This is a classic movie by the Coen brothers that came out after Fargo. Fargo was considered the most accessible of the Coen brothers. The story was fairly straight-forward, involving a guy (William Macy) who wants to have his wife kidnapped so he can get money from her father. The kidnapping goes awry. Frances McDormand plays a sheriff who investigates the crime. The quirky characters, the mildly grisly violence, the Minnesotan accents all lead to a fairly enjoyable experience.
The Coen brothers don't try to be too accessible. You figure they're up to something, but not sure what.
They followed up Fargo with The Big Lebowski. Ostensibly, a film about bowling, it's more about the weirdness in Jeff Lebowski's life. He's not the titular "Big Lebowski". That would be a wealthy man in a wheelchair. This Lebowski is unemployed, mostly drunk, loves to bowl, and prefers to go by "The Dude".
The film is really well shot. The director of photography, Roger Deakins, does a great job with the look of the film.
"The Dude" is a pretty chill guy. He's probably meant to represent Jesus, despite another character in the film named Jesus. He contrasts with the short tempered John Goodman.
Watching the film, two things come to mind. One, David Lynch. Lynch's films are usually strange, but not terribly humorous. The Coen brothers are similarly strange, but usually, there's a sense of humor, as odd as it may be. Two, that there is a lot references going on that I'm missing.
For example, let's go with "The Dude" as Jesus idea. I can't say I know the Bible well enough to point out what certain scenes mean. Indeed, I know I can't do that.
Here are things that are puzzling. There's the rug. Clearly, the Dude likes his rug, but he doesn't mind having a rug from "The Big Lebowski" instead of his own. Why is the rug important?
What's the deal with Maude? She eventually reveals the details of "The Big Lebowski" and whether he's really as rich as he pretends to be. Is she Mary Magdalene?
What is the meaning of bowling in their lives?
"The Dude" doesn't have followers. He doesn't seem to minister to anyone. Indeed, he seems to be in a stupor. His lack of employment is mentioned quite a lot. Unlike his buddy, he doesn't seem to need money, and yet appears to have enough money to live on.
Why does he drink white Russians? He drinks it quite a lot. He smokes joints. He doesn't seem to care for sex, but doesn't mind getting into it. Doesn't seem to want a real relationship. Why does Maude want "The Dude" to be the father of her child?
Despite the weird things that happen to "The Dude", he takes everything in stride. He's not above lying here and there if it suits his needs, although he's a generally positive character.
Is the setting of Los Angeles important? It means "The Angels" and there have been films using "Lost Angels" as a variation.
There is the notion that Jesus went to h*ll after being crucified. Does the story chronicle a version of this story? Is bowling used because the Coens consider it a sport that someone might be punished to play?
Why is "The Dude" always sniffing the milk? He seems concerned that it will go bad, and is always checking for it.
Does everything have a meaning, or are their quirks thrown in, for quirks sake? The Coens are rather literary. They refer to all sorts of things, then tell a strange story taking elements from all over.
Despite the strangeness of the film, if you get into it, it's eminently watchable. If you don't care that the movie has to be about something that makes total sense, then it's enjoyable. I mean, if you can believe that a guy would get into all these weird situations and love bowling, then you can derive pleasure from the film.
By the way, does "The Dude" ever bowl in the film? I seem to recall everyone else bowling, but I don't seem to recall him bowling.
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