Saturday, September 13, 2008

Movie Report: Don't Burn This Movie

If you like Coen Brothers movies, you will love their latest film, Burn After Reading.

It has an understated dry humor reminiscent of Fargo. Frances McDormand, who played the odd sheriff, Madge, in Fargo is back as Linda Litzke, a slightly crazed gym employee who is intent on raising the money for a body remake. I love McDormand, and in this case she steals the movie from the bigger names, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and John Malkovich.

Malkovich plays a fired CIA agent trying to write his memoirs whose CIA secrets fall into the hands of the desperate McDormand and Pitt, a vapid co-worker at the gym. Pitt's performance as the empty-headed gum-chewing trainer is one of the best performances of his career. Clooney plays a U.S. treasury agent who carries a big gun and seduces all the women.

Like the other Coen movies, Burn After Reading is not slapstick humor, and few of the scenes had me laughing out loud (although a few did.) Rather, it is a sly humor based on odd characters and unexpected turns of events. It is a thinking person's humor. Like the other Coen movies, there are some scenes involving some blood, although none as bad as the end of Fargo, where a character gets put through a wood chipper.

I gave this movie my highest rating, five stars. From the reports I'm reading, it has opened strong at the box office its first weekend, edging out the new Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino movie, Righteous Kill which I saw tonight and also really liked. But that report will have to come later.

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