©2008 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
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This week:
Burn After Reading

Filthy says:
"I'm so stupid I hated it!"

Man, Burn After Reading is not a good movie. Actually, it's a fucking piece of shit. An artfully made piece of shit, for sure, but you know, when dealing with turds, it really doesn't matter whether it was lovingly crafted by an artisan or it was pinched off by a fat slob scarfing frozen buffalo wings on a bender.

Burn After Reading is the product of exceptionally talented people who just didn't a flying fuck in a dunk tank about making something decent. At some point maybe Joel and Ethan Coen did, but probably only in the story's first fifteen minutes of life. So, in that respect, it parallels my parents' involvement in my life. And I'd give my life one finger, too. Not enough sex, way too much of the plot spend alone in a dark bedroom crying and jerking off.

Burn After Reading uses pretzel-logic to tie together two dumbshits (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand) who work at a gym, a CD filled with what looks like top-secret data, Russians, the CIA, a Treasury cop and several other unhappy and crappy women. The CD actually belongs to a mid-level CIA operative/pompous ass (John Malkovich) who was just demoted because of his boozing, and only contains the notes for his pretentious memoir, and financial data that his wife had copied to give to her divorce lawyer. Instead of returning the disk, Pitt and McDormand try to blackmail Malkovich. McDormand wants the money to get plastic surgery. When Malkovich declines, she and Pitt take it to the Russian embassy to sell.

Also in the mix, Goeroge Clooney plays a treasury cop who keeps telling people he hasn't had to fire the gun he carries in twenty years of duty. Duh, guess what happens. He's dumb and really into sex: he humps Malkovich's cold wife (Tilda Swinton), McDormand and others. He builds his own contraption with a dildo that rises and drops through a seat bottom. He ends up shooting Pitt point blank in the forehead so that the blood splatters and drips all over a closet. That's one of the movie's gags. In another big knee-slapper, Malkovich repeatedly takes a hatchet to another man's skull after shootinghim. Oh, my sides. From a bird's eye view, the CIA watches the bloodshed, misanthropy and malfeasance and, when everyone dies, says "Good."

The first half hour is brutally long, dull and dreary. It takes a long time introduce each of the unfunny characters. After that, though, Burn After Reading zips along. The problem is that it zips in a dull way dreary way. It twists and turns, characters do stupid shit, one-liners are fired off. But none of it is believable and none of the byzantine motivations are worth figuring out.

The movie makes sense, I'm sure, I just never got the sense it mattered. Not to me, and clearly not to the Coens, who treat it like a Rubik's Cube they mastered long ago and now can disinterestedly do in their sleep.

There isn't a single sympathetic, genuine or likable character in Burn After Reading. The Coens write everyone as a simplistic conniving, greedy prick who is also either too fucking stupid to get away with his plans, or too cold and bitchy. That could be fine if the reason people go to the movies is to get away from that shit. Hell, characters don't even have to be likable or sympathetic if they are interesting enough. In Burn After Reading, not a single one is. They don't sound or act like real people; just like strawmen from the Coens' minds to let us know why they think they're so much better than everyone else. Pitt is just dumb, and hamming his way through an underwritten part. McDormand is whiny and pathetic. She wants love, but in a sappy, cloying way. Clooney is just a dick, and a godawful comedic actor. Holy shit is he annoying. Some of his doubletakes have all the ham and none of the spice of can of Spam. Malkovich just gets pink a lot and screams so that spit flies from his mouth. Tilda Swinton is such a bitchy, cold-ass harpie that making this movie must really hate women.

Every character talks alike, in quick, faux snappy dialog. It sounds more like a writer in love with his own voice than it does real people. The dumbest and the most pompous in this movie sound the same. I couldn't tell the ones who are supposed to be smart from the ones who are supposed to be stupid by what they say or do. Only by what we're told to think of them. Half of the movie's lines come across as maybe funny to someone in on the joke, but not us.

The Coen Brothers hate the characters they've written. They're just strawmen the Coens use to show everyone how much better they think they are.

But are they? It's like they have no sense how real people interact, or if they do, they ignore it. Like they don't even listen, just make up the conversation in their heads so that they always are the smartest. The result is a smug and condescending movie. It's like the drunk secretary at Friday happy hour who bitches about how she's the only one in the office who knows what's going on, and how she saves everyone ass, blah blah blah. And she really believes it, because she never bothers to stop looking down her nose at everyone to see how fucking lousy she is.

That secretary is a bitch, and this movie's a turd. One Finger for Burn After Reading. Fuck the Coens for expecting us to pay to be insulted. That should be free.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Peter Travers of Rolling Stone

The Duchess: "Kiera Knightley scores a knockout! Impurely delicious. Ralph Fiennes is superb!"

Burn After Reading is "A crazy-quilt comic thriller! Brad Pitt is dynamite! Hi Chad is a potent comic creation. George Clooneyt is hilarious. John Malkovich has never been funnier!"

Apaloosa is "A potently acted powerhouse that sticks in the mind and the heart. Harris and Mortenson make a knockout team!"

Seems ol' Petey loves his potency and knockouts.

Filthy's Reading
Jay Cronley - Walking Papers

Listening to
Fujiya and Miyagi - Transparent Things


Upright Citizen's Brigade