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Barton Fink (1991)
What's in his head
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

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

Barton Fink (1991)

I’ll Show You the World of the Mind

Any Coen film is worth traveling to see. All of them are enterprises about the enterprise of film-making or writing, but you never know what little side voyage we’re going on, what creases of creation we’re exploring.

In this case, instead of playing with a genre, they play with the writing itself. Rather, they depict the mind of a writer as a hotel, an Aristotelian arrangement of cubbyholes into which one sets up shop.

This is their most self-referential work to date: Writing about writing; pictures about pictures, wrestling about wrestling (with a biblical Jacob thrown in); various forces at work for control of his (and other’s) head; work about working people. Investigation; queries. And love about death as depicted by a drunken Faulkner (and his lover/ amanuensis who orgasmicly dies).

Along the way, trademarked satire of the industry and war. Only one false scene: a bar fight.

I think it is fun, but am thankful that they needed to do this only once. Now we can turn to the more nuanced folding within genres.

Posted in 2005

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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