Jul 27, 2009

[Movies] Burn After Reading (2008)

Burn After ReadingThe Coen Brothers are an odd pair of filmmakers, known for their black comedies and even darker suspense dramas. It's just their style, I suppose. I first grew to appreciate their work when I got to watch Fargo at a fairly young age, certainly a film that blurred the lines between movie classifications and had its odd comedic moments set against a the tale of a kidnapping gone wrong.

I've not consistently seen their films beyond that point and as I double-check their filmography in line with the writing of this review, it's daunting to note just how many movies I've missed. It's not like I'm a die hard fan of the Brothers, but you have to admit they have a certain something going on and it's no small feat winning the Oscar for Best Picture for No Country For Old Men, yet another Coen film I need to get around to watching.

I'm still not 100% sure how I feel about this, but I have a general idea of how I want to rate this movie for now, so let's press on.

Burn After Reading is the quirky tale gym employees Chad (Brad Pitt) and Linda (Frances McDormand) who stumble across a disc containing the incomplete memoir of ex-CIA agent Osborne Cox (John Malkovich). The two decide that they can try to sell the information either back to Cox or even the Russians in order to earn enough money to fulfill their dreams. As with any other Coen film, there's a lot more to this than just that summary, but I don't want to give too much away.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 05:  (L-R) Actor John ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The cast was remarkably significant in terms of high profile stars. Beyond those already mentioned, the movie also featured George Clooney as a womanizer having an affair with Tilda Swinton, who plays Osborne's wife, Katie. The interaction between characters is something else and they definitely got some good chemistry going, although I can't help but feel Frances is stuck playing the same acting style as when she did Fargo. Maybe it's just me making associations since I knew it was a Coen film, I dunno really. And John Malkovich only knows how to act like John Malkovich, which isn't bad at all. His unique brand of neuroses was probably perfect for his role here.

The story wasn't as funny as I had hoped it to be, but then again I was initially expecting a more mainstream comedy. Instead it was very, very black and actually felt a tad dragging at some points. pacing was a significant challenge here and it's hard to keep up sometimes but not because it's too fast - more like you need to stay awake.

And Brad Pitt never took his shirt off. Bugger.

As a whole, the movie was okay and entertaining and humorous in a more subtle, intellectual way. It didn't make me want to watch it again to analyze things or anything like that and so I may just end up leaving things at that.

Burn After Reading gets 3, um, exotic exercise chairs out of 5.


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