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Festivale online magazine, March, 1998
The Big Lebowski movie review
The Big Lebowski

This film starts with an image of a tumbleweed rolling across parched desert dirt as the Sons of the Pioneers sing Tumbling Tumbleweeds. As the weed reaches the top of a hill, we know itís going to be looking down on Los Angeles and not some Monument Valley mesa, but it doesnít matter. What we donít expect is the weed to roll all the way to the sea. Sam Elliotís laconic cowboy voice fills us in on what we need to know to get started and itís soon evident that the tumbleweed is actually Jeff "the Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), rolling through life aimlessly and sometimes passing through interesting landscapes.

Julianne Moore in The Big Lebowski

The Dudeís described by the Coen Brothers as "a man in whom casualness runs deep", and he is. He likes smoking joints, drinking White Russians, bowling and hanging around with his pals Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi). Walterís a Vietnam vet who is part beserker, part brain-damaged philosopher and part the fat kid in the playground toward whom bullies gravitated. Donnyís an ex-surfer whoís always two minutes behind any conversation he enters.

Suddenly, two thugs break into the Dudeís apartment, jam his head into the toilet repeatedly while asking about "the money". When itís apparent that they have the wrong Jeffrey Lebowski, one of them pisses on his rug and they leave. Walter encourages the Dude to visit the other Lebowski, a wheel-chair bound millionaire philanthropist with attitude, to get a replacement rug.

After their meeting, the big Lebowskiís nymphet wife, Bunny, is ostensibly kidnapped and it is decided that the Dudeís just the man to deliver the million dollar ransom.

From there, the Dude stumbles through situations and meets people including the Big Lebowskiís daughter, Maud who makes one of the great entrances of movie history, a group of German nihilists who used to be a new-wave band called Autobahn, Jackie Treehorn the well known pornographer, played wonderfully by Ben Gazzara and the Stranger (Sam Elliot) who takes an inexplicable liking to the Dude, so much so that he becomes the narrator of the movie.

the big lebowski, Festivale movie review
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All through this, the Dudeís casualness abides. The mystery is solved by the Dude in a moment of lucidity, Walter gets to go berserk two or three times and they go bowling once more.

The Big Lebowski

Iím sure that there are people in the world who donít enjoy Coen Brothers movies. Someone should start a charity to help in the rehabilitation of these poor souls. This film is funny, quirky, unpredictable and has the best dream sequences youíll ever see in a motion picture. Jeff Bridges is perfect as the Dude, Julianne Mooreís Maud, who has a faux-British drawl and tells Dude that her art is vaginal is delightful, Goodmanís Walter with his amber tinted sunglasses, hunting vest and utter certainty about every stray thought that enters his head, is a great comic creation.

The Coen Brothers play with the medium of film and have a great love of eccentricity. They know the detective genre perfectly and pull a great stunt by replacing Phillip Marlowe with a hazy, lazy dope-smoker and giving him a lumpy, crazy offsider with poor impulse control.

This is the movie that everyoneís going to be talking about over café latte for the next couple of months. See it.

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Just the facts:

Title: The Big Lebowski (199)
Written by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Directed by: Joel Coen
Produced by: Ethan Coen
Edited by: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen as Roderick Jaynes, and Tricia Cooke
Director of Photography: Roger Deakins

The Players: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore
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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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: Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia : copyright © Festivale 1998 All rights reserved
Filed: 6-Mar-1998 : Last updated: 18-Mar-1998 : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
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