Thursday, January 22, 2009

Burn After Reading

Coen Brothers, 2007 (6.5*)
This is an odd sort of Coen Brothers film, marketed as a comedy but a lot more serious, and it has a low energy level. Health club trainer Brad Pitt is given a CD by a janitor who found it on the floor, and its filled with some CIA information. He and fellow employee Frances McDormand both need money and decide to get a reward from the owner.

This turns out to be CIA analyst John Malkovich, who is extremely upset and feels that a 50k reward is extortion. Meanwhile George Clooney is sleeping with Malkovich’s wife, while his own wife, Tilda Swinton, is perhaps being unfaithful as well. Things turn worse after they make personal contact with Malkovich, and eventually everyone gets tangled up together in this thickly plotted excursion into general mayhem. Great actors here, including three Oscar winners (Clooney, McDormand, Swinton), but they unfortunately don’t have much acting to do in this, its mostly plot, and an incisive satire on the intelligence community, one that starts out funny but turns serious.

Listen to the incredible closing credit song, CIA Man by the Fugs – its got terrific lyrics, still relevant today.

“Who can kill a general in his bed, even a dictator if he’s red,
F-g A man, C-I-A man…
Who has got the secretest service, that makes the other service nervous,
F-g A man, C-I-A man…”


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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