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Burn After Reading | 2008 | R | - 8.7.10

Comedy noir about two employees of a fitness club (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt) who find a CD-ROM they are convinced contains espionage secrets, and assume that the owner of the disc will reward them if they return it. The reaction they get is not what they expected, and they try to sell the information to the Russians, but instead find themselves involved in a convoluted mess of C.I.A. spies, infidelity and inadvertent murder. Also with John Malkovich, Lenny Venito, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, David Rasche and J. K. Simmons. Directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen. [1:36]

SEX/NUDITY 8 - We see a sliding chair with a hole in the middle of the seat, from where a sex aid in the shape of a realistic-looking penis moves up and down, through the hole. A man is seen carrying a pillow in the shape of a long pyramid that he uses as a sex aid.
 A man and woman have sex: we see his bare shoulders and chest as he thrusts on top of her, and we hear quiet moaning; we see his bare buttocks and back and her bare leg and we then see them lying in bed later (her bare shoulders and cleavage are visible).
 We hear rhythmic moaning coming from inside a small yacht and then see a man and a woman (both married to other people) dressing. A married man lies, telling a woman that he's married but separated, he pulls the woman toward him, slaps her clothed buttock (we hear the smack but do not see the action) and it is implied that they have sex. A man and a woman (both married to other people) lie in bed together presumably after having had sex (bare shoulders and his bare chest are visible).
 A man kisses a woman on the cheek. A man and a woman kiss.
 A man talks about having sex with a woman the night before. A man talks about a man having sex with another man's wife. A man remarks to a woman about "doing it in the back" and then goes on to explain that he didn't mean "rear entrance." A man tells a woman that he thinks her husband knows that they are having an affair. A man makes a joke about another man's "great big gun." A woman makes a remark about a man getting "his thing caught in a ringer." A man asks another man if he's "gone puffy on him."
 During an exam by a plastic surgeon we see close-ups of a woman's bare buttock, arms and abdomen and the doctor talks about doing a breast augmentation. A man showers (we see his bare chest and back).
 A woman looks at men's photographs on a dating service website.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 7 - A man accidentally shoots a man in the head: we see blood spurt on the wall behind him, we see the bloody bullet hole in his forehead, and we later see the dead man coated with blood, while clothes hanging around him are also splattered with blood.
 A man holds a gun on a man and then shoots him in the chest (we see blood on his chest); the wounded man runs, pushes the gunman aside, and runs out into the street, where the gunman attacks him with a small axe (we see a cut open on the man's head and blood pours as he falls to the ground).
 A man punches a man in the nose (he is stunned and we see a trickle of blood coming from his nose and dripping on his shirt). A man chases another man, knocks him to the ground and threatens him.
 While trying to get out of a parking space in a hurry a man runs into both the car in front of his car and the one behind it; when yet another car backs into the side of his car, he gets out and runs away while being chased by another man. A woman driving a car slams into the back of another car.
 We hear about a body being dumped into a bay. We hear that a man was shot and is in a coma. A man yells at a woman. A man argues with his boss when he is told that he is being taken off a prestigious position. Three people argue over the telephone and threaten each other. A man tells another man, who accuses him of having a drinking problem, "You are a Mormon, compared to you, we all have a drinking problem." A man makes a joke about another man's "great big gun." A pediatrician is rude to a child patient.
 A man with a small axe breaks a door open. A man breaks the window on a door to a house, unlocks the door and goes into the house.
 A man stretches in a gym and we hear a loud snap (he appears to be in pain). A man clumsily climbs over a wall (he is unharmed).


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LANGUAGE 10 - 65 F-words, 1 obscene hand gesture, 18 scatological terms, 12 anatomical terms (1 mild), 7 mild obscenities, name-calling (stuck up, geek, idiot, moron, spook, bozo, dope, cold, loser), 1 religious profanity, 15 religious exclamations.


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SUBSTANCE USE - Several men drink alcohol at a reunion and some appear to be drunk, men and women drink alcohol at a party, a man and a woman drink alcohol with dinner, a man walks through his house with a drink in one hand and a pistol in the other and a man is passed out after apparently having too much to drink. A man smokes a cigarette. A man tells another man that he thinks he has a drinking problem.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Classified information, blackmail, greed, infidelity, betrayal, casual sex, divorce, patriotism, deceit, politics, disappointment.

MESSAGE - The C.I.A. is staffed by incurious idiots.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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