Burn After Reading is not a good movie. Actually, it's
a fucking piece of shit. An artfully made piece of shit, for
sure, but you know, when dealing with turds, it really doesn't
matter whether it was lovingly crafted by an artisan or it was
pinched off by a fat slob scarfing frozen buffalo wings on a
Burn After Reading
is the product of exceptionally talented people who just didn't
a flying fuck in a dunk tank about making something decent.
At some point maybe Joel and Ethan Coen did, but probably only
in the story's first fifteen minutes of life. So, in that respect,
it parallels my parents' involvement in my life. And I'd give
my life one finger, too. Not enough sex, way too much of the
plot spend alone in a dark bedroom crying and jerking off.
Burn After Reading
uses pretzel-logic to tie together two dumbshits (Brad Pitt
and Frances McDormand) who work at a gym, a CD filled with what
looks like top-secret data, Russians, the CIA, a Treasury cop
and several other unhappy and crappy women. The CD actually
belongs to a mid-level CIA operative/pompous ass (John Malkovich)
who was just demoted because of his boozing, and only contains
the notes for his pretentious memoir, and financial data that
his wife had copied to give to her divorce lawyer. Instead of
returning the disk, Pitt and McDormand try to blackmail Malkovich.
McDormand wants the money to get plastic surgery. When Malkovich
declines, she and Pitt take it to the Russian embassy to sell.
Also in the mix,
Goeroge Clooney plays a treasury cop who keeps telling people
he hasn't had to fire the gun he carries in twenty years of
duty. Duh, guess what happens. He's dumb and really into sex:
he humps Malkovich's cold wife (Tilda Swinton), McDormand and
others. He builds his own contraption with a dildo that rises
and drops through a seat bottom. He ends up shooting Pitt point
blank in the forehead so that the blood splatters and drips
all over a closet. That's one of the movie's gags. In another
big knee-slapper, Malkovich repeatedly takes a hatchet to another
man's skull after shootinghim. Oh, my sides. From a bird's eye
view, the CIA watches the bloodshed, misanthropy and malfeasance
and, when everyone dies, says "Good."
The first half hour
is brutally long, dull and dreary. It takes a long time introduce
each of the unfunny characters. After that, though, Burn
After Reading zips along. The problem is that it zips in
a dull way dreary way. It twists and turns, characters do stupid
shit, one-liners are fired off. But none of it is believable
and none of the byzantine motivations are worth figuring out.
The movie makes sense,
I'm sure, I just never got the sense it mattered. Not to me,
and clearly not to the Coens, who treat it like a Rubik's Cube
they mastered long ago and now can disinterestedly do in their
There isn't a single
sympathetic, genuine or likable character in Burn After Reading.
The Coens write everyone as a simplistic conniving, greedy prick
who is also either too fucking stupid to get away with his plans,
or too cold and bitchy. That could be fine if the reason people
go to the movies is to get away from that shit. Hell, characters
don't even have to be likable or sympathetic if they are interesting
enough. In Burn After Reading, not a single one is. They
don't sound or act like real people; just like strawmen from
the Coens' minds to let us know why they think they're so much
better than everyone else. Pitt is just dumb, and hamming his
way through an underwritten part. McDormand is whiny and pathetic.
She wants love, but in a sappy, cloying way. Clooney is just
a dick, and a godawful comedic actor. Holy shit is he annoying.
Some of his doubletakes have all the ham and none of the spice
of can of Spam. Malkovich just gets pink a lot and screams so
that spit flies from his mouth. Tilda Swinton is such a bitchy,
cold-ass harpie that making this movie must really hate women.
Every character talks
alike, in quick, faux snappy dialog. It sounds more like a writer
in love with his own voice than it does real people. The dumbest
and the most pompous in this movie sound the same. I couldn't
tell the ones who are supposed to be smart from the ones who
are supposed to be stupid by what they say or do. Only by what
we're told to think of them. Half of the movie's lines come
across as maybe funny to someone in on the joke, but not us.
The Coen Brothers
hate the characters they've written. They're just strawmen the
Coens use to show everyone how much better they think they are.
But are they? It's
like they have no sense how real people interact, or if they
do, they ignore it. Like they don't even listen, just make up
the conversation in their heads so that they always are the
smartest. The result is a smug and condescending movie. It's
like the drunk secretary at Friday happy hour who bitches about
how she's the only one in the office who knows what's going
on, and how she saves everyone ass, blah blah blah. And she
really believes it, because she never bothers to stop looking
down her nose at everyone to see how fucking lousy she is.
That secretary is
a bitch, and this movie's a turd. One Finger for Burn
After Reading. Fuck the Coens for expecting us to pay to
be insulted. That should be free.
to tell Filthy Something?