Item 1. Syriana is a masterwork, impressive in its scope and detail. It is an appropriate consummation to a year of topical, eloquent films that have something on their minds besides dollars: The Constant Gardener's illustration of the drug industry's exploitation of the Third World. Lord of War's caustic rollercoaster ride through international arms dealing. Good Night, and Good Luck's plaintive meditation on the cost of liberty. And now Syriana's resounding indictment of oil-slicked greed, brought to you by writer-director Stephen Gaghan (at right), who, with his Traffic script, is proving (slowly) to be one hell of a maverick. It's nice to have some movies with teeth.
Item 2. Notice how I didn't link to The Internet Movie Database via the titles. It seems IMDb, that essential movie research tool, has fallen prey to some sort of adware operation. When I click on "trivia" or "external reviews," for example, I am directed to a mostly blank page with a small ad tucked into one of the corners. The only way to get to where I want to go is to click back and click again. I find this troubling.
No, I don't want to download new Smileys. No, I don't want to find people with whom I graduated from high school. Does this happen to anyone else?