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Burn After Reading

November 12, 2009

I’m finally allowing myself to admit there may be diminishing returns with every subsequent Coen brothers movie I view. It’s the formula that gets to me. For all their mastery of every aspect of the art of film – from script to soundtrack to direction to cinematography to editing – the plot of nearly every Coen brothers movie can be reduced to the single phrase: “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

That said, I still laughed my ass off at Burn After Reading.

On a continuum of their films, with No Country representing the darkest extreme and Big Lebowski representing the lightest, and Fargo at dead center, I’d place it about midway between Fargo and Lebowski.

Brad Pitt, as always, is an unfortunate distraction in the proceedings. You know what it’s like: you’re trying to get into a movie but can’t get past the fact that Brad Pitt is there being Brad Pitt, all ham and fist, blocking you from actually connecting with the story.

And George Clooney. How many times is he going to play a fast-talking shifty womanizer for the Coen bros? I actually enjoyed it in Oh Brother, but it’s become a pretty thin schtick.

The others are top-notch, however. The Coens always seem to elicit the best from their crew. I thought Richard Jenkins in particular as the tragicomic gym manager with a somewhat unusual past played his role with superb understatement.

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