Sunday, September 14, 2008
When It Makes Sense
It was a particularly long week for me and late Friday afternoon I was driving home, looking forward to a weekend of doing very little. I was heading down Franklin thinking about whatever, not too far away from my destination, when suddenly I noticed the decidedly unwelcome sight of smoke coming out of my engine. I glanced down at the temperature gage and saw the needle way up on ‘H’. So I then did the only thing I could do, which was to pull over into a legal parking spot at first opportunity. The weird thing was that this actually happened to me in June of last year, driving down the very same street only a few blocks away from the very same place. The movie which opened that weekend was OCEAN’S THIRTEEN which, like this weekend’s BURN AFTER READING, starred George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Anyway, it was a Friday at the end of a week which at times seemed like it would never end, I was tired and I didn’t want to deal with this right then. So I left the car there, walked home, then a little while later headed down to the Vista to see BURN AFTER READING—the same theater I went to that other weekend as well.
I’m not going to write a full piece on BURN AFTER READING right now, but I will say that it was exactly the right film for me to see that night. Before I get to it, I should mention that as a pleasant surprise the Vista ran a Three Stooges short before the movie. YOU NAZTY SPY!, made in 1940, has Moe installed as dictator of the Republic of Moronika (“Moronika for Morons!”). It’s kind of the Stooges version of DUCK SOUP and there are some Hitler jokes as well. To get to the main feature, BURN AFTER READING is an at times hysterically funny film, but it’s not quite the light-hearted caper the ads make it out to be. In fact, what the Coen Brothers seem to be saying here about the world we’re currently living in and the type of people we’ve allowed ourselves to become makes it surprisingly appropriate as a follow-up to NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and some of the thematic conclusions it arrives at in the end were just what I needed right then. It was a long, frustrating week partly due to work, partly from dealing with a few things of my own that I’ve been preoccupied with for far too long. And going into the film with my car fresh in mind, when it ended, after absorbing everything that had happened and been stated, I honestly felt strangely more okay about it all. So the next morning I got up, got the car towed, had it fixed, then when it was all dealt with I drove the car home then walked down to the Vista and saw BURN AFTER READING again (the Stooges short too). And it was just as funny, maybe funnier, as before. There are many things about this movie that I love, things I’m restraining myself from talking about right now but, without giving anything away, J.K. Simmons at one point says something which includes the phrase “…when it makes sense,” which has to be my favorite line, my favorite line reading, my favorite screen moment, of the entire year.
In my own mind I’m using BURN AFTER READING as a reminder for a lot of things in my life right now and it’s a safe bet that I’m going to be seeing it yet again, like I’ve done with any number of other Coen Brother movies through the years. As time goes on, it might turn out to be one of my favorite of their films. But if George and Brad make another movie together anytime soon, I’m going to do my best to avoid driving my car the week it comes out.