Posts tagged ‘Barton Fink’

June 27, 2013

DIY Cannes 2013: The Palme D’Ork Awards

Since I mainly think about awards, if I have a film festival, it needs to have awards. I decided that for finishing the 20 movie marathon I planned, I would give it out awards just like they do on the Croisette, including following the rule that no movie can win 2 awards.

And without further ado,  the winners are:

Best Actress:

Annette Bening in The Grifters

Annette Bening – The Grifters
What can I say? It was love at first sight. Annette’s smokin’ portrayal of a super psychotic con woman is so electrifying that it carries this film. I also can not believe how sexy she is in this. She deserved her Oscar nomination and she deserves it here.

Best Actor:

Barton Fink

John Turturro – Barton Fink

As it goes with the rules, some movie has to win Best Actor. There were many choices of great performances in under directed movies. But none of those leading men were really giving award winning performances. I decided to go with a performance that is great that is only great because of the direction of this film. John Turturro is brilliant as Barton. His small quiet rage was so specific, he brought it to life. This performance is only possible though, with the specificty of the Coen Bros. writing and directing. They created a fantastic atmosphere for this unique performance, and that deserves to be noted. That being said. This is John Turturro’s award, and he deserves the hell out of it.

Best Screenplay:

The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides – Sofia Coppola

Sofia Coppola deserves so many points for clearly adapting a novel in to a fantastic unique film that stands on its own. The sense of a greater world is there. Every decision made in this movie was informed on the world of these characters. The specific world of this was brought in both representing Jeffrey Eugenides world, but also the unique world view of auteur Sofia Coppola. Her razor sharp wit and incredible sentimentality completely push it over the edge.

Best Director:


Takashi Miike – Audition
Horror movies get so often over looked, but they are mainly a director driven field. As much as any arthouse world. And Takashi Miike is the Woody Allen of horror movies. He makes a ton, but only a couple of them are good. And they’re great. Audition is one of the greats and it is only great through the incredible tension built in this movie. I’m getting nervous just thinking about it. Well done.

Palme Dog:


Chloe – Tell No One

The movie had a lot of problems, but is completely worth remembering exists. Why? Because of the incredible canine performance given by Chloe as Nina the dog. This dog is a champion. She is super brave and often gets caught in the fray of her crazy owner’s life. She handles it like a pro and still manages to be an awesome dog. I want one when I’m 50. Also Chloe is the real life original book’s author Harlan Coben’s dog. What?!? This is just a real life dog who is super badass? Where can I meet her?

Jury Prize:

Citizen Ruth Quote

Citizen Ruth – dir. Alexander Payne

Often known as the third place prize at Cannes, the Jury Prize is just a place to honor a super excellent film. So I decided to make a top 3 of the festival, and no matter how deserving they were of other categories, who cares? This is way better. And Alexander Payne proved my expectations way wrong and made something so fun and pointed that I couldn’t resist. I also love a movie where the moral of the story is “everyone’s a nut job.” They just don’t happen anymore. Citizen Ruth deserves a permanent place in the new Cult Canon.

The Grand Prix:

The Arbor

The Arbor – dir. Clio Barnard

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m making a concerted effort to see more documentaries, but I’ve been finding that, for me, the staying power of a documentary is never too long. The Arbor completely bucks that trend and floored me with its combination of gender, class, and racial politics all topped with a high concept narrative style and a compelling emotional family story. The whole ensemble pulls off the lip-synced method with tremendous ease and it makes for one of the most unique documentary experiences out there.

The Palme D’Ork:


Rosemary’s Baby – dir. Roman Polanski

I’ve mentioned before that this might be unfair, but this is known as one of the greatest films of all time and deserves every mention it gets. It’s the kind of film that goes beyond perfect into something totally new and defining. Film would not be the same without Rosemary’s Baby and all of its paranoid glory.

Thanks for sticking with me during this little project. I certainly had a lot of fun and discovered tons of great directors along the way. Some of the movies I watched were stinkers, others were masterpieces, most fell in between. But the idea of discovery that maybe THIS will be my new favorite movie is so exciting to me, that I don’t regret anything. Even Valhalla Rising. I definitely want to continue this tradition next year. Since the internet is a dark deep vortex, there are already predictions for what the 2014 Cannes Film Festival might bring. For me, that would mean catching up with P.T. Anderson, Wes Anderson, Olivier Assayas, David Cronenberg, Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Joachim Trier, and Thomas Vinterberg. I already can’t wait.

June 25, 2013

DIY Cannes 2013: Barton Fink

Barton FinkTo stave off the depression of not being at Cannes while everyone I follow on Twitter gabs about their new favorite discoveries, I’ve decided to take the opportunity and hold my own film festival. Every night, I’m going to watch a movie I haven’t seen by one of the director’s debuting on the Croisette. Thanks to the power of Netflix, so many foreign movies and older auteur classics are available for Instant Streaming. Who knows what discoveries I might find along the way?

And yes, I know it’s over, but 2 week long trips in the middle of this project set me back very far. I’m going to finish it up anyway BECAUSE I CARE. Or I’m still unemployed.

Movie #20: Barton Fink

Director: Joel (and Ethan) Coen

His Cannes 2013 Movie: Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coen brothers are arguably the greatest film directors of their generation. They have a phenomenal batting average, and at least half of their works seem to be major cultural touchstones. Ever since I saw O Brother Where Art Thou, my first Coen Bros. experience, I’ve done my best to go back and watch them all. Known as the work that really put them on the map, Barton Fink was an inevitable pitstop and the perfect final film for my DIY Cannes marathon.

The titular Barton Fink (played by John Turturro) is a twitchy nervous Jew, transplanted from a mildly successful theater career in NYC to become a screenwriter in Hollywood. While staying at the fantastically weird and dilapidated Hotel Earle, he encounters several larger than life characters who all are pushing him to write his screenplay, yet they only make him more nervous and increase his foreboding writer’s block.

For a movie about writer’s block, the Ethan and Joel surely never had it while writing this oddity. Each of the nut-bags Barton meets along the way is weird and crazier than the last and I honestly couldn’t pick a favorite if I tried. Barton’s next-door neighbor at the hotel, Charlie Meadows (John Goodman), is this incredibly cheery oaf who likes to wrestle and just shoot the shit with Barton. Johns Turturro and Goodman have such phenomenal chemistry, I could watch them talk for hours. Goodman’s commanding confidence is the perfect foil for Turturro’s meek insanity. Somehow, Michael Lerner’s performance as producer Jack Lipnick stood out to the Academy and he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. While his over-the-top hard-ball negotiations are hysterical (My god, when he kisses Barton’s shoe…. I’m dead.), Goodman certainly gets a lot more to do. Tony Shalhoub is giving the only performance of his I’ve ever liked as Ben Geisler, some other schmuck in the movie business who, if you hadn’t noticed, also likes to boss Barton around. And finally, John Mahoney gets to play the daffy author W.P. Mayhew and Judy Davis his younger assistant Audrey. When you add in a young Steve Buscemi and a never-young Jon Polito, this is one of the most stacked decks of character actors I’ve ever seen.

Fortunately, Turturro is able to ground this wacky cast of characters while also sticking out of the crowd. However, he constantly gets overshadowed by the setting of Baltimore on The Wire the curious Hotel Earle. Every time you hear someone shout or see shoes outside of a door, surely someone else must be in this hotel… right? But who would stay in a hotel with wallpaper that won’t stay on the walls. It’s anyone’s guess. But the Coen’s do such a great job of setting up a mood through this gorgeous set piece that it’s impossible to deny the cultural power of this movie and it’s aesthetic.

My ONLY complaint with this movie is that I don’t fully get it. What were we supposed to learn from watching this? I don’t have a thesis for it. At all. But that’s okay. I can’t wait to watch it again and hope to dig a little deeper.