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Wadrick's Celluloid Dungeon

Syriana (2005) • Music & Lyrics (2007) • Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Syriana (2005) Poster Art
Syriana (2005)
Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, George Clooney, Chris Cooper, Alexander Siddig, Amanda Peet, Mazhar Munir, Tim Blake Nelson & Christopher Plummer.
Written & Directed by Stephen Gaghan.

In the Middle East, two unemployed youths are drawn into a circle of Muslim extremists, while a energy analyst is sent to apply for a contract with Arab royalty and is met with tragedy. In the United States, a CIA operative becomes obsessed with finding a missile sold in an arms deal, and a morally corrupted attorney investigates the merger of two massive oil corporations. Gaghan, the Oscar-winning writer of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, has again chosen heavy material for his second film as director, this time concentrating on the global influence of Big Oil. Loosely based on former CIA officer Robert Baer’s memoir, this complex, serpentine tale of interconnected lives and events is a masterpiece of subtle storytelling, weaving its tapestry deliberately and gaining momentum at every turn. Accompanied by a haunting, minimalist score from Alexandre Desplat, Syriana is a rare bird in the fickle environment of Hollywood, demanding strict attention from its audience. Wright and Clooney (in an Oscar-winning role) are simply magnificent amid a cluster of excellent performances, and Gaghan demonstrates again that he is a writer of enormous talent.

Music & Lyrics (2007) Poster Art
Music & Lyrics (2007)
Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore, Brad Garrett, Kristen Johnston and Campbell Scott.
Written & Directed by Mark Lawrence.

Alex Fletcher (Grant) is a former pop idol from the 1980s now reduced to singing for his middle-aged fans at embarrassing venues. When he is given the chance to resurrect his career by writing a hit song for a young Britney-style pop princess, he teams up with kooky Sophie (Barrymore), a former English Lit major who displays a natural talent for lyrics and melody. As the two proceed in their venture, love blossoms…of course. This insightful, honest comedy is highly entertaining and features the kind of genuine laughs that are conspicuously absent from most Hollywood comedies. Grant and Barrymore have chemistry to spare and are wonderful foils for each other, receiving solid support from TV actors Johnston and Garrett. OK, the more macho among us may consider this your typical “chick flick”, but this macho man was totally captivated by Music & Lyrics. The film never felt contrived and delivered some truly catchy tunes that had this reviewer singing the next day in the shower (much to the chagrin of my partner).

Dawn Of The Dead (2004) Poster Art
Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Michael Kelly & Mekhi Phifer.
Written by James Gunn & Scott Frank.
Directed by Zack Snyder.

Ana (Polley) awakes one morning to a living hell. Her husband is trying to kill her after being bitten by their next door neighbour, and outside on the streets, civilisation is collapsing. This is all thanks to some unknown phenomenon that is turning people into ravenous zombies – but these ain’t your typical shuffling kind of zombie, these suckers can run! She eventually teams up with cop Kenneth (Rhames) and a bunch of other survivors who take refuge in a shopping mall. This electric horror film is a remake of the George A Romero classic of the same name from 1978. Yet, all the two films really share in common are their titles and major set-piece (the shopping mall). It lacks the social commentary of Romero’s film, but stands proudly alongside it as a definitive ‘re-imagining’. The film is redundant and obvious at times, and even crosses the line on one occasion, but for this genre, it delivers exactly what its intended audience craves – a decent story, a good pace and a bucketload of gore.


Wadrick Jones' Film Rating Chart.

(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)


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  1. I was hoping you'd review some good horror. The Dawn remake is almost a perfect film…minus the one "cross the line" scene. (Zombie babies have no place in ANY film.)

    Dunno if I'd praise Music & Lyrics quite as high as you but the music makes up for its shortcomings. "pop goes my heart" and "way back into love" are two perfect pop songs. Love 'em.

    Thanks Wadrick. Great reviews.

    Posted by faystar | February 18, 2009, 9:48 pm
  2. the first two I want to see, but haven’t yet

    Posted by Shea | February 18, 2009, 10:22 pm
  3. Mad reviews Wadrick…

    Y'know, I still haven't seen Syriana (or Music & Lyrics) but I really want to (even more so now). Dig George…he's great. (Was a BIG fan of Michael Clayton).

    But yeah, Dawn, I thought it was a damn good version…really cool.
    I agree there were things irked me a bit, though the Zombie baby wasn't number one on my list–the girl stealing the truck to go get the dog, now that got me preaching to the choir [my girlfriend] about survival priorities amid the undead…

    '…at that point, I think it far more prudent to write the dog off as a loss…I'm sorry, but the truck is far more vauable to blah blah blah…'


    Posted by Decoy Spoon | February 18, 2009, 10:31 pm
  4. you’ve got to check this out, delete it if you want, but check it out first,http://www.artsjournal.com/artopia/2009/02/poop_art_manzoni_sono_buoni.html

    Posted by Shea | February 18, 2009, 11:09 pm
  5. Yo all…

    Faystar – yeah, Music & Lyrics wasn't superb, but I couldn't give it two stars and say it was time killing material…it did have worth…
    And I was knocking Dawn before it came out, but didn't I shut the f#@k up when I finally watched it…

    Decoy – I hear ya – get your priorities right…ammo, food, shelter, deck of cards…besides, a dog is just another mouth to feed in a crumbling society…
    (Also dug Micheal Clayton too…I'm biased when it comes to Cloons…)

    Shea – don't watch Syriana if you've had a long day…it requires attention (and even two viewings…)

    See ya later.

    Posted by Wadrick Jones | February 19, 2009, 1:42 am
  6. Very nice review, I will put this movies on my watch list!

    Posted by My Life Thinking | February 19, 2009, 6:01 am
  7. Dawn of the Dead!!@!


    Posted by Bill Donovan | February 20, 2009, 12:08 pm
  8. Hi Manz,
    Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving such nice comments. I really appreciate it!
    Yes, we do love those critters coming around so that we can enjoy them – as long as their little mouths aren’t wrapped around my little flowers – which is very seldom. But we’ve possibly found a way to get along now – they come by and find they aren’t quite as hungry as they thought they were because of the smell! Hope this one works.

    Posted by RainGardener | February 21, 2009, 1:33 pm

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