Let's step into the way-back machine and take a trip back one decade, to the year of 1998. The Coen brothers were coming off the massive critical success of their bleak, Oscar-winning film Fargo. To follow it up, though, they made a bizarre, convoluted comedic noir called The Big Lebowski. While hardly a smash hit, it soon became a cult classic and one of my favorite movies.
Now, join me back in the year 2008. The Coen brothers are coming off the massive critical success of their bleak, Oscar-winning film No Country for Old Men. To follow it up, though, they have made what appears to be a zany, convoluted comedic spy movie called Burn After Reading. Okay, so it's not a perfect analogy; if The Big Lebowski had starred Brad Pitt and George Clooney, people might have actually gone to see it (then again, maybe not). Still, the complete tonal shift from their last picture and the manic look of the trailer have me optimistic.
When I reached the list of names at the end of that trailer, I paused to make sure all the usual Coen collaboraters were there. Music by Carter Burwell? Check. Edited by Roderick Jaynes? Check. Cinematography by Roger Deakins? Um, Roger? Where are you?
Well, it turns out my fears of a Deakins-Coens creative divorce were unfounded. Deakins was committed to another film, so Burn After Reading will be the first Coen brothers movie since Miller's Crossing to be shot by someone else. The name of Emmanuel Lubezki, the guy taking over camera duties, didn't sound familiar, but it turns out I knew him as "That guy who fuckin' shot Children of Men. Dude!" So I guess I won't be too disappointed with the new kid.