So Familiar, So Strange, So Entertaining

Take a little “Dr. Strangelove,â€� add a dash of “M*A*S*H,â€� a dollop of “Stripes.â€� Stir in a bit of “Star Warsâ€� to taste and you’ve got  Grant Heslov’s war comedy “The Men Who Stare At Goats.â€�

   Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) is a reporter at a small paper in Ann Arbor, MI, who is dismayed to discover his wife is leaving him for the editor. (Cue first “Strangeloveâ€� gag, the editor’s evil-looking artificial arm.)

   Trying to prove himself, the muddled Bob finds himself cooling his heels, Kuwaiting for permission to go into Iraq.

   And he meets Lyn Cassady (George Clooney) in the bar, and away they go.

   For Cassady is no ordinary defense contractor, but an ex-member of a super-secret Army outfit called The New Earth Army, formed in the late 1970s because the Russians thought the Americans were researching psychic warfare, which they weren’t, but the Russians thought they were, so they started their own program, so the Americans had to close the psychic operations gap, and . . .   

   (That would be your second Strangelove reference.)

   The New Earth Army is headed by Lt. Col Bill Django, played with stoned amiability by Jeff Bridges. The unit has early potential, but is derailed by the ambitious and devious Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey), who shows up at the finale.

   So the story is a series of flashbacks between the weirdo hippie army stuff and the misadventures of the hapless Bob and the self-described Jedi Warrior Cassady as they flounder around Iraq.

   The bang-bang between past and present works and the yuks keep coming steadily — consider the concept of a de-bleated goat — until the end of the film, when Bob and Lyn find themselves at a private contractor’s psychic ops camp, run by the malevolent Hooper.

   And in an episode that seems designed only as a way to end the movie, they dose the camp with LSD. Strained hilarity ensues.

   “Goatsâ€� is based on the book of the same name by Jon Ronson, who introduced America to the work of David Icke, the king of the conspiracy theorists, and it has the same heady mix of absurdity and plausibility.

   The film is rich with satire. The dialogue is crisp, the sequences tight (until the end).

And “Goats� is blessedly devoid of overt politics, a real relief these days.

   Clever, well-paced, and a can’t- miss cast.

   Check it out.

“The Men Who Stare at Goats� is rated R for language, drug content and nudity.

It is playing at The Moviehouse in Millerton, NY, and the Cineroms in Torrington and Winsted in Connecticut.

Latest News

The artistic life of Joelle Sander

"Flowers" by the late artist and writer Joelle Sander.

Cornwall Library

The Cornwall Library unveiled its latest art exhibition, “Live It Up!,” showcasing the work of the late West Cornwall resident Joelle Sander on Saturday, April 13. The twenty works on canvas on display were curated in partnership with the library with the help of her son, Jason Sander, from the collection of paintings she left behind to him. Clearly enamored with nature in all its seasons, Sander, who split time between her home in New York City and her country house in Litchfield County, took inspiration from the distinctive white bark trunks of the area’s many birch trees, the swirling snow of Connecticut’s wintery woods, and even the scenic view of the Audubon in Sharon. The sole painting to depict fauna is a melancholy near-abstract outline of a cow, rootless in a miasma haze of plum and Persian blue paint. Her most prominently displayed painting, “Flowers,” effectively builds up layers of paint so that her flurry of petals takes on a three-dimensional texture in their rough application, reminiscent of another Cornwall artist, Don Bracken.

Keep ReadingShow less
A Seder to savor in Sheffield

Rabbi Zach Fredman

Zivar Amrami

On April 23, Race Brook Lodge in Sheffield will host “Feast of Mystics,” a Passover Seder that promises to provide ecstasy for the senses.

“’The Feast of Mystics’ was a title we used for events back when I was running The New Shul,” said Rabbi Zach Fredman of his time at the independent creative community in the West Village in New York City.

Keep ReadingShow less
Art scholarship now honors HVRHS teacher Warren Prindle

Warren Prindle

Patrick L. Sullivan

Legendary American artist Jasper Johns, perhaps best known for his encaustic depictions of the U.S. flag, formed the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 1963, operating the volunteer-run foundation in his New York City artist studio with the help of his co-founder, the late American composer and music theorist John Cage. Although Johns stepped down from his chair position in 2015, today the Foundation for Community Arts continues its pledge to sponsor emerging artists, with one of its exemplary honors being an $80 thousand dollar scholarship given to a graduating senior from Housatonic Valley Regional High School who is continuing his or her visual arts education on a college level. The award, first established in 2004, is distributed in annual amounts of $20,000 for four years of university education.

In 2024, the Contemporary Visual Arts Scholarship was renamed the Warren Prindle Arts Scholarship. A longtime art educator and mentor to young artists at HVRHS, Prindle announced that he will be retiring from teaching at the end of the 2023-24 school year. Recently in 2022, Prindle helped establish the school’s new Kearcher-Monsell Gallery in the library and recruited a team of student interns to help curate and exhibit shows of both student and community-based professional artists. One of Kearcher-Monsell’s early exhibitions featured the work of Theda Galvin, who was later announced as the 2023 winner of the foundation’s $80,000 scholarship. Prindle has also championed the continuation of the annual Blue and Gold juried student art show, which invites the public to both view and purchase student work in multiple mediums, including painting, photography, and sculpture.

Keep ReadingShow less