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I watched the movie "Syriana" over the past weekend.  When the film came out in 2005, it received mixed reviews, but was nominated for quite a few awards.  George Clooney won the Oscar in 2006 for Best Supporting Actor in the film.  It was also nominated for best writing and original screenplay.  The ensemble cast is nothing short of amazing in their portrayal of the intersection of spies, spooks, government apparatchiks, private industry, and access to Middle Eastern oil.

After watching the film, I understand the mixed reviews.  There were so many layers to it that your average Michael Medved and short-attention-span reviewers wouldn't be able to keep track of how the various layers overlapped.  The movie was particularly brutal in how it presented (correctly, imo) DOJ pursuit of the oil industry players that operated in a cesspool of international corruption, and influenced government response to a situation that had become untenable to the oil barons.  

Anyway, Syriana is a very, very engaging international political thriller, and I highly recommend it if you haven't had the opportunity to see it.  One particular sequence in the film stuck with me.  It occurs to me that the following words (pre-TARP) very adequately explain the Masters of the Universe, Wall Street, the 1%, and their current figurehead, Bishop Willard M. Romney.  The character making the following statement is a mid-level player who didn't cover his tracks quite well enough, and ends up being targeted as the fall guy for his superiors:

Danny Dalton: Some trust fund prosecutor, got off-message at Yale thinks he's gonna run this up the flagpole? Make a name for himself? Maybe get elected some two-bit congressman from nowhere, with the result that Russia or China can suddenly start having, at our expense, all the advantages we enjoy here? No, I tell you. No, sir! Corruption charges! Corruption? Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations. That's Milton Friedman. He got a goddamn Nobel Prize. We have laws against it precisely so we can get away with it. Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the streets. Corruption is why we win.
Substitute "Wall Street" in 2012 for "Big Oil" in 2005, and the plot arc of Syriana wouldn't need to be changed very much.  It's a riveting movie, and well worth the investment of a couple of hours.

Originally posted to All Spin Zone on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 10:32 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA.

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