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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Catch ‘The Big Lebowski’ on April 25


All of us have our favorite Coen brothers movie. Mine is "Raising Arizona," with "Fargo" coming in a close second.

And then there's "The Big Lebowski," the brothers' 1998 effort that is celebrating its 20th anniversary and is a movie I didn't immediately bond with. In fact, I left the theater after that first viewing feeling more than a bit confused.

See, the Coen brothers don't just make movies. They make movies that are as much about movies as they are about the stories they're trying to tell. In so many ways, Coen brothers movie masquerade as movies.

And they do so in various genres. "Blood Simple," for example, is a neo-noir. "Fargo" is a police procedural. "Raising Arizona" is a contemporary Western, whereas "True Grit" is their take on a more traditional Western. "Burn After Reading" is a spy flick.

But whatever genre they choose to work in, the Coen affect pretty much the same tone — that of detached irony. In fact, how they handle the blend of irony and seriousness is not only how we can tell that something is a Coen brothers production but how, also, we can gauge its success.

For some people, "Raising Arizona" goes too far in terms of goofy, ironic comedy. For others (I am among that crowd), their 2001 film "The Man Who Wasn't There" is too serious.

And then there's "The Big Lebowski," which is somewhere in between — though, clearly, closer to "Raising Arizona" than, say, their 2007 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel "No Country for Old Men."

The first time I saw "The Big Lebowski" I was hoping for something closer to "Fargo." And I was disappointed. Several years later, I was better prepared for the comic-ironic tone, and I laughed all the way through it. For sure, the Dude does abide.

You'll get another chance to see the Dude and his pals on the big screen next Wednesday (April 25) when it screens at 7 p.m. at the Bing Crosby Theater. The Inlander Suds & Cinema event will charge $6.50 for admission, and tickets are available in advance.

And remember: The Dude himself invites you. Or, as he says, "You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing."

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