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Building Bridges

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Mark Kermode | 14:19 UK time, Friday, 10 June 2011

The BFI Southbank is about to start a comprehensive season of films starring Jeff Bridges. I love his work in general but as you will know I have a problem with The Big Lebowski. Is it time to re-view and reconsider my opinion...?

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  • Comment number 1.

    Mark, you didn't get it wrong. I totally agree with you about TBL. By the way, my two favorite Bridges performances are The Fabulous Baker Boys and Rancho Deluxe, both showing how generous Bridges is with his fellow actors.

  • Comment number 2.

    I personally love the film but whether you like the content or not, Bridges is brilliant in it. And if you don't like his performance in this then you can't have liked most of the performances he's did after. Because the Dude has practically informed every performance he's done since, even the Oscar winning role of Crazy Heart.

  • Comment number 3.

    Definitely a 'love it or hate it film'. Don't know why. I've always loved it. I think it's the mix of John Goodman and Jeff Bridges that does it for me. Try and be positive. I don't know another film where nearly every line in the screenplay is a quote.

  • Comment number 4.

    I've always felt The big Lebowski was a wonderful film. Whether or not it is to one's taste is another thing. But anyone who discards it, saying it's forgettable, incidental or only so-so is really seeing it wrong in my opinion. It's very good. :)

  • Comment number 5.

    The impression that I took away from The Big Lebowski was that the Dude wasn't so much the central character as the "straight man", the catalyst around which all kinds of other things happen. As a slacker, he's inevitably reacting to things, someone for the other characters to bounce off of.*

    He wasn't even the "Big" Lebowski - that was the other guy, the one for whom the Dude was mistaken. Thinking the film is about the Dude would be like thinking "The Piano" was about a piano. 8)

    * or is it "someone off whom the other characters bounced"?

  • Comment number 6.

    Dear Dr. K.

    I have to admit that I wasn't a big fan of The Big Lebowski when I first saw it. But then after the second time I watched it I actually appreciated it a lot more.

    Before you do watch for the second time may I offer a piece of advice? Before you watch it watch films such as The Big Sleep and other great film noirs of the 40s and 50s.

  • Comment number 7.

    starman is in my top 5 films of all time - his version of king kong is probably in the top 10 area as well - i wish bridges had a better agent working for him - cos when he is good - he is untouchable - with regards to lebowski - i think the supporting cast really helped bridges - lets face it - bridges, goodman, hoffman and buscemi - could make any film together and the world would watch it

  • Comment number 8.

    I likewise didn't really like The Big Lebowski the first time I saw it, I didn't get it, finding it pale in comparison to Miller's Crossing or Barton Fink's lustrousness. But the second time I saw it, a couple of years later, I loved it and really fell under the spell, not to sound too corny, of it's refined 'quirkiness'. I love Jeff Bridges and am really glad that perhaps my favourite of his performances has been given an extended run at the Southbank/NFT - Cutter's Way, a great film by the under-rated Ivan Passer - John Heard's best performance and a great score by Jack Niche. Long live the Dude!

  • Comment number 9.

    As someone who entered 'Dudeism' as their religion on the recent census survey, I feel qualified to speak on this subject.

    That's right, I'm one of THOSE guys. The bowling, white-russian drinking, robe-wearing type fanboys who can find no greater pleasure than working the phrase "Hey, careful, man, there's a beverage here!" into everyday conversations.

    It's the only film I can think of that makes me smile just by thinking about it but I'm well aware that there are people who just don't "get it". And after giving it some thought I've realised that there is one particular character trait shared by us devotees: We're lazy.

    Lebowski fans tend to share a disdain for hard work and applying oneself and The Big Lebowski is the only film that has managed to capture the bliss a man can feel by simply attempting to live life doing nothing, going with the flow.

    As clearly noted it the opening narration The Dude is a lazy man "Quite possibly the laziest in Los Angeles County, which would place him high in runnin' for laziest worldwide". By making a hero of such a carefree slacker, The Coen brothers created a protagonist that so many of us can relate and aspire to.

    The Dude is to slackers what Gordon Gekko was to yuppies.

    Aside from that, It is a film that deep down has genuine heart which is something that may not be noticable on the first watch. Away from the corkscrew plot, zany characters and slapstick farce it is a film that is clearly about friendship. I genuinely believe that the relationship between The Dude and Walter is one of the most beautifully realistic depictions of a bond between two men ever captured on film. They bicker, squabble, disagree and despite the fact that they, on the surface, are polar opposites, it's their bond and reliance upon each other that drives the film. I could end this post with any number of my favourite quotes from the film but I choose one that seems to sum up the entire movie in one sentence:

    "Walter, I love you, but sooner or later you're going to have to face the fact that you're a goddamn moron."

  • Comment number 10.

    What's to reconsider about a great film like The Big Lebowski? The Dude Abides in perpetuity.

  • Comment number 11.

    I love the damn movie, but if you don't Dr. K, that's fine. After '' know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.''

  • Comment number 12.

    It's a shame he doesn't like the Eagles though

  • Comment number 13.

    I've always loved this one right from the opening weekend to now with my -at least- thrice yearly screenings on DVD (come on Blu-ray!). I even have an original, mint condition UK quad, framed under glass in my office. " really ties the room together.."

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't mind The Big Lebowski, though I don't think it is as good as the majority of the Coen's back catalogue. It's definitely better than their take on The Ladykillers.

  • Comment number 15.

    Going to be figuratively joining you Mark. Have never understood the appeal and have failed several times to watch it to the end on DVD. If I see it on the big screen at the BFI I'm hoping I finally get it since I love so many of the other Coen brother films.

  • Comment number 16.

    Big Lebowski. Quirky, self indulgent by the Cohens? Of course.
    But with an original screenplay (Recently the Cohens have done every faithful adaptations of successful novels; highly unadventurous and with little chance of much going seriously wrong there.) and a freewheeling sense of fun, adventure and risk (not words I’d usually associate with the Cohens).

    Bridges in BL is of course great. Much better than his Oscar winning turn in Crazy Heart (even with him in it CH was a remarkably dull, by the numbers film).

    Crazy Heart has helped reinvent Bridges now he’s in his 60’s. Want a grizzled old timer in True Grit? Call Jeff. Bridges’s Cogburn was essentially Crazy Heart with an eye-patch.

    But Bridges is still one of the great screen actors. I posted last year I think he’s streets ahead of Pacino and De Niro.

    I liked Big Lebowski. I know it’s become a cult the way Withnail & I now is; I’m not that into cults like that myself, but I’ve enjoyed BL whenever I’ve seen it.

  • Comment number 17.

    Forget The Big Lebowski - the performance of Jeff Bridges that really warrants a 2nd look is his magnificent turn in: The Contender.

    Not only was it one of those films that people forget... it has Joan Allen and the best actor ever Gary Oldman doing some sensational and yet understated performances alongside Bridges' wonderful President.

    In fact afterwards you wonder how great it would be if the US citizens elected Jeff for the Presidency like with Reegan.

    It's a great turn, see how he disarms his rival politicians by offering them food with the warmest of gestures and with a quiet confidence he maintains an authority over everyone in the White House - Barrack Obama should rent it asap!

  • Comment number 18.

    In a nutshell, YES, because I didn't get it the first time either.

    It's important to keep in mind when watching The Big Lebowski, that each halt in speech, each "uh, er," and each curse is verbatim from the script the Coen Brothers wrote. These are not faults or improvisational indulgences and this specificity is what makes constantly re-watching Lebowski so enjoyable. These are idiotic characters, brilliantly characterized by actor and writer. May I also suggest a revisit to Burn After Reading if for nothing else, the hilariously stupid fake-movie-within-the-movie "Coming Up Daisy."

  • Comment number 19.

    Totally agree about Burn After Reading!

    It's a great movie about what happens when a group of idiots create a pointless but funny mess: "the Russians? Why?"

    Plus I loved the bit when Clooney smashes his "invention" up with great difficulty.

  • Comment number 20.

    Every human being i have ever met has a character flaw!!
    Generally speaking, these are barn door obvious to everyone else ,except themselves!! Bravo for correctly realizing that Lebowski is one ;but dare i say it you have Two obvious faults !! The other is Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which is as we all know is a classic and a modern inheritor of the tradition of the Keystone Cops!!!! and just as funny. I confess mine is both spelling and grammer !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    This is like having a dear friend tell you that he/she is "going to try this religion thing again. I've had some mad bible thumpers nagging at me. I thought I'd give it a go." Okay, I'm being over-dramatic, but still... The Big Lebowski is mildly amusing, no more, no less. If anything this is more attention than it deserves. And it's certainly more attention than its cult following deserves. A bunch of people people who blindly love something just for the sake of it, yet look down on you for not being "open-minded" enough to fully appreciate their idol, whatever it be - why listen?

  • Comment number 22.

    If you don't like TBL, you should have to eat both your shoes, Mark.

  • Comment number 23.

    Mark, you didn't get it wrong the 1st time, The Big Lebowski is over hyped and self-indulgant, many people I know seem to think i'm in the minority here but the fact is i'm right!

  • Comment number 24.

    I hated The Big Lebowski when I saw it on its first national release and I've absolutely no intention of going back to it. In fifteen years time, I doubt you'll be giving Bride Wars a second chance. Anyway, there are so many new movies to keep up with, that it's impossible to squeeze old ones into the schedule that you didn't actually like first time around.

  • Comment number 25.

    I love TBL. But of course not everybody does........after all some people simply have no sense of humour (as many comments above prove!)

  • Comment number 26.

    you were right the first time, Lebowski's really not that good.

  • Comment number 27.

    Yes. You wer wrong first time round.

    And Jeff Bridges is amazing. He's been one of my favourite actors ever since I was a child, from Tron and Starman and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, up through Big L and his more recent fare. I always quite liked Stay Hungry as well.

  • Comment number 28.

    Yes you got it wrong.

    Jeff Bridges is amazing. I've been a fan since I was a kid.

  • Comment number 29.

    I really like Jeff Bridges but I didn't particularly enjoy The Big L. One of his best films for me was Starman.

  • Comment number 30.

    While I think The Big Lebowski is certainly far from the Coens' best work, it is still an enjoyable romp with plenty of belly laughs (certainly well over the six laugh limit) and Bridges (as ever) is perfect in it, playing the role in an understated, unfussy manner, when other actors might have turned the goofyness up to eleven. As for the good Doctor's assertion that the Big Lebowski is one of the Coens' 'more quirky' films, I'm sorry, but has he seen any other Coen Brothers movies? Quirk is what they do. Even No Country For Old Men is far from being a conventional action thriller.

  • Comment number 31.

    I do change my opinion sometimes when I rewatch a film or listen with an album again. It depends on how open to reception you are at the time, I guess. So it'll be interesting to see what Mr K thinks of it a decade or so after seeing it.

    For me it's like Withnail and I - I tend to watch it at least once a year and it all works for me. I always loved the dialogue and the soundtrack (Captain Beefheart, Creedence, Townes Van Zandt etc) - plus the Kraftwerk-joke is a good one. It does come across as a relative of Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye, which a lot of people - especially Raymond Chandler fans - hated. I loved the opening sequence where we see the Dude and are told by the narrator he's the man for our times - when as with Elliot Gould's take on Marlowe, he's quite the anachronism...

    A shame the Coens were joking when they talked about a TV series spin-off featuring Jesus; I can see how William Goldman got brassed off with The Big Lebowski when the bowling final he felt it was leading up to didn't feature....

    I'd pretty much liked every Coens film up to then. I liked O Brother..., but still aren't sure about The Man Who Wasn't There. Apart from No Country for Old Men, I've avoided certain films (Intolerable Cruelty, The Ladykillers remake) & just haven't seen their last three films (though intend to watch True Grit soon as I really liked the book). Are any of these films worth catching? - I don't find a lot of love for A Serious Man...

    The Big Lebowski coming after Fargo - which is probably the Coens' masterpiece, probably threw people off the trail a bit as it wasn't expected.

    I do think Jeff Bridges is great in whatever he's in, even if the movie isn't that good. My faves are his turns in The Last Picture Show, Thunderbolt & Lightfoot, Cutter's Way, The Vanishing (a terrible remake), Arlington Road, Starman, and The Big L, of course...

  • Comment number 32.

    The Big Lebowski is a repeat viewer. The first time I saw it I thought there were a few good laughs, some interesting plot points, but overall it was a bit long and didn't hold up as a great piece. The second time I saw it I thought it was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen and it becomes more so every time I see it. Many friends of mine tell a similar story.

    The Big Lebowski eventually reached a level where every single line or facial gesture in the film cracks me up in fits of giggles. I recall watching it with a group of friends, some were seasoned regulars like me, some were newbies. The newbies kept turning to us and saying "What's so funny? Why are you laughing so much?" To which we could only respond: "Wait until your fourth viewing"

    I think The Big Lebowski's real strength is its core message. The film, in the end, is about the importance and power of friendship. The friendships in the film are very realistic in that on the surface they may appear to hate each other. Constantly bickering, appearing to largely disrespect each other. They have just been so close for so long that they no longer feel the need to force signs of affection, as the friends know how strong their bond is. So when (spoiler alert) Donny dies, Walter (who until now has constantly barked at Donny to shut up) is genuinely heart broken and upset. Shown on the clifftop with the only time this character drops his arrogant pompous mask and admits to a mistake he has made.

    Maybe it is time to reassess this film, as it was released before your stretch of Wittertainment at the BBC began. People who constantly bicker and appear to outright hate each other but know that there is a strong mutual warmth and respect belied underneath. Sound familiar?

  • Comment number 33.

    Leads, yeah sure, I'll just check with the boys down at the crime lab, they've got four more detectives working on the case. They got us working in shifts

  • Comment number 34.

    Oh, gee, Mr K, I just cannot wait to hear your opinion...ZZZZzzzz

  • Comment number 35.

    I am surprised most people on this blog assume that once an opinion is made by a person, that is the steadfast opinion of that person for all time. People change; opinions too. The movie we hate one day can likely be the work of art we appreciate the next. That is not to say that Michael Bay films will be looked at in years to come as the art that most defines our zeitgeist -- or will they?

  • Comment number 36.

    What can I say? I've always liked Bridges, but when a friend lent me The Big Lebowski I had reservations. I did come away with some quotes in my head (world of pain out there, Mark, world of pain), but every good actor has to have at least one specimen of placing their foot wrong, even if this is only arguable. What came out of it for me was his excellence as an actor, and that he is such a likeable man too. Allegedly.

  • Comment number 37.

    I really didn't enjoy TBL the first time I saw it, but I've since come around. I still don't think it's as much of a masterpiece as some people believe, though. The film I'd most like you to reassess is 'Lars and the Real Girl', which I really liked but nearly didn't see because you thought it was misogynistic! I couldn't disagree more, bearing in mind that his relationship with the 'girlfriend' is entirely non-sexual and his delusion encompasses long and involved conversations with her, not to mention the fact that in the end she ISN'T his ideal, because he voluntarily abandons the delusion. Anyway, I digress - I'll be interested to see what you think of TBL the second time around.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think it's a good thing to reassess a movie, particularly one that is beloved by so many, which does seem to suggest that you may have missed something in the first viewing. I'm impressed with your open mindedness and feel that you may change your mind just a smidgin!
    I felt the same about There Will be Blood and yet I warmed to it a little the second time round. Who knows if I give it another go maybe I'll end up loving it.
    Big Lebowski is not the absolute best of the Coen's but it is still a great movie. I love @jasonparkes comparison to Elliott's Marlowe in The Long Goodbye, perfect!
    As for Bridges performances, he's always good, always manages to inhabit any role he's given whether it be alien or psychopath, 50s high school kid or bank robbing side kick, slacker or president.
    Can't believe no one mentioned Jagged Edge which took the heart throb lead that he would normally play and turned it on its head. Never let it be said that he was typecast.

  • Comment number 39.

    @ post #9 full metal jackson - very well said. you have described the beauty of the film so well

  • Comment number 40.

    I watch the Big Lebowski every Christmas with my family. One of the best neo-noir films ever made. It uses all the tropes and twists and coincidences of noir for comic effect rather than tragedy, for the most part. Noir is generally about the sense of failure and loss and not being able to escape your fate. The Big Lebowski is the only film I know that explicitly takes all those things and just says "Hey, they're all just like, part of life and shit, man." I think that's why people find it brilliant and comforting.

  • Comment number 41.

    TBL is an odd one. I was a big Coens fan but the first time I saw it at the cinema (Harbour Lights) I was hugely disappointed. When it came out on video I watched it again and "got it", finding it ridiculous and hilarious. I've since watched it a number of times and it is one of those films which seems to get better with each viewing. Its like a leftfield album by a favorite band - at first you are disappointed that it doesn't sound like the last one and then grow to love it even more on repeated listens.

  • Comment number 42.

    I don't think you're wrong. I've tried to watch TBL four times and have only ever got as far as around 30 minutes in at the most. People keep saying, "Give it another chance.".

    The film makes my teeth itch. It makes me want to rake my face off. I like the Coen Bro's when they're doing thoughtful and off-beat but I can't bare their arch, stylized comedies. Apart from 'O Brother, Where Art Thou' which I did enjoy but doubt if I could ever watch it again.

  • Comment number 43.

    I like Jeff Bridges and TBL, but neither of them make me want to watch the film again. Instead, that honour goes, jointly, to John Goodman, John Turturro and Steve Buscemi (and possibly the Sam Elliott cameo).

    I find it a competent Coen brother's film with some great moments (Donny's ashes for one), but the female roles are underwritten (Julianne Moore is wasted) compared to others like Fargo.

  • Comment number 44.

    Two best Bridges film: The Fisher King and Lebowski.

    Lebowski is one of the best films ever. If for no other reason simply because there is no another film like it. Not even another Coens film ever really comes close to the tone of that film. It is literally about nothing. The Characters start with nothing and end with nothing and in the middle is just a lot of confusion. And a lot of White Russians.

    Watch it again Mark, and if you still don't like it, well, that's just your opinion, man!

  • Comment number 45.

    I don't get why everyone needed two views of TBL. I saw it in a full cinema in Hampstead Cannon (now M&S) and it was the most laughter-filled joyous screening ever. I loved it instantly...and wasn't alone. The dialogue and detail are things of beauty. Little things, like the Smokey character, are so deftly oberved. The Coens seem to love their characters more than other film-makers. And yes, more quotes than you can shake a stick it. Mark, like Donnie, you are "out of your element".

  • Comment number 46.

    This is like having a dear friend tell you that he/she is "going to try this religion thing again. I've had some mad bible thumpers nagging at me. I thought I'd give it a go." Okay, I'm being over-dramatic, but still... The Big Lebowski is mildly amusing, no more, no less. If anything this is more attention than it deserves. And it's certainly more attention than its cult following deserves. People who blindly love something, yet look down on you for not being "open-minded" enough to fully appreciate it - why listen?

  • Comment number 47.

    Here's my rambling lengthy assessment:

    Fargo had the full weight of the distributors pr behind it and won Oscars. The Big Lebowski got no publicity in this country when it was first released. People ignored it. I went to see it at Chichester Cinema when I worked in Bognor. There were about 5 other people there and I laughed like a drain. It is essentially a tribute to LA immigrant cinema, the great classics made by east european jews that all purported to be celebrations of the american dream: so you get tumbleweed to start the picture, which is of course Russian, it came over in wheat imports. And nothing says American cinema more than tumbleweed. The names of the characters are incredibly European: Lebowski, Sobchek, Donny (surname Kerabatsos), the German nihilists. The mystic character who seems to be the heart of the puzzle but is of course a fantastic red herring is Jackie Treehorn, the character with the Native American name. And the baddy is Jesus Quintana, who is either one of the original Mexican inhabitants or an immigrant from the wrong direction.

    So this is all wrapped up in a tribute to 40s film noir, with extreme focus on the use of bowling in 40s film noir. Double Indemnity is the one that springs to mind. It's a very American, very banal activity that lends itself perfectly to the Busby Berkeley porn dream sequences.

    The 2nd time I saw it was in London at the Odeon off Leicester Square with 2 guys from Wigan. I thought we would be late, I left them in a kebab bar, waited 15 minutes sat in the cinema for them, getting annoyed, people around me were whispering and taking the mickey, they trooped in about two minutes before the start of the film, and as the tumbleweed moved, there was the whisper Where's my Bag? and one of them realised he'd left it in the restaurant we'd run out of without waiting for the food when we decided we didn't really have time for pizza and went for kebabs. So they made their way out of the cinema, actually one of them tripped over someone and hit the deck, and went back to the restaurant, as I quietly fumed on my own, since I'd already seen the picture and the whole point was to watch it together. About 30 minutes later there was banging and shouting in the foyer as they tried to get back in (they didnt manage it). After the movie they decided we'd all go back again the next day, but I didn't.

    I saw the Big Lewbowski many times on dvd and twice again in the cinema, I think at the Prince Charles, and about the middle of that fourth cinema visit I realised I was%

  • Comment number 48.

    part 2 bored of it. The people around me in the cinema didnt seem much interested either, and I'm sure they'd seen it before as well. Does familiarity breed contempt? Because we know that Bunny isn't kidnapped, are we just left hanging while we see her driving in her car? Thinking about it now, it's probably the same flaw that a lot of Coen brothers films have suffered from. The Coens take the story so far, then suddenly run out of ideas or decide to stop developing things, and just call a halt. Fargo does it after the brilliant first half hour when the pregnant police woman comes along and instantly solves the case. That's a gag, it's not great for dramatic development. TBL does it when you see the Germans sat together and the woman has her toe cut off. And then you see Mrs Lebowski driving along with her toe intact. That's bullshit. It's lazy and it's a cheat. You're telling the audience what happened because you can't think of anything else.

    The same thing sort of happens in No Country for Old Men, when Josh Brolin's character is killed in an off screen shootout. That's not the Coens, it's in the novel, but it's probably why they were attracted to the story. Burn After Reading they do the same, cutting away from John Malkovich when he goes on the rampage and not showing George Clooney going crazy on a plane, just cutting back to the CIA God characters at the end. Nothing happens when Pitt's character gets killed, it's just brushed aside, as if the Coens like the gag of him dying, but again, can't be bothered to write something dramatically satisfying afterwards. It makes Clooney slightly more paranoid, but too many steps are left out of the movie. Show us the body being disposed of! Show his fear! At least True Grit tells a decent story, even if the ending seems a bit unnecessary all things considered.

    The Big Lebowski slowly got popular through word of mouth with students. A lot of drugs are smoked in the movie, and I suspect that a lot of drugs were smoked while watching it. It works best as a shaggy dog buddy movie, with the relationship between the 2 opposing Vietnam guys at the heart of the picture. They once had values and principles they were prepared to die for, but now they're just spectators in an America that's moved on. All they're good for is bowling. Everything they try to do descends into farce. They are essentially two Oliver Hardys, both convinced they know the right thing to do , and both too clumsy to carry it off.

    What should happen in the Big L? Well, the Dude should solve the case. He should

  • Comment number 49.

    part 3 find Bunny. Like Fargo, his initial assessment turns out to be correct. And it's not very interesting. She doesn't have to have run off on holiday, but he could track her down. That would have a reference more to The Long Goodbye. Maybe if he was forced to leave town because of what happened to Mr Lebowski, which doesn't seem to have any consequences even though it's fairly serious. They have uncovered a crime by Mr L, which I suppose is the real conclusion of the picture, but surely then he'd try to kill them? Philip Seymour Hoffman having a showdown with Walter is probably a more interesting way to go than the nihilists attacking them in a car park.

    And surely the film has to have some kind of conclusion to his rug dilemma, back at his place?

    Anyway, there is no conclusion. The last point I'll make is that like Kramer, the Dude does actually exist, he's a friend of the Coens. And so does Walter Sobcheck: he's John Milius, who wrote Apocalypse Now and Dirty Harry's Magnum speech.

    And thinking about it even more, i think what happens to Donny is just another strange gag. Don't know why it's there. Dont care about him cos hes just a comedy sidekick in a couple of minor scenes. Does he die just so they can do the ashes gag?

  • Comment number 50.

    I'm not sure how wise it is to divide up the Cohen films between 'quirky' and 'serious'. I mean, all their films have bits of quirk to them (Woody Harrelson's character in No Country, the random bits of bathos in Miller's Crossing - mostly involving Jon Polito's characters interactions) and the 'quirky' films manage fine to have a plot. Sure, some of their films are drama and others are comedy, but that's true of a lot of film makers.

    I have to say I find them quite variable. Raising Arizona, O Brother Where Art Thou and, to a certain extent, Barton Fink just leave me cold (to say nothing of Intolerable Cruelty), whereas Miller's Crossing is amongst my favourite films and Fargo, No Country, A Serious Man and True Grit are all absolutely glorious. I place The Big Lebowski firmly in the latter camp and so firmly, in fact, that if you (or anyone whose opinion I respect) says they didn't like it, it makes me worry that they might never like it and perhaps they just lack an appreciation for a certain type of comedy. You would have to be in a very, very bad mood for this to be your sense of humour and for you 'not to notice' how brilliant the film is.

    Some of the people above have suggested that the plot has an unsatisfactory resolution, and that this is somehow a bad thing. This just reflect a (non-pejorative) ignorance of the source material which is, of course, pulp detection novels and the film noir which was made from them in which characters have obscure motivations and plots threads are frequently left unresolved. They have taken that approach to plotting and characterisation and transformed it into a comedic pastiche of the private eye genre masquerading as a comedy of errors. The truly 'quirky' parts - the 'guy wearing a bearskin' moments, to use a True Grit analogy - are the elements which don't fit into this plot framework, like the writer of branded in the iron lung. Or Jon Polito's detective. Or Jesus.

    @47-49 - Where did you get the idea that Jesus was the bad guy? He's just a former sex offender trying to make his way as best he knows how in the tough world of amateur bowling despite armed harassment from 'Nam veteran converts to Judaism. No, the bad guy - in so far as there is one - is the eponymous Big Lebowski. Him and his wife, her lover and the head of the Malibu Police Department.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    Hmmm, Dr. K. I'd say you were both right and wrong about TBL (as we seem to be calling it now). It is hugely ropey in all the ways you say. But, and as it seems one of those curates eggs in that many seem to warm to it on repeat viewings, it does contain some of the best characters and performances from the Coen regular ensemble, and when it sticks to them, it works. The whole Chandleresque confuso-plot, and sub characters like the desperately unfunny German nihilists just drags it down. So, yes, Coen's in quirk mode, but some of their best quirk (outside of Raising Arizona). Seeing it again, you may appreciate just the good bits.

    I would apply all your negative points against Lebowski against Burn Before Watching (sorry, that's what I call it), which is kinda like to the Big Lebowski what the Soderberg Oceans films are to the Sinatra, a celebrity pals smug fest with approximately three laughs (two of those from a criminally underused J. K. Simmons).

    For those of you who haven't seen A Serious Man, which got a scant release in cinemas, I think it's both one of their best, and possibly their only film to date that may actually be about something (other than how cinema literate they are, how perky their dialogue is, and that they know where to put the camera).

  • Comment number 53.

    Sorry, forgot to mention: if you want a really great neo-noir with Jeff Bridges (as opposed to the skew whiff comic pastiche of TBL) see Ivan Passer's Cutter's Way (aka Cutter and Bone).

  • Comment number 54.

    I agree with jasonparkes, how do you follow Fargo? Lebowski is completely out of leftfield and I think most people weren't ready for it. I've loved the film since I saw it on the opening weekend (and so did everyone in the cinema judging from the laughs, the complete opposite reaction to when I saw Fargo and no-one else laughed). The strangest thing is that many of the events in the film actually happened to friends of the Coens, making it more truthful than the supposedly based on a true story Fargo. I hope you'll get Lebowski on a second viewing; it has a big heart and is oddly moving at the end. After Blood Simple (which in its original version is faultless), this is my favourite Coen brothers movie, it never fails to cheer me up, with or without the aid of a few oat sodas (but never a J - just say no achievers).

  • Comment number 55.

    I've never seen The Big Lebowski, but I'd pretty much watch anything with Jeff Bridges in it. Remember STARMAN? Still a good sci-fi flick with a great sound-track (Virgin Media seem to be using the STARMAN theme in their adverts!). And I'm also a fan of the original TRON.

  • Comment number 56.

    A number of points.

    1. I'm with the naysayers Dr. K - I remember watching TBL at uni in second year with a room full of fellow students. They were all laughing, I thought it was boring, repetitive and virtually plotless.

    2. Can I add my support to the above poster for Starman - one of John Carpenter's very best films with great performances by both Bridges and Karen Allen, and for my money it's a better and smarter film than E.T.

    3. You say "one of the few" Michael Cimino films that you like? You mean you actually like Year of the Dragon and Sunchaser?! Blimey charlie.

  • Comment number 57.

    The Big Lebowski - over-rated but fun (p.s. you aren't wrong). Bridges.

    Why hasn't anyone mentioned "The Last Picture Show"?

    AAANNND ...what about "Tron" as well? Okay, the memory has been partly spoiled by "Tron:Legacy", it's still an enjoyable childrens romp.

  • Comment number 58.

    the big leblowski is overrated as hell. stick to your guns, Mark. You never let the crowd of popular (wrong) opinion sway you before, don't start now.

  • Comment number 59.

    It's my wife's favourite film but she has never seen The Godfather or The Goonies so her frame of reference is all off.

  • Comment number 60.

    Didn't Dr K dislike Blue Velvet first time round?!? Then again, I've watched The Exorcist at least 3 times & still don't like it. Anyway, another Bridges film that deserves a mention (if not already mentioned above) is the re-released Cutter's Way. Why have I not seen this before?!? A wonderful movie.

  • Comment number 61.

    Film Noir? --> Neo Noir? --> Dude Noir??



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