R

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

Total Recall (1990) - Paul Verhoeven

AWESOME SCI-FI ACTION FILM 98/100

Director: 
Paul Verhoeven  

BASED ON: 
"We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick

WRITERS:
Ronald ShusetT, 
Dan O'Bannon,
Jon Povill and
Gary GoldmaN

Stars:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside

Rating: R

Country:
USA

Language:
English

Release Date:
1 June 1990

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Total Recall is a tremendous science-fiction action film from 1990. It had been Directed by Paul Verhoeven who had helmed Robocop the prior year. And produced by Carolco Pictures and Tri-Star. Arnold Schwarzenegger is our lead actor supported by Michael Ironside, Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin. The story is based on a Philip K. Dick short story called "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" and the screenplay was handled by Gary Goldman, Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. Kind of an all-star affair for 1990. This movie was a staple of my childhood, and the reason for my love of cheesy Arnold Schwarzenegger flicks. I had rented this several times from Blockbuster or Hollywood Video and also viewed is uncountable times on television. Hell, it still runs on AMC and Syfy to this day! No matter how you cut it Total Recall, is an important movie that can never be replicated.  

Douglas Quaid is a mild-mannered construction worker living on earth in 2089. He has a beautiful wife, a good job, but yearns for the stars. Something inside of Doug wants to get away. He wants to go to Mars, much to the behest of his wife and friends. Doug goes to Recall, a service that can implant a memory into your brain. A virtual vacation. However, during the operation, something is ticked and happy ol’ Douglas Quaid becomes the ruthless, cunning and deadly Hauser. A hired agent from Mars that has been suppressed with mental blocks. Now awakened to the false reality around him, and being pursued by people trying to kill him, Hauser must return to Mars to find out who wants him dead! 

The screenplay for the film was picked up by Dino De Laurentiis and shopped around Hollywood in the early eighties. De Laurentiis had tried to get the film off the ground seeking either Richard Dreyfuss or Patrick Swayze in the lead role. That would have been bad. He had gotten David Cronenberg attached to direct, but Cronenberg was hard about having William Hurt as the lead. Things just couldn’t come together and the screenplay had floundered in development hell. In 1989, the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group had folded leaving the script out in the wild. It was picked up by Carolco Pictures and the rest is history. 

Total Recall is the best science-fiction movie of all time. The acting, music, effects and writing are running on all cylinders. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the perfect fit for this role, and this was a big hit for him. The Quaid character is very complex, something that doesn’t become clear until his trip to Recall. The soundtrack was masterfully composed/conducted by a legendary musician, Jerry Goldsmith. It sets every scene with an epic beat that makes this movie a blockbuster. The main theme is unforgettable. Much better than many scores today. The special effects were handled by effects master, Rob Bottin. Bottin is famous for his tremendous work on movies like The Thing, The Howling, Robocop and Legend. He doesn’t shy away from gore and turns out some creative scenes. I would never expect less.

I really love this movie. I have seen it countless times and still love watching it frequently today. It’s the perfect film to come out of the late-eighties, early nineties time period. Arnold is a badass here. If you aren’t familiar with his work in action films, then I plead that you watch this movie along with classics like The Running Man, Predator and Conan the Barbarian. That man was entertainment in the eighties. Total Recall hits on every level and is now tame enough for early teens to enjoy. I highly recommend it. Five stars.