Burn After Reading (US-UK-France, 2008)

It really is bad

It really is bad

This blog is meant to be for films ‘with something to say’, but I can’t resist stating how crap the Coen bros. latest film is. Farce must have momentum and requires audiences to care about characters. This bunch of lame set-ups is as flaccid as a bad ’70s sitcom and the caricatures are either too ill-defined (Clooney’s philanderer) or too ridiculous (Malkovich’s ‘fucking’ dialogue). The talent on offer is prodigious but none of it belongs to the scriptwriters, producers or directors. I did like No Country for Old Men but ‘blame’ the performances and source novel for that and I have watched Oh Brother Where Art Thou? twice – but that was probably the music.

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3 Responses

  1. I completely agree with you about this film, it was rubbish, the only redeeming features for me were Clooney and Malkovich as I found the other cast so unbelievably irritating, proving to me still that Brad Pitt only plays slightly mentally troubled people (i.e. Fight Club, Twelve Monkeys) and has no other range. Frances McDormand, what is she doing, the woman who was so great in Fargo was so dislikeable here and I can say the same for Tilda Swinton et al. I love the Coen Brothers, I love them but I can’t say the same for this. It was so bad that I didn’t believe it was made by the Coens. Their comedy always is their weak spot (except O Brother & Big Lebowski), I hated Hudsucker Proxy, Raising Arizona and the remake of the Ladykillers (what were they thinking?)

    Now for the argument, the Coen brothers are great directors and No Country for Old Men is very good because of how the Coens direct it, you look at the buld up of tension in that film, it is all down to how they craft it, because they are editors as well as scriptwriters and directors, and they know how to structure a film and they know how to make it work well. They are the only example of a director pair that works together well (The Matrix is really no good). No Country’s success is partly to do with the actors but crucially it is how the Coens direct it. And they have done this before. Remember they write original pieces mostly and when they do drama it works really well.

    Blood Simple and Fargo are examples of stripped down films that work really well. Then when they are doing genre pieces, like Miller’s Crossing or Barton Fink or The Man Who Wasn’t There, they know the genre and they know how to work with that genre excellently and I am a big fan of genre work (David Cronenberg, Wes Craven, Martin Scorsese) and the Coens don’t disappoint.

    The Coen Brothers are really talented directors and they aren’t enough of people left in Hollywood who have made their stamp on film like the Coen brothers have.

    But Coens, great. Burn After Reading, absolute crap

  2. I think, as much as it pains me to, I have to agree with you on this sir. It was a massive let down, especially after something like No Country.
    I do believe it had something to say though, as obvious and in your face as it was. The idiocy of American national security has been picked at to death, but I think the Coen’s have done well to give it a more brutal, and comical side, rather than a depressive (Liam Neeson’s new Taken film for example).

    Still, it was just a remake of Fargo, which only works with a Northern state accent and a few psychopaths.

  3. I see a pattern emerging here. Unlike you when i see the words “A FILM BY THE COEN BROTHERS” i look forward to some quality entertainment with well thought out plot, characters, camera angles and amazing Cinematography but im afraid film offered nothing like that.

    You never feel any emotional attachment to any of the characters at all (unlike in Fargo, No Country, Blood Simple or Oh Brother) to the point when you actually are glad when one gets killed off. And Brad Prits preformance just confirms my hated of him as an actor (if you can call him that)

    I think this film should be shelved alongside their Ladykillers remake for the rest of civilization to never see again.

    Now the film isn’t a complete failure there are a few laughs here and there but defiantly not enough to be worth the £5.00 admission fee.

    Extremely disappointed, Hopefully there next film “A Serious Man” will be more like Fargo than this though after such quality in No Country we may not see a film by them as good as that ever again.

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