What movie was that...?

21 August 2010

Barton Fink

directed by the Coen Brothers

Say what you want about Fargo and No Country for Old Men, but the true twin pillars of Coen Brothers genius are A Serious Man (the best film of the decade) and the criminally neglected Barton Fink. Sure, the geniuses at The Academy saw fit to grace it with a few awards in ‘91, and the snobs at Cannes bestowed multiple awards upon the film (which was unprecedented and seems to indicated that maybe that group of eurotrash might know a thing or two after all), but this is a film that should have everyone talking, to this very day. Perhaps, like in A Serious Man, the Coens hide their genius too well, imbedding it in enough idiosyncratic comedic posturing to make palatable (and perhaps even mute) the deep mysteries their films unveil. Perhaps I shouldn’t take them so seriously because they clearly don’t, instead joining in on their strange and self mocking temperaments. I don’t know about that position, but I do find myself keenly aware of how little thought even my movie geek friends give the Coen films, especially the ones I so love. And when it comes to Barton Fink, most people can scarcely recall what the film was even about! Dammit! How does a film like this get the cosmic snub? It certainly wasn’t due to acting, because most of the cast deliver, possibly, their career best, including John Turturro and John Goodman. It certainly wasn’t due to the soundtrack, Because Carter Burwell’s score is entrancing and haunting (much like A Serious Man). It couldn’t have been the cinematography, because Roger Deakins is one of the finest cinematographers to ever practice the art, so much so that his name is nearly synonymous with cinematographic perfection. And, of course, it certainly couldn’t be due to the writing or directing, because let’s face it, the Coens made it. This doesn’t excuse filmic travesties like Intolerable Cruelty or The Ladykillers, but it doesn’t negate their near legendary talent. The Coens are a genre unto themselves, oft imitated but never equaled, but films like Barton Fink deserve to be on every best film list from here to eternity. Wait, BC. Are you saying that Barton Fink deserves the kind of recognition that The Maltese Falcon, On the Waterfront or, dare I even say it, Citizen Cane (omg, I had to say that in a whisper voice) deserve? Yes, dammit, yes! It does, and one shouldn’t be ashamed to make such assertions. Mark my words, Barton Fink shows you the power of human mind, and it is a chillingly dark thing to behold.

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