Title: Burn After Reading
Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen
Original Release: 2008
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Burn After Reading has an all-star cast: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Pitt, Tilda Swinton, John Malkovich and Richard Jenkins. All are serious Hollywood heavyweights, all Oscar-winning or Oscar-nominated. All have the luxury of picking and choosing their projects. Admittedly, the Brothers have an in with McDormand as she's married to Joel.
Osbourne Cox (Malkovich) has been demoted at the CIA due to his drinking so he quits. His wife Katie (Swinton) takes it as an opportunity to file for divorce. She, meanwhile, is having an affair with Harry Pfarrar (Clooney) who's also having affairs with just about everyone else, including gym employee Linda Litzke (McDormand). One day, Katie's lawyer's secretary leaves a computer disk with Osbourne's financial records and also, accidentally, his memoir manuscript at Litzke's gym. Her co-worker Chad Feldheimer (Pitt) finds the disk. He and Linda take it to be something far more important than it is and start shopping it around for blackmail money to fund, among other things, plastic surgery for Linda. Still with me?
Burn After Reading would be another Coen Bros also-ran for me if not for one fantastic minor character. J.K. Simmons plays a CIA bureaucrat overseeing agents who are barely managing to keep up with all of this. Simmons is in two scenes for all of about five minutes total. He never even gets up from his chair and yet he manages to steal the entire movie. This was my second time watching and I still laughed to the point of tears through both of his appearances.
We hope that you, too, will watch Burn After Reading and join in our discussion. I'll post October's sign-up list tomorrow. Our feature on Friday, October 10th shall be... Unbreakable