Barton Fink - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Barton Fink Reviews

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½ April 21, 2018
Barton Fink remains a masterpiece as far as filmmaking & narrative conventions go. Just as entertaining and unmistakably crafted with ambitions not just far higher than what could have been, "good enough," for mainstream audiences or Studio executives...but also with the signature Coen Bros. feeling in every moment of every scene, every line of dialogue and the sets used to Kubrickian levels of perfection.

No character has a small part, no extras are considered extras - as we've seen over the past few decades, the Coen Brothers ALWAYS make damn sure to pay just as much attention to detail (again just as Kubrick made The Shining the best horror film ever made by making such elaborate sets that had to be as close to the real fictional Overlook setting in the story). This is how their films hook you in with a sense of unique immersion, where we all feel personally served a special production that caters to our own idiosyncrasies. They do this by writing endless variations of eccentric main characters that we love to watch without ever stopping to wonder if we should be rooting for them, hoping they aren't kept from getting what their seek in whatever twisted yet morbidly accurate representation of the real world & our own societies they spiral around in throughout the whole film, usually running in place more often than not.

John Ford was amazing. Billy Wilder is one of the best directors ever. Period. But even those legendary filmmakers could never make movies that satisfy the audience completely in the first hour without even advancing the plot beyond the first act, and then using the second hour to treat you to a number cleverly sharp turns to disorient you, all before high tailing it to the credits in a comedy of errors - quite literally - where the stakes are always shuffling around for every face still on screen. Some get presented as the unlikely hero for an hour, but then they get killed with a hammer off screen in the final 30 seconds and we only hear that's what happened to them through a lighting fast, hysterically delivered exposition between characters we likely have no connection to at all until that moment. (Burn After Reading.)

Life is absurd. So their movies don't just operate with absurd stories. They play it honest and true to reality. The characters always seem like cartoon personalities, quirky for comedic purposes, and then suddenly one of them says something they shouldn't have & a mob boss orders the protagonist to execute the guy who is also a friend of the protagonist, resulting in a sharp turn from quirky comic relief B role performance to suddenly the most gut wrenching, heart pounding scene in their entire filmography, as Tuturro's big mouthed chatterbox uses around all five minutes of a single tracking shot to talk his way out of being hit by this mob enforcer who, again, is a guy he's always known and has no personal issues with. These all amount to cinematic masterpieces as isolated scenes in their body of work but also serve as small examples to prove that every scene in each of their films is loaded with significance, as well as being told in different ways that you've likely never seen done before until now.

Barton Fink is just as insane as the Big Lebowski, but the former has very believably serious stakes for the central character who wants to prove himself a writer by moving to Hollywood after succeeding on Broadway already. Lebowski is literally about a man child stoner who likes to go bowling, and one day some people think he's another guy but the same last name creates confusion - so for a few hours we watch Jeff Bridges & John Goodman go vigilante in LA to get justice after some henchmen urinated on the wrong Lebowski's (Bridges) area rug in a modest low income housing apartment...you see how these are weird in different ways, and neither would sound amazing if you hadn't seen trailers or known who the Coens were etc. But I found out I DID care enough to watch Jeff Bridges bowl, drink, take some drugs, cremate his bowling buddy who never shut the fuck up, and then there's Tara Reid's offer to blow him for cash, a butler played by a late great Hollywood megastar of an actor, fight some European nihilists who emphatically remind everyone they care about nozing!!! They eat in n out burger, Goodman draws his old Desert Storm service pistol on a registered sex offender/pedophile IN A BOWLING ALLEY, (but not because the guy is a sex offender; he's upset they scheduling of their tournament doesn't respect his recently adopted Jewish traditions that his ex wife supposedly once cared about...?).

AND YET ALL OF THESE COEN FILMS IVE MENTIONED ARE BETTER THAN SOME GREAT DIRECTOR'S BEST WORK. I don't think James Cameron has ever made a film as good as a Coen Bros flick, and if he did, the only argument would be for Aliens. Everything else is just trash by comparison, (and a lot of Cameron's stuff is trash even without comparing it to other people's work. Like, it's criminal how much he's touted by the Academy for such awful films when nominated next to actually great cinema. Good Will Hunting lost Best Picture because James Cameron filmed a boat sinking for 3 hours that also had the fake Hollywood cheese lovestory somehow happen in 3 hours during a life or death crisis...don't get my started on The Abyss. It never looked good, it's awful, and Avatar looks so pathetically bad for how hard it wants to impress you with its visual neon Ferngully narrative. Sorry, James Cameron is - at best - a lower tier/Michael Bay level director who is also an asshole & no actors are willing to work with him based on his reputation & shitty films.)

But Coen Bros? They're the anti-Cameron. Go go go!
February 22, 2018
The Coen Brothers are hit and miss for me and this is not my cup of tea.
January 15, 2018
Complex and intriguing as all Coen films are, I am destined to come back to this film and continuing trying to pry open its mysteries and layers.
December 29, 2017
I give this a 98/A+.
December 26, 2017
M-F-O

8.9

[Joel & Ethan Coen]
December 25, 2017
Absolutely stunning. The Coen brother's go for the "less is more" approach on this one. Flawless. A dark comedy with stunning visuals.
October 23, 2017
Definitely somewhat forgotten, a Coen Brothers gem. This has to be re-watched probably over and over in order to capture and grasp it conceptually.
October 20, 2017
Before watching this film, my greatest fear was running out of Nutella; now, it's writer's block. And that's really what Barton Fink is about, a writer who can't figure out his story. Just the fact that this seemingly small problem is what this epic film centers around is mind blowing in and of itself. You think you know what's going on when you really don't, your mind wanders off and creates these complex hypotheticals. As the story unfolds, you start crossing off your long list of guesses until you are left clueless for about 2 minutes, then it suddenly clicks.

If I were to describe this film with one word it would be eerie. From the hotel staff to the tearing wall paper to Charlie's weird patterns of speech, the movie is just plain eerie; and this is what makes it so captivating. Everytime Barton struggles to start writing his opening words, you feel as if there is a heavy weight attached to your heart and it's you who can't put ink to paper. The film starts by making you feel uncomfortable at first, then clueless, and finally leaves you astonished.

Turturro and Goodman are as compatible of a pair as the Coen brothers; it really is these two pairings that carry the film.

If you are a lover of dramadies (drama comedies) give this a watch. If you are a lover of film, watch this. If you've got nothing to do on a Friday night take out that large bucket of rocky road ice cream, snuggle up, and enjoy the show.
September 17, 2017
Coen Writers Block. Coen brothers: "Let's write the most inane, senseless movie ever, and I bet people will rave about it." They were right.
August 18, 2017
I love Barton Fink! Haven't seen anything this entertaining in a long time!
½ August 4, 2017
This is overrated. This is 100% not a comedy. This is a surreal acid fueled movie. Was Charlie the devil? That scene where he runs down the hall is cool. I knew he was a killer from early on. I don't like these pretentious films.
July 31, 2017
There are no other words to else describe the performances but to agree that they're genuinely terrific while following the Coen Brothers' sense of humor towards the intellectual empathy and twisted cryptic at a minimum. Out of the movies I've watched from the brotherly duo, including the majority of post-release, "Barton Fink" is the most inviting and most enjoyable yet. (B+)

(Full review TBD)
July 26, 2017
Went back to this recently to see if the Coen brothers were ever any good. Turns out no. They are just bad story tellers - this film, like so many of heir others, giving up half way through - and the love of their work is beyond me. I actually threw the DVD in the bin, which I've never done.
½ July 11, 2017
A mix of psychotic themes and dark writing with a splash of humor. An uneasy writer getting stuck in a room with no inspiration except about his life is great because the writing twists from its original state and is written toward a mystery over a murder instead of a drama about a writers downhill career. Wonderful writing and acting.
June 18, 2017
Non è stato facile cercare di capire questo strano ed enigmatico film, con un finale spiazzante aperto a molte interpretazioni. Una cosa è certa, questo è cinema di altissimo livello, che pochi registi riescono a raggiungere. L'assurdità, l'ironia e la semplice perfetta esecuzione di alcune scene resteranno impresse nella mia memoria a lungo, vista l'intensità della recitazione e il velato moralismo che ne fa da sfondo. In particolare si percepisce una leggera critica verso Holliwood, o verso ciò che è reale e ciò che è fittizio. L'alternanza dei due aspetti descrive alla perfezione il blocco che lo scrittore protagonista vive in prima persona, riuscendo a creare un finale tanto affascinante quanto difficile da interpretare. Non sempre la mancanza di spiegazioni funziona, ma in questo caso rende il tutto ancora più misterioso e quasi surreale, un mix di emozioni che raramente si prova guardando un film.
½ May 3, 2017
This is pure Cohen Brothers with some of their, and my, favorite actors playing some dense roles. Young John Turturro and John Goodman are at their best in this, and that's saying a lot considering how much I love Goodman in Raising Arizona. If you love Cohen Brothers movies, this should be required viewing. If you don't, but you're looking for a strange, dark dramadey filled with symbolism and metaphor, you should check out Barton Fink. It's streaming on Netflix!
April 14, 2017
This is one of those movies that, as a filmmaker, one wishes they made. Superb companion piece to Sunset Boulevard and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane.
½ January 27, 2017
The Coen Brothers have for most of their career given us some quirky, bizarre, and dark cinematic features in their long career. In 1991 they treated us to Barton Fink a story revolving around the titular character. Fink is a successful playwright from New York and he is one day given an offer from Hollywood to be paid a thousand dollars each week for writing scripts. Fink makes his way out and stays at a strange hotel. The movie showcases barton's constant writers block as he thinks about the essence of theater, life and the crazy people he meets in out west.
The coen brothers always have a bizarre but uniquely funny touch to their films. The film is highly unusual but for some reason it grabbed me enough for me to continue watching all the way through. this story was scripted like something out of a woody allen film but again they add their own touch to it. it does make you think about the different kind of writers in Hollywood and how certain events can shape their screenwriter minds.
I rather enjoyed this character Barton Fink. John Turturro did an excellent job with this unsual character. I couldn't help but laugh so much at this man's hair at was so weird. Fink is a man that cares deeply about the essence of theater and acting and finds himself fighting against the ways of Hollywood and its effect on the common man. jack lerner was the best part of the film. If one finds himself bored within the first few minutes lerner's jack lipnick will wake you the hell up! so much vibrance and hilarity it is sensational! John goodman did a fine job here as yet another strange character with slim to no eyebrows. his chemistry with turturro is uncanny every scene they nailed together even the crazy climax of the film
that painting is so prominent in the film its almost like another character. same with all of the sounds in the film there is such a heavy reliance on the element of visual painting and sound. very well composed score. the cinematography was great as well. the long shots of the hallway and closeups of barton were exquisitely done.
Barton Fink is a definitely vintage coen brothers and anyone who is a fan of their work will find this to be tremendous.
½ January 21, 2017
An early Coen film plays with concepts wonderfully that they will be examining for years
January 3, 2017
Phenomenal movie. Equal parts b-movie, psychological thriller, character drama and black comedy, the familiar story of an author dealing with writer's block is skillfully told with thrilling writing, stylish direction and excellent performances from its cast, especially Turturro and Goodman.
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