Barton Fink (1991)
September 26, 2022 1:37 PM - Subscribe

Set in 1941, intellectual New York playwright Barton Fink (John Turturro) accepts an offer to write movie scripts in L.A. He finds himself with writer's block when required to do a B-movie script. His neighbor (John Goodman) tries to help, but Barton continues to struggle as a bizarre sequence of events distracts him.

Also starring Judy Davis, Michael Lerner, Tony Shalhoub, John Mahoney, Steve Buscemi, and Frances McDormand.

A Coen Brothers film.

91% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently available for digital rental in the US on multiple outlets. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (22 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'LL SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE MIND
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:47 PM on September 26, 2022 [11 favorites]


See the last tag.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:50 PM on September 26, 2022 [1 favorite]


Chet!
posted by whuppy at 2:29 PM on September 26, 2022 [1 favorite]


This was my very first Coen Brothers movie. Needless to say I was hooked from the beginning.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:32 PM on September 26, 2022 [3 favorites]


Dammit, Jack!
posted by praemunire at 2:40 PM on September 26, 2022


A horror movie about the creative process.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 2:40 PM on September 26, 2022 [2 favorites]


We know about the Coens' affinity for Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels because of the title of Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, but this is the film that really leans on the premise of Sullivan's Travels: the well-meaning filmmaker wanting to write for the "common man" without understanding the common man one bit.
posted by Paragon at 3:01 PM on September 26, 2022 [5 favorites]


"He's a man! We wrestled!"

John Goodman's turn as Madman Muntz is truly terrifying. He's so fucking good at being a murderous psychopath it is sort of a wonder he didn't have roles like this more often. I can imagine an alternate timeline where he's the center of something like the Saw franchise. Steve Buscemi is, as always, a delight. Even though he's only onscreen for a couple minutes, he brings on a fully formed human being in the character of "Chet."
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:24 PM on September 26, 2022 [2 favorites]


One of the finest pieces of alliteration in all of film history is, "You're a sick fuck, Fink."
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:45 PM on September 26, 2022 [2 favorites]


He's so fucking good at being a murderous psychopath

John Goodman was one of the main characters in 10 Cloverfield Lane. I'm not kidding when I say that one of the scariest moments is when you realize his character has shaved and put on a good shirt.
posted by SPrintF at 5:52 PM on September 26, 2022 [1 favorite]


I think about this movie every time I slap a mosquito.
posted by phooky at 6:08 PM on September 26, 2022


SPrintF: Oh yeah, I forgot about that! He was good in that.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:16 PM on September 26, 2022


Also used well as a villain in O Brother Where Art Thou? The Wikipedia page for Barton Fink says, re his casting:
The Coen brothers wrote the role of Charlie Meadows for actor John Goodman, in part because of the "warm and friendly image that he projects for the viewer"
Another interesting angle to the film: the script is something they Coens whipped up in a few weeks while working through frustrations that had arisen during the making of Miller's Crossing.
posted by Nerd of the North at 6:50 PM on September 26, 2022 [2 favorites]


Bar-ton Fink! Bar-ton Fink!
posted by DowBits at 8:31 PM on September 26, 2022 [5 favorites]


The mosquito scene.

And the wallpaper peeling.

Was lucky enough to see this on the big screen when it came out. Intense.
posted by Zumbador at 2:05 AM on September 27, 2022


This was my first Coen Brothers movie viewing as well. Some University of Missouri student group used to show movies like this on Fridays. They frequently showed a Merrie Melodies or Looney Tunes cartoon as an opener. I really want to say it was Water, Water Every Hare before Barton Fink, but mostly that's the only one I can remember. The horror theme fits.

Now be a cooperative little bunny and let me have your brain!
posted by sevenless at 10:36 AM on September 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


Maybe I need to give this one another try, but I just couldn’t click with it when I saw it ages ago. And I generally love the brothers’ films. Oddly (?) it was Goodman’s performance that turned me away.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:36 AM on September 27, 2022


I thought about this movie a lot after the 2016 election.
posted by MetaFilter World Peace at 11:32 AM on September 27, 2022 [2 favorites]


I remember watching this in my college days and finding it not that great and too self-indulgent. I then watched it again several years ago and came away thinking it's a masterpiece.

I'm not generally a huge Coen brothers fan, but knowing that they apparently cracked out the script for this in a few weeks pushes them into genius territory, even if I don't connect with much of their ouvre.
posted by Alex404 at 12:13 AM on September 28, 2022


I've already pre-determined that if I ever just absolutely lose it, part of that process will be charging down a hallway bellowing "LOOK UPON MEEEE! I WILL SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE MIND!".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:19 AM on September 28, 2022 [3 favorites]


Judy Davis and the Coen Brothers, plus everything else. One of my favourite films for so many reasons. I'll show you the life of the mind, indeed.
posted by h00py at 7:46 AM on September 28, 2022


He's so fucking good at being a murderous psychopath

That's why he's so great in The Righteous Gemstones.
posted by Quonab at 9:31 PM on September 28, 2022


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