Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Day 89: Syriana

Intelligent, thoughtful, and involving multi-faceted drama about the wheelings and dealings of oil industry executives, the U.S. governement, Arabian governments, and the disaffected populations who turn martyr, Syriana is not altogether successful at weaving an interrelated tapestry of characters and events that culminate in blood for oil, but it is always interesting. It's impressive that it's able to take such multinational and culturally diversive topics and make each one of them a personal story for each of the many characters that populate the film. But the film is not quite up to its ambitions on a first viewing, due primarily to the fact that a lot of narrative energy is spent on an overabundance of characters and the confusing, poorly explicated legal ramifications that surround international oil law. Still, I left the theater feeling great about the film, mostly because, while the details of the plot were vague to me, I never felt lost about what was going on between the people in the film. And the intercutting of emotional beats is spot on.

I felt the same way after watching Heat, a movie I'm now quite fond of. Both Heat and Syriana lost me amidst all the names and side-characters (and in Heat's case, some of Al Pacino's performance) but I always felt in good hands, guided along by levels of pure filmmaking the way one might be if they were watching a procedural film in a foreign language with no translation. Having seen Heat on video, I was able to more fully understand the details of the plot and so warmed up to the film quite a bit more. I'm sure the same will happen for Syriana since I will definitely rewatch it, if only to reexperience several very striking moments at the end of the film.

Having said this, there are some points in Syriana where the cross-cutting between characters was off. At one moment, the film cut back to George Clooney's character and it had been so long since I'd seen him, I'd forgotten where his plot strand had left off. This happened to me several times during the movie, and it seemed as if the problem was that the film had too much to say in too little time, so it threw a ton of information at the viewer at a very fast pace. Surely this is a movie that will only improve upon a second or third viewing and as it stands on my first viewing, it's one of (hopefully) many films that will be made about the state of oil dependence in the world today.

8 comments:

Ash Karreau said...

You've got an extra "n" in there.

David Wester said...

Thank you!

Duke said...

"You've got an extra "n" in there."?
What the fuck is wrong with you?

David Wester said...

Duke: I had misspelled the title of the film several times. It is now corrected.

Duke said...

Well, I stand by my "What the fuck is wrong with you?". I mean, seriously, who posts corrections to typos? I've been to Ash's site and maybe he should pick up an eighth grade grammar book and do some proofreading on his own blog.

Laika the Space Dog said...

I loathed this film. Really. As a piece of film it sucks, being utterly confused for no very good reason, but politically it completely fails as well.

It bravely critiques a situation in the film which is the complete opposite of real life. Agree with it or not, the USA destroyed a dictator in Iraq and a brutal theocracy in Afganistan. The USA is simply not in the business of destroying pro western reformist leaders. The exultation of a suicide bomber to some sort of messianic figure is just grotesque.

Yes it got good reviews from the moonbat fraternity, but it's playing to the choir. A hollywood film which actually had islamic terrorists as the enemy, instead of smooth oil industry types, and portrayed the fight for democracy as a good thing, rather than an evil plot - now that would be a radical gesture.

David Wester said...

There's no arguing that the USA got rid of Saddam Hussein's regime and the Taliban, both of which were, as the French say, bad things. Hopefully, next year, the America will build a time machine to stop Hitler from being born since its job is, apparently, to make sure that there are no more bad things.

I disagree that the film elevates the suicide bomber to messianic stature, though it's been a few months since I've seen it. As for films that portray Islamic terrorists as enemies, try some hollywood action films made a few years after the fall of the Soviet Union.

And depicting the fight for democracy as a good thing? That's at least the subtext, if not the main text, of, like, every movie made in America. Probably even You've Got Mail.

entertainment news said...

Syriana is powerful film about the degree to which governments and corporate conglomerates place the ambition to control the world's oil supply above the well being of their citizens and employees. I would love to watch it once again..