Way back when we were first hearing about its plot and overall tone, some friends and I decided that it would be a good idea for me to post a review of the Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading before anyone had seen it. Because we just knew what certain of the reviews would be like. Stuff along the lines of "It's disappointing that after the mature perspectives of their 2006 masterpiece No Country for Old Men, the Coens would revert to the cartoony puerility of..." and here one could choose, say, Intolerable Cruelty or The Ladykillers or maybe even The Hudsucker Proxy, because not even the ballsiest Coens-basher would dare evoke The Big Lebowski even though, as the follow-up to Fargo, the picture did get a lot of similar critical stick. But today it's a verified and deserving classic, so hands off.
Anyhow, we all thought this was a pretty funny idea, and I had every intention of getting around to doing it, but then I went an took a vacation, which, you know, generally means not working, and then, before you know it, Burn After Reading plays the Venice Film Festival and is sure enough greeted with bitches and moans about how cartoonish and one-dimensional it is. Man, I can't wait to see it.
But, having blown my shot at being a critical Criswell, what do I have of value to impart to you re Burn? Well, an amusing tidbit of info, I guess...
While Burn takes place in the beltway suburb of Georgetown, much of it was shot in New York and New Jersey. (Because Georgetown's a real challenge to shoot in, and expensive. The production did log in about a week there, though.) It is a small irony that the first time the New-York-residing Coens actually shoot in New York, New York is standing in for a wholly other place. But anyway. Much of Burn's action is set in a gym, where the characters played by Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand works, and where the character played by John Malkovich drops a disc containing putatively sensitive information. That "gym" is, in fact, the old Tower Records store on Route 17 in Paramus, N.J. It was at this store that my pal and fellow movie nut Joseph Failla toiled, for possibly eons, first in the laser disc department (where he earned the nickname "Laser Joe"), and then the DVD department. Joe's loyal clientele included such luminaries as Willie Randolph, Ernest Dickerson, and Gordon Willis.
The shuttering of Tower Records in the fall of 2006 was a pretty traumatic event for many. And the retail space those stores took up has in many cases lain fallow. Last fall, though, some Bergen County drivers noticed peculiar signs on varied off-ramps of Route 17. Paper signs with the letters "BAR" with a directional arrow below. Those who bothered keeping up with where the signs led might have been confused not to find a bar at the end of the line. They might have been, however, excited to see, through the windows of the closed Tower, oodles of state-of-the-art fitness machines put in place on its floor.
"A lot of folks in Paramus are still wondering why that 'gym' never opened!" Joe writes.