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Burn After Reading

Midnite weekend screenings happen on Friday & Saturday nights (meaning arrive on Friday and/or Saturday night by 11:45pm for seating, the movie starts after midnite)!

Director: Joel Coen Run Time: 96 min. Format: DCP Rating: R Release Year: 2008

Starring: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton

All screenings in our CLASS OF ’08 series include an optional donation ticket price with proceeds going to the Entertainment Community Fund, who work to support film and TV workers during the work stoppage. Choose the “Reserved + Donation” ticket option to donate.

“The Russians? Are you sure?”

Released in 2008, on the heels of the Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men,  Burn After Reading was received as a glossy oddity in the Coens’ filmography: a send up of 70s spy thrillers that also satirized its characters’ hopelessly anachronistic attitudes towards 21st century cloak-and-dagger realities.

In a post-Iraq zeitgeist, the idea of opportunistic Americans peddling state secrets to the former Evil Empire was meant as a joke, but a decade later, the film’s thawed-out-Cold War comedy looks prescient and downright trenchant; the “league of morons” envisioned by John Malkovich’s career spook has become not an exaggerated metaphor for our current political situation but a conceptual Trump card as radical as reality itself. Fleetly paced, supremely mean-spirited and exceptionally well-performed by a group of movie-stars-turned-clowns — Brad Pitt’s doomed gym rat is his most sublime characterization — Burn After Reading shows off its creators’ twin gifts for convolution and clarity, topping off its circular plot with a viciously absurdist coda that nods to (and arguably equals) Kubrick’s Strangeloveian misanthropy.

“What did we learn?” asks one CIA higher-up of his superior at the end of a roundelay of adultery, murder, and mistaken identity — the answer, when it comes, is as inevitable, chilling, futile and human as it gets.

Trailer

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