movie thoughts: Burn After Reading (2008)

People throw around the phrase “star power” a lot to describe a certain something about a performance that just works.  ‘Burn After Reading’ runs on star power.  I’m not sure this movie would be as fun or as watchable if it wasn’t being performed by George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, and a bunch of other random people that you recognize from their bit parts on television and movies. 

The plot is pure Coen brothers – totally ridiculous.  You’ll spend the first part of the movie asking “What the hell is going on here?!?” but don’t worry, it all becomes clear.  The long and short of it is that Malkovich’s character is let go from his CIA job and decides to write a tell-all memoir (though he doesn’t have much to tell). It accidentally falls into the hands of McDormand and Pitt – two gym employees – who assume it is top level intelligence.  Pitt just wants to return the memoir, but McDormand decides she is going to blackmail Malkovich. 

Of course, that is the most bare bones description I could come up with.  As with all the Coen Brothers scripts, it’s about the characters and their quirks.  McDormand is obsessed with plastic surgery, Clooney has a thing for jogging, Pitt likes gum….a lot (note to self: add food/eating to list of “how to know if a Brad Pitt movie will be any good” list).  Again, I’m not sure if this movie would be as fun to watch if it wasn’t this cast.  They are just so watchable! 

It’s not their best movie ever, but it is very good.  Be ready to pay attention as the plot twists and turns.  You won’t want miss any of the outrageous moments. 

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