Burn after Reading is just another Coen brother’s film that begs the questions, “Does Joel and Ethan ever make a bad movie?”  It’s obvious once the credits roll that it doesn’t have the re-watchability of say, Fargo or The Big Lebowski, however, it has a special, quality all its own.  And I mean “special” both in, like, “it has a warm place in my heart” and in the fact that is was cute, you know, in a slightly handicapped sort-of-way.  Hmmm… is that too insensitive?

This film reminded me of a story I heard as a child about the blind men and the elephant.  You ever heard it?  You know, the story where each blind man was given a side of the elephant- one got the tusk, one the side, and the other the rear.  The one sightless chap at the front thought it was a spear, the visually inept guy #2 thought the side was a wall, and the final, sightless scoundrel thought the tail was a rope.  The point of the story was not that these blind men were morons (oh no), but that they had a different interpretation of what they thought was reality… and they were all wrong!

Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich- Of Mice and Men, Being John Malkovich) begins to construct his memoirs after being fired by the CIA.  His wife Katie (Tilda Swinton- The Chronicles of Narnia) is messing around with Harry (George Clooney- Solaris, Up In The Air), a State Department marshal, and they bed-talk about divorcing their “other halves.”  A compact disk of “highly-sensitive CIA shit” is found by local fitness gym employees Chad and Linda.  Chad (Brad Pitt- Interview with a Vampire, Fight Club) is the high-energy, affable HardBodies trainer who goes in cahoots with Linda (Frances McDormand- Fargo, The Man Who Wasn’t There), a woman who’s bent on using the disk to fetch her some elective cosmetic surgery money.  When Chad and Linda’s sales pitch blows up in their faces, they decide to take it to the Russians.  And from there… you could say things get pretty loco.

The fun part of this movie is that everyone is eccentric, going mach 5 in the wrong direction.  Brad Pitt is at the top of his game (not that he’s a great “game-player”), in a role that I can easily say, “you’ve never seen him in before.”  He is a complete cartoon of a character, but one that is so darn like-able that you can’t stop grinning.  And boy does he have some good lines!- my favorite being when Chad calls Osbourne Cox.

[ Chad on the phone] Osbourne Cox? I thought you might be worried… about the security… of your shit.

It might not read (right away) as funny, but much of the movie is situational – it’s people trying to get away with stuff, it’s false accusations, it’s misconceptions…(sigh)…it’s a fun time is “what it is!”

Burn After Reading definitely has the Coen brother’s signature idiosyncrasy, similar to O Brother Where Art Thou, but with a meandering story-line and (what seemed to me as) a premature ending.  Following one of my favorite films of 2007, No Country For Old Men, it seems that Joel and Ethan were not just looking to return to their comedic roots, but were wanting to “get moronical.”  Ben Stiller shouldn’t have the monopoly on that!  And since I’m kinda tired of his movies, it’s nice to be able to sit down with another film, a different film, and not have to think much.


One Response to “BURN AFTER READING :: COMEDY :: 027”

  1. Jennifer Pruna Says:

    Ooo I want to see this. 🙂

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