Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Coens Part 7: The Dude Abides

When I started this whole complete Coen Brothers review / tribute, I really did have small expectations. Maybe two or three posts. But thanks to my predictable long windedness, I am now at eight posts including the initial introduction. Seriously, this has turned into a pain in the ass. But after this one, I’m finally done.

Quickly, before I get to Lebowski, let me cover Burn After Reading now that I have seen it. It’s good. Not great, but quite good. It is much better than Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty. It's no Lebowski, but if you go into the movie with those kind of expectations, disappointment is inevitable. I have a feeling I’ll like it quite a bit more after multiple viewings, but I don’t know that it will achieve regular viewing status that Lebowski, Raising Arizona, O Brother and Hudsucker have. I will re watch one or more of those movies at least every month.

Anyway, it’s the number one movie right now and if you want a review, here you go. Take your pick. There is one thing I would like to mention, though. The previews for this movie are totally misleading. This is not a wacky, stupid comedy. It is wacky and it is certainly stupid and it is a comedy. But the tone of the film is much darker than I expected. It has a couple of moments of shocking violence.

Burn After Reading is an anti spy thriller. It follows all of the expected formulas however never at any point is there ever anything of real value at risk. No war to prevent, no bomb to defuse, no assassination to prevent. The whole storyline is bullcrap. Which is exactly what makes the film so self deprecating, subversive and funny. It is an affectionate middle finger to 24 and The Bourne Identity.

The Big Lebowski (1998)

I planned this to be my finale. It is tied for my favorite with Raising Arizona. I just can’t watch this movie enough.

The Coens love to take well established movie formulas and turn them on their ear. Lebowski is a hard boiled private eye film in the tradition of The Big Sleep with a few Busby Berkley musical numbers / acid flashbacks to boot. But instead of Humphrey Bogart it stars a middle aged, burned out bowler known primarily as the Dude (Mind if I do a J?). That’s a name no one would self apply where I come from.

The Dude is a regular guy who, due to a case of mistaken identity is thrust into a world of kidnapped trophy wives (You’re not blowing), avant garde artists (Coitus, the physical act of love.), German Nihilists (at least it's an ethos), porn kings (Jackie Treehorn wants his money, Lebowski), child molesting bowlers (Eight year olds, Dude), paralyzed millionaires (I went out and achieved anyway!), their lackies (Ah hahahahaha! Wonderful woman. We're all, we're all very fond of her.), an angry Sherriff (Stay out of Malibu, Lebowski!), the writer of Branded (And a good day to you, sir!), his brat of a kid (Do you see what happens, Larry?) a VW driving private eye (I’m a dick, like you!) an out of place cowboy narrator (Do you have to use so many cuss words?) and the little Lebowski Urban Achievers and proud we are of all of them.

I must also mention Walter (Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature) and Donnie (I am the Walrus?). I love buddy movies about buddies that don’t really like each other. I never tire of the arguments between the Dude (That rug really tied the room together) and Walter (Shabbos is the Jewish day of rest.) with Donnie interrupting (Shut the f*ck up, Donnie) with his clueless comments (Those are good burgers, Walter).

One more note. Apparently the character of Walter is based on Joel and Ethan’s friend John Milius. Who is that? Only the writer/director genius behind the Reagan Era Cold Way classic Red Dawn, that’s who. Isn’t that perfect? Can’t you see Walter Sobchak sitting at a type writer in his undies (my f*ckin whites) creating the movie that would serve as the backyard war fantasy of every American boy born between 1974 and 1980? I’m talking about unchecked aggression here. I’m talking about drawing a line in the sand, Dude. Across this line you DO NOT . . .

I realize that this entry makes absolutely no sense to anyone who hasn’t seen The Big Lebowski at least seven times. My apologies to those in the dark but if it provides you with incentive to go out tonight and watch this movie, then I have achieved my objective.

Clip introducing The Dude's bowling nemesis. By the way, this is the same John Turturro that was in Barton Fink, O Brother and Miller's Crossing. Quite the chameleon.

The Big Lebowski - Jesus Quintana - The funniest movie is here. Find it

There are 281 "F" words in this movie. It's is definately R rated.


pete said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pete said...

One of the funniest movies of all time. I'm with you there...