Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday At the Movies: Burn After Reading & Movie Watching Style

Monday's Movie is hosted by Sheri at A Novel Menagerie.

Movie: Burn After Reading (2008)
Genre: Comedy, Crime Drama
MPAA Rating: R
Directed By: Ethan and Joel Coen
Writers: Ethan and Joel Coen

Summary from Netflix:
In this dark comedy from Joel and Ethan Coen, ousted CIA official Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) loses his recently penned memoir into the hands of a pair of moronic gym employees (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand, in a Golden Globe-nominated role) who use it to try to turn a profit. George Clooney and Tilda Swinton round out the cast of this irreverent farce, which was nominated for a Best Picture (Comedy) Golden Globe.

I really do not know what to say about this film. It is dark. It is funny. And it is completely insane. I really wasn't sure what to expect going into it and now having seen it, I'm not really sure what to make of it still. The characters are quirky and the plot is way over the top. I am still in shock over one particular pivotal moment in the movie. It happened so fast! Anyway, I am not sure what else to say about this film. Did I like it? I did, but it was very unusual and not for the faint of heart.

The Monday Movie Meme is brought to you by The Bumbles.

This week's movie topic is all about How You Watch Your Movies . . .
If you play along with this weekly meme then obviously you enjoy movies. But how do you watch them? Do you wait in line for the big premier at the theater? Do you savor trips to the local video store perusing the titles up and down the aisle? Or maybe you only watch them from home as they arrive in your mailbox, inbox, or on T.V. And maybe who you watch them with dictates how you watch them.

I love going to the movie theater. There's something about sitting in a gigantic darkened theater, with the sound bouncing off the walls, sometimes making the entire room shake, that I find irresistible. Some movies are just meant to be seen on the big screen. While on occasion the crowds may bother me or a particularly annoying person (cell phones, crying babies, incessant chattering), more often than not I find seeing a film with other moviegoers to be part of the charm of the theater experience. There is something magical about seeing a movie in a theater. Not to mention that I am not always the most patient person in the world when it comes to seeing a movie I have wanted to see since I first heard it was being filmed.

During our college years, my husband and I spent a lot more time at the movie theater than we do now. Not having our own transportation and being limited in resources, the theater was an easy escape from campus life. To this day, we try and go at least once or twice a month, sometimes more often if we can swing it. We've never been big on concessions and so you will not see us loading up on popcorn, drinks, and candy. Sometimes we may get a pretzel and split a drink between us, however. My most favorite time to hit the theater is for that first showing. There's rarely a crowd or line to wait in. Depending on the theater, the price may even be lower than for a matinee.

Renting movies is another way we get our movie fix. It helps that we have a nice sized widescreen TV and a decent surround sound stereo system. Watching movies at home has its own advantages. The ability to pause for short breaks being a major one. We often will enjoy lunch or dinner while watching a movie. We can make editorial comments and laugh as loud as we want. I don't have to worry about holding back the tears. We no longer visit the local video store, which, if you ask me, was always a bit of a hassle. Netflix is so much more convenient. They deliver right to the door, there are no late fees and when we are done, we only have to drop the DVD back into the mailbox.

Occasionally we will watch a movie on cable. Truth be told, it's more likely that it will be me doing so. And it's rarely, if ever planned. Those random TV movie moments tend to only come when I am in a television watching mood and just happen to see something interesting on as I flip through the channels. As it is, most of our regular television watching occurs only after we have recorded the show on the DVR to watch. There's something to be said for being able to fast forward through commercials.

As for online movie viewing, I have given that a shot. It's not quite as comfortable and can sometimes be a bit of an inconvenience. It is not my preferred method of movie viewing, but it is an option I like having.

It has been years since we last saw a movie in a drive-in. There is an old drive-in theater in town that I think still plays movies. My husband and I have never actually been to that theater though. I have many fond childhood memories of camping out in the car, which watching movies at the drive-in. I think seeing a movie at a drive-in is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives.

Oh, how I love my movies . . .

Happy Memorial Day. May we remember those who gave their lives so that we could be free.


  1. I'm not hosting Monday's Movie this week due to the holiday. I'm going to link this up to last week's so that it's on Mr. Linky!

  2. Spitting chips. Wrote this great post hot publish and it said error. grrrr.

    Ok Burn Without Reading I did not like much. Brad Pitt though was great and it is worth seeing this movie to see him playing an idiot.

    I am more of a theater and dvd kinda gal. Haven't been to a drive thru in years as they have all pretty much shut down across Oz in the 80's. I think there is one left in QLD somewhere.

  3. I just LOVE watching movies too, mostly the theatre, but anywhere actually, on my PC, on Telly, in drive-in's, in theatres...just about everywhere. There's something about lossing yourself for a couple of hours.

  4. I can't remember the last movie I went to. Not that there haven't been ones I'd like to see, I just don't go.

    Drive-ins were the way for my family of six kids and two parents to afford a movie. We'd pile into the station wagon, my mom would pop a huge amount of popcorn and we'd stopped at the A&W on the way there for a couple of gallons of rootbeer... I miss those days.


  5. Sheri - Thanks, Sheri!

    Caspette - A movie like Burn After Reading won't be for everyone, that's for sure. I quite enjoyed it though, as crazy and unbelievable as it was. I thought the entire cast did a great job. I'm not sure I liked seeing George Clooney playing such a jerk though. LOL

    Violet - It's a great escape--and I am often amazed at the work that goes into making a film. People spent hours, days, months and sometimes years putting those movies together.

    CJ - I can't really say I miss going to the drive-in, otherwise, I suppose we might still go. :-) I do have fond memories of going with my family and later my friends though.

  6. I haven't seen it but my hubby and son have. My son liked it, my hubby did not. Glad to see you did!

  7. I almost never go to the cinema here. Can you believe the last time I went was to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix!? Instead I order DVDs from the UK (same region code as Japan) a few times a year, or we rent them sometimes. We have a projector with an 80 inch screen so it's still pretty fun to watch at home. The main downside is that I rarely get to see movies when they're new.

    When we lived in Cambridge it was another matter entirely. There's a great art house cinema there that shows lots of international films. I often went once a week or so with a couple of friends. Quite different from now, that's for sure!

  8. Good post! I enjoyed "Burn After Reading," but it was very arch. I mean, I laughed out loud - but the movie is sort of cruel to its characters, isn't it? Funny, but not particularly warm.

    Tana - where and when did you live in Cambridge? I'm in Inman Square and saw "Burn After Reading" at the Kendall Square Cinema.

  9. I have Burn After Reading in the queue as we speak. I thought Brad Pitt's role seemed especially intriguing. I like it when he plays the funnier roles. I've never seen a Coen Bros. movie that didn't make me scratch my head - but the majority of the time I enjoy the ride.

    I think it's great that you go out to the theater as often as you do. We hardly ever think to go - but always have fun when we do.

  10. @Clea - Sorry, I should've specified. We lived in Cambridge, England for a couple of years for my husband's job, and I really miss it. All that great architecture and history! The cinema there is the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse.

  11. We love going to the movies but don't seem to do it much anymore. Having said that, I'm rushing to get out the door now to go see Star Trek! :)

    Hope you are having a wonderful day!

  12. I love going to the theater as well! I also like trying to go early in the day to avoid the crowd and the people who can't shut up. :)

  13. I am a huge fan of the Coen brothers; they are sick and twisted, and that is why I love them. Fargo has got to be one of the best movies of all times! There is nothing even remotely predictable in their movies. We particularly loved this one. We laughed our heads off. Pitt is great, Frances McDormand (I think she is married to one of the brothers) awesome as usual, and we love, love, love Malkovich!

  14. I have the dvd of Burn After Reading, but haven't made time to see it--I knew what the tone would be, and never have been quite in the mood. Though I love the Coen brothers, almost always!

    My favorite way to see a movie is a matinee during the week. There's something wonderfully illicit about going to the theater when most people are at work, and spending several hours in the dark, making lunch out of popcorn and candy! Love it :)

  15. I usually check out videos from my local library, but I love going to the theater, especially for big action films. I go so rarely that it's a real treat. And, I've only done this once to see Into the Wild, but I really enjoyed my Solo Movie Outing. It was like a date - with myself.

  16. I couldn't get into Burn After Reading. I tried, but it was too weird for me. I might try again some time.

  17. We're pretty fond of going to the early movie showings too - before noon, if there is one. We usually do get something to eat there - for my husband, it's not a trip to the movies without popcorn and a Coke - so we're not too hungry when the movie lets out, and then we'll usually have a late lunch/early dinner.

    It must be Summer Movie Season - I've been to the theater almost every weekend this month :-)! I enjoyed your answers to the movie meme, Wendy - I may join in this week.

  18. My boys and I enjoy going to the theater while my husband hates it all!!! Burn After Reading looked like a very quirky movie, probably something my husband would really enjoy. When I was a kid we always went to the Drive-In...was a really big deal. Now you're hard pressed to find a handful of them in Michigan!

  19. You know, I've never been to a drive-in theatre! Always thought it would be fun.

    Those Coen brothers sure are something. Love Raising Arizona! I liked this one, but didn't really know what to think when we walked out.

  20. Kathy - It's definitely a strange one.

    Nat - I don't often get to see international films. I imagine I could see more of them if I was willing to travel into Los Angeles more regularly. We do like foreign films though and so rent them now and then.

    Clea - Thank you! You hit the nail on the head. As funny as it was, the movie was cruel to the characters.

    Bumbles - Brad Pitt was really funny. I loved it when he did his little dance routines. :-)

    Iliana - Do let me know what you thought of Star Trek! I hope you had fun. :-)

    Amy - Going early really seems to be the best time in our neck of the woods, doesn't it? Even though I like the group experience--I prefer small groups. Very small ones. LOL

  21. Sandy - Sick and twisted is right! LOL Fargo is really good. It's one of my favorites too. I'm a big fan of Malkovich too. :-)

    Tracy - I don't often get the chance to go to the movie theater during the week for a matinee, but when I get the opportunity, I jump on it.

    Charley - Big action films are often meant to be seen on the big screen, I think. I didn't get to see Into the Wild in the theater, but I imagine it was amazing. That's such a beautiful movie, setting wise.

    It's been awhile since I went to the theater alone, but I'm not averse to it. Sometimes its just something we need to treat ourselves to!

    Yvonne - Weird's a good word for it. :-)

    Florinda - I prefer the morning showings too. My husband isn't always up and ready for them, but if we plan ahead, I make sure he is. :-) We often get lunch after the movie and make it a date.

    We didn't get to the movies this weekend, which surprised me. Hubby wasn't too interested. And I really did need to get other stuff done.

    Staci - My dad used to hate going to the movie theater. It wasn't until I was out of the house that he started going and now he and my mom go about once a month. :-) So, maybe there's hope for your husband yet.

    Most of the drive-ins I know of have closed. They aren't as popular as they once were. It's sad too, since, as CJ pointed out, they were great family outings for low cost.

    Trish - If ever you get the opportunity to go to a drive-in theater, you really should!

    Yeah, Burn After Reading was quite strange. It left me wondering too.

  22. I haven't seen Burn after reading, but I am quite fond of the Coen-brother's movies and pretty sure I will watch this one sooner or later. I like quirky movies - but I like non-quirky movies as well!

  23. I love going to the cinemas! Nothing beats the sound system and not to mention the ambience too, isn't it? ;)

  24. Louise - I know what you mean. Quirky movies are great, but then so are the non-quirky ones. There's a time for each kind. :-)

    Melody - Exactly!

  25. I think the theater is the best way to see a movie. Yes, you can't pause it, but the movie experience is shared, and the big screen and popcorn make it the best way.
    I just watched Burn After Reading and while I laughed I didn't like it and my husband liked it less than me! As for that pivotal moment, it was shocking!

  26. Sigh. I love drive-in theaters. I miss drive-in theaters. They're disappearing all over the country, which I think is a sad loss. It's not the best way to view a movie (I think theaters are best), but it's certainly an experience that, like you, I think everyone should have.

    My favorite method to view a movie is opening night premier. The crowds can get a little crazy sometimes, but I love the communal experience of enjoying and being entertained by a movie. Especially the scary ones. LoL.

    I've never seen Burn After Reading, but I've seen other comedies by the Cohen brothers - namely "The Ladykillers" and "Intolerable Cruelty" - which I found...odd, mostly not in a good way. There were certainly funny moments, but nothing that I'd ever want to see again.

  27. I'm not sure if there's a drive-in theater here but if there is, I'd love to try it!

    Everything sounds good here, Wendy!

  28. I remember the Drive-In I went to the first time. I was young than but I'm surprise that I still remember it. The movie playing than was GREASE I. And I remember not able to watch the whole movie because my older brother and cousin cause trouble and we were sent home. I don't even know if the Drive-In still exist here. It been such long time since I visit it. But I'm not there anymore.

    I agree that watching movies in theaters. The sound system and the screen are so more better when watching action/adventures or big movies.

    I have already add BURNING AFTER READING in my Netflix queues a long time now. Pretty soon I be watching it but I kinda nervous since lot of people seem not to like the movie as much.

    But thanks for your review on it :)

  29. Stacy - There's something really great about the movie theater experience, I agree. I have to say though, I'm not at all fond of movie theater popcorn. :-S

    J.S. - It's sad that the drive-in theaters have gone so out of style.

    I have a friend who swears by opening night premiers. I am not a big fan of crowds though and I hate paying full price for a movie, and so I tend to avoid them. I can see the draw though.

    Alice - If you find out there's one near you, do give it a try, Alice.

    Julia - I remember my first drive-in experience too. :-) My brother and I sat on the hood of the car next to us for the first movie along with two college girls. We watched ET even though it was playing on the screen in the next lot over. We were supposed to be watching something else, although I couldn't tell you what. LOL Of course, we couldn't hear ET at all.

    Burn After Reading is definitely a dark comedy, emphasis on dark.

  30. Oh. That's what movie Burn After Reading is! My sister lent it to me, but it doesn't have a case and I had no idea what it was! I still haven't watched it, but now I sort of know what I am getting myself in to!

  31. I took my kids to see Monsters vs. Aliens and Wolverine at the drive-in Sunday night - it was so much fun!

  32. I loved Burn After Reading, but I wouldn't necessarily go around recommending it.

  33. Kelly - You'll have to tell me what you think once you've seen it.

    Carrie K. (Books&Movies) - Oh! I bet it was! I wouldn't mind seeing that movie. :-)

    Jill - It definitely isn't for everyone, that's for sure!

  34. We love the movies over here too. WE usually buy some candy beforehand so as not to pay concession prices. Burn after reading was excellent but not for everyone. I think I know the shocking scene you are referring too and it actually made me sad. But all the actors were great.

  35. INSANE is indeed the perfect word for that movie. Funny, but way darker of a movie than I was expecting.

    Oh how I love movies. I could easily go without broadcast TV for months at a time, but I love movies. I also enjoy matinees and hate watching movies with too many teenagers in the audience. And yeah, netflix is pretty awesome. I thoroughly enjoy netflix and the flexibility it offers.

  36. Jaimie - My mom used to do that for my brother and I when we were kids--load us up on homemade goodies that we'd take to the theater with us. Concession prices are ridiculous.

    The shocking scene in Burn After Reading made me sad too. :-(

    Kim - It was much darker than I expected too.

    I know exactly what you mean about too many teens in the audience!


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