Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
John Malkovich plays Osbourne Cox, relieved of his position at the Central Intelligence Agency for his “drinking problem” (“I don’t have a drinking problem, ‘cept when I can’t get one.” – Tom Waits), which puts him in open access for the morons of the world. Enter gym employees Chad (Brad Pitt), whose can-do spirit make his constant use of the word “shit” all the more amusing, and Linda (Frances McDormand), in dire need of a tummy tuck (that’s her, not me saying that). And then there’s Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), agent and part-time, eh, inventor, and Katie Cox (Tilda Swinton), the stern wife of Osbourne.
The ensemble cast, assembled from a heavy string of stars—some rising (Swinton), some in their prime (Pitt, Clooney), others in need of a boost (McDormand)—play the troublesome band of inept children to the T as only a Coen script would necessitate. And, like the best of their work, Burn After Reading perfectly mixes the comic with the dark, even if at the expense of losing their newfound crowd.
This is vintage Coen, and new fans (ie those who bummed a ride on No Country for Old Men, even when they didn’t “get” the ending) have been put off, mistaking Burn After Reading as “dumb.” It’s ironic how those calling the film “dumb” (as insult, not adjective) are the same people whose heads it’s soaring right over. It’s dumb all right, but it’s also too clever for some.
DC Insiders Run Amuck (12:23) uses interviews and clips to take a look at the cast, their characters, and the city they run around. Comments from costume designer Mary Zophres and production designer Jess Gonchor are a nice inclusion.
Welcome Back, George (2:51) is devoted to Clooney and his work with the Coens, also known as the “trilogy of idiots.”