The last Coen Brothers movie I saw for the first time was Miller's Crossing, and I wasn't all that taken with it - sure it was well made, but it didn't draw me in for some reason. The same cannot be said of Barton Fink, which I loved from start-to-finish. The first time I ever heard of it? An episode of The Simpson's when Bart and the boys rejoice that they're going to see an R-Rated movie and chant "Barton Fink! Barton Fink!" ... now I get the joke as it's the complete opposite of what those cartoon kids were looking for. What they would have got instead was a thematically deep and textured examination of one Jewish writer's descent into a personal hell as he moves from emotionally rewarding theatre work to the seemingly debasing work of cranking out a script for a B-Movie wrestling picture in 1940s Hollywood.
Trapped for the majority of the film inside his dingy hotel room that gets ever-hotter as the film progresses (the wallpaper peeling and oozing more and more), our writer finds his only friend in John Goodman's insurance salesman who's got the gift of the gab and could certainly tell you a story. Darkly comic, richly textured, nostalgic, informed, and exhibiting the Coen's classic style that combines the painterly eye of cinematographer Roger Deakins with their own feel for recurring visual motifs. Excellent.
The Company Men:
A cheery drama about a handful of men, in well paid positions, who get sacked from their jobs at GTX during the fall-out from the 2008 economic meltdown ... soul-crushing job searches, repossessions, suicidal thoughts, and other such routes are followed during the course of the film ... it's a laugh-a-minute, I tells ya! Seriously though it's a pretty good drama, nothing ground breaking, and there are a few "hmmm..." moments that either don't quite ring true, don't quite bring you along for the ride, or lend a touch too much 'movie-ness' to certain proceedings. Good acting from the likes of Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, and Tommy Lee-Jones, and it hooked me in for the duration, so it was effective in those respects - but not especially memorable or ground-shaking in the long run.