Burn After Reading 2008

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(229) IMDb 7/10
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An all-star cast, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and John Malkovich, come together in this outrageous spy comedy about murder, blackmail, sex addiction and physical fitness! When a disc filled with some of the CIA's most irrelevant secrets gets in the hands of two determined, but dim-witted, gym employees, the duo are intent on exploiting their find. But since blackmail is a trade better left for the experts, events soon spiral out of everyone's and anyone's control, resulting in a non-stop series of hilarious encounters! From Joel and Ethan Coen, the Academy Award winning directors of No Country For Old Men and The Big Lebowski, comes this brilliantly clever and endlessly entertaining movie that critics are calling smart, funny, and original.

Starring:
Frances McDormand, John Malkovich
Rental Formats:
DVD, Blu-ray

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature ages_15_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 36 minutes
Starring Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Richard Jenkins, Tilda Swinton, George Clooney, Brad Pitt
Director Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Genres Comedy
Studio UNIVERSAL PICTURES
Rental release 9 February 2009
Main languages English
Discs
  • Feature ages_15_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 36 minutes
Starring Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Richard Jenkins, Tilda Swinton, George Clooney, Brad Pitt
Director Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Genres Comedy
Studio UNIVERSAL PICTURES
Rental release 9 February 2009
Main languages English

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. A. Bentley on 13 Oct. 2013
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
What strikes me about this film is how they all play such superb incompetent sets of individuals skilled only in one thing and that is being a collection of losers.
And as for Linda,s obsession with cosmetic surgery the main theme that runs through this film I have met people like this, and what you would like to tell them is they would be much better off with almost a complete body transplant, and by default that is what she gets in the end, the only one to come out of this grand fiasco with any plus points at all. Brad Pitts bungling incompetence is played to a fine art, whilst George Clooney,s dedicated obsession with his wife's surprise present is definitely worth seeing, and as for John Malkovich he is continually on the point of meltdown brought about by his employer and his wife's actions.
In conclusion I would say you have to be in tune to this particular humour, which lets face it is tongue in cheek blacker than black.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Victor HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 8 Sept. 2011
Format: DVD
A Coen Brother's film? A film starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand AND John Malkovitch? This was a film for which I had high expectations, sadly they were not met.

The convoluted plot centred around John Malkovitch's CIA memoires and various attempts at blackmail arising after they fall into the wrong hands is actually quite interesting, and with a different slant the movie could have been great. But too much emphasis is placed on silly schoolboy humour, cardboard caricatures and pointless characters. The only actor who comes out of this with any credit is Malkovitch, who seems unable to put in a bad performance. Clooney and Pitt are given nothing to get their teeth into, Clooney coasts through with an uncommitted bland turn, and Pitt goes over the top in a toecurlingly hammy and misjudged delivery.

Interesting plot and premise, let down by a poor script, poor direction and poor acting. Trying to be objective, and ignoring the huge sense of disappointment after a build up that promised so much, I can only give this two stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James, London. on 11 Jan. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I laughed and laughed as I looked on in mixed horror and amusement. Brad Pitt puts in a bravura performance of outstanding cluelessness.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A. Willard on 21 April 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There's an awful lot of 1 star reviews on here for this - seems a bit harsh to me. Of course the Coens are always going to annoy some people - they are a bit smart-arsey and their habit of leaving out certain scenes which could be construed as being `integral' to the plot is a long-standing joke of theirs which they obviously find very funny. They were even at it in `No Country', which was finally their major breakthrough to the mainstream - the shoot-out between Moss and the Mexicans? But I'm a long-time fan and despite the occasional stinker (`Intolerable Cruelty' and `The Ladykillers'), they've made me laugh more than just about anybody else over the last 30 years, so I'll stick with them.

So how do they follow up the commercial and artistic success of `No Country`? With a film about a bunch of selfish, bungling middle-aged losers making a mess of their and everybody else's lives, that's how. If there's a common theme to the Coens films' then it's `nobody knows anything', and never was that truer than here. This is their take on the spy genre, the `Bourne' films and others of that ilk; but instead of being full of smart, dangerous killers there's just a bunch of useless idiots constantly cocking-up and jumping to the wrong conclusions: the results, however, can be just as fatal. Nobody is as harsh on the consequences of stupidity as the Coens.

I'm not crazy about George Clooney doing comedy, it seems to me he relies too much on mugging and pulling `funny' faces; apart from him, however, the performances are uniformly excellent. John Malkovich is wonderfully irascible and Tilda Swinton splendidly unpleasant as Mr and Mrs Cox (not a name, you feel, that was chosen by accident).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Movie Guy TOP 100 REVIEWER on 23 Jun. 2013
Format: DVD
Big name stars. Brad Pitt back to his zany role. If you liked him in "12 Monkeys", here he is again. The acting was great especially Francis McDormand who never fails to please her audience. Malkovich was fantastic. The line between good guys and bad guys become blurred, as we identify and root for good people doing bad things. The relationships between the characters is over the top and adds to the comedy aspect of the film.

Pitt and McDormand end up with a fictional novel about the CIA which they believe real information. They attempt to peddle this "information" only to watch everything come apart.

Another great Coen film.

Parental Guide: Many F-bombs, implied sex, brief male rear nudity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Crowe TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 July 2014
Format: DVD
Better paced than "Inside Llewyn Davies" and less sublimely inconsequential than "The Big Lebowski," "Burn After Reading" is a considerable success. It's a "bloody farce," to use the 17th Century critic Thomas Rhymer's description of "Othello," and we expect of farce that we will be able to detach ourselves from any sympathy with the characters and thus free ourselves to enjoy the machinery of a well-oiled plot. The machinery is in good working order here, but two characters do engage our sympathies to some extent and thus complicate and deepen our engagement with the movie, without our really thinking them anything but stupid -- but with them we feel that anxiety makes them stupid, and therefore we engage with them to a different degree than we do with the others. They are Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) and Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand), the former devastated by a demotion as a CIA analyst, and the latter a middle-aged gym employee desperately seeking a number of cosmetic surgeries. It wouldn't be true to say we care about them -- finally, they are too stupid -- but we don't exactly not care either. In addition to Malkovich and McDormand, there is superb work by Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tilda Swindon, Jeffrey DeMunn, and J. K. Simmons. The whole cast, in fact, is just superb, and Pitt and Clooney in particular play stupid, silly people with no actorly vanity whatsoever.

The basic plot initiator is that the disgraced Osbourne quits the CIA and plans to write a tell-all book about it. Some of that book is put on a CD, along with his financial information, by his wife (Tilda Swindon), so that she can take it to her lawyer and have him use it in divorce proceedings to Swindon's character's advantage.
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