has your first look at George Clooney from Burn After Reading, the the Coen Brothers’ follow-up to the not-half-bad-if-you’ve-nothing-against-perfection No Country for Old Men, and it looks like he’s having a high old time with the great Frances McDormand (aka Mrs. Joel Coen).  Judging from those big, toothy smiles, I can surmise but one thing:  they’re watching Problem Child 2.

There’ve been a number of Burn After Reading photos leaked to the internet over the past few months (many of which can be found at FilmoFilia), and if you go back and read my Crop Report, those images should give you a pretty good idea as to how things turn out for some of the script’s bungling characters (who get caught up in a nasty web of intrigue over some purloined CIA files).  It’s classic, dark-comedic Coens, which is another way of saying that a good deal of blood is shed along the way.  But for those of you who had trouble with the unrelentingly grim tone of No Country for Old Men, this is at least a little lighter – or, more accurately, it’s populated with slightly less sympathetic characters.  You kind of want to see these people get worked over on account of their own stupidity. 

While it might seem presumptuous for the Coens to be back in competition at Cannes a year after their No Country triumph… well, they didn’t win anything there in the first place.  And they’ve also earned subsequent invites in the past (O Brother, Where Art Thou in 2000 and The Man Who Wasn’t There in 2001).  So unless they stumbled badly during the filming of Burn After Reading, I’d pretty much count on the flick being an official, in-competition selection.