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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon December 16, 2008
CIA Superior: So what did we learn from this?
CIA Officer: Um... I don't know.

Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):

1. CIA analyst Cox (John Malkovich) has a falling out with the agency, and decides to write a tell-all memoir.
2. His wife (Tilda Swinton) wants a divorce, and to make sure she's forearmed with his finances, she burns a copy of some of his computer files
3. Said files fall into the incapable hands of clueless gym employees Chad (Brad Pitt) and Linda (Frances McDormand), who decide to try extortion as a fund raising exercise.
4. No prizes for guessing that it doesn't quite work as planned
5. Meanwhile, Mrs. Cox is having an affair, Linda is looking for both love and cosmetic surgery, and Treasury agent Harry (George Clooney) is sleeping around.
6. Black comedy of errors follows with some rather unpredictable twists.

Fans of black comedy will thoroughly enjoy this movie, which is well directed, brilliantly acted and immensely entertaining. Kudos go to Malkovich, Pitt, Swinton and Clooney, but the top award definitely goes to McDormand, who will have you sharing her pain.

Four and a half stars go to the Coen Brothers for this bleak look at life, adultery, blackmail and people behaving badly.

Amanda Richards
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Do you remember the first Blu-ray you ever bought? Mine was Burn After Reading on the same day that I purchased my first Blu-ray player. It's a title that receives very little recognition and it regularly features in sales. Why is that the case?

The movie is directed by the Coen brothers and stars Clooney, Pitt, McDormand, Malkovich and Swinton. What's not to like?

I'm hard to please when it comes to humor, but several Coen brothers films hit the spot. It's clever dialogue rather than slapstick physical humor, and some of it is unpredictable. I can't laugh when I see a joke coming from a mile away wearing a T-shirt with "This is funny, laugh now" written on it. I like to be surprised.

So what is surprising about Burn After Reading?

Harry Pfarrer (Clooney) has no redeeming features. He's married, but sees other women at every opportunity. He's having an affair with Katie Cox (Swinton). Harry is shallow, paranoid and somewhat stupid and Clooney plays the character with his usual charm and good humor.

If there is anyone dumber than Harry, it has to be Chad Feldheimer (Pitt), who works in a gym. Chad is a complete idiot in every way. His friend at the gym is Linda Litzke (McDormand), who is obsessed with undergoing cosmetic surgery to improve her appearance.

Osborne Cox (Malkovich) is married to Katie and works as an analyst for the CIA. Most of his sentences include at least one profanity and he's borderline alcoholic. The story begins with a meeting in which Osborne is told that he will be demoted, but instead of accepting the situation, he quits. Katie is not pleased, even though she's on the verge of leaving him for Harry.

There's not much of a plot. Chad acquires a CD containing the beginning of Osborne's memoir and believes it to be secrets of national importance. He thinks that Osborne is sure to give him a reward if he returns it and that leads to an amusing phone call. Linda decides that the Russians may be interested in the worthless CD and that they might reward her for the useless information.

Everybody seems to be sleeping with everyone else and what could go wrong does go wrong. This is not a serious story in any way.

There's a great cameo by J. K. Simmons who plays a CIA boss. He's utterly clueless about the significance of the events we witness because they are all meaningless. Watch his reaction at the end of the movie when he makes a decision about what further action to take.

Burn After Reading is a good way to spend an hour-and-a-half. No analysis is necessary. All of the characters have funny moments. Ignore the negative reviews and see it for yourself. You can pick it up for under $10 if you like it.

Overall score 4.5/5
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on September 11, 2015
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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on March 12, 2015
Whenever I need a laugh - this movie will deliver. It's crazy funny.
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on August 8, 2014
Excellent quality
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on August 14, 2014
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