Friday, September 2, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 09/01/11: Men Who Stare at Goats, Cutter's Way, Talking and Eating

1.  For me, "The Men Who Stare at Goats" was a lot of fun.  It was like watching a blend of "Airplane", "Apocalypse Now", "Dr. Strangelove", and "King of Hearts".  I enjoyed the movie as a send up of the absurdity of the USA in Iraq, as a send up of paranormality, and of New Age male "sensitivity" and self-absorption.  Every time I watch George Clooney in a movie, I admire him more.  I thoroughly enjoyed Jeff Bridges as well. I needed some relief from the dark-indy-Palestinian-Sundance movies I had been watching.  "The Men Who Stare at Goats" was welcome relief. 

2.  Watching Jeff Bridges in "The Men Who Stare at Goats" inspired me to watch him in a movie when he was younger.  I remembered that "Cutter's Way" was available for instant viewing on Netflix, and am I ever happy I watched this movie again for the, well, let's say, umm, twelfth time (at least).  It was better than ever.  I've been living with this movie since January of 1982 when I first saw it at the Cinema 7 and then when I owned a copy, videotaped off of Spotlight with my BetaMax.  Back in 1982, I had seen, and admired,  John Heard in "Between the Lines", "Heart Beat", and "Chilly Scenes of Winter" (aka "Head over Heels") and his performance in "Cutter's Way" made me think I'd see him in great leading roles for years to come. 

Watching this movie today, I once again wondered why no one ever again let John Heard let it rip the way Ivan Passer did in this movie.  Never again did I see John Heard play a role where his character was as verbally adroit, manic, seething, dangerous, obsessive, hyperactive, cunning, manipulative, and raw as Alex Cutter in "Cutter's Way". 

(If you'd like to read a plot summary of the movie, go to and look up "Cutter's Way". )

For me, the enduring power of the movie isn't so much the pursuit of the murder case, but the portrayal of Mo, Alex, and Richard, all in their late twenties, early thirties, drifting through their days, Mo numbed by booze and loneliness, Richard a sex shell, and Alex a crippled, half-blinded alcoholic Vietnam vet, driven by anger, imagination, and a thirst for justice and revenge.  The scenes between Lisa Eichorn, Jeff Bridges, and John Heard are complex in the movie's portrayal of ennui, of jaded despair, of three aimless young adults drinking, having sex, talking about sex, making jaded chit chat, indulging in some violence, filling the void with what's at hand -- including Alex's obsession with a murder, a murder whose aftermath was witnessed by Richard Bone.  If you are still reading this rambling Beautiful Thing, I'll tell you that at about the 1:40 mark of a movie about 1:44 long, I think the movie goes a little sideways.  It jumps the shark.  But, for me, it's rescued by the movie's compelling final image, its closing black out.

3.  Michael, MB, and I met at the Wandering Goat and talked about a wide variety of things including what happened in court on Monday.  Jeff arrived late and couldn't stay long, so we got him caught up and soon after he left, I said I had to go so I could meet Micahel, Pam, and the Deke at Billy Mac's where I took a chance on the Ranchero Prime Rib, a special on the menu, and I enjoyed it very much.  I left hoping that one day I can have a straight ahead prime rib at Billy Mac's.  That meat was splendid.

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