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 – Oscar Nominations – V – The Doors (1991)

The Doors is under V because of Val Kilmer.

Director: Oliver Stone

Writer: Randall Jahnson, Oliver Stone (Screenplay)

Starring: Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kyle MacLachlan, Frank Whaley, Kevin Dillon, Michael Wincott, Michael Madsen

 

Plot: The story of the famous and influential 1960s rock band The Doors and its lead singer and composer, Jim Morrison, from his days as a UCLA film student in Los Angeles, to his untimely death in Paris, France at age 27 in 1971.


Tagline – “There are things known and things unknown and in between are The Doors.” — Jim Morrison

Runtime: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Proof of Wasted Potential

 

Story: The Doors starts when UCLA film student Jim Morrison (Kilmer) walks out of clash to follow the music and lyrics coming from his head, from his drug induced sessions, joined by Ray Manzarek (MacLachlan), Robby Krieger (Whaley) and John Densmore (Dillon) take their alternative music to the stage, making huge waves in the late 1960s.

After The Doors become an international sensation Jim starts to dive further down the hole of drugs and sex addiction which makes him even more reckless and an even bigger icon of the industry.

 

Thoughts on The Doors

 

Characters – Jim Morrison is the leader singer of the Doors, he spends most of his time high on drugs which helps him create the lyrics that made the band famous, he sleeps with every woman that shows his interest even when he tries to tell his girlfriend he is loyal, this might well be based on a man that could create amazing lyrics, his personal life makes him out to be a horrible person, that nobody should ever look to for inspiration. Pamela is the muse that first started to fall in love with Jim before he became a big star, she tries to stay on his side, even if she is tired of his cheating, she constantly falls for his lies which only makes her feel small in the world. we do meet the rest of the band, we see how some wanted to help improve the band, while others just wanted to live the same life as Jim.

PerformancesVal Kilmer is the star of the show, he commits to this wild character, showing u just how extreme he was, how much a problem he could have been to himself. Meg Ryan was great to see because it is a role you wouldn’t usually expect to see the clean-cut star take on. The rest of the cast are good enough without getting their chance to shine like you would expect them too.

StoryThe story follows the life of Jim Morrison from the time he was a student to his death after become a controversial music icon with his hippie mindset which only encouraged people to act against the normal causing a change in the mentality of the younger generation. This film doesn’t make Jim Morrison to be a nice person, it shows that he had the potential to be one of the biggest names in music, but his personal action only dragged him down to a new level showing just how drugs can take over life ruining the biggest parts of his life. This film mostly shows the downfall of his career over the best part of the man’s life which could have been somebody who could have changed music forever, instead of a short while.

Biopic/MusicThis is a biopic that mostly just shows the destructive side of Jim Morrison, not getting enough attention on the good he might have given the world.

SettingsThe film does use the 1960s settings to show us just how the musician grew up the ranks of the industry showing how the party continued to get bigger with the additional fame.


Scene of the Movie –
First song creation.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Shows how much potential was wasted on drugs.

Final ThoughtsThis is a biopic that could have put a bigger light on one of the best musical minds of a generation only for it to show just how much time was spent just getting high.

 

Overall: Career wasted, the downfall.

Rating

 

 

City Slickers (1991) Movie Review

Director: Ron Underwood

Writer: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel (Screenplay)

Starring: Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby, Patricia Wettig, Helen Slater, Jack Palance, Noble Willingham

Plot: On the verge of turning 40, an unhappy Manhattan yuppie is roped into joining his two friends on a cattle drive in the southwest.


Tagline – Yesterday They Were Businessmen. Today They’re Cowboys. Tomorrow They’ll Be Walking Funny.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Nice Little Comedy

Story: City Slickers starts as three 40-year-olds Mitch (Crystal), Phil (Stern) and Ed (Kirby) have been spending years going on adventure holidays together with their families. Mitch however is getting tired of his everyday life in New York City where he believes he should have done more with his life and for his birthday, Phil and Ed get him a special present.

The three are going on a boys holiday in a cattle drive across the south, one which will bring them back to nature and learn to find a new lust for life, while Phil must decide about his future after being caught teaching on his wife.

Thoughts on City Slickers

Characters – Mitch is the one of the three who has been having the biggest mid-life crisis, he has always worried and now he has seen him career take a turn he wasn’t prepared for, he gets sent on the cattle drive which would have given him a chance to reconnect with nature for the first time. Phil has been stuck in a marriage where he is controlled, he works horrible hours and gets caught out cheating on his wife, left with nothing, he starts to stand up for himself when it comes to facing a future with nothing in it. Ed has always been a womaniser, he has just got married though, which sees him wondering if it was the right thing to do. The three have always been there for each other and now they are finally needing to talk to each other about the problems they kept secret.

PerformancesBilly Crystal in the leading role of the three does bring his charm, while some of his comedy might well miss or feel like it is all pop culture references, he works wonderfully well with Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby, the three each get a moment to shine and have great chemistry together.

StoryThe story here follows the three lifelong friends that have been vacationing together for years and now after starting to worry about their own futures, get to go on a boys trip on a cattle run, where they can final start to see just what the future might hold for them. This is a story that for the 90’s would have translated to everything that people get caught up in during life, but when you look at the more model society, the friendship would be a lot closer with the technology use. With this story we do get an interesting look at what people might find a happiness in life, in a world they would never have imagined.

ComedyThe comedy in the film comes from Billy Crystal trying to bring his wise cracking lines forward during most of the scenes, it doesn’t always work either.

SettingsThe film is set in the South of America which would see cowboys and cattle drives happening, the backdrops could be from any western too.


Scene of the Movie – The birth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The witty lines just don’t work.

Final Thoughts This is a comedy that focuses on friendship and finding the reality of life, it does show how the three friends must learn they are just getting started in life.

Overall: Life’s an Adventure 101.

Hook (1991)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: James V Hart, Nick Castle, Malia Scotch Marmo (Screenplay) J.M. Barrie (Books)

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, Maggie Smith, Caroline Goodall, Charlie Korsmo, Amber Scott

 

Plot: When Captain Hook kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy.


Tagline – What if Peter Pan grew up?

Runtime: 2 Hours 22 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun-Filled Fantasy

 

Story: Hook starts as we meet businessman Peter Banning (Williams) who has started over working leading to his children become distant, his wife Moira (Goodall) forces him to visit his Granny Wendy (Smith) in London for Christmas, where she sees how much Peter has changed since his childhood of never wanting to grow up.

Captain Hook (Hoffman) takes Peter’s children, which sees Peter needing to be pushed into returning to Neverland, a place he has long forgotten about, with Tinkerbell (Roberts) taking him there only for Hook to be left disappointed by the man Peter has become, Tinkerbell has three days to restore Peter’s faith in Neverland to save his children.

 

Thoughts on Hook

 

Characters – Peter Banning is a lawyer that has been neglecting his family, his Grandmother sees him losing his young heart that made her take him in, in the first place, Peter must confront his past to save his children from his old nemesis Captain Hook in Neverland, a place he has long since forgotten about. Peter has become everything he once hated as a child and shows how at times parents can get buried in their work. Captain Hook has been waiting for the day Peter Pan returns, he is left disappointed when he does return a shell of the boy that left, giving him three days to prepare for a battle, while having his own plan to get revenge on Peter. Tinkerbell comes to Peter to bring him back to Neverland, she helps transform him back to his original self, while showing him what he is still fighting for.

PerformancesRobin Williams was a great choice for this role, he gets to manages the serious adult side of everything as well as the playful side of Peter Pan with ease being able to swap between the two whenever he needs to. Dustin Hoffman as the villainous Hook has great enjoyment in this role where he does get to play along with his character. Julia Roberts does all she needs to do without being as involved as the lead too.

StoryThe story follows an older Peter Pan that must return to Neverland to save his own children after his old nemesis Captain Hook takes them there. This spin on the Peter Pan story is a wonderful on because see Peter grown up becoming everything he promised he wouldn’t shows us just how difficult being an adult can be, you will turn your back on parts of your childhood become what you once feared. This was always the meaning behind Peter Pan in the first place, finding an escape from the busy lives, now an adult must use this to save his own relationship with his children and family, which is what is important in life.

Adventure/Comedy/FantasyThe adventure side of the film takes Peter to Neverland to relive moments of his childhood in a fantasy battle against pirates with fairies on their side. We do get elements of comedy, but even Robin Williams is held back from going into his full routine like we saw in Aladdin.

SettingsThe film uses the same settings that we know from Peter Pan, the London setting might well be a more modern one, but Neverland hasn’t aged a day since Peter has left.


Scene of the Movie –
The battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Pop culture references.

Final ThoughtsThis is a magical version of Peter Pan’s adventures showing how life can change for adults who never thought they would be when they were children.

 

Overall: Magical adventure.

Rating

 

 

Harrison Ford Weekend – Regarding Henry (1991)

Director: Mike Nichols

Writer: J.J. Abrams (Screenplay)

Starring: Harrison Ford, Annette Bening, Bill Nunn, Mikki Allen, Donald Moffat

 

Plot: After being shot, a man loses his memory and must relearn speech and mobility, but he has a loving family to support him.


Tagline – His life was based on power, success, and ruthlessness. Until a bullet made him think again.

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Drama

 

Story: Regarding Henry starts as we meet hotshot lawyer Henry Turner (Ford) he closes cases with ease and has the full trust of the partners in the firm, his strict behaviour does return home too with the way he controls his daughter Rachel (Allen), with his wife Sarah (Bening) dealing with reminding him of names at parties.

Henry’s life is turned upside down when he is shot in a head, leaving him with no memory, speech or mobility. Bradley (Nunn) his physical Therapist comes into this life to help teach him again as Sarah must adapt without the income that Henry once bought in. with Henry’s recovery going well, can a return home make him better, both in health and in his own personal standards of treating people.

 

Thoughts on Regarding Henry

 

Characters – Henry is a lawyer, he closes cases with ease, but doesn’t seem to be close to his family or friends, busy working for the most part of his life. When he gets shot in the head, he must learn to recover and learn everything again, this shows Henry a new way to look at life which will make him a better person. Sarah is the wife of Henry, she supports him through the tough time knowing he will remember his life in time. Bradley is the physical therapist that helps Henry break the first hurdles in his recovery.

PerformancesHarrison Ford gives a performance we wouldn’t know him for, he does well for the most part, but there are moments he doesn’t hit the performance like he should. Annette Bening is good in her role through the film with Bill Nunn adding the extra moments needed in this film.

StoryThe story here plays out like a fantasy film in places, we have one man that has a lift changing injury that makes him see life in a different point of view.  We see his recovery process which shows us how the people in his life can change their opinions on one person after an injury impairs their abilities. This does tell the recovery process and clearly shows the changes Henry goes though which are good to see through the film.

RomanceThe romance of the film is standard it shows the life both Henry and Sarah have had before and after the injury.

SettingsThe film is set mostly in New York city, which is great as I always say, which helps show how the busy life of Henry affected his life.


Scene of the Movie –
The rehab.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Moments Ford doesn’t hit the injury the way you believe.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good drama that shows how injuries can affect lives, not just the person that is injured but the people close to them too.

 

Overall: Good Film which shows Ford in different light.

Rating