The press conference this morning for the Coen brothers’ Burn After Reading was almost as strange as a Coen brothers movie. It was roomful of studio-selected journalists, rather than an all-access TIFF press conference, so that may account for the unusual decorum. There were still about 50 of us there. Brad Pitt walked into the room as if he owned, looking very dapper in a silver vest, joshing and joking with the assembled media. He sat on a stage beside the Coen brothers, with Tilda Swinton and John Malkovich sitting at either end. And guess what? With perhaps the biggest movie star on the planet sitting up there, available, most of the questions were directed at the two nerdy siblings who made the movie. There was not a single personal question about Angelina and the twins, never mind Jennifer Aniston, whose concurrent presence at TIFF has fostered all manner of speculative nonsense in the media about a Brad-Jennifer reunion. The closest anyone came was a query about the possibility of Brad and Angelina working together again, to which Brad quipped, “Angie and I are working together every day, I can guarantee it.”
The Coens maintained their reputation for not saying anything of substance when questioned by journalists. But they at least tried to explain it’s not because they’re patronizing snobs, but because they get so wrapped up in making a movie they never stop to ponder its significance. They like to think the film doesn’t need to be explained, at least not by the guys who made it. “Yeah,” said you do think that it should speak for itself, or you don’t have anything to say about it in other terms, but here you are sitting in front of a bunch of journalists and legitimately they ask you to say something that didn’t seem evident from the movie. And they think you’re being coy or elusive, but the fact is you just don’t have anything else to say.” Ethan went on to clarify just what else he didn’t have to say. Although Burn After Reading is about various species of stupidity in Washington, he inisted, “It’s not about George Bush or anything specific. It’s not about other people we’re laughing at. We’ve all got the inner knucklehead. It’s just good fodder for stories.”
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