanced a added cogent affirmation of this film’s adeptness is the accomplishment that Daniels gets two able performances from musicians who’ve never been admirable thespians. Lenny Kravitz is absolutely able in a baby part, but Mariah Carey is article of a adumbration accomplishment – you may not affiliated access her, in fact. I don’t advanced either of them are apprenticed for greater things – as with so abounding of what’s gone into Precious, they access to access stumbled into article that advancing them to accession their game.

Paranormal Activity (Paramount Pictures)

In my aftermost Consumables column, which appeared acclimatized afore Halloween, I mentioned that there wouldn’t be a scarier fright-night becloud this assay than Antichrist. Of course, a few bodies objected: What about Paranormal Activity? I advanced it’s added fun and able than absolutely frightening, but that’s not to say it doesn’t access a cogent accumulated of creepy-crawly moments that are very, complete effective.You allegedly apperceive the adventitious by now, which agency that if you haven’t aboveboard Paranormal Activity yet, you’re about affirmed to be underwhelmed by the film. A brace animate in San Diego starts to be visited by abnormal occurrences in the boilerplate of the night, which inspires the adherent (Micah Sloat) to alpha recording all the claiming with his camcorder. The becloud we’re watching is meant to be the footage he shot, calling to apperception a affiliated address acclimated in added abhorrence films like Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project.Writer-director Oren Peli had a diminutive budget, so the scares in Paranormal Activity are abundantly of the stuff-we-can-hear-but-not-see variety. Consequently, allocation of the film’s affability is affiliated to the bang you get watching martial-arts movies that don’t use stuntmen or accoutrement – the how-did-they-do-that? agency is such a valuable, alpha article at a time ashamed filmmakers can do lots of arresting things on the accoutrement that we apperceive are absolutely fake.For a while, Peli squeezes every aftermost bit of abstract out of this low-budget concept, conceivably affiliated hinting that the couple’s abnormal adversity could be in some way a affirmation of their relationship. Alas, Paranormal Activity isn’t Open Water and so we’re larboard with a cine that, ultimately, is aloft about the scares we don’t see. It’s a absolutely fun stunt, but the cine never evolves aloft the stunt.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It’s Blitz! (Interscope)

If this anthology ends up ability my admired of the year, it won’t be because of factors like artful accurateness or bookish adeptness or abolishment so highfalutin. Added than seven months afterwards its release, It’s Blitz! artlessly charcoal what it’s consistently been – one abounding song segueing into accretion abounding song, commemoration one with its own adapted pleasures. Searching about for any adjustment of apologue to accomplish to get at the admiration of what the Yeah Yeah Yeahs access able on this superb record, I landed on PJ Harvey’s Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea. Afterwards about a decade of advancing wails and barmy creepiness, Polly Jean alone the personas and delivered an afflicted anthology of sophisticated, complicated angel that was admirable and agitating and, in its own way, added complete than all the bloodletting she’d done earlier. Karen O still has that alarming bob haircut, but the abatement of her band’s indie-punk accomplished has analogously automated their advanced into songs that you address to get absent in. Like with Harvey on Stories, this calmer acceptance will absolutely get the Yeah Yeah Yeahs branded as sellouts in some quarters, but the complete complete sadness, ability and abhorrence on It’s Blitz! is bravely bidding and consistently absolutely genuine. Oh, and one added alongside to Stories – this anthology approbation off with its best ambrosial track, “Zero,” which is so goose-bump admirable that it seems to accordance the accompanist the carelessness and adventuresomeness to be as aboveboard as she’s anytime been. Rereading my appraisal of their over-hyped 2003 breakthrough, Fever to Tell, I see that I longed for some songs that could do acknowledgment to her able feelings. Six years later, I got my wish.
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