Just to make myself clear I am a massive fan of the Coen Brothers, I love Fargo for Francis McDormand’s “oh yeah” and the stunning cinematography, I love Blood Simple (their first movie) because it is the precursor of what is to follow and I love No Country for Old Men because it manages to create this unbelievable amount of suspense without using music; the silence is mortifying. Yet, I’ve got to say I have this crazy guilty pleasure for The Big Lebowski- A comedy about the white Russian drinking lazy Dude. The Dude is played by Jeff Bridges who convincingly plays someone without a job that spends all of his time bowling and drinking white russians, however gets caught up in a ridiculous situation due to the fact that someone pees on his rug and he wants it back- “It really tied the room together.” This mess includes one million dollars stolen from a charity organisation, an eccentric feminist artist (played by Juliane Moore), porn stars, pyschotic Germans and a teenages homework paper. It’s a bit of a mis-match really but it ties together so coherently a well as well as that rug tying the room together. It’s really one of those quotable movies where afterwards you sit around and just quote everything that is rememerable, anything that comes to mind. However, what I really love about this movie are the hallucinations and dream sequences in which the Dude gets carried into these alternate universes. These are almost musical numbers where the Dude dancess and prances in a world of bowling and women to Kenny Rogers’ I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition my Condition was in). The cinematography is amazing as the Dude’s shadow emerges from behind a gleaming wall, and the sexual undertones of the bowling pin and balls, even the women’s breasts are bowling balls. Jeff Bridge’s lame dancing and fixated eyes make the sequence ever so more realistic in a completely unrealistic way, the whole sequence is really quite unbelievable and almost verges on tacky but that’s really the charm of it.
In terms of the other performances my favourite would have to be Juliane Moore who plays Maude Lebowski (the Big Lebowski’s daughter) a feminist artist who is really just hilarious exaggerated by her entrance into the film flying over a painting naked and splattering paint followed by her explaining that
Maude Lebowski: Does the female form make you uncomfortable, Mr. Lebowski?
The Dude: Uh, is that what this is a picture of?
Maude Lebowski: In a sense, yes. My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal which bothers some men. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina.
The Dude: Oh yeah?
Maude Lebowski: Yes, they don’t like hearing it and find it difficult to say whereas without batting an eye a man will refer to his dick or his rod or his Johnson.
The Dude: Johnson?
In conjunction with her is The Dude’s bowling mate Walter (John Goodman) who is a Vietnam Veteran and fake Jew who takes both very seriously and is slightly insane, actually more to the point extremely insane. He makes every situation worse yet still thinks he is right about everything and as he pulls his gun out because another bowlers foot was over the line it’s completely hilarious- He takes his bowling seriously. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is as good as he always is convincingly playing the nervous secretary of the rich Lebowski abiding and repeating everything he says, I would refer to him as the Big Lebowski’s bitch. There’s heaps of other characters to that really tie the whole movie together but I think you should just watch it to see.
The Coen Brothers really make this movie excellent and everything works together so well from the coreographed dance sequences to the subtle humour that I think I haven’t fully grasped yet. There are so many pop culture references and movie references from the musical to the gangster film to the pronographic to the Western (the narration). The film really encompasses it all in a dorky and suprising coherent way.