Burn After Reading (2008)
October 30, 2015 5:51 PM - Subscribe

When a disc containing memoirs of Osbourne Cox, former CIA analyst, falls into the hands of Linda Litzke and Chad Feldheimer, the two gym employees see a chance to make enough money for her to have life-changing cosmetic surgery. Predictably, events whirl out of control for the duo doofuses and those in their orbit.
posted by growabrain (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Top 5 funniest Coen movies:
Burn * Big Lebowski * O Brother * Intolerable Cruelty * Fargo
posted by growabrain at 6:09 PM on October 30, 2015


The moment where Clooney reveals his machine and the moment where Pitt gets killed are two of the most amazing surprise laughs I have ever had. In the same movie? Amazing.
posted by Etrigan at 6:36 PM on October 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I watched this with a group of friends and thoroughly enjoyed it, while they found it not so close to their tastes. This reminds me I really need to watch it again.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:18 PM on October 30, 2015


Chad Feldheimer: [laughing] "You think that's a Schwinn!"
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:34 PM on October 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


The moment where Clooney reveals his machine and the moment where Pitt gets killed are two of the most amazing surprise laughs I have ever had.

There was the PERFECT amount of dead silence after the chair rocking; I don't know that I have ever laughed in surprise before, and that moment did it.

This movie is also incredibly quotable!

"Just . . . just come back when it makes sense."
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:51 AM on October 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is one of my unexpectedly favorite movies. I don't think a week goes by where me and my SO don't quote it.

Totally agree with Etrigan - the shock humor is amazing.

Osborne? Osborne Cox?

Coen Brother movies are really hit or miss for me (us). Big Lebowski was... meh. (Yes, I'm prepared to take some heat for saying that!) I like O Brother a lot. Fargo and No Country were great, but not ones I'll rewatch regularly like this is.
posted by 2ht at 6:55 AM on October 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's a wonderful dark comedy, to be sure. Every single person is simultaneously incompetent and deadly.
posted by codacorolla at 11:10 AM on October 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


What a great misfortune it is that Brad Pitt was made so pretty as to prevent him from being able to frequently take roles like this. Dude has comedy chops.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:38 AM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have frequently noted what a tragedy it is that such a talented character actor was born in the body of Brad Pitt.
posted by nonasuch at 8:39 AM on November 2, 2015


I think I'm going to have to be the dissenting opinion here because I loathed this movie -- unredeemable despite a decent premise and a brilliant cast.

I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that I find movies where everyone is a terrible person making bad decisions pretty hard to take -- every single major character in this movie is either venal, an idiot, a fool, or some combination and pretty much every choice made is the wrong one. Possibly some of you find that the appeal -- all I can say is I find it excruciating.

I greatly prefer another "disgruntled CIA agent writes memoir / wacky hijinx ensue" done almost 30 years earlier: Hopscotch.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:14 AM on November 3, 2015


Yeah, it fell a little flat for me, too. Normalized to Coen brothers, of course, which means it's still better than most other movies. But in my opinion it excels in little set pieces that are brilliantly written, acted, and directed but which don't quite cohere into a whole movie.

Part of the problem, I think, is that we don't really have any character to latch onto. The more likeable characters are also slightly repulsive. The reason I think that The Big Lebowski is far superior to this film is that it's so solidly anchored by Bridges's Dude. Burn has an impressive number of moving parts, but there's something kind of sterile about it.

The ending seemed rushed to me. I suspect that might be by design -- good endings are satisfying and there's a theme in this movie that denies a good ending. It's fitting that we get all the character's fates told to us in a CIA meeting. And, yeah, that scene was amazing. But, even so, if the abruptness of the ending was very deliberate and self-aware, that means I can respect the aim, but I don't think it quite worked out.

One of my favorite parts was Clooney's character losing his tempter and taking his sex pillow and walking out.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:45 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


every single major character in this movie is either venal, an idiot, a fool, or some combination and pretty much every choice made is the wrong one.

I think that's what I found so relatable about them. I mean, sure it's exaggerated, but there's a level of incompetence/delusion/stupidity there in each of them that I've definitely witnessed and been guilty of at different points in my life.

It just all piles on together here into a perfect shitstorm, as life does.

And in the end what seemed so important for these people was just a footnote in some ignored file.
posted by xqwzts at 3:44 AM on November 5, 2015


Oh god, saw this in a medium crowded, local, cinema and burst out laughing when they carried the oddly shaped cushions out. Burst out laughing alone, as I was apparantly the only person there already aware of the concept of sex furniture. Giant embarrassment.
posted by Iteki at 12:41 PM on February 3, 2016


There are so many great moments in this film. Chad getting shot, and the sex chair, of course. But also, George Cloony hauling his sex wedge pillows off to his car after getting dumped by John Malkovitch's wife. Also that she turns out to be a pediatrician.
posted by rustcrumb at 9:56 PM on August 19, 2016


every single major character in this movie is either venal, an idiot, a fool, or some combination and pretty much every choice made is the wrong one.

So, like nearly every character in every Coen brothers movie ever made? It's sort of their whole shtick.

There's often also a by-the-books lawperson or something who does everything exactly right (while also serving as a bit of an audience surrogate), and whattaya know, there's J.K. Simmons playing it in this one, albeit far less actively than the one in Fargo or No Country for Old Men. I like how the PERFECT ARM OF THE LAW gets handled here, recognizing the bumbling incompetence early and simply keeping an eye on it while that incompetence does what incompetence does best.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:10 PM on October 1


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