Think of your favorite movies. The movies you can watch over and over and over again without getting sick of them. The movies you pop in the DVD player on a hungover Sunday morning when you're not quite in the mood for a VH1 I Love the '80s marathon. The movies you catch on cable mid-way through and always have to watch 'til the end. Not the best movies you've ever seen, necessarily. The most re-watchable. Adaptation was one of the best movies I've seen this decade, but I've elected to watch Mallrats far more often. That's what I'm talking about.
Every so often, I'm going to post about one of my favorite re-watchable movies. I'll try to give you an idea of just what keeps me interested the third, fourth, eighth, twelfth time I watch them.
The Big Lebowski
dir: Joel Coen
starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro
On your 1st viewing, just take in the movie in all its surrealistic, hysterical glory. Wallow in Jeff Bridges's delightful performance and note-perfect line readings. Appreciate the finely-honed dialogue that doubles back on itself ("the parlance of our time," "Chinaman," "johnson," "where's the money, Lebowski?") to such wonderful effect. Follow the plot if you must, but it's not truly necessary.
On your 2nd viewing, just watch John Goodman. No. Really. Don't take your eyes or ears off him. Not that you could, to be honest, but he's just the most wonderful thing going. And it's not just the thunderously-delivered catchphrases, either. He's really quite endearing beneath all the 'Nam bluster and rage.
On your 5th viewing, make a special note of the opening credits, as well as the numerous fantasy sequences, all of which render The Dude's beloved sport of bowling with the splendiferous style of an Esther Williams picture.
On your 6th viewing, give it up for the stellar supporting cast. Phillip Seymour Hoffman as perma-stressed Brandt; Steve Buscemi as out-of-his-element Donny; Peter Stormare as Uli the Nihilist; David Thewlis (!) as the high-pitched, giggling Knox; David Huddleston as the "Big" Jeffrey Lebowski; Sam Elliott as the narrator; Julianne Moore's best comic work to date and the evolutionary descendant of Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hudsucker Proxy. Honestly, that entire sex/coitus/vagina/Johnson conversation is such brilliant back-and-forth.
On your 8th viewing, mull over whether the Gipsy Kings' "Hotel California" or Kenny Rogers's "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" made for the better musical interlude.
By your 11th viewing, you should probably start brushing up on your quoting. Doubtless, this is one of the more quotable movies of our time, but maybe it's time to hang up "The Dude abides" or "Nobody fucks with the Jesus" in favor of something less obvious. How about "strong men also cry"? Or "Your revolution is over! My condolences! The bums lost!" Pick one Walter quote and go with it. I'd suggest "You're entering a world of pain," or else "Life does not stop and start at your convenience, you miserable piece of shit," if you're not into the whole brevity thing. Speaking of which, please, if you're going to quote the "Duder, El Duderino" spiel, at least get the words right. Stay away from "This is what happens when you fuck a stanger in the ass!" Can't use that one in polite company. Try "stay outta Malibu, Lewbowski!" Or "the royal 'we,' the editorial..." It's not like this is a shallow pool we're picking from. Choose wisely.
On your 12th viewing, feel free to salivate over the truly heroic number of White Russians the Dude downs over the course of the film.
On your 15th viewing, note that the Dude is maybe a little too high-strung for a stoner.
On your 19th viewing, fume over the outright THEFT of the "dude, where your car? Where's your car, dude?" line that some unnamed film totally nabbed from Lebowski. For shame, Ashton Kutcher. For shame.
On your 22nd viewing, take in everything again, all at once this time. And everything you missed because you were stoned the first twenty-one times. It's worth it.