Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Did I mention I'm a Coen Bros completist? And did I mention I'm a Coen Bros apologist? Totally. I will defend INTOLERABLE CRUELTY and THE LADYKILLERS. Yeah, I will. I know! I'm kinda pathetic. But I love The Coens. And this review started... interestingly. I can't wait to see the flick and I love the non-spoiler parts to your review, Johnny Thanatos and I will come back to read the spoiler sections after I see the flick. Be warned of spoilers, but they should be marked. Enjoy!
First-time submitting anything other than the occasional snarky comment in the talk backs. If you use this refer to me as Johnny Thanatos. That was just terrible. Awwwful. I want to give them a piece on my mind and make sure they know just how awful that movie was. What was the point of it? I want to forget that I ever saw it! Those were the first comments I heard behind me as the credits began to roll at the end of the new Coen brothers movie Burn After Reading. It should be noted that throughout the course of the movie I found myself constantly distracted by the gently descending stench-cloud of cat litter and stale, ready-to-be-changed Depends from directly behind myself. I'm not quite sure what they were expecting. Well, also I think that part of the problem was that the audio had some kind of problem in which we had a few dropped voice segments and there was a near constant "hiss-whump" noise coming from the print for the entire movie, which I'm sure played hell with a whole bunch of Miracle Ears. Perhaps they were expecting that nice boy George Clooney in another Sauve, romantic role. Or that good-looking Brad Pitt fella could entertain them with his boyish charm. But we are talking about the Coen brothers here. If there is anyone that can put an actor in a role that plays exactly to an actor's type, while making the performance feel as if the actor is playing against type, it is them. I only wondered going in whether I would be getting "Big Lebowsi" Coen Brothers or "Hudsucker Proxy" Coen Brothers. I wasn't expecting "Blood Simple" Coen brothers stirred into the mix. I'm always happy to see David Rasche on-screen. I can't help it, Sledge Hammer holds a warm place in my heart right next to my holster. I think it was brilliant casting having Rasche and J.K. Simmons hilariously understated roles. Simmons and Rasche ground the plot in their few scenes and pace the action. They also serve to remind the audience of how absurd and disjointed everything is, but anyone that has seen the ads for this movie should be well-prepared for the “wacky hijinks” this kind of ensemble piece always seems to bring about, with actors trying to “out wacky” each other. Malkovich is assigned to a movie-long personal hell that you aren't sure he deserves. He plays a self pitying CIA analyst who opens the movie by being demoted by Rashce. He quits his job in protest much to the chagrin of his ice cold cunt of a wife, played by Tilda Swanson - a pediatrician with the bedside manner of a frozen puppy. Clooney is introduced as a rather pathetic pathological liar who just happens to be banging Swanson and is starting to feel concerned about getting caught by her (now ex) CIA analyst husband. For the rest of the movie he serves as a bridge between parties, and the audience spends the first two thirds of the movie wondering how much more there is to his character than what you are being shown. The Coens do a good job keeping you guessing with a couple of Hitchcockian plot. We watch George manufacturing Something Evil in his basement. You don't know what it is, but you know that it has to be evil. He's also suspicious that he is under surveillance. We don't know by who, or why until much later in the movie. But we know he's right to be worried, it's only paranoia if you're *wrong*. Pitt and McDormand play employees of Hardbodies, the kind of gym that you never find real body builders working out at. McDormand plays a 40 something health club employee desperate for plastic surgery that she believes will allow her to reinvent herself, and Pitt plays “Chad”, and goddamned if he isn’t funny as *hell* in this movie. Every scene he was in had the audience cracking up. He was definitely hamming it up, but that's a good thing. He wins at funny in this movie. They play the clueless innocents who find a CD of documents taken off of Malcovich’s computer by his wife, and is accidentally dropped in the locker room of Hardbodies by Swanson's divorce attorney’s assistant. The CD contains a draft of Malkovich’s memoirs, and Pitt and McDormand believed the CD to be full of top secret goods that must be worth enough for McDormand to get her desperately wanted silicone tits. The two of them end up trying to return the CD to Malkovich for a reward, who reacts as you would expect a character played by John Malkovich to react, and reward becomes ransom. To which Malkovich again reacts as expected. We are introduced to the manager of Hardbodies, played by Richard Jenkins as the movie's sole sympathetic character. He's obviously in love with McDormand's “Linda” but can never quite express it. The Coens make sure to give him an interesting back story that we never hear, and give him ample screen time to establish him as The Guy you Hope Gets the Girl at the end of the romantic movie. McDormand is too obsessed with Internet dating to notice, and after letting herself be used by one troll, she tries again and ends up with Clooney, who is revealed to be an Internet troll as well. For the next hour we watch the parties come together, and though there weren't very many “crap your pants” laughs, there was an almost constant chuckling from the audience. I never found myself bored for one second in this movie. Then... the film cranks up the "omfg" factor into Tropic Thunder territory. ***Spoiler alert. Clooney takes McDormand to his house while his wife is away on a book tour (she’s a children’s book author) and we finally see the evil invention he’s spent the first half of the movie working on. I'm not sure, but I think I saw two ladies leave the screening when he rocked the chair and an enormous dildo began thrusting up and down through the seat. I think the old lady behind me dropped a deuce because there was a sudden increase in the amount of ass stink rolling down from behind me, which I got several lungfulls of as I caught my breath from laughing so hard. I'm sitting here at home with a Sharper Image ionic air purifier pointed at my head, knowing that particles of cat food based shit that were hours ago confined inside the protective walls of this old lady's diaper are now lining the walls of my nasal passages, and I'm hoping that the magic of positive ions will counteract the effects of the that assfog I had to sit through. ***Even bigger spoiler alert. Seriously - you’ll wish you hadn’t. Pitt breaks into Malkovich's house, which Malkovich has been locked out of after being served with divorce papers. McDormand and Pitt are trying to get more CIA data from Malkovich’s computer to sell to the Russians so that McDormand can afford her 4 plastic surgeries (If I had one problem with the movie, it was the ludicrous lengths to which McDormand's character would go to get enough money for cosmic surgery, even knowingly attempting to commit treason). Since Clooney was tapping the ass of Malcovich’s wife, he has a key to the house and enters to catch Pitt hiding in the closet - and just as Brad gets halfway through flashing that big friendly grin a very surprised George shoots him dead in the face in a full framed closeup, the smile still on his Brad's face as the contents of his brainpan paint the back wall of the closet. It's a total "Sam Jackson in Deep Blue Sea" moment. A third of the audience laughed, a third of the audience laughed nervously, and a third were in full “WTF!?” denial. "Did they just blow Brad Pitt's head up?! That's.. I mean it's Brad Pitt? Isn't he... the star or something?" ***End Spoiler The rest of the movie plays out with everyone trying to figure out what is going on with everyone else, with no one ever actually figuring it out except the audience. By the end you start expecting the cliché operatic climax with everything falling into place so that the evil are punished, the just rewarded, and romance found all while something appropriately musical and over-the-top plays in the background. Again, the audience was reminded that this was a Coen Brothers movie - instead of what you expect by pavlovian conditioning you get a rather cynical but funny Whisper following the rather shocking Bang that I think alienated more than the few members of the audience with it’s very graphic violence. Even I found myself a little disturbed by this and I’m a trauma-specific medical illustrator by day. I won't spoil it, I'll let you see it at the screening. The cat urine lady’s opinions aside, I very much liked this movie. Even the people who walked out of the theater saying that they hated it can't deny that were laughing for most of the movie, even if they didn't like the ending. I think this will play very well with fans of the Coens, and the inspired casting will draw plenty of people into the theater. Yes, it's disjointed and suffers from some very serious mood swings, but what is a movie if not a roller coaster in which you sit still and let the pictures in front of you carry you up and down, even if it has to rattle you a little on the trip?