Strokes of genius and laziness. Not surprisingly, this surrealist oddity was concocted during a bout of writer's block. The comedy was sharp - the academic Jew beating his guts out to tell stories "for the common man" while interrupting and ignoring the common man in his company. The ambiguity of the mystery, however, felt contrived and even pretentious - with no underlying meaning. An exercise in tones and moments.
My favourite Coens film because I am a pretentious schmuck like Barton. As with 'Lebowski' and 'Oh Brother', plays so fast and loose with allegorical resonances, you are given the impression of depth without being required to do the intellectual busywork. I think this turns a lot of people off the Coens, but here it absolutely works because Barton is utterly self-mythologising. A slippery fish w/ a beautiful score.
No way can I have even begin to form an opinion regarding this film after just one viewing. BUT one thing I can say (until I watch it again) is this film represents everything filmmaking can be if approached as an artform rather then a tool to make money! STAY TUNED for more concreteness.
John Turturro by appearance and exhaustion channels young Franz Kafka, but instead of metaphysical abstractions, his troubled existence is based on struggle for recognition and fear of the failure - while being bitten by insects instead of becoming one. In that sense, it comes as a sort of neo-kafkaesque picture that relies on eccentric humor and bizarre characters while successfully being funny and paradoxical.
With his grandiosity, arrogance, sneering at the common man & attempts to remain apart from the Hollywood machine that subsidises his work, one could very easily read Fink as a grotesque caricature of the Coens' worst tendencies. In this sense it's a work of self-critique, but a sly one; its writer's block satire obscured by an ironic comingling of art-house surrealism, B-movie schlock & character comedy. Astounding.
Great film. John Goodman is just excellent. Turturro is also great as the well-intentioned, but awkward and aloof lead. A really good example of someone who lives inside their own brain, and the problems this creates. A little too industry-focused: cinephiles are more likely to love this than the common working man towards whom poor Barton wants to focus drama.
Two powerful performances by Turturro and Goodman serve to tell a twisted tale of loneliness, madness, empathy and the artistic struggle to extricate beauty and truth from human suffering. Definitely worth a second viewing (like most of the Coens' movies) as certain events may appear slightly incongruent at first.