Monday, 20 October 2008

Burn after reading: a story of idiocy and incompetence

The Coen Brothers' new film Burn After Reading is now on general release. It's a black comedy that captures how, despite more technological development than ever, human stupidity can throw a spanner into the works of even the best-oiled machine.

A cast full of Hollywood's best known names portrays an unlikely story, where the loss of a CD of a former CIA worker's memoirs has a disastrous domino effect. Whilst many have inevitably compared the film to No Country For Old Men (and many have found this latest offering to fall somewhat short), I thought that the main roles were played well and intelligently, and the film was beautifully shot.

In that respect, it's a wry critique of 21st Century industrialised countries. Contrary to TV programmes like 24 that want to portray US government agencies as smooth-operating automatons, Burn After Reading seeks to be more realistic. Technology isn't always as helpful as we'd like to think, and an accurate view of human nature should make us cautious: human idiocy and eccentricity can destroy even the best made plans. Perhaps this should make us think twice when institutions make big claims for themselves?


Dave K said...

Good summary. I like your film reviews.

I am beginning to feel though that the same themes run through Coen brothers films over and over again, but it was better than I had been led to expect.

Idiocy, chaos, unintended consequences, the madness of the modern world are all shown up so well. Different Coen brothers films emphasise some bits more than others but they are all in there.

The scenes in Langley were the best though weren't they? Plummeting down from a satellite view into the stupid antics of the CIA summed it all up. Although in a darker and sadder way so did the way Linda could not see that her boss loved her, and therefore pursued cosmetic surgery so doggedly that 3 people lost their lives because of it.

The madness of human beings -technology doesn't solve anything.

ernie said...

wow, i cant believe you got so much out of it... i thought it was possibly the worse film i'd ever seen!? story was totally random, he only feeling it left me with was that it was a shame film writers couldn't write less swear words into their scripts, and i was sad to have spent £6.75 of my Grandma's money taking her to see it!

each to their own, i suppose!