Barton Fink (1991) Movie Review

Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (Screenplay)

Starring: John Turturro, John Goodman, Judy Davis, Michael Lerner, John Mahoney, Tony Shalhoub, Jon Polito, Steve Buscemi

Plot: A renowned New York playwright is enticed to California to write for the movies and discovers the hellish truth of Hollywood.

Tagline – What’s in his head

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Coen’s at Their Best

Story: Barton Fink starts as New York playwright Barton Fink (Turturro) whose latest play has seen him get the most praise. Barton gets encouraged to head to California to write movies, which would cover him for years to come on the stages of New York. Barton put up in a small hotel, gets given his first assignment, a wrestling picture, something he knows nothing about.

Barton bonds with his insurance salesman neighbour Charlie Meadows (Goodman) who always seems to have inspiration for this story, while meeting authors he idolises, waiting for his big break in the industry, meeting different producers who shows him the hellish process Hollywood can be.

Thoughts on Barton Fink

Characters – Barton Fink is the latest praised playwright in New York, he knows he can be a success on the stage only he gets encouraged to head to the Hollywood boom to make serious money with his writing skills. Barton learns quickly that he isn’t prepared for the demands of writing script especially when he doesn’t know the material they want him to write about, he struggles to settle in the area and the cheap hotel they put him up in, he only makes one friend and sees how the people in the industry always say what you want to say. Charlie Meadows is the hotel neighbour and insurance salesman that befriends Barton, the two often spend the nights talking about life’s events, while Charlie pushes Barton to become more confident. Audrey Taylor is the wife of one of the most famous authors Barton meets, he wants to use her as his muse after seeing how badly she is abused by her partner. Jack Lipnick is the producer that hires Barton, he demands the work and unlike most writers that he hires, he keeps up on Barton’s work.

PerformancesJohn Turturro in the leading role is excellent, we can see him unravelling at the seams as he starts to lose his mind in the writing process. John Goodman is wonderful too as the friendly neighbour with a secret behind his kind-nature. When it comes to the rest of the cast we get some wonderful performance that send us into the era perfectly.

StoryThe story here sees a playwright trying his hand at writing movies in the booming industry, only to learn the level of control he really has on what he write and how much time he has to get the work done. This is a story about the movie making process, while we focus more on the writing side of the filmmaking, it is focused on how being locked away in a new city can drive somebody slightly crazy. It is the story arcs that happen around the writing which become most interesting as we see just how things are never quite as they seem, this is Coen Brothers are their best, spinning what could be a routine story that sees things turned on their head.

ComedyThe comedy is the black comedy type, where we see just how twisted the comedy ends up being, with John Goodman getting most of the laughs in the film.

SettingsThe LA setting shows what it would have been like in the early stages of the Hollywood boom, the era feels nature through the film.

Scene of the Movie – Flaming hallways.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The cops are too accusation heavy.

Final Thoughts This is a dark comedy that works very well, it hits the heights every time it needs to thanks to the leading performances from Turturro and Goodman that are outstanding through the film.

Overall: Brilliant Comedy.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – F – Footnote (2011) Movie Rob’s Pick

Head over to Movie Rob’s Site for more reviews

“That’s a very nice idea, very nice… but wrong.” – Eliezer Shkolnik

Number of Times Seen – 3 (6 Jan 2012, 5 Mar 2014 and 5 May 2020)

Link to original review – Here

Brief Synopsis – The relationship between a father and son who are both academic scholars is tested when the father is accidentally awarded a prestigious academic prize in place of his son.

My Take on it – This has been a favorite film of mine ever since I first saw it over 8 years ago.

My own personal knowledge on the subject of the film, it’s director and even some of the extras in the film helps endear this whole story to me, and seeing this movie numerous times doesn’t diminish that at all.

The story itself works on numerous levels and is able to draw us in quite closely to get a look at this very unique world of Academic scholars.

The two lead actors are both superb here and we get to see the way two people act who on some levels are so similar yet on others so very different despite the fact that both would deny that they have much in common.

The story tries to look at the way that human interactions and relationship can be so fragile when dealing with people within the Academic world who aren’t always the most social of people in every kind of situation.

This movie has a very unique perspective on the Academic world and that has much to do with the fact that director Joseph Cedar is the son of a prominent Biology Professor which in turn helps the story move along n very original ways.

His familiarity with these kind of people helps so much in depicting something very realistic.

The plot and story line unfolds in a very complex way and that enhances things so much more because it is always on the move and never stays in the same spot too long which would make it quite boring.

The editing of this film helps us get a better understanding of how an analytical mind must try and solve a mystery that seems so baffling  by only using his wits and experience t help lead the way.

Due to my own personal familiarity of the Academic world and many of the places and streets that these character inhabit helps make this film even more endearing to me while at the same time proves the realistic way and authenticity used while bringing this story to the screen.

This movie deservingly was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film yet failed to win it.

Bottom Line – Amazing film that works on numerous levels. The acting of both of the two leads is superb and they really are able to capture such a strange and dynamic relationship between two men who are quite similar yet very different at the same time.  The story is able to show how things work in the academic world and how there can be effects on human interactions and relationships along the way. The director’s own familiarity with this unique world helps him give us such a great perspective on things as the story unfolds in great ways.  The complex way that the story unfolds is so enjoyable to watch and the editing lets us see how an academic scholar can use his wits and experience in trying to unravel a mystery that doesn’t compute properly.  My own personal understanding of the Academic world and many of the sites and locations shown in the film helps make this film so dear to me because it helps attest to the authenticity of it all.  Very deserving of its Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film even if it didn’t win. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The opening title card doesn’t appear on screen until 35 minutes into the film. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10) (no change from original review)

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – F – I Remember You (2017) Movie Review

This is under F because of the main character name Freyr.

Director: Oskar Thor Axelsson

Writer: Oskar Thor Axelsson, Otto Geir Borg (Screenplay) Yrsa Siguroardottir (Novel)

Starring: Johannes Haukur Johannesson, Agusta Eva Erlendsdottir, Elma Stefania Agustsdottir, Thor Kristjansson, Sara Dogg Asgeirsdottir

Plot: A story about a young man and woman who move into a small abandoned town in Iceland to renovate an old house. Little do they know the town has a dark history.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Tense Thriller

Story: I Remember You starts as a doctor Freyr (Johannesson) is called for a suicide in a church, he helps confirm what the police think and does his best to comfort the widow, while three friends Lif (Erlendsdottir), Katrin (Gudmundsdottir) and Gardar (Kristjansson) move into an abandoned house, where they look to renovate it to turn it into a bed-n-breakfast.

As the three friends spend more time at the house they find themselves being haunted in the darkness of night with Katrin seeing figures in the home, where they can’t escape from, while on mainland Iceland Freyr must confront his own decision to believe his lost son might still be alive, even though he believes he couldn’t have survived without his medication, which does lead to the two stories combining for the truth.

Thoughts on I Remember You

Characters – Freyr is a doctor whose son went missing in the past, he has moved on, however hard it is, not expecting to see him again, he consults with the police on cases to help understand cause of deaths until the latest one could finally unlock a mystery about what happened to his son, as a man of science he must question certain things, which he can’t explain away. Gardar, Lif and Katrin are involved in a strange love triangle, which sees them working together to try and put a house back together to turn into a bed and breakfast, they start getting haunted by something inside the remote house, something which could well test their own sanity and with nowhere to go, they much figure out what to do.

PerformancesWe do have a fantastic cast here where the actors bringing the characters to life with ease making us understand the pain or fear they have been going through.

StoryThe story follows two main stories, with one follow a doctor that starts learning more about his missing son, while following three friends that are trying to rebuild, when the two stories cross paths we will learn the truth. Now this is interesting because the three rebuilding does feel like a horror filled one, while Freyr’s story is much more mystery and does show how everything is unfolding, when the two mix together we get a surprising outcome that does keep up guessing. This is a smartly told story and does fill mystery horror together which is great to see and does all work very well.

Horror/MysteryThe horror comes more from one part of the story, it is all darkness and atmosphere, while the mystery is all about solving the crime of the missing boy for Freyr. It does keep us guessing through the film.

SettingsThe film uses the Icelandic landscape beautifully, with the isolation involved for the three friends adding to the horror, while showing how the country would come together for a missing person.

Scene of the Movie – Freyr makes it to the island.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – I don’t think you get enough hits to solve the mystery.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting, intense and thrilling mystery that will keep us guessing, while giving us a horror through the film too.

Overall: Great thriller.