Joel & Ethan Coen – The Big Lebowski
The Coens’ symbiotic relationship makes it futile and unnecessary to try to separate them out, either as directors or writers. They undoubtedly know where one of them ends and the other begins; for us it is not so easy. Their ability to channel their influences whilst still maintaining their own distinctive voice is a wonder to behold. Whether it’s Raymond Chandler for The Big Lebowski, James M. Cain for The Man Who Wasn’t There or the screwball comedies of the 30’s and 40’s for The Hudsucker Proxy, it’s always still A Coen Brothers Film. Whatever you might make of the auteur theory, they are undeniably in the club.
Many swear by Miller’s Crossing or No Country For Old Men and a pretty strong case can be made for pretty much any of their films apart from The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty, though even those films have strong moments. But in terms of script prowess, Lebowski takes the cake. And it’s not just dialogue either. The inventiveness that goes into the Dude bracing his front door with a chair and a piece of wood hammered into the floor, only for the door to open outward (and the Dude to then trip over the piece of wood in a later scene) is a treasure and a masterclass in extending a gag. Without it, the film would still be great; with it, it’s unbeatable.