Saturday, September 13, 2008
Movie Reviews: BURN AFTER READING
BURN AFTER READING
A dark spy-comedy from Academy Award winners Joel and Ethan Coen. An ousted CIA official's (Academy Award nominee John Malkovich) memoir accidentally falls into the hands of two unwise gym employees intent on exploiting their find.
Cast: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins
Director: Ethan Coen
Opened September 12, 2008
Runtime: 1 hr. 36 min.
Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and violence
Genres: Comedy, Spy Comedy
There is a massive list of films that have top notch cast and fail miserably on screen, luckily, Burn After Reading isn't one of them. The Coen Brothers return to more comedic material after their Oscar winning No Country for Old Men and do so in grand fashion. Incredibly dark, this comedy is expertly fashion from beginning to end filled with wonderfully quirky self absorbed characters and intersecting storylines. The Coen Brothers direct their film with such a sense of self assurance and elegance that it hard not to enjoy. Brisk pacing really keeps the action moving at a spry pace never wasting a moment on frivolous scenes. The A list talent bring their A game here and everyone from the top bill stars to the Coen's regular character actors really shine. Top of the heap is Brad Pitt, in a slightly abbreviated role, just having a ball playing a doofus who has the energy of a rabbit on Red Bull. It's a bit of a shame that he's not in the film very long but that doesn't make his performance any less memorable. Frances McDormand is Pitt's partner in stupidity and McDormand give her character a terrific likeability even though she's a ball of self loathing. John Malkovich's turn the alcoholic former CIA analyst is a fantastic fun. His character could have been very one note in lesser actor's hands but Malkovich gives him such an elevated sense of neurosis which is just moments away from boiling up and making him snap. Malkovich's matched by Tilda Swinton's icy turn as his wife. She's an equally flawed character who's more concerned with her affair than her husband. Sharing Swinton's bed is George Clooney playing ladies man extraordinaire who enjoys a 5 mile jog after a good shag. Clooney here is stripped of his usual movie star cool ala the Ocean's movies and delivers a wonderfully carefree performance which turns into caged paranoia near the end. J.K. Simmons has a small role as the CIA head but he's got some of the more memorable dialogue in the film. It's a true testament to the script in general which is witty and smart, giving the characters some truly memorable repartee throughout. Burn After Reading is top notch film, a throwback to some of the Coen's Brothers classic comedic films like The Big Lebowski and Raising Arizona, a true gem.