Digital Breakdown: Oil’s well that ends well 

It is a scary thought as to how deep the corruption goes within the oil industry in the movie "Syriana." We would like to think the film is based in fiction rather than anything bordering on real life. However, the film — about a handful of different characters all associated with big oil and interconnected in some way — is based on some real occurences, as the Oscar-nominated script is partially based on the memoir "See No Evil," by CIA Agent Robert Baer.

Given our own "addiction to oil," as our very own president says, could you not see the CIA assassinating a Persian Gulf leader who threatens to take his oil and give it to another country? But "Syriana" is more than just a do-anything-for-oil commentary; it is an examination of greed, religious intolerance and segregation of similar cultures in the Middle East as well as a frightening assessment ofthe state of the oil industry in general.

The film, which stars Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Siddig and George Clooney, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of an embittered CIA agent, is a bit confusing at times and almost collapses onto itself with so much happening in almost domino fashion. "Syriana" is offered in widescreen and full-screen format in English, Spanish and French language with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. And the film looks and sounds beautiful with an awesome digital cut and crisp clear voices and audio nuisances being detected easily.

Extras: A slew of deleted scenes eliminated from the original cut, two featurettes — "A Conversation with George Clooney" and "Make a Change, Make a Difference" — and the usual fare of chapter selections and language choices. This version is a good, solid rental with a possibility of more if a special edition is released with more meat to it.

Also now available on DVD

» With phrases such as "Hasty conclusion like gunpowder. Easy to explode," you have to love Charlie Chan and his unique approach to solving crime of all types. "The Charlie Chan Collection — Volume One" includes four classic films from the icon of mystery such as "Charlie Chan in Paris," "Charlie Chan in London," "Charlie Chan in Shanghai" and "Charlie Chan in Egypt." Four highly enjoyable films regardless of their age, and the really cool things are new commentaries on the films plus a never-before-released film "Eran Trece" featuring Charlie Chan. Price: $59.98. Rent or buy: Buy!

» During the 1970s and ’80s a group of comedians toured the country playing more than 450 comedy showcases nationwide and launching the modern day stand-up comics to go on and do things such as "The Tonight Show" and "Late Show with David Letterman." "When Stand Up Stood Out" chronicles that journey featuring comedians such as Denis Leary, Janeane Garofalo, Paula Poundstone, Bobcat Goldthwait, Colin Quinn and many more. The DVD includes interview footage with the above comics as well as a director’s commentary. If you enjoy stand-up, this is a great pick up. Price: $29.95. Rent or buy: Rent.

» In honor of a "What’s Eating Gilbert Grape: Special Collector’s Edition" DVD, Paramount has rolled out a slew of Johnny Depp rereleases, including "Nick of Time," "The Ninth Gate" and "Sleepy Hollow." This week also marks the debut of the Depp-starring "Private Resort," back when he didn’t consider himself so artistic. Price: Various. Rent or Buy: Gilbert Grape is probably the only one worth owning.

peterbrown@examiner.com

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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