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Thursday, February 4

(1991) “I’ll show you the life of the mind!” Earnest Broadway playwright Fink (John Turturro) – spouting Odetsian platitudes and sporting a George S. Kaufman bouffant – is lured to early ’40s Hollywood to write wrestling scripts for B-movie haven Capitol Pictures (headed by a splenetic, Oscar-nominated Michael Lerner), shacks up at the dingy, faintly Deco Hotel Earle, and faces writer’s block as he contends with peeling wallpaper, mysterious noises and increasingly creepy visits by neighbor/traveling salesman (or is he?) John Goodman. Barton’s idol, the hard-drinking W.P. Mayhew (a Faulkneresque John Mahoney), provides little help but when Fink falls for his assistant/lover (Judy Davis), things take a turn for the nightmarish. Winner of three top prizes in Cannes: Palme d’Or, Best Director, and Best Actor. 35mm. Approx. 117 mins.


“AN UNQUALIFIED WINNER. A fine dark comedy of flamboyant style and immense though seemingly effortless technique. An exhilarating original.”
– Vincent Canby, The New York Times

“A black comedy in the tradition of David Lynch, Luis Buñuel and the Coens themselves. Turturro is the right man for the role, making Fink a plodding, introspective, unsure intellectual whose lack of insight is matched only by his lack of talent.”
– Roger Ebert

“Rapturously funny, strangely bittersweet, and moderately horrifying. One of the year's best and most intriguing films. Though it defies genre, it seems to work best as a tart self-portrait, a screwball film noir that expresses the Coens' own alienation from Hollywood. A cineaste's landmark on a par with "Blue Velvet," this is an experience to savor over and over.”
– The Washington Post

“As it suddenly shifts gear from its bizarre blend of brooding psychodrama and screwball satire, the film accelerates into a Gothic fantasy as outrageous as it is terrifying. Somehow everything coheres, thanks to the Coens' superb writing and assured direction, and a roster of marvellous performances. The result works on numerous levels, thrilling the mind, ears and eyes, and racking the nerves.”
– Geoff Andrew, Time Out (London)

Film Forum