Barton Fink


In this “writer’s nightmare” set in the non-so-Golden Age of Hollywood, the Coen Brothers channel the spirit of David Lynch to create a wholly unique and strangely unsettling tale of one man’s increasingly freaky case of writer’s block. In 1941, New York intellectual playwright and “champion of the common man” Barton Fink (John Turturro) moves to La La Land and tries his luck writing for the Hollywood studios, only to find himself toiling hopelessly on a less-than-artistic wrestling picture for Wallace Beery. Striken with a terrible case of writer’s block, Barton begs others, starting with his novelist hero W.P. Mayhew (John Mahoney) for help, but to no avail. Perhaps if Barton weren’t so self-involved, he might listen more closely to “real” common man Charlie Meadows (John Goodman), his neighbor at the seedy Hotel Earle, who “could tell you stories that would make your hair curl.” As Fink’s script doesn’t progress, things just keep getting stranger and stranger as our tortured hero falls further and further down the proverbial rabbit hole. Highly stylized and certifiably mind-bending, Barton Fink went on to win the Palme d’Or, Best Director and Best Actor Awards at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, thereby launching the Coen Brothers’ international reputation as one of the all-time great American filmmaking duos. (Dir. by Joel Coen, 1991, USA, 116 mins., Rated R) 35mm