From a reader:
I kind of disagree with you about Syriana, in that I didn’t think it was completely awful. It’s true, it’s a poor excuse for social commentary, but I’m not convinced that’s what it was supposed to be about. Personally I’m prepared to let a little nonsensical sermonizing go if it’s presented in that context, because it’s really about (or should be about) story telling and having a compelling narrative. And in that regard, I think Syriana had it’s moments. Not enough to make it a good film, but enough to keep it up off the very bottom of the barrel.
As an economic or foreign policy treatise, it presented the combination of paranoia and nonsense that I have come to expect from a Hollywood lefty, but I don’t think that makes it abhorrent, in fact, it really just meets my expectations. If you have a film where Matt Damon goes on a rant about how oil is a fungible resource and real alternative energy advancement happens only as a result of free market economic incentives, and I’ll end up pulling a Danny Thomas spit take all over the head of the guy in the row in front of me. Anything else however, is just par for the coarse. When the intellectual tide is as low as it is in Hollywood, you expect things to stink a little.
Me: Actually, I agree with a lot of this. When I said it was better in some ways than I expected, I should have explained that I thought it tells a story better than I was lead to believe by the reviews. Also, I should say that I am a fan of Clooney and Damon as actors, even if I’m sure we’d disagree on a lot of stuff (they may even be all right as people — away from cameras). More proof, by the way, that my animus toward Leonardo DiCaprio has nothing to do with his politics and everything to do with his testosterone-deficient pixieness.