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Oct 28, 2008

Fletch's Film Review: Burn After Reading & Choke

It's been at least a month since I saw Burn After Reading, and probably three weeks since I saw Choke, and I've yet to come remotely close to writing a review for either. It really makes no sense - it's not as if we're talking about Transformers or some other brainless popcorn flick that has nothing to say about society. Okay, maybe Burn does, since it's a straight-up Coen farce, but still, it's a farce for smart people, or at least adults.

And Choke - hell, I read the book a couple months ago just in preparation for the movie. Of course, I could tell from the trailer that I wouldn't enjoy the film as much as the printed version, and you know what they say about self-fulfilling prophecies. You don't? Well, neither do I. I guess that they come true - that's why they're probably called self-fulfilling after all.

Anyway, I guess you could say I enjoyed both of these films but that neither is terribly remarkable, with Choke being less memorable than Burn, thanks mostly to the goofball performances of Clooney, Pitt and McDormand and the straight-man jobs turned in by J.K. Simmons and Richard Jenkins (the clubhouse leaders in that category, by the way). So long as you don't expect the Coens to explain D.C. politics and/or the intricacies of the espionage trade, you'll likely come out happy. It's a slice-of-life film in the truest sense, only the slices seem to be made of satire and black humor, if not downright dislike (for the characters).

Fletch's Film Rating:

"Darn tootin!"

Calling Choke "less remarkable" doesn't mean it's necessarily bad - it's just the more forgettable of the two. Sam Rockwell is his usual appealing self - even when wondering and doing what Jesus would not do - and the supporting cast is affable (including Kelly McDonald and Angelica Huston, but Brad William Henke gets and gives the best role with Denny). I suppose the best and worst thing I can say about it is that it's wildly faithful to the novel; best as in "Yay for a faithful adaptation," but worst because despite that loyalty, the novel read like a more important, more meaningful work than the film turned out to be. Whereas the printed version felt like a big book with "big ideas," the movie plays more like a standard sex comedy with a few quirks thrown in (the low budget/production values don't help the cause). Still, I give it a mild recommendation.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

6 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Burn After Reading & Choke"

Dead Pan said...

I more or less agree about both films. Although I might have enjoyed Choke just a little more the Burn After Reading. The Coen's made a hilarious film with great filmmaking technique and direction, but I found that Choke had it's heart firmly in the right place and for that I am more drawn to say Choke. But on the other hand if hard pressed to watch either right now I'd definitely choose Burn. So I guess you can say I am conflicted.

Dead Pan said...

Oh, and I thought you might enjoy this.


elgringo said...

Wanted to watch Choke, never got around to it. Just watched Burn After Reading. It's got some of my favorite new characters in it but the story just tasted like flat Sprite to me.

Sheamus the... said...

other than Brad Pitt and JK Simmons I wasnt impressed with Burn.

Fletch said...

Deadpan - thanks for the Cage vid link. I'd seen it before (another wise soul knew I'd love it), but of course, I watched it again.

Shea - c'mon, what about Sledge Hammer? Don't tell me you're too young to remember him!

But yeah, Pitt and J.K. were definitely the highlights, with Clooney coming in a close third for me.

ed said...


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