When I first saw The Big Lebowski – back when it was in theatres in mid/late 1998 – I felt seen. I had been down the aisles of the supermarket in my robe, a dropping-out uni student, conscientiously objecting to, er, something…
I was also there as a fan of The Coen Brothers, of course. I’d seen everything they’d done up to that time. And was a huge fan of Fargo and Miller’s Crossing in particular. They had a half-dozen mad, perfect, wonderful films under their belt. Dark and hilarious. (It hasn’t been a bad run the other side of Lebowski either).
But The Big Lebowski was the most re-watchable then. And now. The lines. The big prank of the story. The stacked cast – including a lot of “arrival” moments for actors that had been bubbling under (Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman) – all knocked it out of the park. And some great musician-cameos (Jimmie Dale Gilmour, Aimee Mann, er Flea…) The soundtrack was hip too. Perfect film.
I’ve returned to it a few times over the years, often with a beverage in my hand – The Dude’s cocktail of choice: A White Russian/Caucasian. (Though that’s no longer my scene, man).
On Friday, I watched Lebowski for the first time in a while. And I saw it in style. On the big screen again – out at The Roxy in Miramar. The Roxy is a lovely destination-cinema – with a restaurant and bar, and with a bunch of clever themed film evenings and movie tie-ins; they do feasts for the eyes and tummy where you’ll have a food and/or drink experience matched with a classic or cult flick. They do anniversary screenings. They give you reasons to step outside and away from your Netflix cue, reasons to drive across town and pay some money for ‘an experience’.
I could have stayed home and watched Lebowski. Sure. But at the end of a working week it was a real celebration to go and watch it in style. Not only that, there was pre-show entertainment – the greatest hits of the (“Fucking”) Eagles playing in the foyer, you could take a selfie in the Time: Man of the Year mirror…
Jackie Treehorn’s Bar opened just outside the cinema door to sell you White Russians if that was (still) your thing.
And maybe best of all, an interval (bring back the interval in the movie-screening!) and if you’d paid the bit extra you could take your ticket stub and exchange it for an “In—N-Out Burger” made by friends of The Roxy, Gorilla Burger.
I’m aware of the Lebowski’s worldwide cult – I’ve read a couple of books dedicated to the making of the movie and the fan-screenings and events that continue worldwide to this day. What I loved about this Roxy showing was how it was lowkey – but just enough effort had been made. I didn’t feel part of a nerd-cult (not that there’s too much wrong with that, I guess). I just felt supported in my choice of wanting to see an old favourite in style.
And the film? Still hilarious. A mad, brilliant journey through some exquisitely pointless set-pieces and great gags; offbeat tribute to noir packed with killer performances.
Crucially though, the tone of the Roxy was sublime – an introduction told us that this was not a chant-along screening. So what if you knew all the lines. Yes, yes, what little achievers you were, and proud the Roxy was of all of us, but keep your mouth shut and let the first-timers have a cool experience. Let the film play and do it’s thing. Far Out!
I loved seeing it again. I loved being in an audience that laughed at favourite bits and was there to bask in cinema’s greatest offering: escapism.
Now, so what you’re thinking, and thanks heaps for telling you about an even that has happened. Well, actually the Roxy are doing it all again with The Big Lebowski this coming Friday, July 16. So you have another chance. Or you can double-down and go again – I would seriously consider it if I wasn’t already booked to be out of town.
That said, I’m so into the experience the Roxy offered that I’ve already bought tickets for a screening of Misery that’s going down in a couple of weeks’ time. And I’m looking forward to more cult screenings and anniversary runs in a comfy seat with a big screen in front of me.
Obviously, this is a smart business move in a world that’s had its film industry impacted and with release schedules in a mess too. But it’s just fun to make movie-watching an experience all over again. Nostalgic and wonderful. Again, some of the best qualities of movie-going.
You can follow The Roxy on Facebook where, we were told on Friday, you can even make suggestions and requests for future cult screenings.