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Toronto (kind of): "Burn After Reading"

Bradpitttoronto95811 So I'm home and this movie is actually opening to wide audiences tomorrow, but since it kicked off the Toronto Film Festival and garnered some early awards buzz, thought I'd take a moment to talk about "Burn After Reading." My intrepid film reporter Sarah already has a great review of it here that says it better than I could.

My 0.02: the film went into Toronto with some awards buzz, thanks to the fact that the movie Joel and Ethan Coen played at the festival last year went on to win a slew of Oscars. "Burn After Reading" is not "No Country for Old Men," however. In fact, it's a polar opposite.

The Coens are wonderfully impossible to peg. Following their Oscar sensation with "Burn After Reading" reminds me of how they wowed the industry by proving they could put away the trick camera moves and go serious with "Fargo," and then--just when critics and audiences thought they knew what to expect--followed that up with "The Big Lebowski." "Burn After Reading" is in a similiar vein as that film...it's a lot of fun, and makes virtually no logical sense. It's essentially an excuse for a bunch of great actors to get together and cut loose on screen. And all them--John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand--rise to the occasion. But none more so than Brad Pitt, who gets to show his comedic chops. Remember his great turn as the stoned roommate in "True Romance"? And am I the only one who thinks he's hilarious in "Fight Club"? Well, Pitt steals this film from his co-stars with his portrayl of a dim bulb gym employee whose inept attempts at blackmailing a former CIA agent (Malkovich) go horribly awry.

After the gala screening and after party (which I was way too tired to make but I heard was PACKED) one critic sniffed that the movie came in with awards hope and left with none. I understand his point--this isn't the kind of film that earns nominations, nor was it intended to be. But after watching Pitt, I can only ask: Why not? His dizzy, ebulient turn is completely deserving. Then again, he apparently already has Best Actor locked up with his backwards-aging turn in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," so he's probably not sweating this one.

--Jenelle Riley

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