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BURN AFTER READING

BURN AFTER READING ($40) is a wonderfully absurd and murderously hilarious black comedy from the twisted sensibilities of The Coen Brothers. Sure, BURN AFTER READING isn’t in the same league as NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, but this diverting farce is no less rewarding in its own way. BURN AFTER READING leads its audience on a merry chase for most of its ninety-six minute running time, before exploding into the realm of truly black comedy, which is no less funny, despite the darker implications of what is happening on screen. Infidelity, vanity, blackmail, stupidity, madness and murder are all milked for the kind of ironic and absurd laughter that they can generate.

The premise of BURN AFTER READING follows the intersecting paths of a group of idiots (for a lack of a better term), whose lives all seem headed destined for some sore of a train wreck. John Malkovich is Osbourne Cox, who quits his job at the CIA after being demoted for a drinking problem. Tilda Swinton is Osbourne’s unfaithful wife Katie, who decides on divorce after her unemployed husband, begins writing a memoir about his career at the agency. George Clooney is Harry Pfarrer, a philandering Treasury agent, who is having an affair with Katie, amongst others. Brad Pitt is Chad Feldheimer, a personal trainer at a health club, who discovers a disc of computer files copied from Osbourne’s computer, which were intended for Katie’s divorce attorney. Frances McDormand is Linda Litzke, who works at the same health club as Chad, and is desperately seeking a way to pay for the cosmetic surgery that her health insurance has denied. Mistaking the disc containing Osbourne’s memoir and financial information for government secrets, a ludicrous blackmail plan is hatched; however, it ultimately blows up in everyone’s face. The cast of BURN AFTER READING also features Richard Jenkins, Elizabeth Marvel, Kevin Sussman, David Rasche and the always-entertaining J.K. Simmons.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made BURN AFTER READING available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation is quite good, doing an excellent job with the mildly stylized cinematography. BURN AFTER READING has a somewhat cold and antiseptic look, with slightly overwrought and blown out contrast. There isn’t any warmth coming from these characters, the story nor the way picture BURN AFTER READING was photographed. The picture is highly crisp, dimensional and well resolved, especially close-ups, which exhibit excellent detail. Textures on objects, individual hairs and pores on the actor’ skin are clearly defined. Colors are mildly subdued in places, but generally produce a realistic level of saturation. Blacks are deep and whites are completely stable. Shadow detail is usually quite good. A fine grain is present throughout and adds an organic quality to the presentation.

BURN AFTER READING is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No surprises here, BURN AFTER READING is a talky drama/comedy, so the sound design isn't particularly aggressive. However, occasional active sound effects are well deployed here and there. There are some nice separations across the front, as well as some bits emanating from the rear. Fidelity is strong, with the musical component having depth, while the sound effects prove to be very realistic. By the nature of the material, the bass channel has relatively little to do. Voices are cleanly rendered and the dialogue is totally understandable. A French DTS 5.1 channel track has also been encoded onto the disc, as have English and French subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras. Featurettes include: Finding The Burn (six minutes), DC Insiders Run Amok (twelve minutes) and Welcome Back, George (three minutes). BURN AFTER READING is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

BURN AFTER READING is twisted black fun. The Blu-ray presentation is quite solid and does an excellent job with the filmmaker’s intentions. Recommended to fans.

 

BURN AFTER READING 


Burn After Reading [Blu-ray] (2008)

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DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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