What a Fiasco – Burn After Reading (2008)

Writer’s note: In an effort to make some extra money, I’ve been putting in 65 hour work weeks for the entire month of August.  As you can imagine, it has not left a whole lot of excess time for movies or writing reviews, so please accept my apologies for dropping off the internet without a warning.  To treat myself, I have dedicated the entirety of the month of September to movie watching, so expect a flurry of reviews next month, most of which will be current.  In the meantime, please enjoy the reviews of some movies I watched 1 – 2 months ago.

The Coens are my favorite.  So after a disk containing a CIA agent’s memoirs gets left on the floor of a gym locker room, it falls into the hands of two employees (Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt).  They think they have stumbled upon something worthwhile, so they make a play to blackmail the agent (John Malkovich), not realizing the disk they have isn’t really worth anything.  Now if you were to pose me with the question of who my favorite director is, you probably already know that this is a difficult question to field for anybody who considers themselves to be versed in the medium.  It’s a tight contest, but I would personally give the slightest edge to the Coen brothers over Quentin Tarantino.  They are just such versatile filmmakers, and they can make some of the tensest thrillers out there or make you keel over laughing with hilariously written quirky characters.  I don’t just like the majority of their projects, I love and admire them, and even one of their lesser, rompier movies like Burn After Reading hits home with me in ways that are difficult to describe.

Directors: Joel Coen and Ethan CoenThey know how to make memorable characters, which in this day and age isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Now this was clearly an inspiration behind one of my favorite role-playing games: Fiasco.  (if you’re into that kind of thing and consider yourself to be a fan of this movie, I highly recommend it).  Just like the game, the established framework is fantastic: everybody has these sordid and selfish motivations, there are no clear cut winners, and everybody kind of loses together.  It is a bit on the cartoonish-side, but in a good way, and the chemistry is just right to lead to some fireworks whenever these characters happen to cross paths.  And the dialogue is (as it always is with the Coens) skillfully penned and masterfully brought to life.  They just know how to turn a phrase and make it so every important detail has the right amount of attention drawn to it and every punchline hits.  It appeals to me so much, and I get a lot out of it.  And the opening scene to this sets the tone so perfectly for what this movie is all about, courtesy of a highly animated John Malkovich.

Film Title: Burn After ReadingHe commits SO much to this role, and I love him for it.

I adore the way the Coen brothers put together films; I always have and probably always will.  I do understand that not all of their films are for everybody (some may have a problem watching a movie that’s about low-intelligent characters), but practically all of their movies are for me.  They possess the ability to make me laugh like no other, and I celebrate their entire library.  For me, I feel this is totally a five star movie, and I don’t think this is even close to being at the very top of their library, which should give you an indication of just how highly I think about them.

Burn After Reading (2008) *****

– Critic for Hire


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