THE grand prize-winner at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, Barton Fink (Pearl, 9.30pm) is another of the Coen brothers highly stylised homages to classical Hollywood. It took an unprecedented three gongs at Cannes, the Palme d'Or for best film, best actor (John Turturro, as the eponymous Barton) and best director (Joel Coen). Barton Fink begins as a satire on the film industry and has more than enough material to go round. But halfway through it turns into something more disturbing, a dizzying trip inside two rather unbalanced minds. If you watch it for nothing else, do so for the surreal writer's block scenes, when Barton is struggling to put words on the page and sits in silence watching wallpaper and its paste ooze from the walls - imagine Eraserhead in colour. Turturro won the Palme d'Or, but the film is close to stolen by Michael Lerner as Jack Lipnick, the larger-than-life movie mogul who is a composite of MGM's Louis Mayer and other studio heads. Lerner overwhelms even the fine acting of John Goodman, whose transformation from lonely salesman to psychotic killer is a treat. The film is set in the 1940s and sees intellectual left-wing playwright Barton hitting it big with a Depression-era proletarian drama before being reluctantly seduced by a lucrative offer to go to Hollywood to write for the movies. Barton is asked to write a wrestling picture and, pent up in a seedy hotel room, suffers acute and hallucinatory writer's block. Enjoy also a great turn from John Mahoney as W P Mayhew, an alcoholic Southern novelist who hasn't written a decent word since coming to Hollywood. Barton is shocked to discover that WP is a cynical fraud whose work is done by his personal secretary. Barton's first encounter with the secretary turns quickly from business to sex, but his bliss becomes a nightmare when he wakes up the next morning to find her bloody corpse in his bed. WHICH all makes Boxing Helena (World, 9.35pm) look even more of a mess. This film was infamous for being the film that Kim Basinger decided not to star in, having originally said she would. The producers sued her for US$8 million (about HK$62 million) and Basinger went into liquidation, but must have been almost glad she did. The film was an atrocious turkey and the sympathetic publicity she received sparked a revival in Basinger's career. The film, lest we forget, is about a strange but brilliant surgeon (Julian Sands, at his most inept) who falls for Sherilyn Fenn (the part that was to have been played by Basinger) and takes extreme measures to keep her from straying. Art Garfunkel appears briefly as Dr Augustine. Boxing Helen is, it must be said, a truly bad film. It wears its pretensions on its sleeve, peddles pseudo-philosophical theories about dysfunctional childhoods and, as if that weren't enough, has no credible narrative. Director Jennifer Chambers Lynch sees the amputations as an 'accurate and true metaphor'. 'Obsessive relationships are like amputations in that we constantly steal from one another in the hope of gaining superiority,' she said. THE latest from the Merchant-Ivory stable is Jefferson in Paris, which has been dogged by controversy. Not that any of the controversy is discussed in Behind The Scenes: Jefferson in Paris (World, 8pm), which is another of the many 'making of' documentaries we have suffered through of late. The fuss arose because the film, starring a bewigged Nick Nolte as Thomas Jefferson, shows the author of the Declaration of Independence not only as a slave-owner, but as what you might call a slave rogerer. Jefferson is said to have had a long-standing slave mistress and fathered children by her. This kind of thing would not be tolerated by the Clinton administration. FILMS on Cable Movie Channel: Yesteryou, Yesterme, Yesterday (9am and 3pm). Simon Chu's whimsical look at growing up in Hong Kong, through the eyes of a child of the late 60s.