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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

5 reasons I’m psyched for ‘Burn After Reading’

All this week! 5 movies I’m psyched for in September, and 5 reasons why. No. 1, my current official psyched-for flick: Burn After Reading [opens wide September 12].
1. It’s September. You know what the state of comedy is going to be in September? Another Tyler Perry movie. I kid you not. We’ll be desperate for something clever.

2. It’s Joel and Ethan Coen. With another comedy… which looks outrageously funny from the trailer. And this after their last movie, the deadly serious No Country for Old Men. What other filmmakers can so easily and brilliantly swing back and forth between pitch-black drama and wild, subversive comedy?

3. How did they anticipate that this flick — about a CIA agent who accidently leaves his top-secret memoirs on a disc in a gym locker room, where they are found by a dumb-bunny gym employee who tries to sell them to the highest bidder — would actually echo reality? Because a British intelligence agent recently forgot a big fat folder of secret Al Qaeda intel on a train. It sounds an unbelievably boneheaded move… unless that was, in fact, a publicity stunt for this flick.

4. Oh my god, the cast: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, J.K. Simmons. A movie with just one or two of these folks is cause for celebration, but all of them? How did the Coens manage that?

5. The tagline is “Intelligence is relative.” Smart people — like the Coens — making fun of stupidity is always good, but even better is when smart people make fun of how stupid other smart people can sometimes be. Which is what it looks like BAR will be about… and be very very funny about it in the process. We can hope so, anyway.

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