The Big Lebowski (1998) - 9/10
I’ve only ever seen The Big Lebowski a couple of times. For a film that’s apparently considered one of the most rewatchable of all time, this seems like an oversight on my part. I’m guessing the reasons for it being so popular are its intricate simplicity, its humour, quotability, the very definition of a stellar ensemble cast and the fact that it’s so damn easy to watch. We’re in LA in the 90s, but not really an LA that we usually see on screen. Maybe because it’s a mere backdrop for the chilled out sloth like lounge life of The Dude (Jeff Bridges). He’s a long haired hippy in sunglasses and loungewear, no matter where he is or what time of day. The Dude does not care for convention. All he cares about is bowling. Well and his rug, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Dude’s real name is you might’ve guessed is Lebowski, but he’s not the only Lebowski in town and the other one seems to be getting into hot water, or his wife is at least. So while The Dude would rather be bowling with his mates Walter (John Goodman), who has some Nam related anger issues and Donny (Steve Buscemi), who’s generally the lap dog of the group, he’s distracted by the debt collectors busting into his apartment and making a mess. This is the catalyst for a story that must’ve raised some eyebrows when The Coen Brothers tried to get this off the ground, but like I said, one of the most rewatched films ever. Also, let’s cut to the chase, it’s brilliant. There’s one simple reason for this. In the core of Bridges, Goodman and Buscemi you’ve got the perfect film trio. The dialogue bounces between them so naturally, you’d swear they’d been real life friends since birth. The Dude sets out to right the wrong of mistaken identity and get compensation for his soiled rug. No I’m not going to explain that further. On meeting The Big Lebowski and his snivelling assistant Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman), he doesn’t get the closure he’s seeking… but does get a new rug and to meet the trouble causing wife of Mr Lebowski, Bunny (Tara Reid), before the bonkers plot thickens. There’s an enlightening amount of philosophy from everyone involved in an unlikely yet highly entertaining series of events, that drawers The Dude into a world he’s ill equipped for. A world of techno loving ferret toting nihilists (Flea, Peter Stormare), modern art practitioners (Julianne Moore, David Thewliss), pornographers and flamboyant rival bowlers (John Turturro). All tied together with money, rugs and white russians. That’s just the half of it! The Dude I remind you, just wants to bowl. The scenes in the lanes don’t really feature all that much bowling, but work brilliantly as the friends come together to debate the ever increasing complexity of the situation. It’s also the setting for a truly fantastic point of reflection at the half way mark with The Stranger and our some time narrator (Sam Elliott). It doesn’t exactly twist and turn as just keep accelerating. There’s not a single weak link, every performance is first class, whether leading or just 30 seconds. It’s 25 years old this year and hasn’t aged a day. Two hours of pure cinematic joy and I’m going to make a vow to revisit it more often, but right now “Fuck it man, let’s go bowling”.