Monday, March 20, 2006

"Barton Fink" review

Barton Fink (1991)

Directed by Joel Coen
Writing credits Joel Coen Ethan Coen

John Turturro.... Barton Fink
John Goodman.... Charlie Meadows
Judy Davis.... Audrey Taylor
Michael Lerner.... Jack Lipnick
John Mahoney.... W.P. Mayhew
Tony Shalhoub.... Ben Geisler
Jon Polito.... Lou Breeze
Steve Buscemi.... Chet

"Barton Fink" is about Barton Fink. Catchy title eh? Fink is a writer. He's a writer for the common man. He wants to create a new, living, breathing theater "of and about the common man". He has one hit play and then shuffles off to Hollywood to continue his fight for artistic purity. The second he gets there, Hollywood has different plans. They want him to get cracking on a wrestling picture. "People are going to say to you, Wallace Beery, wrestling, it's a B-picture." Fink slowly realizes he's in over his head in a low genre. Thankfully his neighbor, (John Goodman), shows up to help Fink connect to the mind of the common man. Fink can't hear him because he's too busy listening to himself talk about nothing.

There are a couple of different movies going on in "Barton Fink". My favorite one, and the most funny, is the story of pretentious Fink and the harsh reality check he gets from the Hollywood players. Jack Lipnick, (Michael Lerner), is hilarious. He's the studio head who talks a mile a minute. He confounds Barton with his West Coast ways. He has showmanship and Barton has none. Fink also runs into another fast talking studio exec, Ben Geisler, (Tony Shalhoub). All the scenes with Lerner and Shalhoub are classic. I've watched this movie many times just to see those scenes. The fast forward button took me to the scenes I needed.

The rest of "Barton Fink" is an odd tale. There is murder, Goodman, cops, writers block and visions of Hell. Fink came out to L.A. to show us something beautiful but got knocked to his knees as Hollywood showed him the way things really are: Their way or no way. A surreal cautionary tale about Hollywood although it makes me want to meet some slick guys like Lipnick and Geisler. I would laugh my head off as they tell me how idiotic I am. "We don't put Wally Beery in a fruity movie about suffering! I thought we were together on that!!"

SCORE: 3.5 out of 4 Lipnicks

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