Add to Queue #70: Girl afraid

[[image:vs081221_header_copy1.jpg:Blu-ray Releases | December 23, 2008:center:0]]
Media | A2Q Archives | A2Q #70 | December 23, 2008

Featured Title: Burn After Reading

The Coen Brothers follow up the critically acclaimed No Country For Old Men with this very black comedy. The commercials and trailers I saw for this made it look like the “Brad Pitt is dumb and dances crazy” movie, but that doesn’t do the film justice. It helps if you’re familiar with the Coens, as I really can’t think of much to compare this to besides their own work. In many respects, this is a close cousin to The Big Lebowski, as the plot hinges on a a few small coincidences that spiral out of control. In Burn After Reading, however, the results of those coincidences are much darker, and the overall film is much more of an ensemble piece. Also, the characters in Burn are mostly unlikeable: shallow, vain, self-serving, and avaricious, we are mostly freed from feeling sorry for them when their hairball schemes start to go haywire.

[[image:vs081221_burn_copy1.jpg:Stills from Burn After Reading:center:0]]
I hope I’m not doing this film too great a disservice by comparing it to the The Big Lebowski, as I don’t think this film is quite on par with that classic. All the actors seem to be having a great time in Burn — and unlike Ocean’s 12 (where their fun didn’t necessarily translate into a good time for the viewer), here’s there’s a lot of entertainment value in seeing Pitt and George Clooney take their respective idiot personas all the way. Francis McDormand is typically excellent as a fitness instructor oblivious to everything but her desire for plastic surgery, and whose attempts to blackmail a recently-fired intelligence agent with his misplaced memoirs sets the plot in motion. Malkovich is very, uh, Malkovich as said agent: an angry and bitter alcoholic married to Tilda Swinton’s ball-busting shrew. She’s having an affair with Clooney’s character, who in turn uses an internet dating service to meet McDormand’s character… and around it goes. All of the great performances are capped by a series of hilarious cameos by JK Simmons. In summary, it’s a very good Coen Brothers movie that doesn’t quite live up to their very best work — but it’s still very much worth seeing.

Also Out This Week

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Burn After Reading hit yesterday, so these two are pretty much the only “noteworthy” titles being released on Tuesday, which is the usually the day for new releases. Some websites are reporting that Eagle Eye, The Duchess, or Resident Evil: Degeneration will be available this week, but that is incorrect. They won’t actually be in stores until next Sunday. Amazon actually lists them as releasing this Saturday, but that’s because they don’t ship items out on Sundays. They will apparently begin shipping pre-orders Saturday, a day before the street-date. (Personally, I haven’t had much luck getting Amazon to ship stuff out on street date, so the prospect of them getting something out a day earlier seems an impossible dream….)

Thanks for reading (and hopefully commenting on) Add to Queue, GameSpite’s weekly round-up of US home video release highlights. Sorry, rest of the world; region locks are the industry’s way of saying they still don’t understand the Internet. Cover art courtesy of Amazon. There are few things as fetching as a bruised ego on a beautiful angel. . Follow me on Twitter. Add me to your PSN or XBL friends list: VsRobot. You can also e-mail me at levivsrobot [at] gmail [dot] com.

10 thoughts on “Add to Queue #70: Girl afraid

  1. Agreed on your assessment of Burn After Reading: felt similar to the Big Lebowski, but obviously not as good. And to be fair, Brad Pitt’s dancing WAS entertaining.

    Also, shame on you for even showing that awful remake’s box. Everyone should skip it and hunt down the original.

  2. I’m pretty sure the info Pitt and McDormand found was just Malkovich’s financial info that Swinton took, not his memoirs. Pretty good movie but I was hoping for more.

  3. Agreed with your statements on Burn After Reading 100%. It was hilarious, but didn’t quite touch Lebowski.

    I also think the scenes with JK Simmons and the guy who played Sledge Hammer were the absolute funniest scenes.

    RE: Death Race, I love Statham, but I don’t think even he could make that movie watchable. I’ll probably see it on a rental/movie channel eventually, but I’m sure it doesn’t have a moment to rival Sly Stallone twisting his own hand off, and quipping “It’s a hand grenade,” before throwing it at someone.

  4. My boyfriend and I saw Burn After Reading last week at a dollar theater and loved it. I’ll agree that it wasn’t what it was marketed as, but I expected that going in.

    And I actually loved Death Race. It’s a very enjoyable popcorn action movie.

  5. Yeah…I told people after seeing Burn After Reading that it was, “Funny, but you’d probably like it more if you’ve never seen The Big Lebowski because it’s practically the same kind of movie.” Good to know I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

    Watching the movie would’ve been far more enjoyable had the chick I went with not had such a fascination with her god damned cell phone…

  6. Oh man, if you guys agree with me I’ll never break my record for comments on a post. :( Next week I’m going to say something crazy, like the 50 Cent movie is better than Casablanca or something.

  7. Really, Burn After Reading is basically the same movie the Coens have been making since the beginning of their career. Not that that’s a bad thing, but they all follow the template of “a couple of people get into things way over their heads (usually with money) and shit happens in a darkly hilarious fashion”.

  8. @ Riot.EXE: That’s a big deal-breaker for me. Please tell me you’re not involved with that chick anymore. I’d have had a hard time not hitting her.

    @ Sean: That’s a gross oversimplification of Coen movies, and really, at that level, that’s almost all movies. “People getting in over their head” is just a simple way of saying “there’s a conflict of some sort,” and storytelling on any level doesn’t work without a conflict, so…

  9. I haven’t seen Burn After Reading however seeing the commercials I instantly thought of Tyres… :)

    As for Death Race… I am tired of Jason Statham movies… he plays the same guy in every movie… ;)

  10. And Hitchcock dealt with regular folk wrongly accused and Eastwood about the fecklessness of authority figures and the necessity of vigilantism to provide justice. If you examine the work of most filmmakers you’ll find recurring themes or preoccupations. In fact, most people have one basic story in them. The driving force in their worldviews. It just comes down to how convincingly and compellingly they can dress that story/theme up in different clothes across the breadth oeuvres. I for one wasn’t troubled by the prima facie similarities between “Burn” and “Lebowski”, nor its denizens’ lack of moral compunction. But that’s probably because I’m a sucker for the final desperate throes of assholes and dimwits. For alas, I’m one of them.

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