A few hours ago I attended a screening of one of my absolute favorite films, The Big Lebowski, at the wonderful Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Massachusetts. Sometimes a movie comes along at just the right time and hits you in such a way that can truly be described as life-changing. Ghostbusters and Back To The Future served me the one-two punch that made me consider looking at Film as a career (and yeah, I'm still working on it). The first five minutes of Jackie Chan's Armour Of God introduced me to the great fun of Asian cinema. And Lebowski came along at a time in my life when I was having trouble at an important job, stressing about a non-relationship and keeping the bills and rent paid. As the film ran, the message of The Dude (Jeff Bridges) washed over me like a cathartic wave of Kahlua and milk on ice. "The Dude Abides," he said in the final scene. And doesn't that just sum it all up? Yes sir, it does. When the semi's are coming up, the nihilists are threatening your "chonson" and the Chinaman's pissing on your rug, just abide and all will work itself out. Father Lebowski gave me the wisdom to try to just relax, go with the flow, and all things in life shall come full circle and maybe even get a little better. Nowadays, you might say that I take it a little too easy. But then, that'll be a whole other blog entry altogether sometime, I'm sure.
At any rate, the movie became a great fave amongst my close friends and I. In the coming days I managed to track down a book about the making of the film, the soundtrack, the theatrical one-sheet poster and was eventually even awarded a t-shirt by one of my best friends, mister Chris Miller, who worked at a local theater at the time, himself. We'd go bowling on Wednesday nights out at the Alewife Lanes & Games at the end of the Red Line in Somerville, where he would bowl under the name "Tacos De Los Muertos" and I as "The Dude" (this, long before every Pothead Fratboy in the USA caught on to Lebowksi's greatness and considered it their flick -- those lames).
Anyway, back to tonight... A very well-known spot for film fans across the country, The Coolidge has played host to many of the cinema's best and brightest, including filmmaker Zhang Yimou, cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and most recently Meryl Streep. In addition, they often feature live performance art and music, as well as recent films and movie classics. And at tonight's celebration of the aforementioned Coen Brothers film, a min-celebration was being had. Some audience members came dressed-down in full-on Lebowski bathrobes and beards, some in the simple elegance of the bowling shirt. Various gifts were being given out for who could fare best in "Toss The Ringer" (recreating a scene from the film in which a bowling ball bag full of dirty underwear was thrown a good distance) and other such mellow competitions. Bumping into my friend Wendee while grabbing a "half Diet Coke, half Barq's Root Beer" at the concessions stand, we grabbed some seats, prepping for cinema greatness. And then, toward the end of all the pre-show shenanigans, came the Moment. The announcers asked for volunteers for the Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) Impersonation Contest...
...And then one man rose to the challenge. :)
I shuffled up there under the lights and before the microphones. The Hosts explained to the other three contestants and I that we could choose any line we wished as long as it was:(a) spoken by John Goodman in the film; and:(b) not explicit in language. That last one seemed very strange to me, seeing as how we were all sitting there waiting to watch a film we all knew had the word "fuck" in it over 250 times. (As seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqtgfjkB6Pg ) But hey -- their venue, their rules. The hosts even prepared lines pre-edited to make things easier. I glanced at the sheet before the packed-to-the-back-row crowd, and gathered up my 36 years of anger and goofiness... After waiting my turn, I took a deep breath, bugged my eyes, grimaced by best angry-face and let loose my inner demons as they met with the powerful need to entertain and be recognized by an audience of an estimated six-hundred of my locals and peers, the edited-for-public screamfest...
"You SEE what happens, Larry? You SEE WHAT HAPPENS?! THIS is what happens, Larry! THIS is WHAT HAPPENS, LARRY! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU... FIND... A STRANGER... IN THE ALPS!!!"
And the crowd went apeshit. :) I have to say, there is a tremendous lift in having a huge group of people shouting and applauding their satisfaction at one's performance work. My job at the local video-store makes me fairly visible in the community already -- sometimes I can't go a block without someone waving and asking what's coming out this week -- so I'll probably be happily hearing about this particular night for quite some time. I was awarded the prize, an action figure of "The Albino Bowler," received a dozen or so compliments (though no job offers or ladies' phone numbers) and even one knowing "Dios Mio, Man" from someone out in the crowd. (Thanks, y'all!) I'm pretty much the quiet type, until my occassional need-to-get-wacky rises and I do something nutty in public like this. I'll never forget the night I blew away my roommates at a local pub Karaoke Night as I belted out "You And Me And The Bottle Makes Three, Tonight" by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (as featured in the film, Swingers -- yes, even my musical choices are from movies). Tonight's Lebowskifest was easily just as good.
And with that, and these new reviews, I'll catch ya'll further on down the trail...
My Super Ex-Girlfriend **1/2
Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby ***
The Big Lebowski (1998) ****
Election 2 (Hong Kong) ***1/2
The Mission (1999, Hong Kong) ***
An Evening With Kevin Smith ***
The Bodyguard From Beijing (1994, Hong Kong) **1/2