REWIND: THE BIG LEBOWSKI [1998]

I watched this film for perhaps the fifth or sixth time the other day, and I somehow had forgotten how surreal it is. From the beginning we have a nameless narrator telling us about about a man who goes by ‘The Dude’, who has his rug pissed on within the first few minutes. Damnit, they pissed on his rug!! Has any other movie opened in such a bizarre fashion?!

Soon we have nihilists who are often confused with nazis and we have the bizarre artist played by Julianne Moore. We have the plain weird bowler (who also happens to be a sex offender) who calls himself Jesus, with a creepy dance to go with his bowling skills. Aaaand of course we have poor Donnie. Who could forget about Donnie.

“Shut the fuck up Donnie!!”

Sorry! Jeez…

This is definitely the most bizarre film to come from the Coens, just outgunning Burn After Reading. It is also their funniest film, again slightly ousting Burn After Reading and of course Fargo. John Goodman as Walter is a constant hoot every time he opens his mouth. As for The Dude, he is just a lazy man who wanted compensation, as they PISSED ON HIS RUG!! But he got so, so much more than he wanted. If only he had let it all go! Yeah sure, the rug really tied the room together, we get it Dude, but if you’d just let it be you wouldn’t have gotten yourself into such a mess!

Julianne Moore’s character – Maude – is one of the strangest characters I have seen in a Coen film, and she has some STRONG opposition. Stranger still is the dream sequence that involves Maude, just after The Dude’s drink is spiked.

For those who don’t remember, here it is: The Gutterballs!

Boy, The Dude really does love bowling. He even gets his shoes from Saddam Hussein! And Jeff Bridges has some moves! His dance down those stairs is hysterical. What is funnier still is his absent facial expression, eyes glazed over with a giant grin on his face. But those nihilists, they sneaked into The Dude’s dream!! No!! Why are they wearing skin-tight, red outfits? And WHAT are those huge scissors for?!

The best part about this sequence is the psychedelic track played. I don’t know who it is by, and I probably should, but the lyrics “I just dropped in, to see what condition my condition was in” are so apt given the point the movie is at, and how trippy the entire sequence and song is.

This is also another film where Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a small role but steals every scene he is in. Since I am running a small PSH blogathon, I thought I’d also focus a bit on his small but memorable role. At times he is the over-polite servant, but when the story goes south his attitude changes completely. It is hard not to laugh when sitting in a limousine, his character explains the situation to The Dude, calling him ‘Dude’ with a perfectly straight face.

“Her life is in your hands, Dude.”

“That had not occurred to us, Dude”

The way he casually calls him Dude, as if it was his actual name, never ceases to crack me up. On the other hand, the way he acts awkwardly during certain scenes is executed perfectly. The way his face goes red,the way he adjusts his glasses, it is the work of a genius. He only appears in around five scenes but he and Jeff Bridges play off each other in hilarious fashion.

I assume this is the most well known movie by the Coens, but is it their best?? From Blood Simple to Inside Llewyn Davis, it has some sturdy competition.

Which Coen brothers movie is your favourite? And why?