Avril et le Monde Truqué

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Almost every film made is a film about a character who has a problem that needs to be solved, and the audience are taken on a the journey with them as they try to solve that problem. These films can come in the form of Star Wars, where the greater good serves as the moral compass of the film, battling the evil that tries to take over; a Coen Brothers movie, where morals usually don’t exist and characters are simply trying to get what they want; or a film like Avril et le Monde Truqué (April and the Extraordinary World), a story that shows us an alternate version of a steampunk world, with April at the centre, learning and growing as each revelation about the society she lives in is revealed to her.

Studio Ghibli’s recent retirement from animation is still looming over every animation I watch. I thought no more Ghibli films meant no more hand-drawn, intricate portraits of unique worlds, no more subtle nuances of a character that most producers would find unnecessary, and no more quiet films. Avril et le Monde Truqué is a gentle reminder to the world of animation that this is not true.

Inspired by the style of cartoonist Jarcques Tardi, the alternate steampunk universe – that co-director Christian Desmares describes as ‘a retro-futurist adventure’ – it is easy to feel as though you are immediately part of this universe, and that’s because we see the majority of the film through Avril’s (April’s) eyes. The introduction of the film places audiences in 1870, just a day before the Franco-Prussian war. Avril’s great-grandfather, under the order of Emperor Napoleon III, is trying to create a serum that makes their soldiers invincible. However, the result – at the fault of Napoleon and his soldiers – is an explosion, causing them all to die. The colour palette here is dark and almost dystopian, with the blues and greens standing out as if they are illuminated, and the dystopian atmosphere foreshadowing what is to come. This time-frame ends with an iris transition to the next time-zone, where audiences are informed Einstein and Fermi have gone missing, resulting in no creation of electricity or other technological developments. So, society survives off of burning charcoal/wood, resulting in a war that lasts all the way to a now grown-up Avril in 1941. She is on her own, thinks her parents are dead, and only has a talking cat for company.

This sounds bleak, but thanks to the humour and lovingly drawn animation, this film feels just as comforting as a Studio Ghibli film. While France definitely doesn’t have two Eiffel Towers and trains certainly don’t transport through the air, Avril et le Monde Truqué feels at times as if it is a love letter to Paris. There is a focus on the good of humanity through the morally-confused Julius, a perpetual, unbreakable bond through Avril and her Murakami-style talking cat Darwin, and a parent-child bond that saves their lives and the world. Moreover, with what seems to be a reference to Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle in a scene where Avril’s grandfather’s home gets legs and arms, it is apparent directors Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci have good reference points, resulting in an animation that makes adults feel like they are genuinely on an adventure with Avril, seeing Paris and the world beneath as she sees it.

While Avril herself is concerned with the serum and helping humanity, – with meta and great missions and adventures – it is clear the film itself uses these great adventures to focus on the smaller, yet just as important, aspects of life, with the final scene of the film encapsulating its magic.

A Month With: An Introduction

This year I’ve decided that I’d like to write about films more, so I’m going to use this site to try and do that. Each month, I plan on spending a month with different directors that interest me, where I watch/read about/dissect their films and then talk about them here.

I’ve made sure I’ve begun my year on a good start by choosing Orson Welles as the first director of the month, where I’ll watch Citizen KaneMacbethOthello and Touch of Evil (and maybe The Third Man, even though he didn’t direct it).

If anyone actually reads this/what I write, please contribute to the discussion as what I write is just a starting point from my mind. Any suggestions for directors/films would be appreciated too.

Oh, and, happy new year.

‘It is a privilege to be timeless’: On Time in Orphée (Jean Cocteau, 1950)

Jean Cocteau’s 1950 film Orphée is the retelling of the classic Greek myth on the legend Orpheus, in which Orpheus has to travel to Hades in order to save his love, Eurydice. However, Orphée presents things differently, as Orpheus (played by Cocteau’s lover and the wonderfully handsome, Jean Marais) finds himself falling in love with a princess, who is Death, that came to visit him in a local café. Unlike La Belle et La Bête (1947), in which the protagonists are (arguably) awarded a happy ending, Orphée finishes in a much more somber tone, reminding audiences what has been communicated throughout the film thanks to the constant shots of mirrors and reflections; that love, no matter what time or place you are in, can never be defined or translated. However, the films are similar in that they both present an idiosyncratic and poetic interpretation of time travel – Belle travels to and from the Beast using a lavish glove as a transportation device, while Orpheus and co. glide through mirrors into Hades; whilst one travels within the confines of the same world and the other from life and death, the scope and breadth of the distance they travel to and from remains just as impactful due to the reasons for doing so.

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Just like Belle transporting back to her home is futile due to her love for the Beast, Orpheus knows that traveling to Hades in order to save Eurydice is in vain since he evidently is not going for “both” of them, as he explains to Death’s driver, Heurtebise, but for Death herself. Yet, the Death he is striving after is his own death; this is unrequited love at its greatest peak, as for Orpheus to be with Death would be fruitless, since the only way this could happen is if he were to die. It is here we can draw parallels to the filmmaker’s life as Cocteau and Marais’s relationship was affected by the fascist air left in the remnants of the war – perhaps, at one point, to the infamous lovers, they felt their love was only possible if it were to transcend the very essence of time itself, and the only way that is possible, according to this film, is through death.

The voiceover at the opening of the film declares, “it is a privilege of legends to be timeless.” This, along with the dramatic, non-diegetic composition by Georges Auric (whom also worked on La Belle), and the well-known tale of Orpheus all draw the spectator in to the dramatic, grandiose setting; the inevitable decline from this state begins as soon as Death appears. Ginette Vincendeau describes the legendary Greek’s humanisation yet transcendence perfectly in her essay for the BFI, stating the film “navigates between myth and realism, boulevard theatre and surrealist poetry, the fantastique and post-war politics.” The point here, in terms of the film’s time travel theory, is that there is none: instead it’s an abstract, poetic concept that would play on the radio channel Marais’s character becomes obsessed with.

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The dolly shots presented in the Hades sequences (which have inspired other directors, for example Spike Lee) by director of photography Nicolas Hayer emphasise the point of time travel in the film: it is supposed to be poetic and outlandish because the form of time travel the film manifests is something we see everyday; the decaying of our faces and exacerbation of our personality. Heurtebise was not wrong when he declared that it “takes long to die,” yet, this film reminds viewers that through art, in all its forms, audiences can time travel to different worlds.

Love Crime: A Review of HANNIBAL Season Three, Episode Thirteen – THE WRATH OF THE LAMB

Well, here we are. I am one month late to the Hannibal reviewing/mourning/crying dinner party, but that was because I was mostly in denial. But, like a stack of bodies mounted on top of one another in the middle of the beach, this can’t be ignored any longer.

The final episode of Hannibal opens with Francis Dolarhyde (played by Richard Armitage) manipulating Reba (Rutina Wesley) through carefully planned actions, with the atmosphere of claustrophobia and panic heightened by the intense close-up shots, which are all mostly in the perspective of Reba — what Dolarhyde (or *deep voice* THE DRAGON) describes to her is the next thing audiences can see. As the scene continues, we witness the destruction of everything: the stag’s head, the building in which Dolarhyde’s fantasy was made true, and so much more. The meaning of this scene is heightened further due to the music, by Brian Reitzell, reverting back to the synth-like church music introduced to audiences at the beginning of the season. Every tragedy in this show plays like a Greek tragedy by Sophocles or Euripides; each tragic scene arouses pity and fear in the viewers’ hearts, while reminding us, through imagery like the stag’s head, that this is not over – there are still other Acts to come. This is emphasised by the finale scene, in which Hannibal and Will take down the Red Dragon for good — Dolarhyde is dead, but, according to the dragon-winged shaped CGI blood left under his body, his fantasy of being a dragon lives on; the only way he could have accomplished this is through death, where dreams are limitless.

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However, this is not about Dolarhyde, or Alana Bloom, Jack Crawford and Abigail Hobbs. It’s not even about the dogs. This season finale made it pretty clear that this is building up to, the most important aspect of the show, and the most important concerns in Will’s and Hannibal’s lives: each other.

At Hannibal’s glass see-through house, which is introduced to us through a series of montages and establishing shots showcasing the scale and isolation of Hannibal’s world (notably showcasing the contrast of the open house with the isolated, lonesome exterior), we see the extent to which Will’s and Hannibal’s relationship has come. Compared with the long distance shots through the high, black gate of Hannibal’s gothic mansion that could be seen in a Hammer film, the openness of this sequence tells us what we already know: Hannibal and Will are on their journey to the final act, indicated by the high establishing shot of them in the stolen police car driving toward their final destination, merging with their surroundings. This is a vital juxtaposition to the world Hannibal had been inhabiting for the past six episodes, with his fine Art and dignity, and therefore freedom, being taken away. In this world, in just one cut, Hannibal immediately regains his taste, poise and status.

This episode constantly recalls on previous episodes from the past two seasons; we see references to the mind palace from episode one, the micro shots of the blood dripping that was introduced to us through Bedelia’s character, but, most importantly, Bryan Fuller reminds spectator’s of the tea cup shattering metaphor from season two.

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While not directly referenced, the high angle medium shot from Hannibal’s perspective of the shattering of his bottle of wine (after being shot by Dolarhyde) is reminiscent, at least to me, of this vital metaphor that has been used throughout the show. It is here, perhaps, that either one of the show’s central characters realise they are fine china to one another; delicate, needing to be put back together. It could even be said both characters were shattered tea cups from season one, and to be put back together they needed to join forces and commit an act of beauty that will bond them forever.

And so, we have Francis Dolarhyde’s death. Before this sequence, which Matt Zoller Seitz describes as a choreographed dance, Bryan Fuller doesn’t forget to remind viewers of the fact that watching Hannibal is an experience – a moment in time in which nothing will be the same again – through Mads Mikkelsen’s character, who declares that the Red Dragon is “seized by a fantasy world, with the brilliance and freshness and immediacy of childhood,” while Dolarhyde, when setting up his camera to film, states “watching the film will be wonderful, but not as wonderful as the act itself.” Both statements are one and the same, as it is pointing to something one can never have once the act is over; as much as one would want to, we can never go back to the magic and mystery of childhood. Nor can, when Dolarhyde commits the act, the Red Dragon recreate each murder; he has it on film, but even he says it is not enough.

Zadie Smith, when writing about joy, described how joy “is such a human madness” due to the fact once we have experienced it, we can never experience it again, and know this. We know that after a joy we will feel a kind-of depression due to not being in that moment ever again, yet we continuously crave this and yearn for this. This is the teacup metaphor in human emotion, as Hannibal to Will is joy, and vice versa.

Perhaps, then, when they fall into the eroded sea, they are doing it because they know that the extravagant, dream-like, romantic and horrific moment they created together can never be achieved again; this is the greatest moment for them, and the only way to end this is to combine themselves together in the next fairytale, death.

Siouxsie Sioux and Brian Reitzell’s Love Crime plays as we watch Will and Hannibal fall into the stag-shaped nothingness, which is also everything. As the scene ends, Will Graham’s words echo in the moment of darkness: “it’s beautiful”.

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After the credits, Bryan Fuller, Martha Laurentiis, and everyone at Hannibal leaves fans with a scene just for them: Bedelia waiting at the dinner table, minus a leg on her body (it’s the meal for tonight), a seat for Will, a seat for Hannibal, and a seat – the one that would be closest to the camera – missing, because we are in the seat, and always will be.

Hannibal is over now, but thanks to the fact that the show is art, it will take the path of the paintings Hannibal obsessed over, and live on forever.

HANNIBAL Recap: Season Three, Episode One – ANTIPASTO

"Yes, Bedelia, you keep eating those snails. Mmmhhhhmmmm you are going to taste so good." - Hannibal, ANTIPASTO.

“Yes, Bedelia, you keep eating those snails. Mmmhhhhmmmm you are going to taste so good.” – Hannibal, ANTIPASTO.

The much anticipated third season of Hannibal begins with the show’s familiar omniscient voice of Mads Mikkelsen informing audiences of what had just happened in the last season/episode through the simple but loaded ‘previously, on Hannibal’. However, viewers of the show clearly didn’t need to be reminded of the bloodbath that was Mizumono, not only because the episode marked Hannibal as, in my clearly non-bias opinion, the best TV show to have graced our television screens from 2013 (and even ever), but also because the opening episode does not even address this episode that left thousands and thousands of people crying, screaming, standing up in their seats with their eyes falling out of their skull (*cough*). Instead, you’d be forgiven for completely forgetting about the Season 2 finale and thinking that Hannibal had randomly turned into an extremely classy, alternate-universe E! reality show that follows the lives of a workaholic husband and his distanced wife.

The tone of the episodes in Paris/Florence is set from the beginning – we see Hannibal Lecter looking scruffy and imperfect for the first time; visual metaphors and conceits are immediately introduced through the motorbike/moon imagery; and, as Matt Zoller Seitz pointed out, the frames and mise-en-scene are a lot less claustrophobic compared to season 1 and 2. Moreover, in the process of mourning the death of Will’s pendulum swings, whilst re-watching this episode it’s noticeable that the opening of season three has Hannibal’s own take of this — when he is entering the building in Paris, we see a quick succession of multiple fade-to-blacks accompanied by the juxtaposition of the scene’s slow-motion with Hannibal walking in. As this is happening, each fade-to-black and fade back to the Hannibal universe reveals something new: first we see the back of Hannibal’s head, next the front of his face, next a glass of champagne, next a person who is inevitably on Hannibal’s dinner menu for tonight, and so on — it’s as if, much like the opening of season one with Will Graham and his pendulum swings, we are being introduced into Dr. Lecter’s world; Hannibal got into Will Graham’s brain, it’s time, Bryan Fuller – the show’s writer/showrunner – seems to say, we got into his. These similarities in introductory shots to the characters can also be read as an introduction to their psychotic makeup: Will recreates murder scenes, whereas Hannibal creates them, this exemplified by the fact that this is essentially an introduction to Mikkelsen’s character. For the first season, audiences – whether they’d watched the films or read the book – knew who Hannibal Lecter was, he needed no introduction. Will Graham, however, is less well-known, and thus season one almost completely revolved around Will and getting a look into his brain. Season two began to introduce audiences to the inner workings of other characters, however as Hannibal entered more and more into his brain and into controlling Will, the show started to become more an examination of Hannibal through Will- but only lightly. In season three, we finally go inside his brain, whether that’s through stories told by other characters, widescreen flashbacks, or the fade-to-black sequences said above.

Comparing this episode with the past two seasons also proves to contrast the verbal nature of season one and two with the visual nature of season three. Whilst the previous two seasons were obviously shot beautifully, season three takes it to the next level, creating an array of oxymoronic visual metaphors and conceits, one in particular being the use of the single drop of blood. We see this first quite early on in the episode during Bedelia’s flashback; the blood, dripping from Hannibal’s body, is prolific. As the camera continues to focus on the blood dripping down, it can’t seem to focus on one particular drop of blood, instead just watching blood poor to the ground in a beautiful slow-motion micro shot. This quickly changes, however, when Bedelia enters the shop in Florence and the camera focus pulls to a rabbit. The camera focuses on the rabbit’s drop of blood, and watches as it falls to the ground, splattering once it hits the surface. This, to me, seems to be much more effective than the previous mass of blood Hannibal was washing off, and perhaps Bedelia can see this too: a drop of blood is much more meaningful, dangerous, and effective than a volume.

People who’ve watched this show for the past two seasons keep telling me they ‘don’t get’ season three. The reason they ‘don’t get’ season three, I think, is because the past two seasons have always been quite conventional in terms of the crime slash horror genre narrative-wise: there is a murder, FBI investigates, find murderer, ends at that episode (Hannibal is obviously a lot more complicated than this, but I’m oversimplifying to make a point). Instead of this, season three has a completely broken and multi-stranded narrative, along with the visual conceits and more dramatic/complex scenarios: this show seems like it’s asking a lot from its audience, but when one returns to Hannibal’s conversation with Gideon in one of the over-saturated widescreen flashbacks, it’s clear this season, or at least the first six episodes in Florence, are meant to be watched as a fairy tale — we are meant to take Hannibal’s ‘once upon a time’ introduction seriously, as we are experiencing his past and present, we are experiencing this show. This is made clear by the closing of Antipasto as Hannibal leaves us with his creation – the visualisation of his broken heart; the visualisation of Hannibal externalising his experiences.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “Morality doesn’t exist, only morale” – HANNIBAL LECTER

BEST ADVICE: If you are travelling alone and someone asks if you’re travelling alone, don’t tell them you are travelling alone.

 

a review of Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

33725_ppl Taking what was supposed to be a one hour break from studying that quickly turned into a 24 hour break, I noticed that ‘Birdman,’ Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s 2014 film, was available to watch on my TV. So…I watched it. If I hadn’t know beforehand that practically the whole film (bar the scene near the end) was supposed to look like it was shot entirely in one take, I probably wouldn’t have noticed — and maybe this is the point Iñárritu was trying to make. I’m not sure exactly what the point was — there are multiple reasons; some I came up with include he’s trying to show how camera shots often go unnoticed by critics and audiences today, or was practising the opposite of this and emphasising the effect shots, lighting-basically every micro-element in film- has on a film.

Even though the ignorant version of me watching this film wouldn’t have noticed the ‘oner,’ I know I would have noticed the lighting, the angles of the shots, and the use of sound within the film as this was, ironically, emphasised by the fact the film is a ‘oner.’ I use ‘oner’ in inverted commas here, as it’s apparent this film isn’t a replica of an Orson Welles oner, yet it’s persuadable that this is for a reason, too — Welles’ long one-takes are just as constructed as Iñárritu’s, but the difference between them is the former is trying to make it look real, like it’s happening in real-time, whilst the latter chooses to embrace the context of what is partly happening in the film (a man coming to terms with the fact his life is fake due to being fictionalised through the medium of film, art, plays) by being unapologetic in its digitally created extended shot, yet still re-intellectualising the cinematic scope– it’s like what Wes Anderson films would be like if he’d ended up like Emma Stone’s character Sam rather than spending his life in tweed drinking tea. (I’m joking). (I love you Wes).

This brings me to my third conclusion on the possible reason of using a clearly constructer oner; the shot is challenging the audience of today — the constant references to Twitter, Facebook, social media, and going viral completely juxtapose with the two hour long take that doesn’t cut. Films are beginning to get quicker and quicker cuts between each scenes, because, to generalise, directors think their audiences are stupid and have a short attention span. What Iñárritu is doing is asking audiences if this is true — he’s asking us to pay attention to the entire film that contextualises the society we live in; the social media age. And, quite frankly, thank god. Twitter and social media have become so important in our society and culture, but contemporary films seem to be ignoring this, but finally we have a film that accurately portrays what it is like to live in a digital age without over-dramatising their effects.

To go back to talking about my revision, I’m currently studying ‘King Lear’ for my exam in June. It’s interesting watching this film after spending your whole life revising ‘King Lear,’ as Michael Keaton’s character can easily be a replica of the play. In fact, one of the play’s central themes — the idea of nothing — is a central theme in Shakespeare’s tragedy, too. When Lear declares in Act One Scene One of ‘King Lear’ that ‘nothing can come of nothing’ to Cordelia, it can easily be mirrored with the way Riggan treats his daughter Sam, as well as the way he sees the world around him while engulfed in Birdman’s thoughts (for example the man who was screaming about the world being ‘nothing’ only to find out that he was acting to impress Keaton’s character — nothing has become nothing here).

‘Birdman’ is not a film to ignore. It contextualises our society, and asks the questions everyone faces but are too afraid to ask, without forgetting that this is just a film, and a great one at that. However, I would argue this is more than just a film — ‘Birdman’ is indeed the meaningful piece of art Riggan so tirelessly wanted to create.

Intelligence is relative: an essay on the narrative of Burn After Reading by Joel and Ethan Coen

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The tagline of the Coen Brothers’ 2008 film ‘Burn After Reading’ (if you couldn’t tell already) is: ‘intelligence is relative,’ and, like the tagline, so are the characters and narrative. Every time audiences are introduced to a new character, another character is added a facet. Each narrative strand strand that is presented adds depth to previous ones, and connotes the fundamental connotation of the film.

Taking this into account, the narrative cannot be confined into one subjective type; the Coen brothers continuously introduce audiences to new strands and layers to remind us of their tagline. Take, for instance, the introduction: audiences are immediately placed in a ‘top-secret’ style atmosphere, seeming very official and secretive, as signified through the low tracking shot of the footsteps in the sterile surroundings. Conversely, what audiences are met with are characters who cannot control their power, or lack o it. This is also where viewers are met with a clear typical convention of the Coen brothers: profanities, faux-clichés that make them more cliché, and the fact we are meeting a character at a heightened state of personal decline. It is clear from the offset the characters are the driving force behind the plot.

Additionally, the Coen brothers play on Grice’s Maxims, often blurring the boundaries between each one. Chad could be the maxim of quality, yet the CD makes him also become the opposite of this as he ties to blackmail Osbourne. Osbourne could be seen as the maxim of manner, as he is clearly unambiguous with what he feels about people, yet losing his job and his memoir being found leads him to a state of decline. This suggests the Coen brothers do not use the narrative to enhance the characters, but experiment with them and see how they change when their surroundings and ideals change.

Like with most of their films, for example ‘Fargo,’ ‘Burn After Reading’ can only loosely be applied to Todorov’s narrative structure. The introduction to the equilibrium coincides with the disruption, as the first part of the film is mainly an introduction into these multi-faceted characters rather than the narrative. However, once the narrative does begin, it is clear there is somewhat of a formula. From the first part of the film audiences know Osbourne and Katie’s marriage is unhappy; Katie is having an affair with Harry, and Linda wants plastic surgery but cannot afford it. These are crucial elements to the narrative as they become the driving force behind the characters once the disruption of the narrative begins.

The first time audiences see the link in the narrative strands is when the disruption of the narrative begins. This is when Linda and Chad discover Oswald’s CD, mistaking it for secret government files. The fact that it was these characters that discovered the CD suggests the ‘intelligence is relative’ theme throughout the narrative once again, as if this were any of the other characters (for example Harry) they’d see this was simply a memoir rather than confuse it for the confidential information Chad and Linda see it as; an important concept since if this were to happen to different characters it would completely change the narrative of the film.

The narrative also begins to develop at this point as Linda and Chad recognise the disc belongs to Osbourne, resulting in them trying to blackmail him and failing, so instead take the disc to the Russian Embassy. A second narrative strand is developed after as Harry and Linda meet through Internet dating. All characters are now connected, resulting in a rise in tension for audiences as this is most likely to have a detrimental effect.

The equilibrium is then restored through the fact Chad infiltrates Osbourne’s home but is trapped by Harry, who then kills him as he believes Chad is a spy – another link to the tagline. The scene where Harry shoots Chad is important as it encompasses the Coen brothers’ style – unexpected, unconventional and breaking the rules (at this point they might as well just have Grown Woman playing every time they walk into a room). There are no action codes or hints to what Harry is going to do to Chad — in fact, audiences believe Chad to be quite safe as the shots are consecutively through his point of view in the scene.

Finally, the complete reestablishment of the equilibrium is when the CIA agents comically disregard almost the whole film of what audiences had just sat through. They restore the narrative in a few sentences, and audiences find out what happened to the characters, for example Linda being paid off – a deal she initiated so she could pay for plastic surgery. This close of the film makes ‘Burn After Reading’ a circular narrative, as we begin where we started, and the goals most of the characters had at the offset of the film are achieved.

The Coen brothers’ idiosyncrasies are connoted through the binary oppositions they create with the narrative. From husband vs. wife, to masculinity vs. femininity and intellectuals vs. ‘morons,’ the themes are usually themes that have been explored in other texts, yet they have a post-modern elements due to the fact the Coen brothers often explore them in an unpredictable way, for example the husband and wife theme is reversed through the fact the archetypes of the characters are also reversed: Osbourne is, or at least becomes, the stay at home husband, whilst Katie drives the plot and marriage forward with her ruthless nature and affair with Harry.

The narrative proves to be post-modern once again as the ending is not created to satisfy audiences’ needs. The ending, which finished with viewers not seeing any of the characters but instead hearing about them, connotes the juxtaposition of semantic codes within the narrative vs. semantic codes that are relevant for the audience in real life. The Coen brothers have become self-conscious when creating the film at what audiences could interpret from it, and how they feel — they realise this film can’t provide audiences with something that will greatly impact their lives, but instead of pretending to, they remain authentic and dismiss everything viewers had just seen — for some this is frustrating, for others another comedic element.

‘Burn After Reading’ finishes with the theoretical bomb under the table going off, as, while there were many other points in the narrative in which it could be said to have gone off for Chad, Linda, Harry etc, this is the moment the bomb goes off for viewers, as we realise there was no point to the film; the majority of it is meaningless, and the Coen brothers reassure us that it is okay through the choral storytelling, when the head of the CIA closes the book on the inexplicable tale. Audiences realise that, as powerful and in control as Harry may have felt controlling his string of affairs, or Katie hiring the divorce lawyer, the people who had the power the whole time were the CIA. However, this is quickly juxtaposed with the aerial shot quickly zooming out of the location until we reach the sky, connoting the reason for the use of the tagline — once again, ‘intelligence is relative.’

(BTW: In case you were somehow wondering why this sounded like an essay for school (are you psychic??) that’s because it is [minus the Beyonce reference]!! I was too lazy to write up a separate review and, not to brag, this got full marks so….. waiting for my call from Matt Zoller Seitz to write for RogerEbert.com…)