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Directed by Joel Coen

United States 1991 116 mins. In English

Sporting a hairdo straight out of David Lynch’s Eraserhead, John Turturro plays Barton Fink, an elitist 1940s New York playwright riding high on his first Broadway success when Hollywood comes knocking at his door with an unwelcome offer to work in pictures. Spurred on to take the job by his agent, this unrepentant advocate of “the life of the mind” quickly descends into a hell far below his presumed station in life when he is assigned to write B-grade wrestling pictures while living in a rundown hotel room next to an insurance salesman (John Goodman) whose frequent visits shift from friendly to worrisome. Perhaps the most inscrutable of all the Coen Brothers films, Barton Fink is as much a mystery on the first viewing as it is on a tenth visit, but it feels like both a gift-wrapped box still waiting to be opened and a potent reminder of the rare talent and imagination of the filmmakers behind it. Winner of the Palme d’Or, Best Actor, and Best Director awards at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival. “What Raising Arizona was to baby lust, Barton Fink is to writer’s block – a rapturously funny, strangely bittersweet, moderately horrifying, and, yes, truly apt description of the condition and its symptoms.” – Rita Kempley, The Washington Post