Burn After Reading (2008), Joel and Ethan Coen's (Fargo, 1996; No Country for Old Men, 2007) not-very-much publicized latest feature stars John Malkovich as a newly retired CIA agent who decides to write his memoirs.
Tilda Swinton plays his wife who is trying to blackmail him. George Clooney is the wife's lover who is also sleeping with Francis McDormand's character, a fitness center employee and online dating addict--which is how she meets up with Clooney.
Somehow, the Agent's secret files wind up in the fitness center, and McDormand--with the help of co-worker Brad Pitt--wants to blackmail the Agent so that she can pay for some cosmetic surgery.
This is basically a side project for the Coen brothers while they come up with something brilliant, but Burn After Reading keeps going from beginning to end with interesting characters, quick dialogue and a little extreme violence, while not making things too complicated for the audience. In fact, the whole film seems to be making fun of big-budget espionage thrillers and the way the CIA might respond to a given situation.
Rated R, with appearances by Richard Jenkins, Dermot Mulroney, David Rasche and J.K. Simmons. One side-note: the Coen brothers used a new cinematographer for this one--Emmanuel Lubezki, replacing Roger Deakins who has worked on every movie they've made since Barton Fink (1991).
MEET PARTYDIGEST.COM MOVIE REVIEWER MICHAEL TAYLOR:
Michael M. Taylor, 26, from South Fulton, TN. Amateur filmmaker and critic, with other interests including food and music. Movies are his life, but since small-town living limits his cinema experience, he often goes to great lengths to seek out the movies he want to see. Please e-mail him your review ideas at email@example.com.