How good are those Coen Brothers? Well, bloody good, and I mean bloody.
After what seemed a mid-career crisis when they were buying red sports cars and making films like Intolerable Cruelty (2003) and The LadyKillers (2004), the Brothers are not just back but taking their unquestioned brilliance to new levels.
Proving to be the curent day masters of the black comedy, they came to prominence in 1987 with their second film, Raising Arizona, and then produced a string of hits in the 1990s with Miller’s Crossing (1990), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), the unforgettable Fargo (1996) and cult hits The Big Lebowski (1998) and O Brother Where Art Thou (2000).
But the pinnacle of their career came with their return-to-form vehicle – and Best Picture Oscar winner - No Country For Old Men (2007), a fierce, forboding film memorable for Javier Bordem’s cold and calculating killer, and their follow-up offering Burn After Reading (2008).
The Brothers are said to have wrote the screenplays for both movies at the same time, alternating each day of their working week.
Justifiably the much more deadly serious No Country was made first and quickly wiped away a lean seven years for the pair.
Burn, while doesn’t quite have the long lasting impact that No Country had, nor the accolades (though it did receive a couple of Golden Globe nominations), is much more lighted-hearted but every bit as enjoyable.
It’s a case of the Coens getting back to their crazy roots, the stuff that made them one of the hottest pair in the movie world. It is black comedy at its best.
The Coen Brothers have this amazing ability to weave seamlessly from genuine shock and awe to genuine laugh-aloud comedy.
Fargo and now Burn are perfect examples of this.
You just can’t believe the trouble the characters of these two films get themselves into. But, then again, they certainly are human.
Like Fargo, Burn shows the absolute worst of seemingly normal, everyday people of society, when greed takes hold of the mind – and in some instances when hand takes hold the axe.
Burn focusses on what really is a bunch of pathetic human beings, willing to do whatever it takes to appease their own varying desires. But, there is a chain of events that brings tragedy to most.
It starts off with a very pissed-off CIA analyst Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) getting unceremoniously demoted, and then quitting to write his self-proclaimed ‘explosive’ memoirs.
Though they will never come close to getting printed, these memoirs are the basis of a frantic dash for cash by several strangers.
His wife, Katie Cox (Tilda Swinton), wants a divorce to be with her lover, the already ‘happily’ married but philandering State Department marshall, Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), and so copies the memoirs to a disk on the advice of her lawyer.
But, the lawyer’s secretary somehow manages to drop the disk out of her bag at her local fitness centre where it then comes into the possession of a couple of moronic gym instructors, Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt).
The pair see it as an opportunity to swindle a little ransom sum out of Osborne Cox. The extremely vain and paranoid Linda plans to use her share to get some ‘work’ done – $40,000 worth of work.
The brief interactions between the ridiculously naive headphone-wearing Chad and the even more pissed off than before Osborne Cox are some of the best, funniest moments of the film. Suffice to say, Osborne Cox does not want to play ball. Afterall, he hadn’t actually written anything substantial anyway.
It doesn’t stop dimwits Chad and Linda going to all kinds of lengths to try and make a little cash, such as dropping into the Russians consulate.
But, of course, that’s only half the story, with Clooney’s womaniser and a certain ‘sex seat’ playing a major role in proceedings.
The entire cast is brilliant, with Malkovich and Pitt - in parts that were apparently written with them in mind - the stand-outs, but only just. Look for Malkovich’s potty mouth and Pitt’s ridiculous expressions.
The Coens though are probably the best performers here with an amazing script that is subtle but blows you away - and a certain cast member.
Coens Brothers back to brilliant best.
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