Burn After Reading

Burn After Reading ★★★★

I think of all the American filmmakers of their generation, the Coens have the hardest filmography to rank. To have made NO COUNTRY, this, and A SERIOUS MANE in subsequent years is a feat that would be hard to overstate. There are times when I would have ranked this among their best. Top five. It's likely their straight-up funniest. It's an all-time role for Pitt and probably quite a few other people in it.

What changed for me this time is how this movie responds to the Coens own general ethos. In many of their films, especially the more dramatic-leaning ones, there is a true unknowability to the workings of the universe. Whether that's represented through their antagonists (although it's sometimes difficult to call anyone in their films antag or protag) or just the movie's worldview, that unknowability is, for me, what imbues their movies with mystifying intrigue.

In BURN, there's no unknowability to the universe, just an idiotic situation. This is certainly a more down-to-earth exploration of things, and perhaps appropriate given the DC subjects they're skewering so well. In that regard, the movie has aged fantastically. And while it functions perfectly here, I will always enjoy their "man versus nature" take rather than what I guess is in some ways a rejection of it.

Malkovich at the end of this movie is extremely inspirational.

You see, you're one of the morons I've been fighting my whole life. My whole fucking life. But guess what... Today, I win.

Also, I will forever cherish this movie for how hard and how much I laughed at "the scene" in a movie theater when literally no one else reacted.

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