Sometimes I hate comedy that you’re expected to “laugh” at. Almost as much as I hate people who hideously shriek and guffaw in cafes and bars after their second glass of wine. For most of my life I’ve been an LQTM type of guy. I worship at the altar of no-laugh funny. This is where the gold is.
Upon these two deadpan dialogue scenes hang all of the humor and informed attitude of Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Burn After Reading. Idiots will watch these scenes with sour, quizzical expressions and say “Where’s the funny? We don’t get it.” And they never will.
The senior artist — the guy who channels most of the music, does most of the dancing and “carries the ball”, so to speak — is the great David Rasche (Sledgehammer, United 93, In The Loop). J. K. Simmons is obviously on the same wavelength, of course, but he’s strictly a straight man. Rasche owns this scene.
It has been said that the absolute Coen peak of the aughts (and arguably of their careers) happened between ’07 and ’09, and involved three films in quick succession — No Country For Old Men (’07), Burn After Reading (’08) and A Serious Man (’09). My fourth favorite Coen film of the aughts is Intolerable Cruelty (’03).
Blood Simple was obviously the best Coen film of the ’80s. Fargo (’96) and The Big Lebowski (’98) were the crown jewels of the ’90s. The best Coen film of the 20teens, of course, was Inside Llewyn Davis.