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The Big Lebowski is the type of movie that is so funny, and so clever, you
want nothing more but to meet the Coen brothers, congratulate them
personally for their unique talent, and get inside their heads and find
what makes these two geniuses "tick". The main characters are Jeff
(who plays such broad roles like The Muse, The Contender, and Sea
John Goodman (who should have won an oscar for best supporting actor for
character, Walter Sobchak)Juliane Moore (Maude Lebowski)and Steve Buscemi
(who is unique in every Coen Brother movie).
The first time I saw this movie, I will admit that I enjoyed it, but did not fully appreciate its level of humor and raw talent. I thought the middle section was a bit too depressing and long. But trust me, this is a movie that gets more funny every time you see it, even if it's your thousandth time seeing it. Its level of comedy, action, brutality, and vulgarity become that much more evident and important.
The characters are brilliantly written by the coen brothers, and, likewise, are brilliantly portrayed by the actors. The Big Lebowski is like no other film. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. There is no other film such as TBL that is sharp and witty all the way through. One of the Joel and Ethan Coen's best, and one of the movie industry's best comedic film of all time. You want to go see this flick.
It's a travesty that most critics only read The Big Lebowski at its most superficial level and called it a modern take on a Raymond Chandler potboiler. I simply can't begin to perceive how one could sit down in front of this cinematic pop-poetry, as it plates gold on the silver screen, and not feel so incredibly alive. The dream sequence Busbee Berkley musical numbers are unique and awe-inspiring; the humor is rich, subtle, and clever in the way it satirizes politically correct arrogance; the free-flowing story avoids (even pokes fun at) nonessentials like plot points and pay-offs. But what really makes this film such a masterpiece, such a panacea, is the incredible humanism, the care that the Coen brothers put in developing The Dude (Jeff Bridges), Walter (John Goodman), Donnie (Steve Buscemi-tremendously endearing), and Brandt (magnificently played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Looking at the films use of Sam Elliott to play The Stranger, who constantly rambles about the many wonders of The Dude (among other things), it is clear that the film is an ode to a Dudist way of life. And in a time where so many film promise that they have the answer to the worlds problems and end up as slick, stylistic show-off films, what more could one ask for than a good-hearted film like this? Not to mention the performance by Jeff Bridges, which ranks among the best performances of the nineties; he has a relaxed slouch, a goofy smile, an enthusiastic dance, and his buttons can only be pushed by Walter, who John Goodman plays with charm and fury. The Coen brothers have always been considered 'cold' filmmakers, but there is nothing here but warmth and humanity (as is the case with the Coens' Fargo). What we have here is one of the greatest achievements in modern cinema and if you can't see that, grab a White Russian, hit the bowling ally, and find your inner-Dude as soon as possible.
My favourite Coen brothers movie changes over the years as I watch and rewatch their amazingly original and consistently surprising oeuvre. When I first saw 'The Big Lebowski' on its original release I enjoyed it but thought it was a bit of a slight "fun" movie with less depth than many of their previous works. Now, a few years and several viewing later, I have come to realise just how accomplished a movie it is, and it has become one of my all time favourite movies. Other film makers have attempted to weave together various genres, styles and images in a similarly eclectic, postmodern fashion, but few do it as seamlessly and with such wit as Ethan and Joel Coen. 'The Big Lewboski' is an extremely smart film, but it doesn't shout "look at me! Aren't I clever?". It sucks you in from the get go, and bottom line it is FUNNY, and as it is a comedy that's what counts the most! Everything about the movie is perfect, the script, the direction, set design, costumes, and the wonderful soundtrack (one of the most brilliant ever assembled, it includes lesser known Dylan and Elvis Costello numbers, Creedence classics, and songs from cult favourites like Yma Sumac, Captain Beefheart, Moondog, Esquivel and garage gods The Monks). Plus of course the actors, who are well cast and virtually flawless. Jeff Bridges ('Fat City', 'Starman') IS The Dude, and it's impossible to think of anyone else acting the role. Coen regulars John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Peter Stomare, and Jon Polito are all on board, as well as Julianne Moore ('Boogie Nights'), David Huddleston ('Capricorn One'), Philip Seymour Hoffman ('Magnolia') and Sam Elliot ('Mask'), even surprise cameos from Ben Gazzara ('The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie') and singer Jimmie Ray Gilmore. I can't fault 'The Big Lebowski', it is one of the most original and entertaining comedies ever made and a genuine modern classic. It's movies like this that keep me watching despite the endless mountain of mindless garbage that Hollywood continually spews out. If only every movie in the box office Top Ten was as inspired and amusing as this one!
With the combination of the writing of the Coen brothers and the
Cinematography of Roger Deakins, they created a film as beautiful as it
is funny. The Coen brothers consistently impress me with their ability
to write an interesting story with fascinating yet quirky characters.
Without resorting to gratuitous sexual scenes like many other
writer/directors of R rated films the Coen brothers manage to add the
right amount of language and violence that is necessary to the story
without it becoming the only reason for watching. 'The Big Lebowski'
has so many clever and hilarious lines that you have to watch it over
and over again.
Nothing else needs to be said about it other than it is the greatest movie ever made.
No movie has entertained me more in the last year than this film. It's delightfully written, directed with poise and acted with extravagance and excellence. I do admit that this is a film that I had to see six times to get. Every time I watch it I learn something new. The genius of the film lies within a game I think the Coen brothers play with their audiences. There are the touches of the masters in many of their films. In "The Hudsucker Proxy," it was Preston Sturges and Frank Capra. In "Raising Arizona," I felt a touch of Sam Fuller. In this film, I felt many touches of greatness, but more specifically I felt John Sayles or even John Cassevettes in spots. The camera was manipulated beautifully and I felt a tinge of their talents lurking in at many a turn. The performances are astounding, especially Goodman as the deranged bowler still living deep within the jungles of the Vietcong. Huddleston is also quite wonderful as the title character. Turturro gives a fine cameo as "Jesus," coupled with a rousing and humurous version of the Eagles, "Hotel California," done in Espanol. I hope this is a film that is looked at with more seriousness. It is, once you dig deep, a fine piece of filmmaking.
It's actually kind of hard to describe this movie (and what's so great
about it) to people who don't already know it and love it; as with many
cult films, The Big Lebowski will either speak to you (in which case
you will become a fervent follower of His Dudeness and abide by his
code for the rest of your life) or, if it doesn't, the film will either
leave you completely indifferent or you'll even downright hate it.
I believe it's a very funny film and I'm sure it can be rightfully called a comedy, but don't expect punchlines, gags, jokes or slapstick - it's not that kind of comedy. If you want to enjoy this film, you have to meet Jeffery "The Dude" Lebowski by his terms, hang out with him and his bowling buddies and follow them at a their (perhaps somewhat leisurely) pace through this weird and unbelievable tale about nihilism, theft (of a car and, more importantly: a Creedence Clearwater Revival tape), kidnapping, abstract art, porn and - of course - bowling.
The story is actually kind of simple. You see, some no-good German nihilists urinated on The Dude's rug - and this kind of aggression just won't stand against The Dude. With the help of his bowling buddies, he will do everything in his power to get someone to pay for his rug - or possibly get a new one (because that rug really tied the room together). So he embarks on this worthy quest during which he will encounter many wondrous things and fascinating people (even Jesus - who is NOT the messiah but a very naughty man).
With Jeff Bridges in the leading role, the Coen brothers have found the perfect actor to incorporate one of the most iconic characters that has ever been created. But it's not just The Dude that makes this a winner; the whole film is such an inspired folly and simply inventive filmmaking at its finest (the hilarious dream sequence alone is worth the price of admission). The supporting cast is outstanding (J.Turturro, J.Goodman and S.Buscemi among many others), the song choices are perfect and the dialog is the funniest, most quotable in any comedy I've ever seen. This - for me - is without a doubt the film with the highest rewatchability factor of all time. 10 stars out of 10.
Favorite Films: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054200841/
Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Favorite Low-Budget and B-movies: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054808375/
The Coen brothers are up there with my very favorite filmmakers (Scorsese, Kubrick, Carpenter). I am very fond of their work. Throughout their irreverent career, they have explored different subjects and themes. Their best stories evolve from kidnapping schemes in films like "Raising Arizona " and "Fargo", one of my very favorites. I thought that film was fervently free. I was so ever wrong. It's as if the Coen Brothers have celebrated their complete breakthrough success (Academy Award winners), and now are willing to do whatever they please. "The Big Lebowski" is a film so meandering, so wonderfully novel, that I found myself missing the many other sporadic jokes as I was heaving from laughter. The film is basically about mistaken identity, eccentric characters, and a soiled rug. This film extols the bowler, the allies, even the pins. We experience an actual bowling ball POV, as the Dude (Jeff Bridges) hallucinates. This film has nihilists, feminists, millionares, paedophiles, drugged out hippies, underachieving students, incompetent criminals, pornographers and 'Nam veterans. This movie is open to anything , anything... Some people are turned off by absurd looniness, because it's so grandiosely different. Yet who couldn't chuckle, if not explode, when a bowler dressed in a tight purple suit licks a bowling ball's finger hole, and the camera pans down to reveal his name as Jesus! I will disclose no more, but urgently recommend you to traverse to your nearest video abode and rent this true escapists' feature. Abandon all solemn inhibitons, though! One can not keep a straight face whilst watching.
Acting is one of the most key elements to success or failure of a film.
Some film types can survive without superb acting. These motion
pictures can entertain the viewer with special effects or intense
action scenes. A film based on heavy dialog and back-story can not
survive with out excellent actors. One such movie that meets the
dialog-based criterion is The Big Lebowski. The film follows Jeff 'The
Dude' Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) and his two close friends through a not
so normal chain of events. The story is augmented by the supporting
characters Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi). Written by
Joel and Ethan Coen, the creative forces behind Fargo, the intriguing
story succeeds because of the actors' impeccable skill.
As with many other films by the Coen brothers The Big Lebowski is an odd array of out of the ordinary characters slapped right in the middle of an improbable situation. The Dude is an unlikely hero living in the city of Los Angeles who becomes embroiled in a botched kidnapping. This is not the average kidnapper comedy that has been seen a thousand times before. The Coen brothers take a fresh look at an old tired subject. The story they have created is intriguing and entertaining, but the true entertainment comes from the unique characters. Walter, played by John Goodman, is a Vietnam veteran who seems to have some parts of post traumatic stress syndrome. Donny, another one of The Dude's close friends, is a quiet unassuming character who often interjects into conversation, but no one pays close attention to what he says.
As well as these characters are written, they would not be as effective had they been played by other actors. This effectiveness of acting can be seen in the opening scene at the bowling alley where the supporting characters are first introduced. This scene is comprised of Donny, Walter, and The Dude sitting at their lane in the bowling alley discussing the attack on The Dude by some hired thugs (7min 25 sec). The Dude is approaching the situation in his usual lackadaisical way. Jeff Bridges conveys The Dude's overall demeanor in his laid back, sauntering, walk. Although being laid back, Bridges is direct in his speaking showing that The Dude is not the average confused old stoner. Bridges facial expressions during this scene show The Dude is distressed about the loss of his rug which 'tied the room together.'
Donny seems to be an outside observer in this scene and throughout much of the film. Buscemi conveys his character's attention during discussion by following the flow of the conversation with his head. He looks from The Dude to Walter and from Walter to The Dude depending on who is talking. He may seem to be paying attention, but his asking of simple questions dispels this assumption. Another technique Buscemi uses is while he is observing the conversation he furrows his brow as if in deep thought and contemplation. This look of concentration is juxtaposed with the look of confused happiness, an empty smile, Buscemi uses when Donny makes a point in the conversation. These techniques which are introduced by Bridges and Buscemi early in the film are used throughout the entire picture.
Although Bridges and Buscemi do an excellent job of introducing their characters traits to the viewer, Goodman superbly shows his character's inner traits. Throughout the conversation it is apparent due to dialog that Walter is becoming upset. Goodman conveys this anger with facial expressions and body movement. In the early part of the conversation Goodman puts on a stone face to show that Walter is firmly set in his position. The Dude begins to agitate Walter as the conversation continues. Goodman shows this agitation by furrowing his brow, leaning forward while talking, and turning progressively redder. As Goodman continues, his speaking becomes more staccato and flustered. When The Dude refers to one of the attackers as 'the china man,' Walter continues on his tirade momentarily then quietly addresses the non politically correct nature of The Dude's comment. Changing from this aggravated manner of speaking to a more politically correct and lower tone shows that Walter has some sudden mood swings and a short fuse, as he returns to his tirade quickly.
This scene exemplifies the acting skills of John Goodman, Jeff Bridges, and Steve Buscemi. The characters in this story have been given interesting and entertaining dialog by the writers, but it is up to the actors to make the characters exude a certain feeling or trait. In each of their roles the three main actors add a level of feeling to the characters that is lacking from many of the offerings of the dark comedy genre. Goodman's portrayal of Walter as the 'know it all' with a short fuse is downright hilarious. Jeff Bridges steps out of his usually serious persona to portray a character as laid back as they come, 'quite possibly the laziest in Los Angeles county.' Steve Buscemi is as entertaining as ever. His depiction of Donny, the character to rarely speak, adds depth to an otherwise bland side character. After viewing this film one can see why actors who can actually practice their craft are worth their weight in gold.
I'd heard a lot of bad press about this movie. Not as good as Fargo, was a
much used phrase. I wasn't overly impressed with Fargo, the atmosphere just
didn't click for me, but anyway, that made me a little apprehensive about
It's easily better than Fargo, IMHO, and it's right up there with Barton Fink or Miller's Crossing. A true comedy classic with so many memorable lines and characters, but it's the movie's atmosphere which is so truly joyous, a wonderful celebration of basically doing nothing. Achieving one's goals is important, yes, but it's okay to set them low, is what I perceived this movie to be saying. As long as one is basically a good guy, then that's enough. Well, that's what it seemed like to me, and it was expressed so beautifully in the stunning cast of grotesques, lovely music ( although more Burwell would have been nice ), and the trippiest, funniest, most absurd dream sequences you've ever seen. Great stuff.
The Coen brothers (Joel and Ethan) are the most innovative and, perhaps, the
best filmmakers working today. Or they at least rank along side the likes of
Martin Scorsese and rising director star Quentin Tarantino. Think about it:
"Blood Simple" was the best film of 1984; "Raising Arizona" was the best
film of 1987; "Miller's Crossing" was the best movie of 1990; "Barton Fink"
was the best movie of 1991; and "Fargo" was the best movie of 1996. Now
comes their latest effort, "The Big Lebowski," which, while it isn't in
quite the same league as the above films, is still one of the most
thoroughly entertaining movies of 1998.
It tells the shambling story of a man named Jeff Lebowski, who calls himself The Dude (Jeff Bridges). The Dude's apartment gets broken into and a thief urinates on his rug. He finds out that the criminals were not looking for him, but looking for the OTHER Jeff Lebowski, the disabled millionaire (played by David Huddleston). That's all I can tell you. The rest is really too bizarre and complicated to put into words; but it's bizarre and complicated in the best ways of the words.
Still, what I'll remember most about "The Big Lebowski" is the outstanding number of utterly terrific performances. Bridges delivers the best performance of his career and probably the best of the year as a bum lie-about who just wants to be left alone. John Goodman is the real comic gem here as the forever-loudmouthed Walter, The Dude's bowling partner and best friend. Steve Buscemi co-stars as the dimwitted, bug-eyed Donny, the third bowling partner; there's a small but interestingly offbeat spot for Julianne Moore; and John Torturro stops in, as Jesus the bowler, for what is probably the best walk-on performance in years. If you are a Coen brothers fan or like humor that is distinctly offbeat, you have found your movie. As a rather avid moviegoer, I found the film to be a great excersise in pointless extremeties and respectable raunch. Rated R. 117 minutes. 10 out of 10.
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