Under pressure after the critical success of Fargo but given a free hand for their next film the Coen Brothers decided to make a Raymond Chandler mystery, but with pot, milky cocktails and bowling.
In the "The Big Lebowski," The Dude, effortlessly portrayed by Jeff Bridges, is the film's core. Here, I find myself captivated by the Dude's nonchalant coolness, a throwback to a bygone era tinged with the idealism of student protests and dreams of societal transformation. The Dude, now weathered and wiser, navigates the urban landscape in his weather-beaten car, paying for life's essentials including a 69cent bottle of milk with a handwritten check.
This odyssey, steeped in a trifecta of vices—White Russians, pot, and the sacred pastime of bowling—finds The Dude accompanied by his eccentric compatriots, Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and Donny Kerabatsos (Steve Buscemi). Bowling transcends mere sport; it becomes a way of life for this eclectic trio. This almost has a second sports movie going on in the style of kingpin.
"F*ck it, let's go bowling" becomes a rallying cry in moments of turmoil, transforming the lanes into a sanctuary of solace and camaraderie.
"The Big Lebowski" rejects the conventions of traditional storytelling, the film warns us from the start not to expect any of its narrative threads to lead anywhere. Embracing an unpredictable journey and the love for bowling takes on a background role, threading its way through the narrative as a touchstone, more a comforting hum than the film's thematic linchpin. The orchestrated chaos of the story ignites with a classic case of mistaken identity involving The Dude and the Big Lebowski.
A spontaneous act of rug dampening that kick starts a cascade of events. The urinator, happens to be in the employ of local porn magnate Jackie Treehorn, portrayed by the enigmatic Ben Gazzara. The owed debt of Bunny Lebowski, a nymphomaniac trophy wife embodied by Tara Reid, becomes the narrative linchpin.
Enter Bunny's husband into the story, the other Jeffrey Lebowski, the millionaire Big Lebowski, portrayed by David Huddleston. After his modest abode that was violated by Treehorn's henchmen, The Dude (ever the laid-back protagonist) contemplates an audacious move—shaking down his affluent namesake to fund a replacement for his soiled rug.
This odyssey takes our protagonist on a meandering journey, introducing a trio of nihilist German musicians, a severed toe with a story to tell, a marmot making an unexpected cameo, a TV writer tethered to a dialysis machine, and a tin of Folgers housing cremated ashes.
Nevertheless, the plot intricacies take a backseat to the visceral essence of individual scenes—The Dude's banter with Lebowski, the surreal image of the Dudes trip and the idiosyncratic art installations curated by Maud Lebowski.
The Big Lebowski, adorned with its idiosyncratic wit and rich symbolism, was destined to become one of cult status. Over the course of 25 years since its cinematic debut, this cult gem has not merely permeated pop culture; it has evolved into a way of life with the birth of the tongue in cheek Dudeism belief system. Delving into the true essence of this film unveils a nuanced tapestry, where The Big Lebowski masterfully conceals its infusion of film noir, western motifs, and Hollywood history beneath the veneer of a seemingly laid-back stoner comedy.
Jeff Bridges, skillfully taps into his persona as the laid back easy going protagonist —a master in charmingly donning the cloak of rebellious virtue. Paired with John Goodman, the cantankerous Vietnam vet turned follower of Judaism (no Shabbas rolling for him), they create a beautifully tuned duet, perfectly suited for what appears to be buddy movie gold. Perhaps, this is a cinematic yarn about nothing, or perhaps nothing more than the Coens' secret jokes that set them and the audience into fits of laughter.
That finishes up the Jeff Bridges movie marathon, Jeff Bridges. His performances possess an uncanny ability to seamlessly inhabit diverse characters, from the iconic Dude in "The Big Lebowski" to the hauntingly troubled Bad Blake in "Crazy Heart." Bridges' approach makes his presence on screen consistently watchable and reliable. He is the actor who acts without acting, it all seems so natural and laid back, the Dude Abides!
Well that's the last notes from the sketch book of the year. It's been a year of transition, one where I've started to find my feet in the direction of my art style and looking forward to seeing what next year brings!
Merry Christmas to all and a happy New Year!