Wednesday, January 6, 2010

“Burn After Reading” – Just burn your money instead.

Am I the only one who is tired of trendy movies with trendy actors and directors? Before you get all bent out of shape, I’m not talking about George Clooney or Brad Pitt. I’m talking about Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, and the Coen Brothers. The Coen Brothers put out a decent movie every now and then, most recently with “No Country For Old Men” (I haven’t seen it, but everyone says it’s great). Personally, I really enjoyed “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” I’m still not sure what to think of “Fargo,” and “Raising Arizona” was pure crap. My point is that these guys are capable of really good movies, as well as really bad movies.

Getting back to Swinton and McDormand, they seem to be the flavors of the month right now. I know they’ve been nominated for all kinds of awards, but let’s just face the fact that the Academy always nominates their types of roles and films. Swinton has not turned in a noteworthy performance since “The Beach” and she seems to be glued to Clooney’s hip right now. McDormand is married to Joel Coen and IS glued to Coen’s hip. She is always playing the same type of character, so it’s impossible to judge whether or not she is turning in a good performance.

The truly annoying thing about this film is its utter failure to deliver on the promises made by the previews and hype. They played up all of the big-name actors (let’s not forget about John Malkovich), the fact that it’s a Coen Brothers film, and they showed us nearly every funny part of the film in the previews. I can feel you shaking your head at me, so I’ll give you some examples. Pitt doing his goofy little dance holding an IPOD, Clooney falling down the stairs, and Malkovich punching Pitt in the face. That was it; there was nothing else that was very funny. The plot itself and the weirdness involving the CIA sucked most of the humor and entertainment from this film.

This brings me to my main problem with this film: the plot. From the previews, it looks as if Pitt and McDormand find a disk with classified information from the CIA and try to extort money from Malkovich, who is a CIA agent. What they left out was that Malkovich was fired/quit the CIA, the disk Pitt found was Malkovich’s memoirs, and that they were trying to extort money for McDormand to have cosmetic surgery. The film is filled with typical misconceptions and prejudices of the CIA (and government in general), spouses cheating on each other and filing for divorce, and general stupidity of inane characters. It felt as if they were rushed into making another film, what with the success of “No Country For Old Men,” except the Coen’s wrote, produced and directed this film. Maybe they were the ones who rushed it.

The most unbelievable part of the film is Malkovich’s reaction to the extortion attempt. When he is first contacted by Pitt and McDormand, he soon realizes that they have his disk containing his memoirs. Any responsible CIA agent (or ex-agent) would have either told them what they really had or immediately called the authorities. On top of that, the CIA was monitoring the situation, but doing nothing to stop these people. The fact that people were trying to blackmail agents, then sell secrets to foreign governments, would have caused the CIA to arrest everyone involved. Instead, we were treated to scenes where the head CIA guy was being updated and just covering everything up. I’m getting really tired of these idiotic writers and directors who think they are being edgy by depicting the various government agencies and its people in these ways.

After all of that, there was still one part that took the film completely over the top, while managing to have nothing to do with the plot of the film. Clooney builds a contraption in his basement, which he eventually shows to McDormand. I should mention that Clooney cheats on his wife with people he meets on the internet, since it is relevant to this invention. He takes McDormand to the basement, plugs the thing in and pulls the cover off it, revealing a dildo chair. I am not making this up. The chair moves back and forth, while a dildo moves up and down in the seat. You’re picturing it now, aren’t you? It looks exactly like that. This is how much time his character spends thinking about sex (the chair is for his wife, not him). This is the only funny thing they don’t spoil for us in the previews.

I’m sure the Coen’s had some sort of plan with this film, but it never manifested itself. This film lacked any kind of cohesion and proved that they are not immune to typical Hollywood stupidity. They should do us all a favor and burn this film before it goes to DVD. If not, we should strap them to Clooney’s new chair.

Rating: Ask for nine dollars back. The remaining dollar is you pitying the theater for having to show this film.

1 comment:

  1. Having read one of your reviews which I thought was awful I thought I would look through a few more and it seems you could count the films you like on one hand. You should really stop reviewing films. You say you love films, I find that hard to believe. Anyone going by your reviews would be missing out on a lot of excellent films. RETIRE