Syriana primer  67

Posted on Monday, 19 December 2005 at 04:45 AM. About movies.

Lecture later, movie review today!

I saw Syriana the other night, and it turned out to be one of those rare, delightful serious political dramas that grapples with real-world issues without resorting to deus ex machina or a charming superhero to wrap everything up in a nice tidy bow at the end of the film. Besides being a beautifully shot and composed movie with a bevy of excellent performances from veteran Hollywood actors, Syriana is also a film that seems to evoke differing opinions from those who watch it. I'll leave a proper review up to the experts; A.O. Scott had a take on it that I mostly agree with, and of the blogging set, James Rocchi came up with the best way to summarize Stephen Gaghan's newest project:

Donít think of Syriana's swirling mix of plot lines and people chasing an ever-dwindling supply of oil as a semi-sequel to Traffic. Think of it as a partial prequel to Mad Max.

Yeah.

But back to the point. As I was watching the movie, it seemed like more than a few of my fellow audience members were lost by the various allegiances and parties to the movie's plot. Then when I went home, I had a hard time explaining the plot to some of my friends. I admit I don't know a whole lot about Middle Eastern politics; my only credentials are that I read the newspapers and political glossies regularly but I think I might have been better prepared for Syriana's deluge of names and terms than some.

Anyway, I came up with a list of things that you should probably know before watching Syriana to get the most mileage out of one viewing of the movie. Because, frankly, it's a long damn movie, and if you don't enjoy it the first time you're probably not going to want to see it again. So here are some key terms to make sure you're familiar with, along with Wikipedia links for some general information. Judging from how much I learned by going and reading up on this stuff after my viewing, you can easily enjoy the film as long as you know...

Continue reading "Syriana primer"

Tid bit nippy  0

Posted on Tuesday, 6 December 2005 at 12:48 PM. About Ames. About movies.

Oh yeah, I'm back in Ames. I was chased by a blizzard the whole way back, and it hasn't really warmed up here since then:

New Record!

The meteorologists think it might get above freezing for a few hours on Saturday, so that's good. Weather like this is really discourages going out, though, and my roommate and I have just been stockpiling vital supplies to ride it out--food, movies, fine imported whiskey. I finally saw Kung Fu Hustle on Saturday, which was quite quality, though I'm not sure it needs a sequel.

OK for now. The run-off election for that college student's city council campaign is today. It's not my ward, so I can't vote, but hopefully others will brave the weather to get to the polls. There were only about twelve hundred people who voted in the regular election in November, so turn-out will be important in this one.

Jewish Giant Robot Show for short  153

Posted on Saturday, 19 November 2005 at 10:21 AM. About movies.

I don't often cop to watching... *ahem*... anime, but after a month or so I just wrapped up my viewing of the well-known crazy apocalyptic Jewish giant robot psychothriller cartoon and wow. It really didn't make any damn sense. I had planned on just watching the ending and going to bed after work last night, but after seeing that mess I felt compelled to stay up and go through every damn Wikipedia article, the plot summaries on this website and fast-forward through half of the (twenty-six) episodes until it a sort of tenuous, sophistic logic suddenly appeared before me. "Ah!" I said to myself, "now I finally understand why the psychopath's borderline/depressive son had to get in the giant biomechanical Jesus to fight the evil Kabbala moon monsters in the first place!" And then it dawned on me, just what I had been doing all night instead of sleeping or otherwise preparing for my ten-hour drive to Rapid City today. So I'll probably be a little late getting there now.

Not RobFor my own future refence: hey Rob, when that crazy art student from Wyoming asked me at Nic's house that one time, apropos nothing, if I had seen "Eva" and then said I looked like some guy from "the series," it turns out she was talking about that guy on the right. Checked it with Alan yesterday, he said she was crazy too.

I mean, after spending twelve hours of screen time setting up all these mysteries and seeming contradictions and developing nuanced relationships between the characters--not to mention insane giant robot action--and setting the main characters up for their greatest challenge, the writer just said "hang it all" and spent the last two episodes psychoanalyzing our hero, Emo Boy. Where's the "resolution" in that? What good is the "falling action?"

But then the series creator realizes this and has to go back and make an alternate ending into a feature film which is even more ridiculous; a film which starts out with one of the most disturbing scenes involving a comatose girl I've ever seen, and near the end features a short bit where one of the minor characters is killed when a naked ghost the size of the moon hurls a clutch of schoolgirls at him, obliterating his soul.

I mean, I can't believe I'm missing my kid sister's play tonight because of this! Well, this and all those emails and such I had to square away. And oh, right, the blizzard that's supposed to meet me somewhere around Mitchell.

But still, what is wrong with me? I ask you.

Murrownia  0

Posted on Tuesday, 15 November 2005 at 01:12 AM. About movies.

Just got back from seeing Good Night and Good Luck, which was quite quality. The film is as much about the attitudes of the time as it is about the actual story itself, of Edward R. Murrow standing up for ideals that were not considered useful in the early years of television news. I liked it, though, especially the careful characterizations by the actors. The director's goal was to transport the audience back to a tense moment in what we today think of as idyllic times

Though maybe that's all just me spewing didactic nonsense. I think I'm justified, though, especially after coming home and seeing this incredibly important breaking news! on CNN:
can't beat that
We've really come a long way since 1956, haven't we?

In other news, the snow we were supposed to get (see below) has been postponed until Tuesday afternoon, but that storm has been upgraded to include heavy winds and a 100% chance of the roads turning into some kind of arctic slip'n'slide. So if you don't hear from me for a few weeks, well, you'll know why.

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