As with No Country for Old Men, the Coen Brothers called upon Carter Burwell to score its quasi-thriller comedy, Burn After Reading. While the movie plays the genre for laughs, Burwell, their cinematic foil, plays it straight. He’s said he looked for inspiration in Jerry Goldsmith’s percussion-oriented score to the laugh-free zone that was Seven Days in May, directed by the late great John Frankenheimer. In other words, where No Country was extremely silent (more details at disquiet.com), Burn After Reading is loud and present.
That comment from Burwell appears on his website, carterburwell.com, where for each score he’s completed he provides sample music files and explanatory text. Among the Burn After Reading examples is “Earth Zoom In,” an intense minute and a half of barreling, doom-laden percussion (MP3). Also available from the Burwell site are two other percussive Burn pieces, each of which layers something into the mix, chanting n “Night Running” and Philip Glass-style strings on “How Is This Possible.”
One graphic-design side note: the poster for Burn After Reading shares with that of Burwell’s preceding film-score work, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, the classic Saul Bass-style text treatments from The Man with the Golden Arm, Anatomy of a Murder, Vertigo and countless other Hollywood classics — all films with excellent soundtracks, suggesting something of a music-typography correlation.