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Burn After Watching

* * * SPOILERS * * *

Okay, so the latest Coen Brothers movie is only so-so. Here's the plot run-down.

John Malkovich (best part of the movie) is a CIA analyst who gets "fired" by his superiors for political reasons. He is pissed. His wife (Tilda Swinton, looking hot) is cheating on him with George Clooney. George Clooney has a cold wife and also he likes to fool around with Frances McDormand, a loser woman who portrays the distorted American Dream. Brad Pitt rounds out the cast as the comic relief.

Much of the plot centers around a disk of John Malkovich's CIA memoirs that some woman left on the floor of the locker room at Frances and Brad's gym. They think the data is super secret and want to blackmail John for money. Frances wants to buy plastic surgery (American Dream) and Brad wants to have money. They go to the Russian embassy and stuff and the dad from Juno, who runs the CIA?, learns about this and is confused.

So some crap happens, characters meet, George Clooney turns out to be a sexual-guy into sexual toys, and some loser turns out to secretly like Frances McDormand. Then some stunning violence occurs and a character or two die and the movie ends and you wonder to yourself, "what the hell?"

The movie has a few comedic moments but nothing you haven't seen in trailers. And since the film is set in D.C. the "average American" characters played by Frances and Brad are too easily mocked in juxtaposition to the wealthy Tilda, John and George. Haha, I get it, they talk funny and have quirky values. Oh, Coen Bros, you're the best. Nahh, it doesn't work the same. In Fargo, a masterpiece, the simple characters were foil to the extreme violent and nihilist characters and despite their quirks, they were good people. In this film, they aren't valued so much as fodder for stupid jokes. Instead of looking noble they just look pathetic. Based on framing, it would seem John Malkovich is the film's protagonist, but he's kind of a huge ass-hole and a drunk and there's little sympathy for him. Of course Tilda Swinton is cheating on him. He sucks. Which brings about another gripe...

Tilda is boning George Clooney. Yes, I'm calling him George Clooney because I've forgotten the character name, but I'm also calling him that because he's really just playing himself, George Clooney. Charming, well-dressed man who likes to sleep with a lot of women. Oh, I bet this movie was such a stretch for him. He really had to immerse himself in the part. Or, you know, drink a few Heinekens in Italy and take a private jet to the set and just improvise the whole damn thing cause it's pretty much every other role the dude plays anyway. Imagine Ocean's 11 except he's a U.S. Marshall (that never works) instead of a cool thief. In the end, his character is just lame.

The film ends with Juno's dad in some office trying to figure out the whole mess surrounding the missing disc. Why did this guy die? Who was that dead body? Oh, dear. The only trouble is that it completely ignores Tilda's character. I really don't know what happened to her. She was divorcing John to marry George but George high-tailed it to Venezuela... So she's just left alone? What a bummer. She loses in Michael Clayton and she loses here. Totally unfair, Hollywood. Totally unfair.

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  1. Blogger Brigitte | 1:18 PM |  

    i was afraid it would be so-so. i'll probably still be seeing this, though...

  2. Blogger Brigitte | 1:20 PM |  

    hahaha...i like that you say the film ends with "juno's dad." that made me lol.

  3. Blogger chris | 1:52 PM |  

    I'll be seeing this on Sunday...can't wait! I'll read the review then!

  4. Blogger chris | 8:46 PM |  

    Just got back from it...I liked it, but it's definitely not a top-shelf Coen Brothers flick. While it certainly wasn't a stretch for Clooney, he was responsible for one of the funniest scenes I thought (tweaking out in the park). And I don't think it was wrong of them to make fun of the middle class bumblers, because they made fun of everyone in the movie, probably the higher-ups even more so because they didn't even have dreams to reach for.

    But while I usually love misanthropy, even this movie kept me feeling agitated and on-edge the whole time, which is what I felt kept it from being great. Ultimately that's fine though, because I don't think it was striving for greatness - it felt like it was coming from a diversionary and downtrodden place. Of course a movie like that can't strike wholly positive chords with the viewer like ones with truly sympathetic protagonists (regardless of how flawed).

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