Drama

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

The Wrestler (2008) - Darren Aronofsky

REALLY GREAT FILM 95/100

The Wrestler is a intense look at the life of a down-and-out wrestler.

Directed: Darren Aronofsky

Produced: Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin

Writer: Robert Siegel

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

Studio: Weisblum
Production Co., Wild Bunch, Protozoa Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Release date: September 5, 2008

Country: United States

Budget: $6Million

Box office: $44.7Million

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The Wrestler is an independent dramatic film from 2008, directed by Darren Aronofsky. It stars Mickey Rourke as the lead character, Randy "The Ram" Robinson. Randy is an aged performer that appears to be edging closer and closer to the end of his rope. It's a realistic and depressing look at professional wrestling, and the effect it has on the superstars from the past. I had attended an early screening of this film at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood in early 2008. It was tremendous. Everyone was emotionally moved and we all stood and applauded. It was a shoe-in for Best Picture. Unfortunately, 2008 was an insane year for movies and it had incredible competition with films like Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk and The Reader. The Wrestler didn't even make it into the running. Don't feel bad though, neither did The Dark Knight. 

In this movie, we follow The Ram in modern times. Old. Poor and too far disconnected from the world he lives in. He isn't doing too well and is only pulling in a few sheckles by wrestling on the independent circuit. Regardless of his declining health both mentally and physically. We see the impact of his lifestyle on himself and his own family that he has harmed. Randy is trying to figure out which way he should go in his life. Does he take a normal 9-to-5 job, or does he stay wrestling regardless of his ailing health. 

This movie is filmmaking at its finest. Mickey Rourke puts in the performance of a lifetime. He had literally become a professional wrestler for this role. This was incredible. The emotion. The raw emotion that is put on screen is heavy. It has weight. Rourke has such a great performance that he had a small career revitalization after the release of this film. It's hard to watch and not be hit in the feels. Also we have tremendous performances from Evan Rachel-Wood as the daughter of Randy, and Marisa Tomei as his love-interest. All of them are so fantastic. This is acting at its best. Aronofsky does a tremendous job of capturing a very secretive business and shows how it works on the inside. It's an eye-opening look that will definitely get you talking.