Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just Another Review of The Big Lebowski

When I first watched Lebowski, I had high hopes for it. It was a Coen comedy and I love Coen comedies. It had Jeff Bridges and John Goodman, which is a great combination. And it was a cult favorite. All of which, added together, should mean that I would absolutely adore this film. But when I watched it, it was completely forgettable to me. Of no real consequence to my film world. But due to the high acclaim, I figured that there must be something I’m missing, so I’d watch it again to see if I could acclaim it as much as others. Let’s run it through my gauntlet of ratings…

Technical—5/5—A very well made film, as all the Coen’s films tend to be. The camera work was interesting, the acting top notch and even the lighting was noticeably excellent.

Interest—3/5—Frankly, there is no real grab for me in this film, nothing to capture my attention. It’s funny enough and some of the characters are well done, but in the end I’m asking, “Why should I care?” That’s not a good sign for me.

Tension—4/5—Lots of tension around Walter. Almost every time Walter is on the screen, I’m waiting for something to go wrong. And it does. And it is wonderful, I must say.

Emotional—2/5—I didn’t hit any emotional highs or lows here. It was just a movie.

Characters-5/5—There are plenty of characters that didn’t do anything for me. Jesus is memorable, but more offensive than anything else. It’s a shame that Steve Buscerni didn’t get more of a role, because he’s a great actor, but his character left me out in the cold. Julianne Moore is good, but, again kind of offensive. However, Jeff Bridges and John Goodman both give probably their best performances ever in this film. Unbelievable. The characters are so overwritten that it is almost imposible for them to be believable. But they are. The Dude and Walter are two of the greatest characters ever, and the pairing of this odd couple is one of the greatest cinema genius ideas. The combination of the The Dude’s hippie, pot-hazed laid-backness and Walter’s paranoid, conspiracy-theory, gun-toting anger is simply perfect. The movie should be watched if only for this alone.

Theme—4/5—It is often difficult to nail a theme to a Coen Bros movie, because there is the obvious theme and often another theme underneath it. In the end, I think it is a celebration of being laid-back, of the Taoist humility, of being the water that flows over everything by conforming to each shape that comes it’s way, allowing it to flow. The Dude truly abides, simply by letting everything else be. All the other characters are trying to force, to manipulate, to control. The Dude just is. And thus, in the end, he saves himself a lot of heartache and pain.

Ethics—4/5—Again, I think the film celebrates a Taoist ideal, recommending it as a way to live. And, in the best film tradition, it shows this life in the midst of turmoil instead of describing it conceptually.

Personal—3/5—As much as I admire the Taoist tradition, it isn’t my personality type. However, I can appreciate it.

I liked The Big Lebowski much more this second watching than the first. However, a couple caveats: the constant use of CINECAST really put me off. I don’t mind it, usually, but the use of such language puts a tiny stress on me. The word CINECAST was used 2.22 times per minute in the film. It’s not a record, (which might fairly go to “Nil By Mouth” which uses the word 3.34 times per minute and isn’t directly about the topic of language), but it is enough for me to be put off by the language. And secondly, as much as I appreciated the two main characters and the themes, almost every other character put me off of the film. Thus, in the end, although it has much to make it great, it will not be making my top 100.

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