By G. Michael Dobbs
A chance to revel in the adventures of The Dude and a fascinating documentary are in this week’s movie review column.
The Big Bing Lebowski Festival
The Bing Arts Center will be all things Lebowski on March 29 at 6 p.m. when The Big Bing Lebowski Festival is presented for fans of the cult film was well as bowlers and nihilists.
The 1998 Coen Brothers comedy stars Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore and Steve Buscemi in the ultimate shaggy dog story. Set during the first Gulf War, the film tells the slightly twisted tale of mistaken identity, kidnapping, extortion, tournament bowling and a ruined rug.
Although the film confused some critics upon its release, it has since become the center of a phenomenon with a line of merchandise and festivals.
I remember being absolutely thrilled seeing the film theatrically. Its off the wall structure and great characters were immediately a hit with me. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing two of the cast members of the film: the late Ben Gazzara and comic Dom Irrera.
When asked why the Bing was hosting the event, its executive director Brian Hale offered a Dude-like answer, “Why not?”
He added, “I’ve always loved the film. There are a lot of people who are passionate about it. It’s just a fun-packed film that brings a lot of people together, which represents what the Bing is trying to do.”
Hale explained the evening will not only include a screening of the movie, but two trivia contests – one before the film and one after – as well as a costume contest. The result Hale said would be “an immersive cultural experience.”
Local filmmaker and American International College film instructor Marty Langford is also schedule to give a short talk about the film.
Admission is $10.
If upon viewing the first few minutes of this new documentary you get the impression the filmmaker is making fun of the varied aspects of Christian churches in this country, you need to watch more. The film’s director Aram Garriga wrote on the film’s website, “The main goal of the film will be triggering the debate and the questioning, from a non-judgmental perspective, on what’s the current state of American Faith and what are its real social and political implications.”
And I think Garriga does just that.
Over the period of several years, Garriga went across the country interviewing people who have different kinds of Christian churches and approaches to serving congregations. These range from a church designed for bikers to a ministry for strippers. Another interprets Christianity through surfing, while other churches appeal directly to cowboys and ranchers and members of the porn industry. Snake handling is also addressed the film is dedicated to one such pastor who died from a snakebite during one service.
He interviews on camera people who have been part of the religious right who now see Christianity differently as well as several people who minister to the poor.
This is a thought-provoking film for anyone who thinks seriously about faith and how people have taken the teachings of Christ and adapted them to fit a particular demographic.
I really enjoyed watching and then thinking about what this film had to say about this country and Christianity.