Film of the Week: The Big Lebowski (1998)

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Joel and Ethan Coen direct Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi in this flawless bowling noir. 

The Coen Brothers most accessible film in that it is unequivocally a laugh a minute ride, and some of those laughs are very, very dumb. The punchlines often feel as much at home in Only Fools And Horses as they do Raymond Chandler. Obviously Altman’s equally hip and loose adaptation of The Long Goodbye is a massive influence but the shaggy dog thriller plot is just a Christmas tree to hang some marvellous character baubles off. And the character work from this deepdrilled Coens-y castlist, though broad, is overwhelmingly excellent. This review will now turn into a list. The Dude: Jeff Bridge’s best, most apt performance- the Dude abides. Goodman’s Walter is even more of a hoot – a raging failure of a man, at war with a world who doesn’t care about his aggression. Then you have smaller stand outs like Turturro’s pederast rival bowler Jesus, his bitch Liam, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s drippingly oily PA to the eponymous Big Lebowski, David Thewlis’s grating and discombobulating cameo, and nihilist pornstar Peter Stomare. The soundtrack is heaven, the film even gets away with multiple dream sequences that are not just exercises in avante garde but move the plot gently forward. Wow!… “This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass, Larry!”

10

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