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A pair of quickie movie reviews

Joined
Nov 25, 1998
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I went to see "The Good Shepherd" and "Night at the Museum" over the New Year weekend. I liked both of them quite a lot, but they are very different films. "The Good Shepherd" is a sort of fictional bio of a man who had gotten into the proto-OSS (Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA) back in 1939 as a new Yale graduate and new "Skull and Bonesman". The Skull and Bones Society at Yale is the epitome of upper class establishment organizations and many of America's leaders in business and government have come from that organization, including both George Bushes and John Kerry. In any case, Matt Damon is the young man and he plays Edward Wilson. The film follows him through a loveless marriage and a pair of questionably loveless affairs, all of the while following his rise as a figure in the covert side of the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA. If he is based upon any real, historical characters, they would appear to be a sort of combination of Frank Wisner, the Deputy Director of Plans(Operations as it was then known) under the Directorship of Allen Dulles in the 1950s and James Jesus Angleton, the head counterspy at the CIA who went on a "mole" hunt in the 1980s that nearly tore the Agency apart but missed Aldrich Ames, the actual "mole" or Soviet spy within the organization. I won't say more except that the film is almost 3 hours long and is very, very cerebral with little or no action. You must pay very close attention in order to follow it because there are plots w/in plots w/in plots going on. I will also say, as one who grew up as the son of a CIA employee in the 1950s, that the flavor of the film is most accurate as is the reconstruction of 1950s Washington, DC. Of course, I can pick nits, but the overall story and flavor are spot-on.

"Night in the Museum" is a really funny piece of fluff with Ben Stiller doing his patented everyman reaction to an outrageous situation, in this case having all of the exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History come alive at night while he is the night watchman there. The fact that the film also features Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt doesn't hurt. Dick Van Dyke, and Mickey Rooney also have what are essentially expanded cameo performances, although both of them make the most of them.

I recommend both films heartily.
 
Thanks for the review, Hugh. I have been curious about "The Good Shepherd". There is only one theatre in my small town so I may have to wait for the DVD but I will certainly check it out now that it has your :thumbup: .
Another new one that sounds interesting to me is "Pan's Labyrinth", a foreign film labeled as a fairy tale for grown-ups.
 
FullerH, I appreciate your unique perspective on "The Good Shepherd." Does DeNiro play "Wild Bill" Donovan? Donovan is quite a character, one of the great, almost unacknowledged, heroes of the twentieth century. I'd love to see a film just about his life.
 
Tizwin, he is called "Sullivan" and he doesn't quite play Donovan as he is a Regular Army in 1939 when Donovan was still a Wall Street lawyer and/or investment banker. But he is very clearly "based loosely," as they say, on Donovan, but nobody is really recognizable as a specific person, just sort of loosely based.

It helps to understand the film if you have a basic knowledge of early Cold War history, say from 1945-1961.
 
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