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.
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.