Burn After Reading the Movie

Here’s my theory about the film that opened the Venice International Film Festival in late August (I posted something about this film earlier).

The Coen Brothers were sitting around one day, shooting the breeze, basking in the impending glow of an Oscar after working so hard on NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, thinking of the political landscape and wondering what kind of mischief they might make between the US, its citizens and Russia before the election – with as little money – and effort – as possible. Another Cold War? Remember, the Coens thought of it first.

What they came up with is an ensemble cast of actors making crazy with a very funny convoluted script and a low budget. You can look up the actors on www.imdb.com.


But let me mention a few….

Brad Pitt as a 40-something acting like a 20-something airhead gym trainer is hilarious.

Frances McDormand, as Brad Pitt’s co-conspirator, is wry, distsy, and pretty much an idiot along with most of the cast.

Tilda Swinton, the unhappy ice queen, is still the ice queen. Brrr. Scary.

John Malkovich, for once more or less innocent, gets pay back for all the bad guys he ever played. When he is fired from his top level job at the CIA, a disk with his resume and ongoing jobs is lost, McDormand and Pitt find it, and almost like a McGuffin, that misplaced disk gets things rolling. 

Richard Jenkins, the well-deserved flavor of the month actor, or year, rather, is very good as the gym manager who loves the McDormand character – and loses.

Alas, she’s too busy manufacturing a spy conspiracy, to notice.

George Clooney, back on his most familiar K Street in DC, said this is the third idiot movie he has made for the Coens. OK. Not his best (O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU is, in my opinion), but he’ll do.

There is some graphic violence and other distasteful aspects that will make some viewers uncomfortable. But as a funny, improbable film, it’ll do.

Does the film make a political statement? Oh yes. Cynicism and metaphorical satire in the hands of the Coen Brothers. Well, you know what they’re like.

I hope these guys leavetheir brains to science. Or somebody, take an MRI.


The Italians loved the movie. And you have to ask ‘why’?