Review Covers Blu-Ray & DVD Release
Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
Evaluating cover art is a highly subjective practice. I have come to realize that some of the covers that do not mean anything to me really only resonate after I have seen the movie itself. Having said that, the cover for Burn After Reading is exactly one of those covers. Before I watched the movie, it was just a collection of shots of the characters in the movie, whereas after seeing the movie, and realizing just how important each of the characters are to the movie, and how the film revolves around this great acting ensemble, I really like the cover. I will go so far as to say that the performances are the best part of the movie for me, so the cover makes a lot of sense, now.
The menu resembles a CIA file, and is decent, if not a bit stale.
I had kind of hoped for a bit more in the way of extras . The total running time for the 3 extras is less than 30 minutes, which seems a bit short in this day and age. The good thing about the extras is that while they may be short, they at least are entertaining. Disappointingly, there is no commentary, as the Coen brothers would be worth a listen, if they ever did commentaries.
- Finding the Burn – At about 5 minutes in length, this first extra is your basic interview set with the Coen brothers, and the main characters of the film. I am amazed at how laid back the Coen brothers are in real life, since their work is as quirky and offbeat as it is.
- DC Insiders Run Amuck – This short extra is a making of piece that delves into the cast and the characters as the Coen’s imagined them. It includes interviews and production notes, and runs at just over 10 minutes in length. The short covers things like the wardrobe and choices for hair (see Brad Pitt’s excellent, frosted doo) and is, like the other extras, semi entertaining, if not a bit underdeveloped.
- Welcome Back George – Finally, there is the Welcome Back George extra, which is basically the Coen brothers ode to George Clooney, as he returns to star as another of their wickedly offbeat characters. Short, at under 3 minutes. Not sure it is needed, but it is better than nothing I guess.
The Movie: 8/10
One of the problems with the Coen brother’s movies is that they are a bit of an aquired taste. For many who enjoy watching movies, the Coen’s can do no wrong. For seemingly “casual” movie viewers, the Coen quirkiness can be a bit much. I happen to fall somewhat in between those two categories, and as such, I tend to waiver a bit on where I stand on all things Coen. The creative duo are responsible for Raising Arizona, and Miller’s Crossing (one of my favorite movies), as well as Barton Fink and the Hudsucker Proxy (not my favorites.) If anything, the Coen brothers amaze me at their range, especially considering that Burn After Reading is the follow up to last year’s explosive No Country for Old Men.
In Burn After Reading, Osborne Cox, a CIA analyst, is told that he is being demoted for having a drinking problem, which he perceives as completely ludacriss, so he explodes and quits. Osborne is played brilliantly by John Malkovich, who drops more f-bombs throughout the movie that should be allowed. (The result is that each time he cusses, it gets more funny.) Osborne reluctantly tells his wife Katie (Tilda Swinton), who sees this as just another of Osborne’s failures. Katie is actually having an affair with Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), and decides that it perhaps is time for Her to divorce Osborne and takes things to the next level with Harry, who is still married, and seemingly reluctant to move forward with Katie, much to her chagrin.When Osborne decides to write a memoir based on his CIA escapades, his wife accidentally copies over some of his espionage stories onto a disk that is supposed to have his financial information, so that her lawyer can get an idea of what she will get in the divorce. The disk ends up in the hands of some of the employees of the local “Hardbodies” gym. Linda Litzke (Francis McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) both see the disk as secret spy material, and they hatch a plan to get money from Cox to return the information. When the cantankerous cox refuses to pay, Linda and Chad attempt to sell the material to the Russians, with disasterous results.
Like I mentioned before, the key for me in this movie was not the (obviusly) crazy premise, but the intense, original characters and the way they each charged through the movie. At almost every corner the acting was just amazing. Brad Pitt almost steals the movie, just for acting like a health-nut, half-wit trainer. I really thought that the acting (and therefore casting) was superb. Some of the funnuest moments in the movie are delivered by some of the actors with the smallest roles (JK Simmons is absolutely hysterical as the CIA Director, who is constantly given updates that make absolutely no sense to anyone.)
Overall I really enjoyed Burn After Reading, and I think anyone that really likes movies will enjoy the movie. It just goes to show that the Coen brothers are not afraid to take risks and make some of the more offbeat dark comedies that I have seen. While Burn After Reading may leave some viewers scratching their head wondering “what did I just watch,” for the rest of us, it was a great ride.
Audio & Video: 9/10
I will let Ascully talk about the audio and video for the BluRay release, but the standard DVD looked and sounded great. No real issues to report from my view.
The Blu-Ray version of the movie looks stunning in a transfer that fills your wide screen display, this is a super bright movie and not once did it seem blown out even in the bright gym scenes. Colors and flesh tones are perfectly recreated and blacks look great. Audio is brought to you courtesy of the Dolby TrueHD codec, the opening minutes with the awesome booming score sounds really amazing real showcase material for your home theatre setup.
I recommend that everyone give Burn After Reading a view. I will definitely watch it again, and I would recommend it for a purchase for anyone who is familiar with (and enjoys) such movies as the Big Lebowski, Fargo, or any of the other Coen brother’s dark comedies. It is quirky, and fun, and at the end, when you are wondering what happened, just be glad that you got to experience it for what it is. Sometimes the best movies are the ones where you can’t see what is going to happen next, which describes the Coen brothers movies spot on.
Overall Score 8/10