Live from Mustang Island: "Burn After Reading"

So here on the Texas coast of Mustang Island, where I misspent my highschool years and where the wind blows like a hurricane on any given day, which is today, naturally, we’re chasing two-year-old Lili around the pool area. It was a minor miracle that we managed to get her to build sand castles. I remember the old coffee commercial from the Seventies where some irritable guy says, “But it’s so windy at the beach!” This landscape is also the setting of Goodnight, Texas. Right now I’m watching the Coen Brothers latest film, Burn After Reading, the first one to follow No Country for Old Men. (Last Saturday we spent the night at the Hotel Paisano, in Marfa, Texas, where the cast/crew of Giant stayed while filming, a cool old hotel with a gorgeous ballroom, classic tile floors, and a fountain in the courtyard, where people congregated to have afternoon drinks. Some of the scenes of No Country were filmed in the Marfa area.) Burn isn’t one of the best Coen Bros movies, not in the same league as, say, Miller’s Crossing or The Big Lebowski, but it has its zany moments: the divorce lawyer and the plastic surgeon are razor send-ups of the devious professionals. Frances McDormand and George Clooney have great moments, both fast-talking, nervous types in the tradition of the madcap comedies of the Thirties and Forties. Brad Pitt is high energy but he seems to be trying too hard. It’s a perfect Coen Bros moment when the Asian girl says, about an online dating service, “Both of my friends got hooked up that way. With really special guys.” It echoes a similar moment in Fargo, but doesn’t feel like it’s stealing or self-plagiarism.

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