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  Publicity Stills of "Burn After Reading"
(Courtesy of Shaw)

Genre: Comedy/Thriller
Director: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Cast: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, Brad Pitt
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: NC-16 (Sexual scene and violence
Official Website: http://www.filminfocus.com/focusfeatures/film/burn_after_reading

Opening Day: 9 October 2008


Osbourne Cox is a CIA operative struggling to stay afloat. His job and marriage are going nowhere, and he's got a drinking problem to boot. Harry Pfarrer (Clooney) is a Treasury Department marshal who can't stop tripping over his own vanity. His hobbies include internet-dating behind his wife's back and building homemade sex toys in this basement, not to mention sleeping with Osbourne's dissatisfied wife. When Ozzie gets fired from the Agency, he decides to write a tell-all memoir, blissfully unaware that he doesn't have much to tell. However, a draft ends up in the hands of Harry's other love, harebrained Hardbodies gym employee Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand), and her dopey colleague Chad Feldheimer (Pitt). Convinced they've tapped into classified information, they see this as athe perfect opportunity to make some serious cash, and they bring their discovery straight to the Russians! Instantly, affairs of love and state become absurdly entangled, and nobody knows who to trust or what to believe - least of all, the "brillant" minds at the CIA, who lead us to ask: just how intelligent is Central Intelligence?

Movie Review:

Ah, how I wish I can be one of the colorful characters penned by four time Academy Award winning American filmmakers Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.

A sore CIA analyst who decides to write a memoir about his life in the force after quitting his job (actually, he couldn’t take the humiliation of being demoted due to his drinking problems). A child doctor who decides to divorce her husband because he just isn’t the providing man she wants in life (actually, she is having an affair with another man who is more suave and charming than her loser husband). A charismatic and attractive agent who works in the treasury who is the object of affection of women young and old (actually, all he wants is to make an innovative and economical present to surprise his wife when she returns from a work trip in Seattle). A woman suffering from low self esteem who wants nothing more than money to pay for a cosmetic surgery (actually, all she wants is to look better so that she can find her true love in life). A gym trainer who realizes the possibilities of obtaining blackmail money when he lays his hands on some information involving the CIA (actually, he is just a simple and happy go lucky fellow who is content with listening to his ipod].

How much more thrilling and exciting can one life’s get? These are the fascinating personalities that have been penned by the genius Coen brothers, and following their somberly serious Oscar winning Best Picture No Country For Old Men (2007), this movie is about how these characters’ lives intertwine to reveal the different shades of human nature. Under the brothers’ joint direction, their latest comedy thriller which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in August earlier this year is a must see for its intelligence and wit.

The star studded cast guarantees top notch performances throughout. There are Academy Award winners, Golden Globes winners and Emmy Award winners. Heck, there are also two actors who have been voted as the sexiest men alive. After facing off with each other in Michael Clayton (2007), George Clooney (Ocean’s Thirteen) and Tilda Swinton (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) cuddle up in bed as the treasury agent and the CIA analyst’s angry wife who cheat on their respective spouses. John Malkovich (Eragon) embodies the cuckold husband who attempts to start his life anew after being shamed by the CIA. After more than 10 years since winning her Best Actress Oscar in the Coen brothers’ Fargo (1996), Frances McDormand (North Country) plays the character who desperately wants a cosmetic surgery with empathy and humor. And rounding the wonderful cast is Brad Pitt, who may have given his most amusing performance yet as the clowning gym trainer.

With the competent actors in place, all that is needed to complete the picture is the Coen brothers’ sharply written script and sure handed directing. There are many classic comedic spot on moments when characters spout simple dialogue lines like “You're a Mormon. Compared to you we all have a drinking problem.” (Malkovich) and “I thought you might be worried...about the security...of your shit.” (Pitt), and thanks to the duo’s vision, these scenes become poignantly funny. And this is what makes the film work – there may be lots of quirky fun in its roller coaster ride of 96 minutes, but every moment is affecting in its own unique way. After all, it’s a story about people wishing for something more in life

Before you think the movie is all about frivolous jokes and silly fun, let it be known that it’s actually a story about angry and repressed people who utter the “f” word a lot. Oh, for the faint hearted, there will be blood and dead bodies too. But then again, that’s life, isn’t it?

Movie Rating:

(An intelligent and relevant piece of work, definitely)

Review by John Li


. No Country for Old Men (2007)

. Babel (2006)

. Friends With Money (2006)

. The Ladykillers (2004)

. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

. Leatherheads DVD (2008)

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