Friday, October 28, 2011

Throw Down: Burn After Reading Movie Night

Burn After Reading is the quintessential Coen Brothers movie. It's darkly hilarious, completely twisted, it takes no prisoners and does not end up the way you'd expect. This movie night, treat your friends to a tale of grassroots espionage - fueled by wild egotism, tragic superficiality, and rabid conspiracy theories.

Movie nights are incredibly simple to throw. All you need to do is rent the movie on your way home, pop some popcorn and go! But if you'd like to make it a very special movie night, consider serving food as it appears in the movie.

Below, we’ll take you step by step through all the food served – add as many or as few of these touches as you’d like. Click here for a Very Coen Brothers Halloween where we will list some costume ideas based on characters from their many fine films. And click here for a Coen Brothers-inspired playlist.   
Do all of your cooking and plating before the party, so it will be a simple matter of plunking down a tray and getting out of the way. If you decide to serve stir-fry, this can be prepared shortly before the party, and then gently warmed over the lowest possible flame on the stove, covered, as the movie starts. If you decide to serve shu mai, place it in advance in the microwave, then simply zap it when the time comes. Popcorn should be pre-popped and dressed.
When your guests arrive let them get comfortable. Serve up a choice of Cuba Libres, wine, or soda. Give each person a plate, a cloth napkin, and a fork if you’re serving the hot foods. Aaaand ACTION!
Minute 3: Malkovitch pours himself a Cuba Libre – this is your cue to bring out some chevre on toasts for the party scene.
Minute 4: Bring out veggies and dip.
Minute 12: Bring out grapes and cold green beans – don’t forget to bring a set of tongs for serving!
Minute 20: Clooney and McDormand are about to go on their movie date. Pass around some m&ms.
Minute 21: Clooney is about to take her for some dinner – this is your cue to bring out the stir fry.
Minute 28: Jenkins and McDormand are sitting in the bar, munching on bread sticks. On your way out of the kitchen with the breadsticks, start nuking the shu mai.
Minute 38: Another dinner date! Bring out the shu mai.
Minute 47: Bring out some blackberries and cream. I like to portion it out ahead of time in ramekins for each guest, then just bring out one big tray.
Minute 49: We’re moments away from another movie date – bring out the tub of buttered popcorn.
Minute 1:09: Finish off with a little palette cleanser – some baby carrots.

After the movie's over, as guests are lingering, you can pop some more popcorn, break out some board games, or take a page out of McDormand's book and see who can find the most embarassing personals ad the internet has to offer. Kick back and enjoy!


  1. I love the Coen Brothers but I have a slight issue with this movie... I think the scene 2/3rds in between Clooney and Pitt really changes the tone of the movie form something pretty light-hearted and fun in a 'caper" sense into something much darker. I don't really think that gear shifting works.

  2. It worked for me - I think the point of the movie was that you can start with motivations and paranoias that seem superficial and harmless, and then watch them spin out to their logical, tragic conclusions. And right when I thought it had gone Too Far, the last minute and 30 seconds of the movie completely made up for it.

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