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Archive for September 5th, 2012

© 2012 by James Clark

Note: Jim Clark’s essay on ‘The Big Lebowski’ is independent of the comedy countdown.  The film will be making an appearance down the road and will be covered by Maurizio Roca.

The Big Lebowski (1998) is a brilliant laugh-riot and, moreover, it leaves us reeling with the sense of just how well and productively the Coens can read. Its subversion of conventional niceties derives from a wellspring of sensibility palpably misplayed but ambushed before informing with crippling self-disappointment the smatterings of consciousness on display. This ambush consists of melding one’s disarray with ways of life (and particularly their overt gestures and sayings) that appear to hold some promise for emotional security and progress—either because they have served and impressed for many years or because they appear to be the new answer to their desires. So we are first introduced to the protagonist by a narrator with a cowboy’s twang, promptly inundated by a cowboy song associated with the King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers, a persona coming to exert a vaguely Arthurian status with his jewel-box presence, his decorative raiment and weaponry, his horse, as beautiful as most movie stars and a Geneviève-like consort who sings like a bird, and in fact often joins the King’s roving troubadours, called, with due alertness to venerable truths, The Sons of the Pioneers. It is a number from close to the top of their playlist, “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” that carries the introductory moments to strange levels, whereupon we realize we know of another tumbling entity, Jacques, in a page-boy haircut, who, at the outset of Robert Bresson’s Four Nights of a Dreamer, somersaults down a grassy hill like the page-boy he is and, we come to learn, most likely will remain. (Our protagonist here leaves us, some two hours hence, with a proud pledge, “The Dude abides.”) (more…)

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