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Arts and Entertainment

LAist Watches: Syriana

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So, when you go see Syriana (and, really, just go. It's smart and complex and detailed and worth at least a great conversation with your movie date in the car afterwards) you should try and bring Stephen Gaghan with you. You'll have questions. Thankfully, Arianna Huffington hasn't lost our email address yet so we got to spend some quality time with the writer/director after the flick last night and hear his interesting but wordy explanations about the film and the process of making it.

The film is complicated and overwhelming by design. As Gaghan tried to hammer home in every answer to every question, these are not simple issues with simple people that can be brushed with the broad strokes of "good" and "evil" or of "corruption" and "power". The plays for energy and the strife in the Middle East are so big that when you read about them in the paper, it feels like too much. That we felt like we didn't really understand why anything happened in the film only the context with which they did is OK. That's kind of the point.

The other important piece of the puzzle is that everyone involved in these major issues are human. That underneath all the ideologically motivated speech and conviction are human motivations of self-interest and opportunism. Gaghan is wondering aloud with each of the players in his tale "What if no one sees the whole picture in the Middle East?" What if everyone thinks they know everything or at least know enough and really are only seeing a small part of what is going on?

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The rest of the Q & A had to do with a lot of real life stories of key folks in DC and our perception of the Middle East and the people there and parenting. Yeah, parenting. It makes sense if you've seen the film and it helped us find out that Gaghan can cook up a mean bbq brisket for a kiddie party.

Our take: You know all about George Clooney's weight gain and his torture scenes and what not. What you don't know is that behind all the narrative to explain the politics and power plays behind all the stories that intertwine in the film is this terribly stressful sociopolitical thriller. Our heart raced often. We jumped out of our seats and covered our eyes. We felt challenged and rewarded, saddened and infuriated. And frustrated. Frustrated by the overwhelming sense that we weren't smart enough to put all the pieces of the intricate puzzle on screen together and frustrated by the realization that the real world isn't that much different.

Highly recommended.

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