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And so I did, tonight for the third time. When I saw "Barton Fink" in the theater, I swore it was one of the greatest films I'd ever seen, but I didn't have the first idea *why* it was. Tonight, I still think it is, and only now do I fully realize just how much of this film I don't understand. As I type this, I'm partially finished with this piece, an important analysis of "Barton Fink" - "'Writers Come and Go': The Greatness of Barton Fink" by Eric S. Piotrowski on medium.com
*** MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW *** As a "companion pre-piece" to "No Country for Old Men" (2004) I watched (for the very first time) "Blood Simple" (1987), and I can sure see how one influenced the other. The difference being that "Blood Simple" is almost - perhaps is - a very, *very* dark comedy, in the tradition of Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors," although "Comedy of Errors" is a farce, and "Blood Simple" is a carefully crafted, methodically worked, mistaken-assumption story that is so subtle that the audience, at times, also makes mistaken assumptions. I don't much care for the term "Neo-Noir," but in both of these Coen films, it's a very fitting description (I think I groused about the term's overuse in "The Usual Suspects," which just doesn't meet the requirements in my eyes). "Blood Simple" is so improbable that it *could have* fallen into farce, but it didn't, and the fact that it didn't shows you're being led along by two master filmmakers. The Coen brothers are positively brilliant, and I've always had "Barton Fink" on my all-time greatest films list - I need to watch that again. The ending of "Blood Simple" was as riveting, engrossing, and shocking as any ending I can think of that I've seen, and to say anything more about it (at least without a spoiler alert) would do the reader a great disservice. It is a monumentally great ending. And I have never seen a Coen film that I haven't liked - I've only seen perhaps half of them, so they're not off the hook in terms of batting 1.000, but they just may be my favorite living filmmakers when you consider their entire body of work. "Blood Simple," if you haven't seen it, is a *great* movie, and it's unbelievable that it was a "low-budget" film - it doesn't come across that way at all. If you loved "No Country for Old Men," you owe it to yourself to watch the Coen film that started it all. Superb!
Well, "The Big Lebowski" is another picture that nobody can believe I'd never seen before, but I hadn't (this, and "This Is Spinal Tap" were the two I'd really been wanting to watch for a long, long time). I was really getting into this film - a great comedy to be sure - when the terrorist attacks hit Nice, and pretty much ruined it for me. Still, that doesn't lessen the movie - Jeff Bridges is brilliant, and so is just about everybody else. I don't think I've ever seen a Coen Brothers film that I don't like - they are geniuses in the mold of Matt Groening. I'm not up for a big, long write-up, but I'd love to discuss the movie with anyone who wants to. This Nice attack has pretty much wiped out any comedic effects the film had on me tonight; tomorrow I'll be better - I'm not going to let those assholes compromise anything about my life.
Why hadn't I seen "No Country for Old Men" before ?! As entertainment, this was pretty darned intense, and very, very well-done. As art, I need to think about it some more, but I think there's a lot to extract from this film. I don't like the sudden, undramatic loss of the anti-protagonist, but there must be a reason for this.