Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Burn After Reading
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on November 24, 2009
I just wanted to point out that every single complaint that the one-star reviews dole out are just icing on the cake as far as me totally loving this movie. The characters had no depth? The plot was too amorphous? THAT WAS THE POINT FOLKS. The characters are examples of typical character flaws that are variations on stupidity. You're supposed to enjoy their lives falling apart. I sure as hell did.
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on January 23, 2009
I am shocked at the amount of negative reviews here. This is a comedic masterpiece. I think the one star ratings are coming from simpletons that have no clue about truly subtle and intelligent humor. THE ABRUPT ENDING WAS PART OF THE POINT!

THE LACK OF A PLOT WAS PART OF THE POINT!

THE POINT OF THE MOVIE WAS HOW TRULY POINTLESS MOST THINGS ARE!

In their brilliance, the coens were MAKING A POINT BY MAKING A MOVIE WITH NO POINT!

This film is true genius and one of the funniest films I have ever seen. Clooney was a perverted mess and Pitt was genius as a mindless but fun good samaritan. If you know anything about comedy, you will love this film.
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on April 13, 2012
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 November 1, 2008
After the true genius of No Country For Old Men, the Coen Brothers come back with a whole new dimension. Burn After Reading is a dark comedy about idiots faced with an intelligent and complex situation. Two Gym instructors Linda Litsky (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) find a disc containing the memoirs of ex CIA agent Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich). They, being idiots think it's a disc containing top secret information and try to bribe Osbourne for money which would help pay for Linda's cosmetic surgery. Things don't go to plan as Osbourne has bigger things on his mind, his wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) is having an affair with the paranoid Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney).

This film is actually quite intelligent in its own right, the characters seem well defined and are played superbly. The characters were specifically written for the actor playing them and it really shows.

John Malkovich portrays the agent lost of all hope well, you become quite intimidated by both his intelligence and temper.

George Clooney as the paranoid individual who's having more affairs than you can wave a stick at doesn't falter. He's jumpy, but hey who wouldn't be if you were sleeping with three different women. This eratic behaviour becomes a bit tragic and leads to the death of one of the characters in the film.

Brad Pitt as the loveable and wannabe cunning idiot is fantastic, the facial expressions and general stereotypical dexterity of what we would expect a personal trainer to be really works. This becomes especially amusing when he enters into the bribing game with Malkovich and starts to enter into the character of cunning spy. It has to be seen to be believed.

Frances McDormands character is the real shining light of the whole film as she's the catalyst leading up to the films biggest events. She's a middle aged gym instructor paranoid over the look of her body. While trying to get plastic surgery, she's turned down by her insurance company and is the one that convinces Pitts character to bribe Cox. She's a woman on the edge of giving up on life and wants to take one last leap into the chance of a relationship, but is made even more nervous by her own body insecurities.

The Coens once again create a film that is both surreal and believable, the characters are shockingly brilliant. The scenario is a bit over the top but comes together perfectly. There is something that bothered me, however, and that's the fact that every character in the film seemed to be having an affair with someone else. I don't know, maybe that was the whole point that made the film work. For fans of the Coens this is definitely one that sits proudly in their film catalogue next to such greats as No Country For Old Men and The Big Lebowski. I would strongly recommend it to any film fan overall, it's definitely worth it just for the Brad Pitt & Clooney facial expressions. Be warned though as if you're easily offended by swearing, then you might as well take your pad and pen with you to start writing your complaints letter.
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VINE VOICEon November 5, 2010
Joel and Ethan Coen make movies that are at right angles to most of the rest of Hollywood. Their dramas, going back to "Blood Simple", have a refreshing splash of humor, and their comedies, going back to "Raising Arizona", have dark elements. The Coen's are so adept at crossing stylishly from one genre to another it is no surprise that their grim Oscar-winning "No Country For Old Men" is followed by this delightfully twisted comedy.

I repeatedly find in Coen comedies characters who are not only entertainly dumb, but (as happens so often in real life, doesn't it?) unaware of their stupidity. (Think back to "The Big Lebowski" and "O, Brother, Where Art Thou?") In "Burn After Reading" the Coens have assembled both performers and characters who are able to rip through a script that would be part hilarious and part ridiculous - ridiculous, that is, if it were not a Coen Brothers movie.

Brad Pitt appears prominently in the film's ad campaign (and he is sublime as an airheaded fitness trainer), but it would be difficult to say he is the "star", as a half dozen characters share as much screen time. John Malkovich brings an edgy profanity to his not-as-smart-as-he-thinks-he-is CIA analyst, who quits rather than take a demotion when his bosses confront him about his drinking problem. Tilda Swinton is superbly cast as his icy wife, not only reprising her White Witch character from "Narnia", but also her cold-blooded lawyer from "Michael Clayton". Swinton plays a pediatrician - the kind that makes children cry and doesn't care. Swinton is having an affair with "Clayton" co-star George Clooney, who once again expertly essays a Coen Clown, this time an ex government protection agent who "never once discharged his weapon" in years of service, but tells another character at a cocktail party that he could use his pistol if needed, because "reflexes take over - it's all muscle memory". (These reflexes complicate the plot in a way that can only be described as Coenesque.) Frances McDormand does much of her best work for husband Joel and brother-in-law Ethan (winning her Oscar in "Fargo"), and here she gets a wonderful role as Pitt's dim-witted fitness center co-worker. McDormand has a poignant but funny early scene where she and a plastic surgeon (the extremely reliable Jeffrey DeMunn from "The Green Mile" and "Law and Order") discuss four separate operations she desperately wants - "I've gone about as far as I can go with this body here..." Richard Jenkins secretly pines for McDormand and tries to let her know he's interested even without the expensive surgery.

A MacGuffin is produced by the Malkovich character, who decides since he's left the CIA to write a memoir. The Swinton character copies Malkovich's computer files planning for divorce and wanting financial records, and the disc which incidentally includes Malkovich's memoirs is found at the gym where Pitt and McDormand work. Dimwit Pitt concludes that this CIA memoir is valuable spy stuff and he conspires with McDormand to offer the disc to the Russians to pay for McDormand's plastic surgery.

"The Russians?!" J.K. Simmons asks in amused confusion as a CIA superior when he is informed by Malkovich's former boss, played by David Rasche. Although they appear only briefly, Simmons and Rasche produce a couple of the film's best scenes, including the side-splitting conclusion where the "loose ends" are tied as only the Coens can. I could say more, but that would deprive you of the pleasure of finding out for yourself.

And you should.
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on December 30, 2013
Put this one on your watch list. It is such a quirky movie with a brand new angle on serious things that are just absurd. If you want to sit down and have a good watch this is the right movie. Not one person in the movie is even remotely normal. No, there is actually one that is close to normal. The wackiness is just part of the ride. I really enjoyed it. Everyone is doing something basically wrong and for the wrong reason and they are at cross purposes but never figure that out.

Brad Pitt is just great in this. He comes off as such a non thinker and makes you laugh. No one makes much sense but then everyone makes sense. Just fun to watch.
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on July 13, 2012
Like all Cohen Bros. work, it's the nuance and attention to detail around language and dialog that make this stand out. I love to see Clooney break out of type to some degree. The quirks and mannerisms he brings are a prefect match to subtleties of the dialog. John Malkovich also does an incredible job here. If you like the quirkier Cohen Bros movies like Fargo, The Hudsucker Proxy, and Oh Brother, Where art Thou? , you'll probably enjoy this as well.
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on July 3, 2016
I first saw this film in 2009 on normal cable. Ever since I first watched it I wanted it on DVD. And when I got the DVD, I loved it even more. I don't get the negative reviews for this film, this IS a perfect black comedy film. I've seen it probably over 500 times so far and it's still fresh to me. I guess the ''haters'' just don't understand the humor parts. But that's okay, it's still a great awesome film no matter what they say or think. If you love black comedy films and never seen this, I HIGHLY recommend giving it a try. Who knows? You might fall in love with it. I can't guarantee you will though, that's up to you. But yes, to me, this is a very funny and awesome film. I love it and give it 5/5.
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on August 23, 2010
A dark comedy about the interactions of several people related to a CIA agent let go by the company. Some folks I know did not find this movie funny; the humor is not overt, but lies in the situations these folks find themselves in as they interact, while the CIA watches with interest, but without a clue.
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on February 11, 2016
Burn ater Reading. When the dvd first arrived, I thought "Is this goat cheese?". Thank I realized, it was just the previously viewed copy of BAR that I ordered from Amazon!
Woohoo. I was happy to get it, since Intelligence is only their job, and I'm a big fan of both cheese and intelligence. Thankfully, I'm not lactose intolerant and do not have acid reflux? They're two different things.
Good movie with excellent cast. Excellent directors!
DVD was used and in really prime shape. Also I received it quickly.
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