Although Syriana has been widely praised, and picked up a couple of Oscar nominations (for Clooney's performance and Gaghan's script), the film-maker is incandescent with anger about American journalists who have branded the film too complicated and confusing to reach a mass audience.
"They're all asking: 'Who are we rooting for? Who do we want to see succeed at the end? It's too confusing!' And the point is, it's not confusing. These storylines have beginnings and middles and ends. They're simple. What the film does is it challenges the way you watch movies like this. It doesn't tell you who's the star of the scene. It's shot to purposely challenge your assumptions of how you watch a film like this."
And besides, film journalists just aren't equipped for the task. "They can't talk about the issues in the film because they don't know enough, about Washington, about the Middle East, about foreign policy, about the oil business, lawyers . . . They don't know anything about any of that. They only thing they can talk about in the US is that the movie's too confusing for the middle of the country. They become these self-appointed protectors of the poor little lambs, the great unwashed. Well, I'm from Kentucky and I am one of the great unwashed."
Gaghan describes the media reaction to Syriana as hugely frustrating and disappointing. "You spend 15 hours a day, seven days a week, for four years, and all that people can think to say about your work is 'Don't you think it's too confusing?' No, I don't. I'm sorry Michael Douglas doesn't save his daughter, that there isn't a sentimental heartbeat at the core of this, but that's not what the world dictates right now."
(On how another film he wrote was destroyed by test audiences and the studio)
"Trust me, the exact same shit went on with this movie. I'm not going to get into it, but the same forces of over-simplification, explanation . . . there are parts of Syriana where you go to the CIA and they just start explaining shit. You should never do that in a script. Never, never, never. A movie should operate on certain principles, but principles and money? It's a fucking joke."
Leo's Matt Attack
Newlywed Matt Damon had a falling out with Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio over their opposing views on marriage during the making of new movie The Departed. The two Hollywood hunks apparently had a little tiff over Damon openly singing the virtues of married life while poor Leo licked his wounds from his split from Brazilian beauty Giselle Bundchen. "Matt is a very happy man right now what with getting married and starting a family whereas Leo is very much living the bachelor life again," reports a source close to Damon. "They were merely having a discussion about relationships and family when Leo had a little strop saying it was impossible for actors to have a happy family. It all cooled down later but Matt obviously struck a nerve."