Alan Smithee

MediaWhoreNetwork Reviews Burn After Reading

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This weekend, I was lucky enough to convince my significant other to go with me to watch the newest movie from the Coen brothers, Burn After Reading. I have to say that I thought that this was possibly one of the pair’s best movies since Fargo or O Brother, Where Art Thou?, unfortunately nothing can ever compare to The Big Lebowski, ever!

Let me preface my review with this…I am a huge fan of anything that these two guys put out. I even managed to enjoy The Ladykillers. I guess what that means is that this review will be a bit skewed toward genius rather than flop as some publications and sites claim that it is.


The plot of the story revolves around a CIA analyst, Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) who quits his job at the CIA because he wants to write his memoirs; his wife, Katie Cox (Tilda Swinton) sees this as the perfect time to divorce Osbourne. In the process of copying his financial records she inadvertantly copies his memoirs and to hands them over to the divorce lawyer.

The CD containing the information is then lost by the lawyer’s secretary at the health-club she attends. It is here that the complications begin…Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) and his friend Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) make the assumption that the information on the CD is classified CIA documents and code that might be worth something. Linda, who is obsessed with her potential plastic surgery procedure, gets the thought that they could blackmail Osbourne Cox for a whole lot of money to have the CD returned. From here hilarity ensues.

Let’s not forget the brilliance of George Clooney’s character Harry Pfarrer who creates a present for his wife that will have you rolling in the aisles of the theater. He is simultaneously sleeping with both Katie Cox AND Linda Litzke while trying to maintain a marriage with his wife (who is found out later to be cheating on him).

As convoluded at the plot could get in some parts, this move shines brighter than anything else that is out in theaters at the moment. Like most Coen brothers’ movies, there are jokes abound that you’re not sure that you should laugh at, characters that are so realisticly portrayed you lose the actor’s ego, and some of the best cinematography I’ve seen since There Will Be Blood.

The brothers aren’t afraid to go from comedy to horror in the blink of an eye and at about 1 hour into the movie you’ll see why I think this will be another cult classic like Fargo was. Sure it won’t bring too many people who aren’t fans of their movies (unless they’re there for their Brad Pitt and George Clooney), but I can almost guarantee that this movie will sell like crazy on DVD.

The best parts of this movie for me are the scenes where Osbourne Cox’s superior is briefing HIS superior on what is going on in the movie. It is almost as if the Coen brothers are trying to say “Ok you dumb people in the audience, here’s whats going on.” The final scene in particular is one that I will not forget for a long time.

If you’re a fan of the Coen brothers’ movies then this one should be a no-brainer. If you’re not, then I suggest seeing it only for the multiple cases of paranoia, infidelity, violence, and overall disregard for all rational thought. It’s ok to laugh at horrible things this movie is just full of them.

My Verdict: Go to the theater regardless of whether your a fan of the directors, but don’t go thinking its going to be No Country For Old Men 2, because it’s not. Yes, it’s funny. Yes, it’s violent. What more do you need?

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