Burn After Reading (2008)
I love this film, it’s one of my favourites of the many excellent films by the mighty Cohen Bothers. Alright, so its not the deepest and cleverest of films they’ve ever made, but for sheer entertainment value, I think it’s a real winner, just check out Brad Pitt’s sports dork, John Malkovitch’s swearing ex CIA man and Frances Dormand’s “Linda Litsky” if you don’t belive me.
Anyway watching it again on TV last night, the “Russian Embassy” suddenly stood out as an interesting looking building, and after 10 minutes googling this morning, I’ve found out that despite the film being set in Washington, most of it was actually shot in New York, and standing in for the intimidating, Eastern Block style Embassy is the rather wonderful Meister Hall designed in 1964 by the Hungarian emigree and star of the Bauhaus, Marcel Breuer.
Located within what is now the Bronx Community College Campus (and originally called the Tech 1 and Tech 2 Buildings) The Meister Hall is a marvellous essay in Brutalism, all bold concrete massing, deeply recessed openings and repetitive precast elements, it perfectly sums up the stereotypical image of America’s Cold War Nemesis.
To the rear is this incredibly dominating precast concrete facade from which Linda Litsky is seen walking away, after having been escorted from the building, once her “CIA shit” is found to be more shit that CIA..
As an aside, I had forgotten that the posters for the film were very much inspired by the works of Saul Bass, as is evidenced by comparing this image to the ones in my previous post here.