Barton Fink is one of my favorite lesser known Coen brothers movie. In it John Turturro plays a brilliant stage writer for Broadway (from whom the movie gets its name) who gets lured to Hollywood in the 1940s to write screenplays for big studios.
Turturro is perfectly at home as the naïve, paranoid stereotypical writer caricature who would prefer to write reality based social commentary rather than standard genre movies such as Lassie or whathaveyou.
Of course he winds up hating Hollywood and all its shallowness and everything it stands for, and as a result winds up with a bad case of writer’s block. He spends his days in a dilapidated hotel room where the walls are literally sweating off of the place.
He is occasionally kept company by a drunken boisterous traveling salesman played by John Goodman, who, except Walter in the Big Lebowski, has maybe his best role ever here.
As Fink slowly loses his mind the entire mood of the movie takes a turn for the bizarre and surreal. This movie is a lot of fun for movie buffs, as it is practically a running gag/commentary on many real life studio people from the classic Hollywood era.
John Mahoney plays a character based on the latter day William Faulkner, a once great American novelist reduced to writing formulaic pap for studio execs who are more interested in the bottom line than in any artistic merit.
This film is half comedy, half horror movie, which I guess you could say about a number of early Coen brothers films. It is quirky, smart, and very creepy, but above all else just well written and quite entertaining.
Barton Fink gets a four out of five: GREAT.