Review: Barton Fink

More than anything I loved the look and feel of this movie. The staggering attention to detail was evident in every frame.
Even though the movie is set in 1940's Hollywood, most of the action takes place in Barton's dilapidated art deco hotel from a previous era. The deco greens and oranges created an atmosphere that was both hot and humid and oppresive, but also moldy and decaying.
John Turturro's performance was subtle and nuanced. He was nervous and neurotic but always realistically so. On top of his superb general characterization, the emotional weight demanded of him was immense and he was pitch perfect in delivering.
John Goodman was terrific and terrifying as Barton's neighbor turned psychopath. He's the kind of actor that can really draw an audience in and earn their trust--which makes it all the more impressive and conflicting in the mind of the viewer when we realize that he was never who we thought he was.
I always love seeing Steve Buscemi even in smaller roles. He just seems to pop up everywhere--and in this movie he literally did just that. In his first entrance in the film he pops up out of a trapdoor behind the hotel counter to check Barton into his room. He was the hotel's only visible employee and a perfect reflection of it's pale and sickly condition.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around the concept of the film. As far as I can tell, it's both a post-modern noir buddy-film period piece and a tragi-comic metaphor about the creative process and our relationship to creative works as viewers.
In any case, Barton Fink won the Palm D'or prize, Best Director, and Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival in 1991--but grossed only $6 million at the box office. So if you're a film critic, you'll probably love this movie. And if you're someone who loves blockbusters, you probably won't.


stretched out like the taut liquid skin
on a rippling body of water.
We float
just above
hovering over the depths
watching people, times of day, lights streaming through leaves
surface and submerge.
Sometimes wishing we could drown in the depths of memory
or bathe in the quiet of a moment.
We pass--
like leaky lifeboats with our hands stretched out almost falling in
fingers barely brushing.
There is no tide.
No waves.

This morning I woke up
the kitchen was cold.
I looked down and found my feet warm
standing in a puddle of sunlight.