Burn After Reading (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2008)

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sevenarts
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#76 Post by sevenarts » Sun Sep 14, 2008 9:09 am

I enjoyed it. The performances are all great, it's fun and amusing, if not often as laugh-out-loud hilarious as the trailer promised. My favorite bits were the ones with JK Simmons in his office -- for such an ambling, outwardly pleasant film, its satire is actually quite barbed.

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LQ
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#77 Post by LQ » Sun Sep 14, 2008 9:36 am

Certainly not as good as I thought it was going to be, but it was still overall pretty amusing thanks to the cast and some choice moments. Brad Pitt's goofiness was charming, and as someone mentioned before, that closet scene was pretty damn jolting. However, listening to Frances McDormand was like nails on a chalkboard. I know it was her character..but she was so shrill and unlikeable. I'll probably never see it again though; its a minor film all in all.

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cdnchris
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#78 Post by cdnchris » Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:17 pm

I was surprised how much I actually liked this one, especially after what I thought was a rough start. I love the Coens but I was prepared for something along the lines of Ladykillers. J.K. Simmons, though, was probably the highlight followed by Malkovich and Pitt, Pitt probably the only remotely likeable character
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which probably made the closet scene even more jolting.

Also loved what was really an anticlimatic ending.

ezmbmh
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burn

#79 Post by ezmbmh » Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:40 pm

I liked it, after going with misgivings. Everything, everybody was over the top, expectedly, but I'll watch Malkovich and McDormand (who took a while to get used to) in anything. Pitt was a surprise (to me), funny, charming. Yes, the closet scene was "jolting," but just what I don't need from the Brothers C,
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the bloody head explosion (and later the fountain from Simmons' skull).
They have so much going for them and they still need to punch you in the face now and again. It gets old, and I have to admit hearing the theater hoop and holler as if it was the funniest thing ever had me looking around warily.

Not against the violence per se, just get tired of being slapped around by it.

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bkimball
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Re: burn

#80 Post by bkimball » Sun Sep 14, 2008 2:44 pm

ezmbmh wrote:
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the fountain from Simmons' skull.
You mean Richard Jenkins?

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#81 Post by ezmbmh » Sun Sep 14, 2008 2:49 pm

sorry, yes.

maybe i'l just go back to watching football a while :oops:

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Zumpano
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Re: [url=http://url]URL text[/url]

#82 Post by Zumpano » Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:03 pm

hot_locket wrote:That's the Elbow song.
#-o Thanks for the help and excuse my idiocy.

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chaddoli
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#83 Post by chaddoli » Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:54 am

I thought this was pretty lame. Not really enough of a comedy or thriller, I think the film suffered from an inconsistent tone. The cast tried their best to elevate a script with a lot of holes in plot and humor. A lot of repetition of dialog, motivation and conflict, it never really went anywhere new. They tried to hide this with some unnecessary and out-of-nowhere graphic violence (I'm sure the Coens would say "duh, that's the point"). And those were a long 97 minutes. Who is the protagonist of this movie?

A side note, did anyone else find it unnerving how much Joel Coen ridiculed the attractiveness of his very own wife by introducing her with those extreme closeups of wrinkles and fat?

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AWA
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#84 Post by AWA » Mon Sep 15, 2008 1:43 am

Using Frances for that character was a pretty odd choice, although she's brave enough to do it without getting hung up about being the woman cast in that role. I think the joke is about the people who aren't comfortable with their body and are desperately trying to avoid the inevitable.

Although, then there's the whole matter of that sex ramp/wedge thing... :shock:

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barrym71
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#85 Post by barrym71 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:44 am

I went into this expecting to be disappointed, but I thought it was great. I think this film is a very coherent, pessimistic take on the American political process/class struggle. The characters all have distinct agendas/concerns and the way that these all affect each other and the group as a whole was fascinating to me. I enjoyed the film as a prelude to the 2008 elections.

I will also echo some appreciation for Pitt's performance.

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Antoine Doinel
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#86 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:07 pm

Zumpano wrote:Anyone know what the song is that plays in the television commercial? That stomping bluesy guitar bit? Not the Elbow song that plays in the theatrical trailer. Any help?
Does anyone know the song from the first teaser? It was a blues number, but slow and stompy, but not the Spirit song?

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Matt
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#87 Post by Matt » Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:14 pm

Antoine Doinel wrote:
Zumpano wrote:Anyone know what the song is that plays in the television commercial? That stomping bluesy guitar bit? Not the Elbow song that plays in the theatrical trailer. Any help?
Does anyone know the song from the first teaser? It was a blues number, but slow and stompy, but not the Spirit song?
Is asking about this song some sort of in-joke now? It's still the Elbow song, "Grounds for Divorce."

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Antoine Doinel
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#88 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:46 pm

Matt wrote:
Antoine Doinel wrote:
Zumpano wrote:Anyone know what the song is that plays in the television commercial? That stomping bluesy guitar bit? Not the Elbow song that plays in the theatrical trailer. Any help?
Does anyone know the song from the first teaser? It was a blues number, but slow and stompy, but not the Spirit song?
Is asking about this song some sort of in-joke now? It's still the Elbow song, "Grounds for Divorce."
That's Elbow!? :oops:

I'm only familiar with their more mopey, orchestral and distinctively British stuff. Even more embarassing is that I'm 99% sure I have this song on my iTunes.

The Paineful Truth
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#89 Post by The Paineful Truth » Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:19 am

Hello. I enjoyed parts of it very much while others just appeared to be filler, especially McDormand's "quest" and the embassy and all that. Pitt was priceless as was the machine in the basement and the exchanges in the chief's office.

But I have a question about the closet scene:
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My wife and I both thought what Pitt saw was a holster with a gun in it, while others have told me they thought it was empty. If so, how did Clooney end up with it in his hands? He'd just taken a shower and gotten dressed. When could it have been taken out of the holster, and how did it end up on the floor if he'd had it in his hand to shoot him?

It was either not a very well filmed, confusing scene, or it was intentionally obscure--or maybe there's two prints out there.???
Anyone who's yet to see it or going to see it again, please watch the closet scene very carefully. Thanks.

PT

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Cosmic Bus
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#90 Post by Cosmic Bus » Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:25 am

The Paineful Truth wrote:But I have a question about the closet scene:
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My wife and I both thought what Pitt saw was a holster with a gun in it, while others have told me they thought it was empty. If so, how did Clooney end up with it in his hands? He'd just taken a shower and gotten dressed. When could it have been taken out of the holster, and how did it end up on the floor if he'd had it in his hand to shoot him?
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I believe the gun was on the bedside table, which Clooney's character noticed as he was going to grab something (hence the false start towards the closet the first time) and he ultimately opens the closet to put it back in the holster.

The Paineful Truth
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#91 Post by The Paineful Truth » Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:36 pm

Thanks Cosmic, that makes sense. But I'm sure this won't be completely settled in my brain until I'm able to watch it in slo-mo or something.

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Antoine Doinel
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#92 Post by Antoine Doinel » Sat Sep 20, 2008 2:49 pm

Carter Burwell discusses his approach to scoring the film.

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Antoine Doinel
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#93 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:46 pm

Saw this tonight and I'm with chaddoli on this one. I thought it was excruciatingly bad and on an Intolerable Cruelty level of awfulness. The dialog in particular was just painful and it seemed like the Coens had nowhere to go with their plot and so wound it up in the most obvious way by
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killing off almost every character
Aside from Brad Pitt and Richard Jenkins, it struck me odd to watch a comedy in which not only did I not care for any of the characters, they were just downright hateful. Is this the Coens comment on marriage? Vanity? Washington? All three? Well, whatever it is, it's the most broad and simplistic "insight" into those topics I've come across in a while.

Maybe the Coens should stop trying to make these "wacky" comedies.

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chaddoli
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#94 Post by chaddoli » Tue Sep 30, 2008 1:41 am

A friend of mine insists this was the Coen's experiment in Oscar momentum. They just tried to see just how absurdly plotted and characterized, unfunny, and randomly violent they could make a film, and still win critical acclaim and box office dollars. Of course they came out of it totally validated. There's even a shot of dopey George and Frances watching a shitty movie and laughing obnoxiously.

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Zumpano
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#95 Post by Zumpano » Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:24 am

chaddoli wrote:A friend of mine insists this was the Coen's experiment in Oscar momentum. They just tried to see just how absurdly plotted and characterized, unfunny, and randomly violent they could make a film, and still win critical acclaim and box office dollars. Of course they came out of it totally validated. There's even a shot of dopey George and Frances watching a shitty movie and laughing obnoxiously.
Wasn't this filmed before they won the Oscar?

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#96 Post by karmajuice » Tue Sep 30, 2008 8:30 pm

A co-worker referred to this film as a "Make you think" movie.

(She also hated it.)

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Finch
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#97 Post by Finch » Sat Oct 18, 2008 2:42 pm

I didn't like the trailer and knew of the lukewarm to mixed reviews but was surprised that I liked it a bit more than I expected. That said, I can see why the film won't work for some and I admit I'm not sure it'll hold up to repeat viewings - it's very broad and clearly played as a farce. Of all the unsympathetic and idiotic characters, Brad Pitt gave the best and funniest performance and McDormand showed some guts in taking on such a divisive part: offhand I can't think of any other film that shows her in such an unflattering light. Richard Jenkins was quite moving (the only subtle performance in the entire film) as the only character who has some decency and integrity left in him and thinking back, it bothers me all the more that he dies in such gratuituous fashion. Laughed the most at JK Simmons' scenes and the revelation of what it is that Clooney was working on in the basement. The audience I saw the film with was in stitches. Not a real disappointment as such because the trailer kept my expectations in check but a minor Coen effort nevertheless. The Big Lebowski apart, I don't think they do broad comedy that well.
Last edited by Finch on Sun Mar 15, 2009 7:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Antoine Doinel
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#98 Post by Antoine Doinel » Thu Oct 30, 2008 12:08 pm

swimminghorses is doing freelance work for Universal.

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Oedipax
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#99 Post by Oedipax » Thu Oct 30, 2008 1:39 pm

I liked this movie. I find it hard to believe Larry King's the best they could do for a blurb.

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#100 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 30, 2008 2:47 pm

Oedipax wrote:I liked this movie. I find it hard to believe Larry King's the best they could do for a blurb.
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