Movie Reviews – “Burn After Reading”

I saw “Burn After Reading” before “No Country for Old Men” (I know, it’s a shame it took so long) but seeing “No Country” helped explain some of the aspects of “Reading” that caught me off gaurd. The Cohen Brothers certainly have an imagination, don’t they? “Reading” is a goofy tale acted out by some of our favorite serious actors and I just love that, ya know. This hilarious ensemble flick is as good as they come these days with talented crew from the editing room to the extras. Beware though, all is not funny in the world of Cohen, but the surprises make a second trip to the theater to see “Burn After Reading” worth the extra money.

The Cohen Brothers – I think I’m an official fan. They are great with humor and violence as well as catching you off gaurd (I wonder if one brother is more violent/funny than the other?). There is always a certain off balance aspect to their films too, making them so distinctive.

The laughs – There’s a lot of them, some that aren’t in the trailers either. Go figure!

The cast – Brad Pitt’s hair is great, well, and, yeah, so is he. He doesn’t say a whole lot but it doesn’t matter, he’s still a big personality in this tale. George Clooney is the most complex character – happily married/cheating on his wife, wants to please everyone/chronic liar, creative & can built things/destroying his life. His is the most interesting storyline. This is possibly the most angry role for John Malkovich that I’ve ever seen, yet somehow still hilarious like when he stands up to his boss and in shock and pissed off confusion and blurts out “WHAT THE (BLEEP) IS GOING ON HERE?”, which ends up being the theme of the movie. Tilda Swinton plays cold and sexy very well and leaves the question “Why is Malkovich’s character married to her in the first place? She’s kind of a (“b” word).” And Frances McDormand, our leading lady who could lead any comedy with her wide eyed banter. She’s sweet and likable and very funny. She makes head slapping mistakes without the obvious and squeamish mishaps seen in movies like “Meet the Parents.”

The Surprises – Have I mentioned how much I love when huge plot lines AREN’T revealed in the trailers? And I wonder how many times I’ve said “surprises” in this review.

The Ending – It ends with head of Malkovich’s CIA department stating something to the effect of “I don’t know what just happened,” which is what the movie feels like by the end.

The chair – there is a devise introduced briefly in the middle of the movie and it just throws the whole pace of the movie off. It’s so random, that I remained bewildered for the rest of the movie and completely changed the good way I was feeling about it (it later redeems itself, but at that moment and for a few after, I was completely put off by it.)

The F Bomb – Again, the overuse of the “f word” gets annoying by the time the credits roll.

Unique Qualities:
It is undeniably a story never heard or seen before and one of the most important characteristics of a “good movie” is originality. “Reading” certainly steps up to the plate. It’s a “need to see it twice” kind of movie simply because of the surprises. Personally, they threw me off and I wasn’t able to laugh at that time because I was recovering from the shock.

In the end, yes it’s violent, yes it’s hilarious and how can anyone not check out a movie with such an incredible cast with such reputable writers and directors? In comparison to a lot of the other movies that are out right now, this one is better than most and ranks in my top 3 of current films.

Do you think the surprises are too over the top? Did they catch you off guard like they did me? Comment, please, even if it doesn’t answer those questions :)
“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.

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