Here we are again, with another “writer in a hotel” movie. I promise, Jack Nicholson does not pop out with an ax this time, though the bathrooms are decided less glamorous at the Hotel Earle. Barton Fink (Disc/Download) was a new-to-me Coen Brothers movie prior to this week, but it’s quickly risen up the ranks to Hail, Caesar! levels of adoration. A movie about a neurotic writer in the Golden Age of Hollywood? Definitely my catnip.
John Turturro plays our titular character Barton Fink, a rising New York playwright who gets chewed up and spit out by the Hollywood studio system. He heeds the siren call of Los Angeles, accepting the assignment of writing a wrestling movie that’s completely out of his wheelhouse, but something he’s powerless to decline. Once in town, he moves into a creepy rundown hotel next to a fascist serial killer and soon begins an affair with the assistant to his liquored-up literary hero. I’ll just say right now, John Mahoney as the Falkner-esque W.P. Mayhew is one of my favorite things about this film, and I wish he’d had more screen time. But I digress. One of my other favorite elements is the production design, which looks straight out of classics like Casablanca or Heaven Can Wait. Barton’s apartment might be a nightmare, but the rest of Tinseltown never looked better.
Barton has a lot of meetings over drinks (as any good writer would), so this seems like a great movie to watch with a cocktail. Let’s honor the wordsmiths of the world, toiling away on projects they may or may not ever finish, with this tasty concoction, the Last Word.
1 oz Gin
1 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Lime Juice
Luxardo Maraschino cherry
Combine gin, liqueurs, and lime juice in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a cherry.
I already know Barton Fink will be a movie I’ll want to watch again and again, in an effort to catch all the tiny details and nods to Hollywood’s golden era. Like that painting on Barton’s sweating wall, I can’t help but think there’s even more to this picture than meets the eye. Cheers!