17 September 2008

Bureaucracy in the Modern Age

From the Motivator Blog

The Coen brothers hit another home run with "Burn After Reading". Their best flicks seem to involve the psychosis of random crime (e.g. Blood Simple, Fargo, and No Country For Old Men) and random protagonists in way over their head with the crushing reality of contemporary society (e.g. Barton Fink, Raising Arizona, and, of course, The Big Lebowski). Burn After Reading falls into the latter genre, and it's kinda about the irrational paranoia of a monstrous overarching conspiracy from our intelligence agencies that only exists in a Tom Clancy novel. Brad Pitt has another stand-up performance as a somewhat deranged kook (like 12 Monkeys except he's a hapless fitness instructor), and George Clooney (who is normally a lousy one-dimensional actor playing Mr. Cool Guy) actually does alright as the buffoonish goon who can't stop the indiscreet boning. The story unfolds as a hijinx of human interaction that the CIA cannot properly analyze, and it portrays our agents as bureaucratic nitwits rather than spooks conducting waterboarding like in Rendition. It's good entertainment. Of course the ultimate film about navigating the incoherent bureaucracy of society will always be Terry Gilliam's Brazil, but this Coen brothers flick is still worth checking out.

When I was naive and dumb as an Ensign, instead of just drunk and dumb like I am as LT, I was ecstatic to be joining the military primarily so I could be in on all those government secrets Art Bell was always talking about. I wanted to see the dead Alien bodies at Area 51, I wanted to take part in the next Philadelphia experiment and get teleported through a bulkhead, and I wanted to go drinking with all those chimps that came back from space super intelligent. But, alas, there is no secretive military bunker 10 miles underground with the corpse of Patton directing Cheney's army of killbots. And I found that even high-ranking organizations succumb to the same bureaucratic foolishness that besiege all levels of government. This movie understands that reality.