Way back in the '90s there was this picture...picture I wanna tell ya bout. Picture by the name of The Big Lebowski. I only mention it because sometimes there’s a movie...I won’t say a film, 'cause, what’s a film? But sometimes, there’s a movie. And I’m talkin’ about The Big Lebowski here. Sometimes, there’s a movie, well, it’s the movie for its time and place. It fits right in there. And that’s The Big Lebowski, on Blu-ray. But sometimes there’s a movie, sometimes, there’s a movie. Aw. I lost my train of thought here. But...aw, hell. I’ve done introduced it enough. To say that this Coen Brothers film is a slow burn, is probably the most accurate thing I’ve written since I started this review. I remember when it came out. Fargo had cemented the team’s already remarkable standing as important directors, and here were new trailers promising a mesmerizing combination of Julianne Moore as a Valkyrie and checkered floors that would make Kenneth Branagh want to make a Viking movie (see Hamlet, 1996, and Thor, 2011, for complete joke reference). I saw it opening night and recall someone asking me what I thought of it. My response was something along the lines of, “It was okay. The dream sequences were really good. But I don’t know, it wasn’t like Fargo.” These feelings seemed to be universal amongst moviegoers.
Then, something strange happened. Time went by, but The Big Lebowski didn’t. Forgive the obvious thing to say here, but the film abode. And with this abiding, it got better. Upon watching it multiple times, you see how remarkable it really is. It’s one of the tightest films, but at the same time, it’s extremely loose. Like Jeff Bridge’s character, The Dude, it is both relaxed but extremely intelligent. And also like The Dude, it’s your folly to underestimate it, but if you do, it doesn’t care.
As mentioned, Jeff Bridges plays Jeff Lebowski, or as he prefers, “The Dude,” or any iteration of “The Dude” that suits you. He is mistaken for a millionaire of the same name and, when his rug is soiled by miscreants (including Jacob from Lost), he’s thrown into a world of kidnappings, embezzlement, pornography, and nihilists. Let’s pause for a moment to hypothesize what would happen if Jacob from Lost was actually Jacob from Lost and the next Dharma submarine was to unload The Dude on the island. He’d be good with Charlie. Ah, I miss that show. Okay back to this. Well actually, that’s all there is to say. If kidnappings, embezzlement, pornography, and nihilists don’t make you want to see this movie after nearly 13 years then nothing will. Okay, I’ll throw in bowling, David Thewlis as a video artist, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and Creedence. Now you have no excuse. There are a lot of features to talk about here, so suffice to say the movie looks great on Blu and sounds solid if not for the music being really loud -- which is only a negative if you have roommates who are sleeping. I don’t think many of the features are unique to this edition, and unfortunately the more interesting ones such as “Making of The Big Lebowski” and “The Lebowski Fest: An Achiever’s Story” seem to be ripped off of VHS tapes. But what they lack in hi-def razzmatazz they make up for in content.
The Coen Brothers speak candidly about the film and its influences. You get to see them as they were when the movie was new, and it’s always nice to sneak a peek at their relationship with each other and overall sensibilities. That is, they can seem rather elusive yet they say they gave an in-depth interview to “Floor Covering Weekly.” That’s insightful. Other features are made for the diehard fans, or Achievers, as they prefer. These include interactive maps to the film’s locations and built-in games revolving around movie quotes and tickers for how often the words “dude,” “man,” and “fuck” are used. The book packaging isn’t the worst of its kind, but it’s definitely not a selling point.
The major problem with the product is all this stupid interactivity/internet business. First off, Universal makes it impossible to show off a movie because they take so very long to load. Why is this? It’s because Universal wants to show you “fresh previews” from the internet. Just stop. Stop it. The other major problem with Universal is their “U-Control” feature, which forces you to actively select onscreen prompts to activate the features you desire, including song listings, that word ticker previously mentioned, and behind-the-scenes business. Yes, I did find myself checking out the singer of a song, but I also accidentally quit playback, restarted the movie, and spent way too long on the main menu screen, which now gives me a nauseating feeling whenever I hear its looping soundtrack. For a movie about taking it easy, the Blu-ray really makes you work for it.
In the end, if you own Lebowski already, this dip isn’t going sock you in the jaw, but if you don’t, this release will really tie your collection together. I wonder if U-Control has a feature to track how many times that joke was made in Lebowski reviews.
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