Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Big Al's Top 20 films (in no particular order) The Big Lebowski (1998)

The Big Lebowski (1998)
"They figured he was a lazy time wasting slacker. They were right."
"Her life was in their hands. Now her toe is in the mail."
"Times like these call for a Big Lebowski."
"It takes guys as simple as the Dude and Walter to make a story this complicated... and they'd really rather be bowling."
"(Israel, translated from Hebrew): Lebowski: Not a man, a way of life"
"...Smart and silly....A burst of wicked fun..." - Rolling Stone "...The Coen brothers, those far-out FARGO guys, cover everything with eye-popping panache..." - USA Today
Written & Directed by The Coen BrothersCast: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, David Huddleston, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Tara Reid, John Turturro
Focus Features
Most stories have a beginning and an end, they also usually involve the main characters, but sometimes this rule is manipulated so much that you wonder, is this really their story? Masters of the this are The Coen Brothers, writers and directors of such classics as Raising Arizona(1987) & Barton Fink (1991). Their cinema work has been hitting our screens for many years but for my favourite bit of Coen magic , we need to go back to the nineties, and meet "The Dude".
Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is a professional slacker, he lives in Los Angeles, he enjoys bowling and has a rug that ties the room together. Life is pretty sweet for The Dude, until two gangsters mistake him for a millionaire and Pee on his rug. On consultation with his bowling team, Walter (John Goodman) & Donny (Steve Buscemi), The Dude decides to get compensation by seeing the man the thugs were looking for. He's going to see, The Big Lebowski. What The Dude didn't know is that his slacker lifestyle was about to get busy, with someone Else's work. Along the way The Dude toils with a Video Artist, an Iron Lung, A coffee mug, The Jesus, a Nihilist 80's Synth-Pop group, a Toe & a Marmot. It's OK though, The Dude Abides.
I've always loved Jeff Bridges, I think he has style but I still have no idea how he was able to bring a touch of class to a dirty, uninteresting, drug taking layabout character like The Dude. For a start, the name The Dude is hard to pull off without turning it into a cocky, comical role but Bridges allows his natural swarve to poke through a mostly introvert guise, with of course natural charm. Also on the card are such stars as John Goodman, Steve Buscemi and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who produces the most convincing role based on the amount of screen time he's given.
The film is indeed a laugh, obviously thanks to the brilliant script. Who wouldn't laugh at an outrageous drug trip that sees The Dude playing out an almost perverted game of bowling, with Saddam Hussein handing him his shoes? A pure delight is John Goodman's Walter Sobchak, The Dude's Bowling buddy and a supposed Vietnam Veteran, who has become such an icon that he is now on T-Shirts and various other memorabilia. Trust me, he
"don't roll on Shabbis!"
One thing that makes The Big Lebowski one of all time favourites is the impact it's had on the world. That impact being so big in fact, that there is now "Dudeism", a religion founded on the prospect of being totally and one hundred percent relaxed. It is a modern extension of Taoism, a Chinese based teaching that in one form or another through the ages has promoted being chilled. How do I know so much about this new wave religion? Well, I'm more than happy to say that I'm an officially ordained Dudeist Priest! Take a look at the website,
The Big Lebowski has everything you would expect from a story written by the Coen Brothers; odd romance, comic situations, a useless plot and a few surprises. What more could you want? It has style rivalling films from long forgotten eras and pushes the boundaries on taboos that are still today's news. Funny, compelling and at points sexy, The Big Lebowski made way for The Dude in our lives. Sit back, relax with a White Russian & some Creedence and take it in. Unless you're a Nihilist, for you believe in nothing.
Alex Errey

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