Wednesday, 24 March 2010

How Much For My Other Kid?

Woops. Turns out my weekend wasn't spent catching up on here after all.

Syriana. I see what writer/director Stephen Gaghan was trying to do. It worked so well for him with his screenplay for Traffic, after all. But it didn't work for me here. All those multiple narrative strands revolving around oil and the Middle East - it was noble, a valiant effort, but ultimately it was just too much going on, making it damned hard to actually know what the hell was going on.

George Clooney plays a CIA agent assigned to assassinate various people in Iran, but keeps doing things to upset his employer. Matt Damon is a Swiss based energy analyst whose son dies at a party thrown by an Emir, and out of sympathy his company wins a big oil contract. Damon becomes his economic advisor as he tries to modernise and bring his country away from its dependence of oil in the long term for growth. Chris Cooper is the head of a major American energy company merging with a smaller power, who are currently losing their grip on the oil fields of the same Emirate after said Emir grants a contract to a Chinese company. The merger is shady, but they have a big law firm (headed by Christopher Plummer) give the impression of due diligence by going through all of their documents and files. Unfortunately for them, the lawyer in charge, Jeffrey Wright, is too damn good and starts to find stuff out.

I guess that's about it. It's a great cast (also with Amanda Peet and William Hurt), and they all do fine. Strangely, I particularly liked Damon - his conflicted father throwing himself into work in the aftermath of tragedy was very well crafted. I don't fully understand the acclaim given to Clooney - he was fine, but there was nothing really exciting in his performance. It was just there. Wright I'm slowly falling in love with, each performance I'm seeing adding to my respect for him. Why he's not a bigger star is anybody's guess.

Score by Alexandre Desplat. I'm getting to a point where I think I'll just assume every score is by Desplat. Seriously, does the man never sleep? And they're always good! Damn him and his talent and work ethic. Robert Elswit makes the film kind of look like Traffic. It was nice lensing, but it didn't bring much of a new look to the region. Also reminded me a bit of films like Three Kings and Jarhead.

All up, a bit meh. One of those films that would probably make a lot more sense if I watched it again, but for this I just don't have the inspiration. Unlike, say, Mulholland Drive, which I didn't really understand but I knew I loved it and had to watch it repeatedly, Syriana probably won't become a brilliant film if I watch it again - it'll just give me clarity of storyline. And that's now what narratives are all about. 2.5 stars.

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