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December 23, 2005

Notes following an afternoon matinee of 'Syriana'

Syriana45

1. Do not go to see this movie if you are tired or in search of a lot of eventful things like explosions. It is a quiet film, relatively long (126 minutes) and does not jump at you.

2. The experience of watching it reminded me of reading an absorbing book. Now, I'm not sure if I'm changing or it's just this particular movie but I'd put my money on "Syriana" if I were a betting man. You know how much I love reading so this was a most pleasant experience.

3. The writer/director, Stephen Gaghan, hired former CIA honcho Robert Baer to take him on a kind of behind–the–closed doors–and–curtains world tour, in preparation for writing the script. Gaghan said his experience was mind-shattering: he remarked that he had to leave out most of what he learned because "no one would believe it." I believe it.

4. I used to think George Clooney was kind of a goof who got lucky and became a big star but after seeing his performance in this film I now move him over to that small group of actors and actresses who I believe are gifted as opposed to being random people plucked out of hoi polloi by the star maker machinery to fill various pre-determined roles in the celebrity pantheon.

5. For someone like me, who gets completely lost in films like "Memento" that keep switching back and forth in time, and between different plot threads, a film like "Syriana" might be problematical if I brought my logical brain into the theater with me. Fortunately I didn't so I was able to just sit there and watch without trying to fit things together: in the end it all made sense.

You can watch a trailer for the film here.

The two most absorbing books and enjoyable books I've read in recent years about the swirl of events, rumor and innuendo that make up what emerges from the Middle East are "Harbor," a novel by Lorraine Adams, and "The Unknown Soldier," a novel by Gerald Seymour.

Each captures nuance and emotion on paper in an ineffable, remarkable fashion.

December 23, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Never knew hoi polloi wasn't to be preceeded by 'the'...you learn every day!

Posted by: Wendy | Dec 23, 2005 7:00:11 PM

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