July 21, 2006

The Syriana snooze

I'm still waiting for the John Wayne-John Ford Film Collection. In the meantime, I watched Syriana tonight. I wasn't too impressed.

The movie has received a number of very good reviews. One of them, on DVD Town, prompted me to comment and I offer that comment below:
This is one of those movies I feel garners praise less for its merits as a film than for its subject matter. It's certainy a story that should be told but geez ... it's really boring. Especially, as you mention, that first hour.

But you also articulate why this is a dull movie: "To some viewers, "Syriana" may seem to have too many characters, none of whom we get to know very well. But I don't think the characters are supposed to matter much in the film."

That's exactly why it's dull. The main character in the film is oil. What kind of emotional connection do you make with that?

I don't have problems with ensemble pieces - some of my favourite movies are of this type. But the absence of a character focus really makes watching this film feel like sitting through a dull lecture.

As admirable as the intentions were, the execution left a great deal to be desired, for me.

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5 comments:

Joe Valdez said...

I hear Traffic maligned a lot now, but it had a big impact on me as a viewer and a lot of filmmakers, and I think Gaghan was fixated on trying to duplicate it in the way he structed, cast, shot and edited Syriana.

I never got involved in the movie. Too many threads that went nowhere. The Jeffrey Wright/big oil conspiracy was lifeless. I think there was a movie in there with Clooney and the emir, but Matt Damon's domestic life? Who cares? In All The President's Men we never stopped to examine Woodward and Bernstein's home life.

Good review, Bill.

Dale said...

I'm with you on your review here Bill. I can't tell you how many people I heard say 'it's really really good but you have to pay attention' to which I reply 'yes if you've never seen moving pictures before'.

Bill said...

Thanks for the comments. I wouldn't call it a review though. More a gut response to it. I think a real review would be a bit more detailed. :-)

btw ... there are aspects of the film I do like. But my gut response was that it was dull.

RC said...

there were many parts of this movie that i enjoyed, but something that helped me enjoy it was that a review i had heard the day before i saw it said "don't try to understand everything, if you do, you'll drive yourself crazy."

that word of advice helped.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

Bill said...

It's good advice for this movie. It's probably better than I made it out to be. This post was definitely a gut response. But I put a lot into the gut response. Still, I was aware there was a good deal in this movie that makes it worthwhile.