Queue Total

284 MOVIES (released titles only)

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Queue Numbers

#50- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

#100- Black Swan

#200- Mysteries of Lisbon

Last- Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Burn After Reading

Burn After Reading (2008)
Produced, Written, and Directed by The Cohen Brothers
Starring Frances McDormand, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton, John Malkovich, Richard Jenkins

hmmmm. this is a hard one...okay, there's this cia agent guy who gets mad about his desk transfer so he quits. then his wife, who's been having an affair for a while, divorces him. she puts his bank records on a disc. said disc ends up on the floor of a gym. super gym guy, and francis mcdormand (who wants several plastic surgeries, but has no means to pay for them) think they have come across some "serious" intelligence. they come up with a plan to extort ex-cia guy. things go awry.

If there's an overarching theme in Cohen comedies, it's incompetence.  Each character on display here is phenomenally poor at at least one significant element of his or her life and knows it. Their general desire to improve their lot is the driving force of the film. Unfortunately that overeagerness to please bleeds a little too far onto the page.

Similar to The Men Who Stare at Goats, most of the elements for greatness are here; but differently from that movie I don't think the solution is as simple as a couple of rounds of punch-up.  In creating such a large number of independent, intersecting groups of characters the Cohens bit a little more off of the principal tree than they could easily digest; and while everything comes out OK in the end the funny is too rigid for its channel.

That's really a shame, too, because this is another example of top-notch casting of top notch actors who  (discontinue the previous paragraph's metaphor here) weren't given enough to chew on.  But they did as much as possible with what they had.

The above sounds maybe a little more bleak than reality; but that's because of the high regard in which I hold these brothers.  There were plenty of funny bits and a couple of great running gags.  Clooney's sexual adventurism, for example, carries both conspicuous and subtle touches and is conveyed in such a way that I'm not sure if it originates from existing or aspired skill.  And there's no other way to describe Tilda Swinton's character than as a world-class cunt.

Add all that up and the score is still above average.  This isn't top-tier Cohen comedy, but so what?

The Woman 
i liked this movie. i always like twisty plots with lots of characters like the cohens tend to do. there were scenes of this movie where i did not see the direction they took coming. one scene with brad pitt in particular. i also like the total incompetence of the bureaucratic nature of the cia. this movie was rife with silly paranoia as well, which i can always appreciate.

i thought this was going to be funnier. more like their comedy comedy stuff like lebowski, or raising arizona, but it was far more like fargo in the dark chuckle once in awhile. i did not really like fargo. i know, i'm an ignoramus, but i feel like the whimpy incompetence of william h. macy was too much and it mad me mad. this, i feel, though idiocy was a main theme, did not portray a situation where one man was entirely responsible. does that makes sense? no? well poops on you for reading this then.

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