Thursday 5 November 2009 7:00 pm

Who you gonna call? Goat busters

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Cert: 15

YOU couldn’t make it up – and indeed, the makers of this film didn’t. Based on British writer Jon Ronson’s book, this film takes us inside the US military’s most nutty  experiment – an attempt to create a unit of soldiers with psychic powers.

The film begins in the Kuwait desert where Ewan MacGregor, playing a US journalist heading to Iraq. He runs into a moustachioed George Clooney’s Lyn Cassidy, a soldier who explains that he’s a former member of the New Earth Army, a government-funded, special forces troop of supposedly-psychic soldiers set up in the 80s. The idea was the develop powers such as walking through walls and staring at goats until they fall over dead. But what has become of the unit?

The movie mixes Clooney and MacGregor’s adventures with flashbacks to the days of the “PsyCorp’s” training, led by Jeff Bridge’s hippy Nam vet, beside Kevin Spacey’s bad guy psychic.

There’s lots of freewheeling fun to be had here, particularly when Clooney, Spacey, and Bridges (in full “The Dude” mode) are sharing screen time together. Sadly the present-day, Iraq-set story is something of a dud, and the film runs out of steam ahead of time. But this is an enjoyably off-beat trip nevertheless, with a classy cast on top form.
Timothy Barber

The Almeida Theatre

ANOTHER season, another drama about psychoanalysis at the Almeida – Duet for One, starring Juliet Stevenson, was a hit earlier this year. Like that play, Thea Sharrock’s Mrs Klein, starring the bristling, powerful Clare Higgins, is an interesting, absorbing piece that does not leave one feeling particularly full of cheer about the profession of psychoanalysis as it was practiced by Germanic Jews of the 1930s.

Melanie Klein was a pioneer in child psychology and was particularly interested in children’s aggression – an irony, given the miserable state of her own family, that the play hinges around. The play opens in her study in Hampstead, as she gives orders to Paula, a student and admirer, to keep house while she is away. She’s off to Budapest for her son’s funeral and seems oddly cheerful about it.

The action hots up as her daughter, also a psychoanalyst,  storms in looking for her mother but only finding Paula. An intense mother-daughter battle ensues, in which the warring professionals in Klein and her daughter tussle with the damaged emotional bond between them.

Sounds complicated? It is. But despite the gloomy subject matter, the brilliant acting makes it another Almeida must-see.
Zoe Strimpel

The Royal Academy

COMPARED to the colourful art playground atmosphere of the superb Anish Kapoor exhibition downstairs, the Royal Academy’s overview of the art of three men who shook up British sculpture in the early part of the twentieth century seems somewhat pale and bloodless. The best is saved for last – Jacob Epstein’s phenomenally dramatic “Rock Drill” sculpture (see left), is a truly pulverizing image that is still scary now.

Must of the rest of the works on show here, by Epstein and his Edwardian contemporaries Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Eric Gill, is less involving. The ideas of eroticism and modernity had rather more impact then than now, and though this will be an interesting show for determined art historians, this stuff has nothing on what was being produced elsewhere in Europe at the time.