Sunday, February 27, 2005


Barton Fink.


A tenement building on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

The wife got me thinking about this one with her reference to "Wallace Beery. Wrestling picture. What do you need, a road map?"

You know how they have a page of memorable quotes for most of the movies on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)? Sometimes they can be pretty lame. Well, here's a movie where the memorable quotes really are. I think my favorite is, "And do me a favor, Fink -- throw it hard."

Man, I love this movie. OK, I mean, it doesn't really work, not on every level, and it's such a subtle comedy that on first viewing, it doesn't even really play as a comedy (see e.g. the scene with the detectives in the hotel lobby). But, along with Miller's Crossing, this represents some sort of lunatic high point for the Coen Brothers. Some would argue that the Coens did not make a truly great movie until Fargo, which is certainly more an examination of human nature than "just" an exercise in style like these movies and Raising Arizona. There's also a cult following for The Big Lebowski. But for style, story, and especially dialogue, these two take the cake. And besides, "What do you think this is, Hamlet? Gone With the..."

And the performances! Tony Shalhoub as Ben Geisler ("GUY-sler!") is an all-timer. "What am I, the goddamned janitor around here?"

Whatever happened to Judy Davis? With this and Naked Lunch, she was the Queen of Typewriter Movies there for a while. Then she did a couple of Woody Allen movies, and I remember her in Blood and Wine, and then, nothing.

Update 3-02-2005: So I check into my hotel in DC and start flipping through the channels. Free HBO! On Comedy Central (I think), they're showing The Ref, starring...Judy Davis (and, pre-Keyser Soze, Kevin Spacey, with hair), with a truly preposterous hairstyle.

No comments: