For the first time in a long while I saw two movies over the weekend.

Syriana is a confusing, jumbled tale of Middle Eastern politics and American energy policy. Four separate though related stories are told, and tracking them is difficult. The acting is excellent as is the production, but it’s not an especially fun two hours. Ultimately, it’s a political commentary on American involvement in the Middle East and the consequences of that meddling. Syriana isn’t wrong in what it’s saying in my view, but told in a more linear fashion, it would have been more comprehensible and enjoyable.

Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, on the other hand, is an enjoyable couple of hours. The opening 10-15 minutes is about as good as filmmaking gets frankly, and the acting (Jack Nickolson, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, etc.) is fantastic. The film twists and turns keep things moving. While it’s violent is anything (not to mention profane), the ultimate flaw is that you get to the end and wonder why you just spent the time watching the story. It’s a brilliant exercise in cinema to be sure. One just wonders if it had to be pointless as well.