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The Good Shepherd


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43 replies to this topic

#1 of 44 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted December 20 2006 - 06:46 PM

Has anyone else seen this embarassment? I don't have a short-attention span, but this one had me crawling for the exits. So many plotlines are introduced and left hanging. From my review:
Quote:
Robert De Niro's first directorial effort since A Bronx Tale in 1993, The Good Shepherd purports to be "the untold story of the birth of the CIA." It is actually an interminable series of only loosely related scenes about characters that we don't much care about doing horrible things we don't much care about either. By the time the only character with any personality arrives on screen, played by a seemingly ancient Joe Pesci, my mind was screaming "why God why isn't this movie over yet?"

Matt Damon plays Edward Wilson, a man with an unreadable poker face and the barest minimum of personality. He is smart, of affluent upbringing, with very little sense of humor. Perfect for international espionage. Not so perfect for carrying a three hour journey that spends too long saying too little. Only one character gets him to crack the slightest smile. She gets less than five minutes of the total running time. He's smart, he's unreadable. I get it. I'm bored now.
{Rest here}

Any one else catch this early? Any one ENJOY themselves?

#2 of 44 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted December 20 2006 - 07:25 PM

The trailer looked great....I plan to see it.

#3 of 44 OFFLINE   Quentin

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Posted December 21 2006 - 04:51 AM

Snooooooorrrrre. Man, what a disappointment.

#4 of 44 OFFLINE   RobLe

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Posted December 22 2006 - 07:32 PM

I just saw this tonight and loved it. Can't wait to see it again.

#5 of 44 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted December 24 2006 - 10:32 AM

Quote:
Any one ENJOY themselves?
Yes, immensely. The film is beautifully crafted, impeccably cast, and effectively puts you into a paranoid world that I suspect resembles real counter-intelligence work much more closely than the histrionics of the usual spy thriller. I look forward to a second viewing.

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#6 of 44 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted December 24 2006 - 10:54 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Reuben
Yes, immensely. The film is beautifully crafted, impeccably cast, and effectively puts you into a paranoid world that I suspect resembles real counter-intelligence work much more closely than the histrionics of the usual spy thriller. I look forward to a second viewing.

M.
That's all I needed to hear before I see this film tomorrow. Thanks.




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#7 of 44 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted December 24 2006 - 12:49 PM

Considering Matt Damon's other spy role (Jason Bourne), the nuanced counter-intelligence moves executed by Edward Wilson had to bear some irony by viewers in simply the casting of Damon in both roles.

I have an interest in the material dealing with how the need for international spying was developed as WWII became a full-fledged event around the world. I did like the use of intercutting the fallout of the Bay of Pigs invasion within a few weeks of the debacle with Wilson's own personal story from college to said debacle, and its use in using his life as a metaphor in the personal and human costs that are a byproduct of activities relating espionage and counter-intelligence.

Life as a spook is not often exciting, but the ramifications of key moments can shape national policy and other national interests, even if the import of such events aren't known for years to come afterwards. The film keeps a very low key approach in revealing Wilson's life and the approach fits within such a secretive character, always living in the shadows while acting with the best intentions in a grey world of mistrust and misgivings.

Granted, it is a long film, over 150 minutes long, so don't expect a 90-minute thrill ride, it's more contemplative of the subject material, with a pace that easily produced paranoia from the very act of watching the film unfold. The pacing is intentional, but I don't think the casual film-goer will enjoy the pacing, and I think it would work better on DVD, viewing the film over 2 nights.

DeNiro keeps it as real as possible for a film that covers about 22 years of Wilson's life (1939 - 1961) and his role in being in on the ground floor of the beginnings of the CIA. For a film with a lot of shadows and innate darkness, it's a treat to take in the cinematography for this time period and become totally entrenched in it.

The acting is what it is as required by the subject material and script. Is it scintillating, no, but it is a film of secrets, of covert actions and consequences, both professional and personal.

I give it 2.75 stars or a grade of B- (would have been rated a little higher if the film was tightened up a bit).
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#8 of 44 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted December 24 2006 - 01:50 PM

Quote:
it's more contemplative of the subject material, with a pace that easily produced paranoia from the very act of watching the film unfold.
Now that's interesting. I didn't feel any paranoia or tension, because none of the characters gave me any reason to care for their welfare or future. It plays out more like a lecture on the CIA than an actual narrative. We get a broad cross-section of events from Edward's life, but none of them dig very deep. What exactly was surprising or unexpected? What characters did you connect with? What drew you into them?

#9 of 44 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted December 24 2006 - 01:58 PM

I think it's a film about hard choices and the toll it takes on such people who work in the spy biz.

The scene with Wilson and his son at the Allen's Christmas party is all you need to know about Wilson's devotion to his son, even if he wasn't there for the first 5 years of his life in service for his country. Wilson lived a veneer of a life, and also had to deal with national security threats on a daily basis at a time where the cold war made for uncertainty on a different scale that hadn't been seen before as technology became both a tool and a weapon for both sides in ascertaining intelligence on the other side.

Sure, Wilson wasn't the most emotive person on-screen, but I understood the pressures of the job on him and the personal cost exacted upon him in this line of work. From that aspect, I responded to him having to make the tough choices in spite of the personal costs, and the weight of secrets that burdened him on a daily basis.
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#10 of 44 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted December 24 2006 - 05:19 PM

From reading your narrative Patrick I would have thought your score would have been a bit higher than 2.75 stars. Posted Image

I look forward to seeing this one soon....

#11 of 44 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted December 25 2006 - 07:39 AM

Well, it's just a little bit long, and I think there is probably a very good 140-minute cut of the film, somewhere in there.
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#12 of 44 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted December 26 2006 - 02:54 AM

God, is this ever long. I had a problem with all the timeshifting back and forth. Had this been told in a linear fashion (start at Yale, work forward to the the Bay of Pigs), I think it would have been easier. But it was incredibly hard to care about what was going on. By the end, I really didn't care who did what or why they did it. I just wanted to leave as fast as I could.

The cast is spot on, the story could have been interesting...it's just too dang long and involved to sit and think about for 2 hours and 40 minutes. I give it a 6 out of 10 mainly for the cast.

#13 of 44 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted December 27 2006 - 05:38 AM

The Good Shepherd was a long, depressing, confusing affair. The previews suggest a high intensity, period spy piece; it was really something of a slog at times.

The craftsmanship, the performances were all excellent. But I left confused about the story and uncertain if I could recommend it to anyone. I don't regret seeing it, but I it failed to meet my expectations.

Perhaps most perplexing, for a nearly three-hour movie, was the inclusion of a several dead-end sub-plots. The Mayan coffee event, Laura, and Joe Pesci's Italian could have been excised tightening the movie, and removing needless confusions.

If you can enjoy a movie as an experience, or a character study, without concern for a satisfying ending, the The Good Shepherd is worthwhile.

#14 of 44 OFFLINE   Elizabeth S

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Posted December 27 2006 - 08:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quentin
Snooooooorrrrre. Man, what a disappointment.

I believe I actually fell asleep for a few moments here and there. (Hey, I had a huge lunch right before!)

I wasn't particularly interested in seeing this film, but wanted to see a film on Christmas and the showtime was convenient.

I admit some of the plot lost me early and I know I still don't understand everything. It kept me somewhat interested, but certainly didn't thrill me.

Not sure if this thread requires spoilers, but

I disagree about Laura though -- that relationship was one of the more interesting parts of the film for me. As emotionless as Damon plays it, I felt THAT was one of the heartbreaks of his life. And I felt for her.

I also spent much of the film questioning if Edward, Jr. was actually his biological son. Clover's ultra-aggressive behavior was that of someone already pregnant desperate to find a suitable husband .


#15 of 44 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted December 27 2006 - 06:00 PM

Elizabeth - Laura was instrumental to revealing Wilson's character. However:
His final meeting with her, the photographs of their liason given to his wife, and the return of her necklace made no sense and had no purpose in the story.


#16 of 44 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted December 27 2006 - 08:19 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveF
Elizabeth - Laura was instrumental to revealing Wilson's character. However:
His final meeting with her, the photographs of their liason given to his wife, and the return of her necklace made no sense and had no purpose in the story.

Hmm...I thought
Wilson was trapped in his loveless marriage, and upon a chance encounter (or not), he was able to rekindle a spark with Laura, but as it were, Wilson was under surveillance, and it was used against him, to introduce turmoil into his personal life for not cooperating with someone (like Ulysses) for some spy favors, and Wilson decided he had to end it with Laura, so he sent someone to give back the only thing (the necklace) he had of hers since that ill-fated hotel room visit many years ago, signifying to her that they were done, and he was keeping his distance from her.

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#17 of 44 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted December 28 2006 - 01:04 AM

Patrick, so you're saying it's all about revenge? It's an awful lot of screentime to devote to something like that. By this point, though, I was so bored with everything that was going on and these characters I couldn't have cared less if Batman and Superman came walking in.

#18 of 44 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted December 28 2006 - 05:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason_V
Patrick, so you're saying it's all about revenge? It's an awful lot of screentime to devote to something like that. By this point, though, I was so bored with everything that was going on and these characters I couldn't have cared less if Batman and Superman came walking in.

Hey, I would've liked that! Posted Image
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#19 of 44 OFFLINE   Chris Will

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Posted December 28 2006 - 05:51 PM

Well, I have not seen "The Good Shepard" and based on the majority here I may skip it until the DVD comes out. Based on the trailers, "Breach" looks like a better CIA movie to me anyway.

#20 of 44 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted December 29 2006 - 03:59 PM

Patrick - yes, but who did that, and to what end? There was no consequence to it. It didn't tie in with the main characters or storyline.


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