I’m a skeptical man when it comes to the Coen Brothers. I’m the old crank at the party who starts pooh-poohing their efforts while others wax enthusiastically. Sorry I just don’t think they’re that funny. Their brand of humor seems aimed at Stanford Professorial-types or really smart high school kids. Nothing wrong with that but I like my comedy a bit more biting and a hint less “wacky”. That said, they’ve made a boatload of films and occasionally hit one out of the park. No question Fargo is one of the all time great screwball dramadeys. Razor-sharp writing with fantastic performances from Buscemi, McDormand and Macy. Few films straddle the line between comedy and drama so well. I've always wished more of their stuff was like this one.
Whenever a new Coen Brothers movie comes out it seems like you can’t escape the cocktail party conversation about it. No Country For Old Men came down a few pegs for me just based on the number of times people asked me if I thought it was brilliant. My answer was “It was really good, but not as good as 3:10 To Yuma which covered similar territory but in a much more complex and subtle fashion”. Whatever.
So out comes Burn After Reading and I’m strangely attracted, yet deeply fearful. I took it in last night and I got to say I thought it was pretty awesome. One of the best films of the year at this point. Right up there with there with Fargo. It operates in the same vein of drama meets comedy and finds the perfect balance between the two. The acting was great. Malkovich is brilliant (why doesn’t he make more movies I want to see), McDormand always delivers, Brad Pitt is funny, Swinton does her icy thing and even the loathsome Clooney delivers big time. The wacky level is kept in check and the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’m man enough to admit when these guys deliver and this time through, they do.