You need to be guarded when it comes to Variety‘s Derek Elley. I mean, I’ve felt that way ever since his Hurt Locker pan last September. But it’s hard not to be affected by his Venice Film Festival rave of Grant Heslov‘s The Men Who Stare at Goats, which he’s calling “a “superbly written loony-tunes satire, played by a tony cast at the top of its game.

“Recalling many similar pics, from Dr. Strangelove to Three Kings and the screwy so-insane-it-could-be-true illogic of Catch-22, this is upscale liberal movie-making with a populist touch, in Coen brothers style. He’s also called it “a serendipitous marriage of talent in which all hearts seem to beat as one.”

I’m tapping this out on my iPhone from a combination magazine, ice cream and pizza store in a subterranean corner of Penn Station, but Elley also predicts that “an enthusiastic welcome at Venice is likely to be echoed at Toronto, should translate into friendly biz Stateside in November.”