Why we can't wait to see ''Syriana''
RELEASE DATE Nov. 23, limited; Dec. 9, wide
WHY WE CAN'T WAIT Stephen Gaghan's interlocking screenplay for Traffic was so dazzling that we're eager to see if he can do for oil what he did for cocaine.
THE PREMISE Gaghan, who also directs, interweaves three stories: one about a CIA agent (George Clooney) in the Middle East, another focused on an oil-industry lawyer (Jeffrey Wright) working on a megamerger, and the third about an oil-company analyst and his wife (Matt Damon and Amanda Peet) mourning their dead son.
SOURCE Federal agent Robert Baer's 2002 book, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism
THE BACK STORY Don't recognize the bearded, bearish Clooney (pictured)? He pulled a De Niro and gained 35 pounds for the role in 30 days. ''It was actually like doing an athletic stunt because it was like eight meals a day, just as hard and fast as you can eat,'' he says. ''It really screwed with my health. I know people have done it before, but I don't know that they've done it at 44. You know, I think that was my mistake.''
BURNING QUESTION Will moviegoers want to open their wallets, fill up their gas tanks, and drive to the multiplex to see a film about the geopolitics of oil?
COME FOR Clooney, who with this and Good Night, and Good Luck is this year's king of the political thriller
STAY FOR The chameleonic Wright (Angels in America)