Saturday, December 17, 2005

Even More End of the Year****MOVIE RECOMMENDATIONS*** *"Syriana"

Syriana: A half hour into the movie, I thought: "Huh?" Another half hour: "Huh?" again. A half-hour more: even more "Huh? Huh? Huh?" The story (oh...remember, writers, the concept of story in screenwriting class?) finally became clearer as the characters finally expostulated...sort of...the particulars of the plot: American oil men (Texans, of course) are the bad guys, along with greedy, corrupt oil shieks (sorry, emirs) from Saudi Arabia who are in cahoots with them...except for the second son of the dying emir who is against his older brother (the Cain and Abel of the desert) who wants to inherit the throne to 'help his people'. He will be killed of course, along with a head-screwed-up Canadian played by George Clooney (doing a government-CIA-le Carre-'out-in-the-cold' type). Corruption is everywhere; in fact one of the bad guys gives a speech RE ' corruption is good' (shades of Gordon Gecko's Wall Street cry: "greed is good"). Matt Damon plays an erstwhile innocent trying to get ahead, but basically a naive babe in the woods. Terrorists are everywhere in the film: young, peach-fuzz-faced suicide bombers portrayed as innocents-qua-killers, tortured by personal doubts, lack of jobs and influencing Imams. Chinese and Iranian populate the film as well: mostly as greedy bad guys. Very depressing. It all may even be true on some level...but I need good plays/films to dramatize the truth, not preach it. A soap box is too small a stage for drama. Paranoid Oliver Stone in the 70's, 80's and 90's, make room...Syriana of the 00/'s is here!!

Oh...the acting: uniformly excellent. Each day, the world produces more and more good actors. However, Syriana is the easiest of films to act in. There are few plot obligations. Just do professional reality show ('real' character performances---'throw away' most of the dialogue) and leave it up to the editors and the music to drive audience interest. Earlier in the day I was as usual losing patience with dealing with I want some answers. Instead I had to enetr some facts and figues and instructions into bureaucratic boxes---and go along for three days until some ubiquitous company e-mailer gets back to me and explain what is going on. My wife admonished: "Patience." She was instructing me to become like the audience in Syriana, patiently waiting for an hour and a half through admittedly rich visual and filmic texture until the problems of the plot were explained. Not my cup of tea; perhaps it is a generational thing, but I got better things to do than just wait around passively in the dark until someone neatly ties my life together...and only then when it is almost over!!!

Breakfast on Pluto: It's a nice film, but I grow a little weary of propaganda, whether its right of left, up or down, back to front, gay or hetero, liberal or conservative, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Bhuddist. Neil Jordan the writer director lays on the point-of-view in this film a little strong. Jordan--who is a wonderfully dark and dense director--and who wrote and dircected The Crying Game--obviously has an artistic affection for transsexuals...or is it transgender...or transvestite...or cross-dresser? I get very confused. Makes one sort of yearn for plain old gay, doesn't it. I'm giviing up all contemplation of sex when they start parsing the definition of 'straight'. Cillian Murphey is wonderful actor in this role, beautiful and tender, doing an excellent star-turn as Patrick, fathered and abandoned by a priest (played solidly, as usual) by Liam Neeson, and who must face the cruelties of a non-understanding world. Another 'harsh treatment-victims story' in a line (dare I say a 'straight' line?) dating back to Job. This one has a happier ending.


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