Jeff Bridges

Iron Man (2008) - Jon Favreau

Release date: May 2, 2008 (USA)

Director: Jon Favreau

Featured song: Driving With the Top Down

Box office: 585.2 million USD

Budget: 140 million USD

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Iron Man is a 2008 action movie based on the Marvel comic book of the same title. It’s regarded as the first film in the modern Marvel Universe. It was directed by Jon Favreau and produced by Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures. Robert Downey Jr. takes up the lead role as billionaire playboy, Tony Stark. He is supported by a great cast; Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard all play pretty big roles. Even Director Jon Favreau steps in front of the camera in a comedy role, as Tony Stark’s bodyguard.

Tony Stark, the multi-billionaire head of Stark Industries, had been kidnapped by terrorists following the test of his companies new “Jericho” missile. However, while held captive, Tony tricked his captors and told them he was working on a missile for their use, but instead he creates armor he can use to break out. Successful and back in the public eye, Stark vows to stop producing weapons and plans on starting his new life as the incredible Iron Man. While he was away, business partner Obadiah Stane had taken the reigns of the company. Stane had been getting very wealthy with Stark producing weapons. Especially with the double-dealings he had been making. This led to Stane taking up the mantle of Iron Monger and planning on the utter destruction of Stark.

Jon Favreau approached this movie like any other independent feature. He didn’t look at it as a big-budget blockbuster, but a smaller, more contained picture. That type of heart shows through and comes across as a passionate telling of this classic comic series. It was a gamble for studio executives, but it was a home-run for the burgeoning Marvel Studios. The visual element was jaw-dropping for the late 2000’s. I guess that isn’t surprising considering Industrial Light & Magic was involved in the effects.

The acting is amazing. Robert Downey Jr. turns in a performance that changes his entire career. He is Tony Stark now. I have been watching nearly all of these movies in the theater since this one, and I couldn’t picture anyone else more perfect for the role of a womanizing, alcoholic, rich socialite. It’s a shame that Terrence Howard only played Rhodes once. I really liked his performance in this. Don Cheadle is amazing and does a much better job, but Howard has the coolness that goes side-by-side with Robert Downey Jr. They are a good team.

I really liked Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane. He was silently terrifying. The lead-up to him becoming the big bad shows a great deal of good storytelling. He is manipulative and conniving. His scenes with Gwyneth Paltrow are tense. It’s was a good idea to keep this villain quieter and more subtle. It actually added to the mystery and stayed true to the comics. Stane’s first appearance in the comic books was as a shadowy figure that was working behind the scenes against Stark Industries. I liked that touch.

Iron Man is an action-packed adventure that sets the tone for the entire Marvel franchise going forward. It isn’t going to have a villain that everyone knows, but it is definitely going to entertain you on many different levels. It’s hilarious, the characters are natural and full of that signature Marvel humor. It’s beautiful, the shots are amazing and the visual effects of the Iron Man suits and battles are on point. I highly recommend it to anyone that hasn’t seen it yet. If you liked Spider-Man or X-Men then this is right up your alley.

The Big Lebowski (1998) - Joel & Ethan Coen

TREMENDOUS COMEDY - 99/100

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (uncredited)
Writers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore
RATED: R
Country: USA
Language: English
Release Date: 6 March 1998
Budget: $15,000,000
Gross USA: $17,498,804
Production Co: Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Working Title Films

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The Big Lebowski is a comedic mystery from the Coen brothers, distributed in 1998. It stars Jeff Bridges in his most iconic role as the burnt-out slacker, Jeffrey Lebowski, known to everybody as The Dude. Bridges is accompanied by John Goodman and Steve Buscemi. We also get performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, David Huddleston, John Turturro and even Tara Reid. I had first come across this picture late one evening on HBO. I was quickly enamored and very fascinated with the witty comedy and style. This was the movie that sparked my interest in films.

Jeffrey Lebowski, or The Dude, is just a laid back stoner that meanders through life, and occasionally gets into strange experiences. His best allies are a deranged Vietnam vet named Walter, and his sheepish sidekick Donnie. The Dude likes to employ his time bowling, drinking White Russians, and living in Zen. So when two thugs rough up his place, confusing him for a rich Jeffrey Lebowski. The Dude is less than happy. He is sunk into a world of mystery, sex and intrigue. But the Dude just wants to roll!

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The Coen brothers had come up with the concept for The Big Lebowski alongside their dramatic gem, Fargo. Confidence had been firmer with Fargo, and that was released first. The Big Lebowski was distributed by PolyGram and Working Title Films in 1998. It got mixed reviews at the box-office and recovered much more life on cable, VHS and DVD sales. Gaining a cult following. There is even an annual festival devoted to it called Lebowski Fest. I linked to the current 2018 festival here.

The writing is the strongest element here. The characters are rich; the dialogue is witty and interesting; the world is built masterfully. The Coen’s had drawn inspiration from the detective pulp stories of the thirties and forties. They noted Raymond Chandler as a big influence. Also drawing on their surroundings in early nineties Los Angeles. It’s the perfect California movie. I love how elements throughout the film play back into each other in the dialogue and in the surroundings. Again, this is some really strong writing.

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The acting is truly on point. Everyone plays their characters perfectly, and they are all quotable. The Dude character was based on a friend of the Coen’s, Jeffrey Dowd. And Jeff Bridges brings everything his role asks for. He and John Goodman have an amazing dynamic. The Dude comes off as such a genuine character that everyone can identify with. I think that's the reason for his reputation. The Dude represents that part of us that wants to chill-out and be mellow. Deep down everyone wants to be the Dude.

The Big Lebowski is excellent. It has everything that you could want from a film. A great story line full of comedy, drama, adventure, mystery and suspense. Tremendous acting from top notch actors with bonus added cameos from surprise stars. Quotable lines. A deep and rich world. It literally ticks every single box in film-making 101. If you are a fan of comedies, please check this out. Also, I am writing this on April 20th 2018, that’s 4/20 for my ent’s out there. If you're a fan of movies like Pineapple Express or Cheech & Chong, then I think you’re going to embrace this!

The Big Lebowski gets 99/100