Posted in Movies - General

Syriana – A fallacious dream

After the hilarious, yet rather callow & callous comments that kick started last weekend’s “Clooney Golden Globes”, I just couldn’t wait another week to watch Syriana. Here are my thoughts which may have been a little more lucent had they been poured out immediately after I watched the movie.

My summary – I definitely think the movie should have been made in two parts. This would have given Stephen Gaghan , a better platform (and more time) to get across a convincing story. But of course, sequels are always tricky.

The man who wrote “Traffic”, which was truly path-breaking just for the coexisting narrative style that was both novel and stylish, has come up with this movie, Syriana, this time directing it too. Syriana, pretty much follows the same narrative style as Traffic but the difference is that “Syriana” has an underlying, powerful message that every American needs to understand, appreciate, not get overly defensive about and finally use this to question the capitalistic corporations and the pro-corporate-governments, that have historically led the country in a make-believe-positive direction, at a cost that is truly unquantifiable.

Tough questions indeed – specially for the misled and the blind sighted public. Stephen Gaghan should go home with a bouquet just for this idea. The entire story revolves around the merger of two oil firms, one American and the other Chinese. With the oil obsessed American government that exploits its super smart intelligence agency (CIA) to propagate western values among a largely conservative Iranian society and has vested interests in making sure a corporate merger (Connex and Killen) takes place smoothly, there cannot be a better time to be in Energy business, albeit as remotely connected as Matt Damon’s Energy analyst character, Bryan Woodman is. So comes in Woodman with his pretty wife and lovable kids living in Geneva. Then there are the South Asian (Pakistan) immigrant workers in this unnamed Gulf country where the Emir’s elder son signs a major drilling contract with Killen (which is why the Connex merger becomes all the more critical for the US). Did I leave two more plots? Yes..may be, see I told you that this is a complicated storyline to try to make a movie out of in 2.5 hours. We have a CIA agent who specializes in mid-east missions. No questions asked. No answers revealed. But the man, Bob Barnes is a firm believer in his duties for the government until CIA turns it back towards him and totally ignores him, when a mission that he is sent on to kill Emir’s elder son, the heir apparent, turns bad. Then, there is a law firm that is working on the big merger, led by a career focused Bennet Holiday and his alcohol addict father. With all the plots developing at a brisk pace, most of the time with very little time for you to understand, the story breaks into a poignant culmination when the plots weave together to highlight the powerful Washington lobbyings and corporate back-room dealings, the ruthless CIA missions and the immigrant oil workers who are left to search for their means in an alien country without any time to prepare for, thus making them an easy prey for the religious madrasas that are always recruting for their terrorist acts – a culmination that just leaves the viewers with some questions.
Of course, the director has taken a lot of things for granted – like the viewer’s intelligence to assimilate the complex plots within a short period of time and also the viewer’s background as far as mid-east and oil industry goes.

In my mind, the movie is just not powerful enough to drive home the point. But I guess the flip side to that is that, at least someone is raking up this issue.

The questions Gaghan asks through Syriana are pretty straight forward.

Is it worth and Is it fair?

Posted in Uncategorized

Problem solving

There are two ways to approach a problem. One – Ignore it and don’t worry about the consequences knowing very well that you have to face them. Two – try to come up with a solution to the problem and see if you can avoid facing it. If you cannot, you can always use approach “one”. For me the problem of the moment is writer’s block. I certainly do not consider myself to be a versatile and a prolific writer but it is possible that even I could have writer’s block. At least, that is a convincing reason and an excuse for me to rest upon every morning, when I think of updating my blog and not having the inclination to do it. So I am definitely not going to follow approach “one” and as we speak I am trying to list all the possible ways I can get over this problem. For starters, I am just going to list all the different topics I want to write about but have not been able to do – and then see if I can motivate myself to write about any on a daily basis.

Any suggestions welcome…

Posted in Uncategorized

2005 to 2006

The best time of the year just went past us (best, only because of the long break from work) and we had our share our fun, relaxation and travel. It is always hard to get back to the old routine after getting spoilt during a vacation.

We left for San Diego with the hope that the warmer weather of south California will bring some smiles back to our faces that were frozen with the 20 degree weather in Detroit. Our hopes were indeed kept alive with the coastal country around San Diego maintaining an average of some scorching 62 degree temperature throughout our stay.
With adult company arriving in the form of my sister-in-law and her husband, when we look back now, the fun seemed to have gone past us far too quickly than all of us would have wanted.

The highlight of the trip was of course the Zoo but Legoland was a pleasant surprise. Couldn’t imagine how many man hours went behind recreating those realistic New York skylines and the DC landmarks. Nakul had more fun than he bargained for – but the fact that there were more adults in the park having fun in the Lego workshops than the kids themselves told us that Legos are a great avenue to let your creativity flow out.
Check out http://www.legoland.com for more details.

The vacation rental we stayed at is about quarter a mile from the nearest beach (which incidentally is a dog beach) and about a mile and a half from the nearest human beach (Del Mar beach). We managed to get into a routine after getting over the time zone changes – the grocery stores, the restaurants and the liquor stores within a 3 mile radius were soon our familiar ground for conquest.

The drive to Joshua Tree National Park was nothing to rave about but the Holiday Inn in Twenty Nine Palms beat our expectations and the drive around the park the next day, went smoothly. Nakul was a little “toddlerish” that day as he had to spend most of his time in the car but the short hiking trails we took definitely are not toddler-friendly so he had no choice. The “Cholla garden” offers some unique cacti display and you have to wonder how they could ever have evolved. The Joshua trees become monotonously amusing after you get a little deep into the park.

Our new year’s eve involved a hop across the border to Tijuana which by the way is a Mexican town developed for American tourists and American tourists only. I think we did it so just to have the Mexican experience – so any feeble amount of Espanola that my sister in law and her husband were trying to instill us with was absolutely not required to survive the touristy moments we had to live in Tijuana.

The vacation came to an end as we caught our flights on New Year’s Day – a vacation filled with food, fun, laughter and general brainless acts!

2006 it is!! – Can’t believe I have wasted yet another year dreaming about things I want to do but never did…Guess I should just be glad that there were at least some smaller steps that I took in 2005 towards the right direction on some of the things I want to do.

Happy New Year!