Sunday, September 14, 2008

Burn After Reading

The Coens drop their latest this weekend with a star-studded display called Burn After Reading.

It's the story of infidelity and stupidity in the the D.C. intelligence community. While in the scale of genius that is the history of the Coen brothers, this movie is not on the same level as some of their usual fare, it is a fun ride and and a witty satire of the spy movie genre.

Cinematic geniuses tend to aim higher and higher with each successive offering, but following up No Country For Old Men with something better would have been next to impossible. So the Coen brothers did the smart thing and made no attempt to top it and went in an entirely different direction.

A weak movie from Joel and Ethan Coen is still better than usual Hollywood standards. Burn has moments of sheer genius that are hallmarks of the Coens. Unfortunately, this one has fewer than most of the duo's previous endeavors.

Many of the jokes fall a little flat, but that is offset by the brilliant storyline and the always stellar performances of Clooney, McDormand, Pitt, Swinton, Jenkins and the great and mighty Malkovich. There are even a couple of grand minor roles including David Rasche (yes, Sledge Hammer is still around) and J.K. Simmons (one of the most underrated actors of modern cinema).

The real strong point is the story. Unique is the key to every Coen movie so far, and this plotline is no exception. It's hard to describe the story without giving too many details away, so just know that there are interesting twists and turns all along the way that make for an enjoyable ride that doesn't fail to disappoint in the end.

Burn After Reading might be on the lower end of the Coen movie scale, but it still gets a B+ in the real world.

--John Berry, Online Editor--

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