Sunday, June 04, 2006

#20- The Big Lebowski- Joel Coen- 1998

"Way out west there was this fella I wanna tell ya about. Goes by the name of Jeff Lebowski. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. See, this Lebowski, he called himself "The Dude". Now, "Dude" - there's a name no man would self-apply where I come from. But then there was a lot about the Dude that didn't make a whole lot of sense. And a lot about where he lived, likewise. But then again, maybe that's why I found the place so darned interestin'. See, they call Los Angeles the "City Of Angels"; but I didn't find it to be that, exactly. But I'll allow it as there are some nice folks there. 'Course I ain't never been to London, and I ain't never seen France. And I ain't never seen no queen in her damned undies, so the feller says. But I'll tell you what - after seeing Los Angeles, and this here story I'm about to unfold, well, I guess I seen somethin' every bit as stupefyin' as you'd seen in any of them other places. And in English, too. So I can die with a smile on my face, without feelin' like the good Lord gypped me. Now this here story I'm about to unfold took place in the early '90s - just about the time of our conflict with Sad'm and the I-raqis. I only mention it because sometimes there's a man... I won't say a hero, 'cause, what's a hero? Sometimes, there's a man. And I'm talkin' about the Dude here - the Dude from Los Angeles. Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's the Dude. The Dude, from Los Angeles. And even if he's a lazy man - and the Dude was most certainly that. Quite possibly the laziest in all of Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the runnin' for laziest worldwide. Sometimes there's a man, sometimes, there's a man. Well, I lost my train of thought here. But... aw, hell. I've done introduced it enough."
~The Stranger

The Big Lebowski, a film that centers around a rug getting urinated on, is one of the most original and ridiculous concepts for a film. And I love every darned minute of it. The laguhs are nonstop, so much so that if it's your first time watching it, garunteed you missed some excellent lines. The idea of bowling, missing persons and getting justice for a soiled rug blows my mind to this very day. Most of us already know how genius the movie is, so I will point out a side of this movie that I love that others might not appreciate.

After reading my reviews for Memento and Blade Runner, you may have noticed my useage of the word "neo-noir." Basically, the film noir genre re-thought with different conventions and styles. Yes, my friends, Lebowski is pretty damn noir. It may not be your usual detective flick, but the fact that The Dude is sent to find someone who is "missing" and falls into strange pitfalls, you have some classic noir elements going on. And yes, thanks to Bill Wine again, I have a good eye for a noir flick. Here is one dead ringer that the Coens were using this genre for their comedy. The one scene where The Dude is setting up a chair to stop from intruders entering and the door opens out into the outside and not into the room is a blatant mockery of how the door in Double Indemnity opens out into the hallway. Doors usually don't open onto the outside. Rather, most open inside so you don't hit your visitor in the face with the door. It's subtle, but its there. Also, the drugged out dream sequences remind me of one noir movie we watched in Seminoir called Murder, My Sweet where the guy had a series of dream sequences and blackouts.

The Coen Brothers are cinema masters and Lebowski is their finest hour. Mixing comedy with old genre and some of the quickest and most hilarious dialogue ever. I'd sit here and list all the great supporting roles, but it goes without saying that actors like Hoffman, Turtorro, Goodman, Buscemi, Moore and on and on. There is no end in sight of great performances all centered around Jeff Bridges amazing career high role as The Dude.

1 comment:

j. leo said...

Liek most Coens from 1996 on, this is a perfect noir plot. Fargo and Man WHo Wasn't there are also true to noir form and get some jokes on that. That's why I liek Brick so much - it's the most innovative use of noir since this film.