Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #221 Burn After Reading

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2011 at 6:45 PM

Movie #221 Burn After Reading

(2008, US, d. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)

For some reason, this film always serves up inspiration for me as a filmmaker and me as a person. I’ve stolen more jokes from this film in the last two years than I have from anything else. It’s one of my favorite Coen Brothers film and it is a film that I feel is largely ignored in their complete anthology. It is a film so ridiculous and so absurd that must take itself that much more seriously. It is a film that is about absolutely nothing, yet feels as if it is a part of government espionage, international conspiracies, and mysterious murders. Essentially, it is a film about infidelity, but I won’t say more than that. The Coens serve up incredible, absurd dialogue and wacky, fun characters here: Brad Pitt is like you’ve never seen him before as a knuckle-headed personal trainer who doesn’t know the first thing about ransom. George Clooney is wonderful as the womanizing Treasure Department employee and so is Frances McDormand as the fitness instructor who just wants to look better. But it is John Malkovich here who is given the role of a lifetime. Uttering contagious lines with utmost perfection, Malkovich’s ex-CIA agent/author-want-to-be character provides the movie with that “X Factor” that will keep it alive for years, at least in my book. It’s hilarious, wacky, and sometimes intense – but only a testament to the wonderful skills of Joel and Ethan Coen.

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