Friday, 18 December 2009

(500) Films of Empire - Day 94 - Dudestock

43 - The Big Lebowski - 5 stars
Before this challenge started this film would be in my all-time top ten. Will it still be there at
the end of the blog? After this viewing I think it certainly will.
We screened this tonight at work and another employee and myself were essentially mouthing along with the film.
A unique spin on the film noir genre as what starts out as a simple request for a new rug, "it really tied the room together", sees The Dude become tangled in a wicked web of kidnapping, nihlists, pornographers, paedophiles, brother seamus', and of course bowling.
Some will argue that the Coens have made "better" films but for me this is their most beloved, quotable and brilliant film.
A career high for everyone involved with the best cinematic threesome since Wild Things. The trio of The Dude, Walter and Donny have such a believable relationship that you believe they known each other for years. The group dynamic is perfectly illustrated in the first bowling scene.
One of the biggest influences on Lebowski is the film The Big Sleep, most obviously the title.
Directed by Howard Hawks and starring Humphrey Bogart as Chandler's private detective Philip Marlowe, it tells the story of Marlowe investigating a case of blackmail for the Sternwood family that features many characters similar to those found in Lebowski.
The first scene in the film sets up the dynamic. Marlowe arrives at the Sternwood house and is let in by the butler Norris (represented by Philip Seymour Hoffman's Brandt), the old General Sternwood who is confined to a wheelchair (the Big Jeffrey Lebowski), and the two femme fatales, Carmen Sternwood, the young seductress (a la Bunny Lebowski) and the mysterious Vivian, played by Lauren Bacall, who is similar to Julianne Moore's Maude Lebowski.
The storyline is reminiscent of Lebowski and of many film noir, Chinatown for example, in that there is no such thing as an easy case, “lot of in's, lot of out's, lot of what have you's”.
Funny that while The Dude is considered the protaganist of the film, he only advances the plot twice; going to the Big Lebowski to get a replacement rug and confronting him at the end.
I could go on and on about how much I love this film but will leave you with ten moments that secure its place in my all time top ten:

1. The Dude gets Donny's ashes in the face
2. The Dude deciphers Jackie Treehorn's "secret message"
3. Gutterballs dream sequence
4. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Brandt
5. Dude and Maude talk about sex, "you mean coitus?"
6. The Dude fixing the chair to the door
7. "This is what happens Larry when you f*ck a stranger in the ass" - hilariously dubbed to "when you meet a stranger in the alps" on US TV
8. The Dude getting hit in the head with a coffee mug
9. "This isn't Vietnam, this is bowling, there are rules"
10. Jesus Quintana - One of the greatest character entrances of all time

The evening was enhanced by having our very own Lebowski-Fest-lite in the form of Dudestock which featured some Wii bowling down in the bar washed down with a few caucasians. The Dude abides.

Days remaining - 271 Films remaining - 366

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