Alan Conway (John Malkovich) was a con-artist who posed as Stanley Kubrick in the 1990s, taking money and goods from many people. Despite knowing little about Kubrick, he managed to get by because Kubrick was such a recluse and people didn’t have the internet to find out more.
This is an interesting film – Conway sounds like an amazing character, and Malkovich depicts him as a shameless man who took everything in his stride. I found the structure of the film a bit odd as though it needed to be rewritten a bit, or perhaps reedited. But what I really enjoyed was that it used a lot of the music that was iconic in many Kubrick films – for me, mostly notably 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange. Very nice.
In 2010, disaster struck BPs Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. It ‘blew out’, causing the death of eleven workers and spilling an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil. This film is the dramatisation of these events, with Mark Wahlberg as worker Mike Williams, Gina Rodriguez as worker Andrea Fleytas, Kurt Russell as rig boss Jimmy Harrell, and John Malkovich as BP executive Vidrine. It’s an amazing film, one that totally passed me by in the cinema. It has all of the explosions and excitement of a good action film, but with a tragic and plausible plot.
It starts like a fairly dull, normal day for the workers returning to the rig, dealing with the handover and the pressure being put on them by the executives who just want the pumping to start. Then, when things go bad, it’s all about survival. It’s tricky from here, because audiences are used to heroes in action films, and Wahlberg is such an action hero type actor. Consequently, I don’t know how much is accurate to the actual events and how much is modified for good audience viewing. I think as long as the audience are aware of the potential artistic licence, it’s a film worth watching.
Deepwater Horizon was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement in Visual Effects and for a BAFTA for Best Sound.
Linda (Frances McDormand) and Chad work at Hard Bodies Gym in Washington DC and have a disc with what appears to be sensitive security information and decide to return it to the owner, Osborne Cox (John Malcovich), an analyst recently forced into retirement. However, Cox has a short fuse and having been booted out by his wife Katie (Tilda Swinton), he won’t tolerate this. Then there is Harry (George Clooney) who is having an affair with Katie, and then also with Linda but is married to Sandy (Elizabeth Marvel), and Ted (Richard Jenkins) who is love with Linda. And then the Russians are brought in, and the whole ‘cluster fuck’ is being overseen by a mysterious CIA figure played by JK Simmons. And being a Coen brothers production, it’s fabulous.
There are Coen brother films that are amazing (No Country for Old Men, The Man Who Wasn’t There) and Coen brother films that are weird (Barton Fink, A Serious Man, ) and there are Coen brother films that are hilarious (Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou?, The Big Lebowski). That’s probably simplifying it too much, but it seems to be the way I sort them in my brain – and the fact that they can do so many films across different genres and I love them all (or, at the very least, appreciate them all) is fabulous for me. Burn After Reading is a ridiculous film, for me in the hilarious basket. It’s pretty much my favourite ever Brad Pitt performance, and I just love all the weirdness, like Harry’s present in the basement (what?) or the amount of carrots cut up. Too good. Not for everyone, but certainly for me.
Burn After Reading was nominated for Golden Globes for Best Motion Picutre – Comedy or Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picutre – Comedy or Musical (Frances McDormand), and for a BAFTA for Best Screenplay – Original (Joel and Ethan Coen).