A masterfully crafted film reminiscent of the classics (by athena471)
I have not seen a movie that I have been happy with for over a year, and I was very pleasantly surprised with "The Good Shepherd". The plot is intricate and keeps throwing twists and turns throughout the film. In addition, this film has single-handedly changed my opinion of Matt Damon. He was absolutely excellent in this thrilling drama, and in my opinion is worthy of an Oscar nomination, as is most of the cast. Robert De Niro showed absolute mastery in his direction of Eric Roth's screenplay, and the whole quality of the experience truly reminded me of such epic classics as The <more>
Godfather. "The Good Shepherd" is long in duration, but keeps you on the edge, making the time fly. Plus, the movie is truly star-studded with many of the supporting roles played by Hollywood Heavyweights. If you love dramas, political espionage, or just an excellent character-driven film the depth that De Niro gives these characters is amazing , you will LOVE this movie! Thank you Mr. De Niro for restoring my faith in movies. DEFINITE Oscar CONTENDER!
"The mental facility to detect conspiracies and betrayal are the same qualities most likely to corrode natural judgment." Almost every year, there is one great film that slips under my radar. I usually wait for it to hit DVD because it keeps getting passed over for other films I'd rather watch. However, when I finally get around to seeing it, I wonder to myself how I ever let it pass me by.In 2006, that film is Robert De Niro's "The Good Shepherd". Here is a cinematic gem that hits all the right notes. It is a study in detail. It is a master-class in mood and tone <more>
and style. This movie is a fascinating character study and a riveting story of trust, loyalty and betrayal -- both personally and politically.Edward Wilson Matt Damon is a gifted young man whose keen intellect and sharp observational skills soon catch the attentions of some important people. While attending Yale University, Edward is recruited into the uber-secretive college society known as the Skull and Bones. During the initiation ritual, he is asked to recount a secret that he has never before revealed -- a pledge of trust and brotherhood. He describes his father's suicide as a result of being a disgraced naval officer.The FBI becomes aware of Edward's abilities. His encounter with a poetry professor only serves to expedite his venture into the world of espionage.Edward's ties to that secretive community cost him his first love, Laura, a beautiful young deaf girl with a heart of gold and a pure spirit. Instead, a relationship seems forced upon him with Clover Angelina Jolie , sister to one of his fraternity colleagues. An unplanned pregnancy rushes along the marriage plans. It becomes a loveless relationship between strangers.The film follows Edward's life, shifting between the 1940's and the 1960's, counterbalancing the eager early loyalty with the paranoid, lonely and resentful man he becomes later in life. "The Good Shepherd" is a finite analysis of a man who knows what the important things in life are family, love, friendship, parenting , but substitutes them for patriotism and duty -- perhaps as a way of restoring his father's honor.What De Niro does so well is to patiently, rather microscopically, dissect Edward's life in the world of intelligence. Every detail of this man's soul is laid bare for us to see. It allows the viewer to respect and pity him at the same time. It is probably the greatest cinematic exploration of espionage ever made. We are privy to this character's very core.Consider the multiple virtuoso sequences in which the CIA lab technicians systematically analyze a fuzzy black & white photograph in conjunction with a low grade audio tape. It is a fascinating study in detail that serves as a microcosm to the entire movie. De Niro's legendary attention to the details of his portrayed characters has quite obviously transferred to his directing. Everything of value in "The Good Shepherd" lays in the subtle moments... the momentary glances... the uncomfortable silences... the verbal hints and clues.Also note the fabulous exchange in a covert London counter-intelligence office between Matt Damon and John Turturro. It is a fantastic exercise in screen writing, rapid rhythmic delivery and understated, yet mesmerizing, acting. It was wonderful to watch the "Rounders" duo reunite and square off with some great dialogue once again.This may be De Niro's epic creation, but in terms of acting, this is Matt Damon's film. What he achieves here is nothing short of... well, nothing short of De Niro at his very best. Damon picks the bones of his character clean. It is a performance that establishes him as one of the greats of a generation. None of his contemporary peers can carry the face of solemnity and gravitas quite as powerfully as he. This role is Damon's "Raging Bull"... albeit a quiet rage. This is the best performance of 2006... from either sex.There are many fine supporting roles on display. Most noteworthy are the turns by Alec Baldwin as the all-knowing FBI agent, Tammy Blanchard as Edward's regrettably lost first love, and Michael Gambon as the wise professor who has been in the game too long. It was also a welcome sight to see Joe Pesci in a feature film for the first time in a long while. The entire cast is first rate -- an obvious sign that De Niro knows how to cast a film with actors as precise as he.This film truly captures how lonely it must be to work in the intelligence community, especially at that time. Half way through the film, Edward receives the news that his first son has been born. The resulting phone call to his wife is interrupted by air-raid sirens and horrible static. His wife asks if he is busy saving the world. He replies, "Sometimes. What color are his eyes?" When the line is cut off before she answers, we empathize with Edward's decision to sacrifice his own happiness for the good of his ungrateful government.When Edward unexpectedly runs into Laura, some years after their college romance, she confesses that she often wonders what life would have been like had they stayed together. It is a poignant scene, filled with regrets of what might have been.I watched two other films in the past week that were within touching distance of greatness. "The Painted Veil" and "Goya's Ghosts" were both in need of a little more patience -- maybe they were afraid to go much beyond the two hour mark for fear of being commercially unviable. At two hours and forty-five minutes, "The Good Shepherd" goes the extra mile, resulting in a complete filmgoing experience. Quite frankly, it is an unassailable masterpiece.TC Candler IndependentCritics.com.
This is an excellent movie. Very complex. And without the simple "signals" many movies use to lead along the viewer. It's difficult to understand how truthful it is. Secrets are secrets. This comment is just to make a note of the tradecraft and other espionage activities found in the movie.1/ Encrypted communications. There is use of a secure phones, and b telex machines for communications .2/ Token Passing. A U.S. dollar bill from which the serial number has been recorded is passed from Wilson to a Russian counterpart. When there is a need to make contact, even years <more>
later, the bill is passed back. Presumably such bills could be issued to many different persons forming a type of "latent" network.4/ Operation Paperclip. It is not mentioned in the movie, but this was an operation designed to round up Nazi scientists and bring them to the U.S. in the immediate post-war period. Werner Von Braun from the Pnenumunde V2 rocket project was brought in to head up our rocket efforts.5/ Wireless eaves dropping. a The book of Ulysses included an electronic bug of Wilson's office. To be such a long-lasting "bug", it would need to be "passive", using power only when needed. Seems a little bit unrealistic. b Hearing aid on German interpreter. This was a fake hearing aid that was sending a copy of all interviews of defectors and others to the Russians.6/ Use of "Honey Trap" and Sex Blackmail. Wilson's son is seduced by a Russian agent, their sex is videotaped, under low resolution, and it reveals she pried from him the name of the landing point for the Bay of Pigs invasion.7/ Technical Services. Much work in analysis of the blackmail tape. Included a refinement of resolution on film. b linking of clock time to background sound of aircraft taking off, c identification of type of overhead room fan, d sound of church bells and timing, e accent of honey trap woman, f noise filtering and frequency scanning/blocking to clarify what is said, g identification of surrounding trees type of vegetation from shadows on wall. All of these elements together helped determine the location of the honey trap.8/ Cryptology & Cryptanalysis. Nothing much in the movie.9/ Betrayal. Plenty of this. a English traitor has Wilson's tutor killed. b Wilson betrays his tutor, not knowing tutor himself is under cover attempting to expose Nazi organization efforts in the U.S., c Wilson turns in Dulles by revealing copies of Swiss bank statements. d Wilson saves son by having honey trap wife killed, but without telling him.10/ Blackmail. By compromising Wilson's son, Russian KGB/GRU? operative attempts to compromise Wilson.11/ Use of "legend". Russian double-agent is a fake defector using a name of someone else. Provides "useful" information for years, before being found out.12/ Interrogation techniques: a beating, b true-enhancing drugs, here LSD used, c water-boarding but without the board .13/ Use of Cover. a Wilson as "trade attache", b Wilson's agent in central America is advised to stop wearing a class ring, does not take it off, is identified, and killed. evidence of poor training on the US side .14/ Coordination with FBI. a Exchange of information by leaking of CIA information to FBI in order to discredit enemy or traitor, b FBI used to arrest double agents operating in US.15/ Radio communications. Some use of shortwave radio to coordinate operations. Other notes: a No computer technology used! b All documents were paper files, and kept in filing cabinets with combination locks. If anyone noticed something else, I'd love to hear about it.Interesting Twists: 1/ Wilson seems to like girls who have a disability a his love who is deaf, and b the German interpreter who pretends to be deaf. 2/ Does anyone know if the Skull and Bones rituals were/are really like that? If so, this group of people are certified nuts or at least they are made out to be in the movie . I mean, grown men, including Senators dressing up in drag and performing in front of their mates and wives?3/ To me, the most convincing persons in the movie were a Pesci playing the Miami mobster, and b the Russian counterpart.
Finally a film that doesn't assume you're an idiot (by deanmasters)
After enduring trailer after trailer with endless stings of explosions, ridiculous CG-assisted stunts and mindless action, I felt very rewarded with an intelligent and intriguing film that defies the status quo of bigger and louder is better. The Good Sheperd doesn't insult your intelligence, it stimulates it, sometimes confuses it, and forces you to look several layers beneath the surface. It feels like a throwback to another era of films when the complexity of a character was of greater importance than spectacle. De Niro took a page from his producer's best work, Francis Ford <more>
Coppola, emulating films like The Godfather, The Conversation and Apacalypse Now. The drama rises not from the usual blatant conventional devices but rather by raising questions because of what we're not told and not shown. It requires a great deal of courage to use this style as films have gravitated more and more toward assuming the average moviegoer is of substandard intelligence. The scope of the film is enormous, yet the point of view is narrowly focused to be seen through the eyes of one man. There are a dozen of subplots, but all are carefully tied into the through-line of the story to match the main character's progression. The film may require some understanding of American history from WWII through the Kennedy administration. It starts with the later years of the story, The Bay of Pigs debacle, and traces the steps that lead to it, one of the more embarrassing moments in the history of U.S. foreign policy. I found it a bit annoying that Matt Damon's character, Edward Wilson, barely seemed to age in the film while others around him did the best way to determine his age is whether he's wearing wire-rimmed or horn-rimmed glasses , but it didn't ruin the film for me. Overall though, definitely one of the best films of 2006. A rare film that makes you want to think and understand, rather than forget.
The spook who stayed in the cold: an epic critique of the American espionage game (by Chris Knipp)
A gray winter day was a fitting time to see one of the first public screenings of a film called "The Good Shepherd," whose chilly hero Edward Wilson Matt Damon, in a role modeled in part on CIA founder, James Jesus Angleton is not so much all things to all men as nobody to anybody. A composite figure in a portrait of the birth, rise, and moral shriveling of the American CIA, Matt Damon's disturbingly shut-down Wilson would be one of recent film's most tragic figures if he were not such a hollow, unappealing man. Directing a long-contemplated project using a screenplay by <more>
Eric Roth who penned "Munich" , Robert De Niro has forged a "Godfather" of Yankee spy-craft, a heavy, solemn epic about betrayal and loyalty in the world of espionage and counter-espionage dominated not by Italians as in the original "Godfather," though Coppola produced, De Niro directed, and Joe Pesci has one of the liveliest on screen moments, but by uptight, stony, patrician WASPs.Indeed as seen here the world of American intelligence is a privileged and exclusive and deeply conflicted one where Irish, blacks, and Italians need not apply; fathers are absent; privilege grows out of Skull and Bones at Yale, wives are betrayed; sons labor desperately to measure up, and the leading practitioners are ridden with guilt and suspicion. There is no one to trust and nothing to believe in not family or tradition, or even music only America, which Edward Wilson says belongs to his class. All others are just visiting.Into this demoralizing story, damning in its picture of the world of white privilege and of intelligence itself but nonetheless intricately involving and at times genuinely disturbing, are woven some of the major incidents and personalities of the period from from before the Second World War after which OSS morphed into CIA till after the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion under JFK, from hot war to cold war. You have Philbys and fake Russian turncoats, CIA execs siphoning off money to Switzerland in guise of chocolate boxes, and through it all you have a Cuba mole investigation that smashes Wilson's own family.Wilson's true penchant was for a deaf girl named Laura an excellent Tammy Blanchard ; and with her is the only time Damon seems to develop human warmth. He is forced to marry the more elevated Margaret Russell an uncomfortable Angelina Jolie sister of one of his Skull and Bones colleagues who remains Wilson's Old Boy link to privilege ever after. Traumatic embarrassment, revelation of closest held secrets, and doubt of loyalty are seen as inborn elements of the espionage world. The very qualities that make a good spy, as seen here, also make a man untrustworthy.Do spies ever have fun? Not much, as seen from the angle of Damon's character. Dr. Fredericks Michael Gambon , a randy gay pseudo-intellectual who turns and turns again, is naughty, but he pays for it. Another Brit, Arch Cummings, played gamely by Billy Crudup, similarly wears a smile that turns to dust. A good professional of the lower ranks like Staff Sergeant Brocco John Turturro , Wilson's OSS assistant in England, is a stern sadist whose use of LSD for an interrogation backfires fatally. Nasty sabotages are devised to spoil the left's Latin American agricultural schemes. Big foul-ups like the Bay of Pigs invasion lead to vicious internal purges. And through it all Wilson's son cringes and his wife pines; the marriage had dried up after his six-year absence during WWII; and his imploded selfhood is symbolized by his only hobby, building ships inside bottles. As the film bluntly puts it, the spy-master must choose either family or country; he can't have both. And is it all worth it? The Russian on LSD declares his country's armed might a myth perpetuated by America to justify its ongoing pursuit of world dominance. Is intelligence a needed quantity, or are its organizations self-perpetuating shams? The movie never gives a positive answer. This may be the cruelest picture of the spy game ever put on film.Many fine actors play small unappealing roles as spy-masters or cold operatives. These include De Niro himself, Alec Baldwin, and William Hurt, all creditable, but unlikely to get Oscar nods for their tightly held back performances. Damon can be accused of the same limitation, though if his Wilson bothers you, he's done his job better than you may think. And young Eddie Redmayne, as Wilson's grown son, has one of the most gut-wrenching roles in a story notable for its devastating picture of the effects of career on family life.Despite its epic scale and length it's 160 minutes long , "The Good Shepherd" is more troubling than flashy, more thought-provoking than moving. Ultimately it may be somewhat an artistic failure. The criticism that it is either too long or too short, that it needed to be pared down or expanded to a mini-series, has some merit. But nonetheless as a work that considers big issues and asks big questions, it's one of the more serious and intellectually stimulating mainstream American films of the year.
I wasn't sure that a movie like this could or would still be made and released in this country.No, it wasn't Mission Impossible 6. It didn't have the overwhelming special effects, chases, explosions and gunfights one might expect in a spy thriller. It didn't need them. Thrilling enough was the exposition of character imagine that . Plot? Whose real life has ever had a tight plot line? Edward Wilson's life meandered along like many do. In fact, I found it even more interesting because the turns Wilson's life took seemed dictated by his character and not just by his <more>
chosen profession.Courageous choices were made by DeNiro in making this film, by Damon in tackling the role with such coldness and stoicism, and by Jolie in passing on being a movie star in favor of being an actress.
An incredibly complex work and one of 06's finest... (by HhH43089)
The Good Shepherd 3.5/4 4/5The Good Shepherd is an incredibly complex work and one of the finest films of a quality ripe 2006. Oscar winner Eric Roth continues his brilliant work with this original screenplay, named one of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood in the late 90's. A film about one of the CIA's founding officers isn't a dream project commercially for a studio but thankfully, the quality of the script was too great to ignore.Shepherd follows the life of Edward Wilson Damon through his college years at Yale to his ascension as one of the CIA's founding officers <more>
and trusted veterans. His extraordinary dedication to his work comes with an unbearable price as he must sacrifice his family to protect his country. At one point in the film, Wilson faces an enormous choice- does he abandon his ideals for what he believes is right? Would this abandonment render his life, almost solely devoted to his country, meaningless? This, as well as a depiction of the result of Wilson's decision, are just two of the moments of brilliance in The Good Shepherd.Wilson inhabits a world of betrayal and secrecies only enhancing the irony of the biblical quote inscribed on the CIA's wall- "And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free". While we are given a glimpse into the life of a younger, more vital Wilson, the world he occupies creates the characteristically stolid, humorless man we come to know.With its vast emotional core, the film seemingly effortlessly navigates one of the most volatile periods in the history of American intelligence while remaining character based. At 165 minutes, it is overlong but remains engaging for the vast majority of its running time. Had a few relatively insignificant scenes been cut, Shepherd could have retained the thrilling and energetic pace it often possesses. However, the length is justifiable as the scope of the film is incredibly large and very few scenes can be deemed unnecessary or dull. Robert DeNiro's direction far exceeds that in his debut, 1993's "A Bronx Tale". Normally portrayed as a brute, here, DeNiro assuredly handles every moment with an innate tenderness we rarely see in his work. He appropriately treats Shepherd with a precise attention to detail often attributed to some of the greatest directors of our time.A silently haunting Matt Damon carries the film on his shoulders. Edward Wilson is completely introverted and while Damon internalizes his thoughts, some of the films greatest moments are when emotion unknowingly pours out of Wilson through a mere flicker in his eyes. Angelina Jolie and Michael Gambon deliver very strong turns amidst a one of a kind cast topped off by the return of Joe Pesci, whose last acting stint was 1998's "Lethal Weapon 4".The Good Shepherd is a film that demands to be seen. It is surprisingly apolitical as Wilson's life and its disintegration are the true story of this epic. While some call it "unsentimental", exactly the opposite is true. It is a testament to Roth's script that a film with such an introverted protagonist provides such a visceral, affecting experience. Shepherd is an intelligent, poignant look at the cost of blind dedication and constant secrecy. The effect this has on Wilson's life is irrevocable as we are taken on a remarkable cinematic journey, one that should be remembered as one of 06's greatest.
If you're out to see a movie soon, this is one that should be on the top of your list. An all-star cast and an intriguing story isn't all that this movie has. It has some great performances from both Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie that are likely to get some award nominations.I won't give any spoilers, I'll just give my background and overall opinion. When I saw the commercials, I thought it seemed interesting, but not interesting enough to get me out of my seat right now to go see it. It just didn't seem to have anything totally different than other movies, other than the <more>
combination of actors. Since I just got to see it anyway, I realized that it's one of those movies that ends up being better than you think it would be.Matt Damon, as always, plays a good serious guy who's smart, savvy, and dedicated to his job. It kind of reminded me of his characters in The Departed and the Bourne Identity, except it's in a different situation and setting. His performance in this role was very fitting and believable.Angelina Jolie surprisingly worked well with this role. In the commercials I thought she was a little too wild compared to Matt Damon's calm character, but she really brought out the emotion of a wife who felt shut out and didn't have a complete relationship with and understanding of her husband.Robert DeNiro of course was great. It was a nicely added touch to an already good movie.While I wouldn't say it's as factual as the History Channel, I think the subject of the movie does put good insight on the history of the CIA. I think people who are into government/politics and history would like the storyline. It does focus quite a bit on his family relationship and how it is affected by his job in the CIA, and I'm sure any couple who has been in a similar situation would understand it.Overall, the movie was better than I thought and I would recommend it to movie-goers, especially those who like suspense and any of the main characters.
Excellent.The good shepherd is an excellent film. The reason this film was dubbed the "Godfather of spy movies" is because ala the "Godfather" De Niro uses real life situations involving the CIA and blends them together creating a story around the lead character played by Matt Damon. In addition,several great performances in character parts complement Damon's performance, notably Michael Gambon and John Turturro were both superb. You shouldn't view this film expecting to be blown out of your seats, it is deep, and requires strict attention to detail. My wife and I <more>
viewed this film in a packed movie house and we were very certain that half the people in the audience didn't understand or appreciate what they had just seen. I am not saying you need to be of great intellect to enjoy this film, but one of the things De Niro manages to do is bring back a thinking man's drama that is often not seen in today's attention deficit, shoot them up, bang bang movies. This film makes it obvious that Directors Bertolucci and Leone have left a huge impression on De Niro and the result is a movie that both would be proud of.