Sunday, 16 November 2008

Burn After Reading

Went to the cinema last night for the first time in weeks. We’ve been giving over all our screen time to
The Wire. Chose to see Burn After Reading. I’m a fan of the Cohen brothers but didn’t go with huge hopes as the reviews seemed to be divided down the middle.

As it happened I liked it a lot, it’s a cracking little film, a carefully crafted and deftly rendered black comedy. It has an adventurous approach to narrative, not so much the by now familiar interweaving of the lives of seemingly disconnected characters but the way in which it sets off looking like traditional story telling with characters and situation introduced only for them to be abandoned for what seems like an age while other characters and a seemingly unrelated story line is set up on its own terms. This makes the final resolution very satisfying. It also has the single most shocking moment I’ve seen in a film since the underwater head in the boat in Jaws. I just didn’t see it coming – any more than I thought Brad Pitt could be funny.

OK it’s not No Country for Old Men; it’s much less ambitious, more circumscribed but none the worse for that. Definitely a Cohen hit.


Phil B said...

I didn't see that bit coming either. Jumped out of my seat.

Do you think it's a companion piece to No Country For Old Men with its negative view of humanity?

andy amoss said...

It was brilliant. Definately in the Coen's Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski vein, rather than No Country or Blood Simple.

It's essentially a Coen's version of the hi-tec, paranoid, espionage thriller. The brilliance is in how it exposes the paranoia for something deeper and more truly terrfying - even the people who are watching and who are 'in control' have no control, and don't know what they're watching.

Glen Marshall said...


I'd have to think about that one.