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The Kind Men Who Box Christmas Goats

A week after Halloween, every release is about something supernatural.  We’ve got psychics, aliens, ghosts, and Cameron Diaz.  Okay, I admit – maybe aliens and psychics can be explained with science, but some things are better left in the realm of imagination. Mark Twain once said “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”  Of the movies coming out this weekend, the strangest tale is supposedly based on true events: The Men Who Stare At Goats (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

men_who_stare_at_goats“An often highly amusing comedy in the vein of “Catch 22” and “Dr Strangelove,” this lively satire looks destined for future cult status. Great soundtrack, too.” The New Yorker Anthony Lane

The Men Who Stare At Goats: Or, How I learned To Stop Shooting And Love Killing With My Brain.

“George Clooney browbeats livestock with the same crazy eyes he brought to O Brother, Where Art Thou? — but his new movie, an unfocused comedy about weird Army pseudoscience, ends up blinking before we laugh.” Joshua Rothkopf Time Out New York


“Try to browbeat me and I’ll open your head like a can of soup”

“Even if The Men Who Stare at Goats is not worth comparing to “Dr. Strangelove,” it should satisfy audiences with its great cast and patent absurdities, coated in quaint nostalgia for the happy hippie days of yore.” The Hollywood Reporter Deborah Young

A movie about psychic hippies in the military?  Do you need a better example of truth being stranger?


The book cover looks more like "The Men Who Shoot At Goats"

“Intended as a farcical antidote to big-screen bores about Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s twice as pompous and endlessly tedious.” Rex Reed New York Observer

“The Men Who Stare At Goats is a light-hearted and highly entertaining antidote to pompous large scale movies about Iraq or Aghanistan.” Mike Goodridge Screen International

They disagree about it being good and whether it’s pompous, but agree that it’s an antidote.  However, doesn’t that imply that we were poisoned by other war movies?  Personally, I blame Pauly Shore.

pauly shore

It’s not that ‘fake’ funny you might expect.

“A serendipitous marriage of talent in which all hearts seem to beat as one.” Derek Elley Variety

Multiple hearts beating as one sounds vaguely creepy, but no creepier than having a button that kills a random person and awards you $1 million in cash every time you press it, which is the premise of The Box (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).


“It may fall short of Donnie Darko’s clever storytelling, but for his third feature film, Kelly plays confidently with suspense and lays down the right hooks at the right time to keep you drawn into his creepy world.” Patrick Kolan IGN Movies AU

“Lays down the right hooks” = effective twists or punches to the face?

“Certain parts of it are maddeningly inspired. The sum of all its parts will just make you mad.” Leigh Paatsch Herald Sun (Australia)


Was it a sign of madness when Britney did it?

“Kelly’s most accessible ambiguous odyssey to date, The Box dares you to open it up again and again.” Ben McEachen Sunday Mail (Australia)

Should we expect double dares if there’s a sequel?

“The interesting thing about Richard Kelly’s films is that in none of them do you know exactly what’s happening, and it does not really matter, because there is such a wealth of imagination there. I found it very impressive.” David Stratton At the Movies (Australia)

Whenever I do this roundup early, I end up working with mostly Australian reviews, which I find fascinating.  I’ve heard that Aussie’s tend to get things like video games, tv shows, and other forms of entertainment on a separate release schedule, but an early one?  Down under is on top in this case.  Back to the subject at hand, what’s the lowdown on this high concept thriller?

“Kelly’s trademark mix of sci-fi, surrealism and suburbia occasionally entertains.” Variety Jordan Mintzer

Occasionally entertaining meets occasionally unbelievable in the interview-based thriller about alien abduction: The Fourth Kind (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).


“There’s nothing in this glorified Power Point presentation that stands up to even the most cursory scrutiny.”Joshua Tyler CinemaBlend.com

Who’d want to scrutinize a Power Point presentation?

“The Fourth Kind was one of the scariest things I’ve seen in years. I’m going out to see it again, which tells you how much I care whether or not it’s a hoax…I enjoyed every thrilling minute of it.” Jenna Busch Huffington Post

Perhaps Mrs. Busch loves Power Point, or she drank a lot of beer before watching.

“A couple of modestly effective shocks lie in store, but none as frightening as the onscreen text informing us that some 11 million people claim to have seen a UFO.” Scott Foundas Village Voice


During the UFO hysteria of the 1950's a woman claimed to have seen one. When asked how she knew it was an alien spacecraft she said "The ship had UFO written on the side of it."

“If your mind is in the right place, THE FOURTH KIND is a chilling, creepy, unnerving and engaging experience. But I stress the idea that most of you probably will not like this…Buyer beware.” Brad Miska Bloody Disgusting

I probably won’t like it, but if my mind is in the right place, I might.  What kind of mindset do I need to be in?

“Alien abductees are back and they are still idiots.” Victoria Alexander FilmsInReview.com

Got it.  Our last movie is Robert Zemeckis’s third all-CGI movie (after Polar Express and Beowulf), only this time it adapts Dickens: A Christmas Carol (Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic).  I’ve always been curious about how Scrooge became such an enduring Christmas character since we associate him with dissing the x-mas and being an all-around Bah Humbug-er.  It’s like if Nazi sympathizer became a sign of Hanukkah because someone wrote a story about him changing his mind about Judaism.

chirstmasposter“A Christmas Carol is, in its essence, a product reel, a showy, exuberant demonstration of the glories of motion capture, computer animation and 3D technology. On that level, it’s a wow. On any emotional level, it’s as cold as Marley’s Ghost.” Kirk Honeycutt Hollywood Reporter

It’s sounds oddly appropriate that a computer animated film would struggle with emotion.  How many computer programs connect with people on a personal level?

“This new Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey will scare the bejesus out of small children!” James O’Ehley fantastiqueZINE

“Conceptually brilliant with mind-blowing special effects, but who is the intended audience of this visual extravaganza? Certainly not children: the content is far too dark with haunting imagery that could provoke nightmares for impressionable youngsters.” Louise Keller Urban Cinefile

That’s okay, kids don’t need to learn the spirit of Christmas.  They’re already the biggest supporters of the holiday.  Adults are the ones who need to be reminded to give and appreciate their fellow man/woman.

“By the time it’s over, you’ll have to be a real Scrooge yourself to not have at least a little bit of the Christmas spirit instilled into you.” Edward Douglas ComingSoon.net


PDJ wonders if it's ever too early for that.

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