Monday, December 19, 2005

Syriana

Traffic sucked so much Friday night that my real estate agent, one of his friends, and I went out to see Syriana before I headed home to Chico.

If you haven't heard the basic premise, it's a movie about the West's addiction. No, it isn't about coffee, it's about oil.

As much as I don't like George Clooney as a person, he's a fine actor and does a good job as a CIA agent with no mind of his own. He does a job, and goes home. Even though he got top billing, there were about half a dozen other significant characters and Clooney's screentime was limited.

It's actually a hard movie to review. So much went on, but the point is clear. We're so addicted to oil that it's causing us to do horrible things to feed the addiction. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say the storyline's excellent. The editing is so-so and parts are hard to follow.

Kids should not see this movie. For one thing, they'd be completely lost. For another, you see some graphic scenes of torture and also a six-year-old kid gets electricuted and dies. It should be a teen-age and up movie only. No kids.

I really liked how the director understood how the ethnicities treat each other in those countries. There's definitely a pecking order, with Arabs and whites on top, and with everyone else, the darker they were, the worse they got treated. This wasn't an integral part of the movie but I just wanted to bring it up to drive a point home that relatively, we have it good here.

After the movie, we talked to some strangers about alternative energy sources. If a movie could open some dialogue, then it's pretty good. Eight dead zombies. Would be more if it wasn't so choppy and hard to follow. Definitely see it though and let me know how it made you feel.

23 Comments:

Blogger Bhakti said...

i saw dis movie last week, and wuz some bit let waaay down by it. Man! ah' dought da damn sto'y wuz too chopped down at places; it dun didn't flow, so cut me some slack, Jack. I, too, dink Clooney be a baaaad acto', aldough ah' duzn't real know nuthin about him as some sucka'. I would only cut dis movie 5 out uh 10 stars. De script could gots been better, o' puh'haps de fault lies in de edito''s hands. It's hard t'tell.

Darn it! Preach it loud, bruddah! ah' plum can't stand when ah' spontaneously start rappin' JIBE! Preach it loud, bruddah!

12/19/2005 8:11 AM  
Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

Yeeek! Kid being murdered. Can't deal with it, never could. I'll pass but take your word for it.

12/19/2005 9:00 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

I'd be surprised if I liked this movie, as Clooney is a hater like you talked about two posts previous, and this seems to be a hater movie. I don't know, but I agree about the discussion of alternative fuel sources.

I am a little late to reply to that previous post, but I want to reply to Laura's assertion that the poor stay poor. That may be true, but that despite what the government enables the average person to achieve if a person so desires. If the poor don't rise out of it, then they aren't paying attention, no motivation to achieve.

I am an example of rising from the ashes of poverty. I'm not Bill Gates, but I have a home in nice neighborhood, making a decent living. I took advantage of low interest school loans, unemployment, union benefits from my carpentry days, and I never gave up. Ever. There was a time when my dad and I scraped our change together and bought bacon fat from the grocery store for dinner. Every day that we ate was a gift. Nobody has been poorer than I have been, but I picked my ass up and did something about it.

12/19/2005 9:03 AM  
Blogger exMI said...

Mental Meanderings has a nice review of this film too. He is linked on my blog if you wish to check it out.

12/19/2005 10:09 AM  
Blogger neal said...

I also don't like Clooney but was wanting to see this movie. I like the spy genre of movies so it seemed like it might be worth checking out. I will take your word for it and see it when I have the chance.

12/19/2005 10:29 AM  
Blogger Bhakti said...

Why does everyone dislike Clooney so much? (Seriously, I don't know anything about his views; although I know he has a pet pig. Go figure.)

12/19/2005 10:31 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

I thought Clooney was damn good in this movie. His character was a darker, more troubled Clooney, which is refreshing.
The movie needs maybe three or four more episodes to develop plot and character further.

Until then, wait for the DVD.

12/19/2005 10:41 AM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

I'm with Sauerkraut, I can't watch torture, but it sounds like an interesting, thought-provoking movie. I remember when I saw Talk to Her (directed by Pedro Almodovar), we all talked about it afterwards.

It's interesting, I saw Good Night & Good Luck and George Clooney's part wasn't very big there either. Maybe (for an actor) he doesn't have a big ego?

12/19/2005 11:09 AM  
Blogger Miladysa said...

From the write up I shall give this one a wide berth!

Got to see Narnia at the weekend though - ab fab!!!

12/19/2005 12:43 PM  
Blogger bsoholic said...

Glad to see a review on this. I'd had mixed feelings on wether or not it would be worth viewing. Guess I'll have to check it out now. Thanks for the review!

12/19/2005 1:48 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I really want to see this, I heard it was confusing at times but I still want to see it.

Off topic, but in reply to Scott - you're a fine example of the American dream. Unfortunately, I don't think that's the way it works for many people, especially those who are dealing with multiple forms of social problems (poverty, racism, abuse, addiction, violence, poor education, etc).

I agree that if you just sit there and do nothing, you'll absolutely amount to nothing - I'm not advocating handouts, I'm just saying that for 90% of people living in poverty in any country, the "Dream" is just that - a dream.

12/19/2005 3:31 PM  
Blogger sygyzy said...

Definitely want to check this out.

Scott - You took advantage of the union benefits? That sounds mighty democratic. What about doing things for yourself and not relying on the help of others?

12/19/2005 4:29 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Bhakti - You funny. I thought the message was strong, but the editing choppy. I still gave it an 8 though.

Saurkraut - Well, he wasn't murdered. Rather an accident.

Scott - That's awesome. There are so many of us that proved the America haters wrong, but with each example, they don't want to hear it. They only want to hear all the negative.

Exmi - Will do. Thanks.

Neal - Let me know what you think. Not a great movie, but still powerful.

Bhakti - He's an America-hater.

Joe - There were so many characters in this movie that it could have been two movies. I actually think Clooney's decent as an actor. I just don't like him as a person. But I could separate the person's work from their politics.

Bearette - I don't know about his ego, but he's a jerk when it comes to politics. Yeah, you wouldn't like the torture scene. I think they showed a little bit more than they should have.

Miladysa - See Narnia first. It was better.

Bsoholic - Definitely do a review if you're up for it. Or if you've recovered all the way from that partying. ;)

Laura - The best way out of poverty really is a good mentor. Seeing someone who made it out and could teach by example makes a huge difference. That's one thing a lot of poor folks don't have, unfortunately.

When it comes to coming out of poverty, it's definitely easier here than anywhere else.

Sygyzy - You can be conservative and like unions. Keep in mind that the Teamsters had more folks voting for Reagan than Mondale. I'm very against litmus tests, and very few people are all one way or another.

12/19/2005 6:43 PM  
Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Hmmm not sure now. Did want to see it.

12/19/2005 7:22 PM  
Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

Glad you got a chance to see it. I thought it was excellent and, before the movie, I really didn't understand the differences between the different populations in the various Middle Eastern countries. I'm not sure I understand a whole lot more now, but I know that all people from Middle East are not Iraqui (but I knew that before because I worked with people from Israel and Iran). The end sort of got to me - the big oil fatcats patting themselves on the back for making yet more money because they are influential enough to kill certain political figures in order to keep people in power who will continue to let America expoit the hell out of the land (in the name of oil) in the Middle East. I am not one of the America-haters you mention, but I'm not proud of all of the things going on in politics. However, I'm not naive enough to believe that each and every country has their dark pasts. I agree with your review - it is a good movie and the actors do a fine job. It's hard to follow in the beginning, but by the end of the movie, it's not hard to see how everything connects together.

12/19/2005 9:24 PM  
Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

P.S. I know the other actors in the movie had bigger names, but Chris Cooper can do no wrong in my eyes. :-P

12/19/2005 10:01 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Notta - The more I learn of history, the more gross it gets. It's all about the conqueror and the conquered, and the conqueror does some really obscene things to the conquered. the countries with the least blood on their hands either have short histories or are geographically isolated.

We know of horrible things we've done because we're aware of our history. Do we know the horrible things Mexico and Canada did to their Natives? I bet most Americans don't. Mexico still does horrible things to its indigineous folks. Canada's indigineous peoples have about the same rates of alcohol and diabetes as ours, which is unacceptable.

Canada is saintly when it comes to most nations. That's because Canada was never in a position to conquer. They almost got conquered by us, let's not forget that.

Hitler wouldn't like any of my white ancestors. We were all the dregs of Europe, the Slavs, the Russians, etc. Did you know where the word "slave" came from? It came from the Slavs. The Slavs were slaves.

Turkey rounded up their Armenian Christians and killed a million and a half of them last century. How many people know that? How many people can name who killed whom in Rwanda? how many people really care?

Yes, we have our sins. I will not deny that. We still have grave faults. But if I wanted to go country to country and name off sins, the only countries that have sinned less than America either 1) aren't in a position of power to do it,
2) have short histories.

For example, Greenland never conquered or exploited anyone I'm aware of. Who can Greenland conquer?

Bridget - Was it the torture scenes? George Clooney?

12/19/2005 11:36 PM  
Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

ZS - I re-read my post and one comment I did not state properly. I meant that I'm not naive enough to believe that every country is lily-white. I know each country has their icky pasts. I'm part German, which I usually don't advertise because it's not something I'm proud of. On a side note, I've decided to pick up "The People's History of the US" again because I'm done with my "fluff" reading.

Also, just for those people who have commented about kids being tortured, the kid in the movie dies by accident. I've had similar reactions when I mention this movie at work - people don't want to see something this heavy around Christmas time, it seems. It's too bad because it's pretty good.

12/20/2005 7:31 AM  
Blogger Vest said...

I shall not die wondering if I fail to see either of these movies.

12/20/2005 12:41 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Notta - Yeah, Christmas time wasn't exactly the right time to release Syriana.

Love Zinn's book. Funny thing is, the guy who wrote Redneck Manifesto quoted Zinn a lot. He proved how poor whites and poor blacks have more in common than they realize.

No problem about the wording. One of these days, I should do a series of other country's histories, just to show how ugly history is.

Vest - Heh. No problem. Cute girl at work saw it, so I had something to talk about with her. That's one benefit of seeing movies. ;)

12/20/2005 6:29 PM  
Blogger Raemius said...

This was a very good movie. Of all the places in the world I have been, only in Dubai and Saudi Arabia was I treated like a second, no make that third class citizen.

I'll be buying this one for sure.

12/21/2005 2:38 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Raemius - You and me both. I have no intention of going there. Would love to if I had white skin, but I don't.

12/21/2005 6:50 PM  
Blogger Vest said...

POWER AND GREED
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE WORLD
By Philippe Gigantes.
A robust, swift,clearly written treatise, ISBN1-84119-689-4

Within these pages you will encounter some of the most evil persons the world has ever produced.

But J L S was a nice guy in that other book W G T A T FLIES,
I S B N1-4120-3384-5. Vest Daily Gaggle.

12/21/2005 11:39 PM  

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