I saw it Saturday. Highly recommended. It’s like Fargo set in the halls of power, or at least sort of near them. If you have a black sense of humor (and if you don’t, what’s up with that?), then go see it. What the Coen brothers do best is comedy, and they’re back in familiar territory.
I admire George Clooney and Brad Pitt because they could play hunky leading roles in every movie, but instead they occasionally choose to make asses of themselves in a goofball movie like this. Both are hilarious. But I think what I enjoyed most about the movie was its depiction of political/bureaucratic decision-making…
Okay, a short digression. I think libertarians as a group gravitate toward two different, and somewhat inconsistent, attitudes toward government: government is bad because it’s evil, and government is bad because it’s incompetent. Those libertarians who fall in the former group are mostly concerned with deliberate misuse and abuse of power for personal gain. They often end up being conspiracy theorists. Those in the latter group are concerned with the poor incentives in government to do anything right. They rely a lot on public choice theory.
As readers of this blog can probably guess, I fall mostly in the latter category, though I’ll admit the former is sometimes right. But whichever attitude is more accurate, they lend themselves to different forms of entertainment. The government-is-evil attitude can make for great drama, but the government-is-incompetent attitude goes down best with comedy. Burn After Reading is amusing because the government agents in the movie are not highly motivated, hyper-competent experts; they are lazy, clueless, and kind of sad – like everyone else in a Coen brothers comedy, perhaps more so. In this regard, pay special attention to the minimal but brilliant supporting role of J.K. Simmons.