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By Christopher Stipp

The Archives, Right Here

Check out my other column, This Week In Trailers, at SlashFilm.com and follow me on TWITTER under the name: Stipp

THE BIG LEBOWSKI - BLU-RAY GIVEAWAY

bdbiglebowski3dThis upcoming Tuesday, August 16th, is a very special day for those of us steeped in the lore of The Dude.

After having to endure special editions that were solely on DVD THE BIG LEBOWSKI is coming to your hi-def setup in its original theatrical aspect ratio. For laypeople, this might not seem like a reason to be all worked up, after all, the film has been out over 13 years. Yet, as far as classic films go this is about as revered as CITIZEN KANE for those of the White Russian sect. The film itself is one that I can find endless delight in being a part of as there are moments that almost compel you to speak to the screen, complete that last piece of dialogue.

For those who don’t share the same zeal for the movie that didn’t solidify any one actor’s greatness, it merely confirmed it as every actor brought their best performance to an ensemble cast that included Flea of all people. It’s a film that is beneath my ability to praise it and certainly is more worthy of discussion rather than a small paragraph about its ability to entertain well beyond its running time.

So, for those who would like to experience The Dude in all his sharp focused glory shoot me a line at Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com and I’ll put you into the running to win one of these sterling Blu-rays that I am sure will be well fought over. Good luck!

SYNOPSIS:

EXPERIENCE THE COEN BROTHERS’ CULTURAL PHENOMENON STARRING JEFF BRIDGES NOW ON BLU-RAY™ FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!

THE BIG LEBOWSKI LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY™

“The Most Worshipped Comedy of Its Generation” – Rolling Stone

Own the Limited Edition Blu-ray™ Featuring All-New Bonus Features, a Digital Copy of the Film and Collectible Hardcover Book Packaging

Universal City, May 24, 2011 – Bowling, nihilists, a stolen rug and the occasional acid flashback have never been funnier when one of the most popular cult classics in history, The Big Lebowski Limited Edition, debuts on Blu-ray™ August 16, 2011 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. From the Oscar®-winning Coen Brothers (True Grit, Fargo) and starring Academy Award® winner Jeff Bridges (True Grit, Crazy Heart), this acclaimed comedy has been newly remastered in high definition to provide longtime fans and first-time viewers alike with the ultimate Lebowski experience.

Available for a limited time with an all-new 28-page companion book featuring an exclusive interview with Jeff Dowd – the real-life inspiration for The Dude – Jeff Bridges’ personal, on-set photography, a film timeline, trivia and much more, The Big Lebowski Limited Edition Blu-ray™ is a must-own addition to any collection. In addition to all-new features exclusive to the Blu-ray™ release, The Big Lebowski Limited Edition Blu-ray™ also offers a digital copy of the film that can be viewed anywhere at any time on the consumers’ choice of devices including laptops, tablets, smartphones as well as Internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes.

“Since its creation by Ethan and Joel Coen in 1998, The Big Lebowski has transformed from a fan favorite into one of Hollywood’s most celebrated cultural phenomenons,” said Craig Kornblau, President of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “This spectacular new Limited Edition Blu-ray™ combines the most extensive behind-the-scenes materials to date with the latest Blu-ray™ technology, giving devoted fans and newcomers alike a chance to experience the brilliant all-star cast, outrageous storyline and unforgettable quotes like never before.”

Its now iconic characters and instantly recognizable dialogue have made The Big Lebowski “the number-one cult film of all time,” according to The Boston Globe. Since its release, the Coen Brothers’ affectionately addled riff on film noir has snowballed in popularity, becoming “an undeniable pop-cult force” and even, for many, “a way of life,” in the words of the Los Angeles Times. “A masterpiece of anti-storytelling” according to Entertainment Weekly, The Big Lebowski has become a cultural touchstone for fans around the world.

Starring Bridges as the film’s delightfully unlikely hero, “The Dude,” the hilariously twisted comedy thriller also features unforgettable performances by an all-star cast including Golden Globe® winner John Goodman (”Roseanne”), four-time Oscar® nominee Julianne Moore (The Kids are Alright), Golden Globe® winner Steve Buscemi (”Boardwalk Empire”), Oscar® winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt) and Golden Globe® nominee John Turturro (O Brother, Where Art Thou?).

BLU-RAYTM EXCLUSIVE BONUS FEATURES:
· U-CONTROL: Universal’s exclusive feature that lets the viewer access bonus materials without leaving the movie!
o Scene Companion: Watch cast and crew interviews, behind the scenes footage and more during key scenes with this picture-in-picture companion.
o Mark it Dude: This onscreen counter really ties the film together. Keep track of all the “F-Bombs,” “Dudes,” and “Dude-isms” in the film with this ultimate fan guide.
o The Music of The Big Lebowski: Instantly identify the songs heard while watching the film, create a custom playlist of your favorites and even purchase them from iTunes®!
· WORTHY ADVERSARIES: WHAT’S MY LINE TRIVIA: Test your Lebowski knowledge by finishing lines of dialogue during the film. Play as Walter or The Dude or in two-player mode against friends.
· BD-LIVETM: Access the BD-Live™ Center through your Internet-connected player to watch the latest trailers and more.
· pocket BLU™: The groundbreaking pocket BLU™ app uses iPhone®, iPod® touch, Android™, PC and Macintosh to work seamlessly with a network-connected Blu-ray™ player. Also available on the iPad™, owners can enjoy a new, enhanced edition of pocket BLU™ made especially to take advantage of the tablet’s larger screen and high resolution display. Consumers will be able to browse through a library of Blu-ray™ content and watch entertaining extras on-the-go in a way that’s bigger and better than ever before. pocket BLU™ offers advanced features such as:
o Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray™ player. Users can navigate through menus, playback and BD-Live™ functions with ease.
o Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the film.
o Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content with their Blu-ray™ discs to save to their device or to stream from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi network, enabling them to enjoy content on the go, anytime, anywhere.
o Browse Titles: Users will have access to a complete list of pocket BLU™-enabled titles available and coming to Blu-ray™ Hi-Def. They can view free previews and see what additional content is available to unlock on their device.
o Keyboard: Entering data is fast and easy with your device’s intuitive keyboard.
· uHEAR™: Never miss another line of dialogue with this innovative feature that instantly skips back a few seconds on your Blu-ray™ disc and turns on the subtitles to highlight what you missed.

ADDITIONAL BONUS FEATURES:
· JEFF BRIDGES PHOTO BOOK: For more than 30 years, Jeff Bridges has been snapping pictures on movie sets. The accomplished photographer presents exclusive shots taken on the set of The Big Lebowski providing personal commentary on each photo.
· THE DUDE’S LIFE: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi and John Turturro take a look back at their performances and their delivery of the Coen Brothers’ dialogue that became classic movie lines.
· THE DUDE ABIDES: THE BIG LEBOWSKI TEN YEARS LATER: A freewheeling conversation with the cast about the film’s decade-long reign as a cult classic, including a discussion about what ever happened to the “little Lebowski” that the Dude and Maude made that fateful night!
· THE LEBOWSKI FEST: AN ACHIEVER’S STORY: An in-depth look at the popular Lebowski Festival, formed by the legion of fans in honor of the film.
· FLYING CARPETS & BOWLING PIN DREAMS: THE DREAM SEQUENCES OF
THE DUDE: From aerial flights over Los Angeles with his bowling ball chasing Maude on a flying carpet, to the large scale “Busby Berkley” dance sequences as The Dude goes flying through the legs of all the bowling pin headed dancers, this piece examines how these “ahead of their time” scenes were constructed.
· THE MAKING OF THE BIG LEBOWSKI: A behind the scenes look featuring interviews with the Coen Brothers.
· PHOTO GALLERY: Slideshow of Jeff Bridges’ on-set photography.
· INTERACTIVE MAP: Take a tour of the locations of The Big Lebowski, then and now.
· AN INTRODUCTION: Featuring Mortimer Young, a practitioner of “non-uptight” film preservation. His restoration of the famous “toe scene” will blow your mind.

###

COMIC-CON 2011 INTERVIEW - Leon Ford

griff_the_invisible_ver2GRIFF THE INVISIBLE is the perfect antidote for the heinous superhero movies we’ve had foisted upon us this year. What makes Ryan Kwanten such a compelling force in a movie about an average guy who has delusions of violent grandeur in saving those who need it is that it’s such a subdued performance. The pace isn’t wildly comedic as it was in James Gunn’s Super or as meth-addicted as it was in Kick-Ass but the tone that director Leon Ford achieves is one of dramatic subtlety. It’s a quieter superhero film and one that should play well with others as it pertains to women who feel marginalized by the macho bravado that divides so many couples come date night; it’s a film that embraces intimacy as much as it does examining why anyone would want to don a suit and fight crime.

I spent time with Leon Ford at this year’s Comic-Con to talk more about the movie.

GRIFF THE INVISIBLE starts next Friday, August 19th in select theaters.

CHRISTOPHER STIPP: I saw the movie. It really was fabulous.

LEON FORD: Alright! Are you psyched?

CS: It was brilliant. I thought it was a nice, wonderful little film that deals with bigger issues. I’m curious to know that with your background – looking at your resume you have a long list of actor talents and this is your first one out of the gate in a feature film – what made you want to do this as a feature film?

FORD: I feel very close to the character. It first came to me about 5 or 6 yeas ago and I suppose it’s all related to what we all do writing in our head. We all have something inside our heads that over the years it just gets quieter and quieter and slips further and further away and I wanted to explore someone that doesn’t do that and doesn’t give up on those things that just seem so free when you are a child and see what sort of affect that would have on an adult kid’s life and not try to make any sort of judgment on it and allow that person to fly. It was a very personal story to me.

CS: And shooting the film presented its own challenges. Did you have a good handle on how you wanted to execute – this is how the shooting schedule is going to go – and how did being primarily known as an actor prepare you to take over this role?

FORD: Yes. I spent a lot of time on set. As an actor you spend a lot of time waiting around and just observing and I spent most of my time on set watching the various departments, in particularly being very envious of the director’s tent because it just always looked to me like there was never a dull moment. I’ve always been attracted to that side of things and also, it’s a cliché, but I very rarely found any scripts that I was blown away by that I could get rolling so I started writing my own stuff. Not for myself as an actor but just a desire to see things I wasn’t seeing.

CS: I hear that a lot. Actors saying they are not really blown away by anything. Was it just frustration on your part? Like, “If I’m not going to see it I might as well do it”?

FORD: Yes, especially at the level that I work at. In Australia it’s a small industry. It’s a vibrant industry but I’m sure at the upper levels of acting in Hollywood you see amazing scripts because there are amazing films being made and certainly at the working actors level there is not a lot – when you think of how few very brilliant or interesting films come out – they are at the top so there must be a real shortage. Not to dishonor all the scripts I’ve read. A lot of them are great but I didn’t get the roles because there was too much competition so I wrote my own.

CS: And you bring up something interesting in the last as of late – in the last couple of years or so – Australian films have gotten more play here in America, a movie like Animal Kingdom, which is quite wonderful, are getting noticed. Is this something I’m noticing or has it always been that way?

leonfordFORD: Yes, it’s kind of a renaissance. In the 90’s we had Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla and Strictly Ballroom and big directors like Baz Luhrmann who weren’t big then coming out and it did go quiet for a while. Even back home there was sort of – I don’t know how to put it – the films were always getting made but a lot of the films had the same theme and now there seems to be a great variety of films from Australia and maybe that’s why more of them are making it onto the international markets because there is more to choose from. There still are only 25 films being made, full budget, and of them maybe there’s two or three of each genre. A case of more to choose from for distributors.

CS: Now, Ryan. Did you always have him in mind?

FORD: No I didn’t. We searched in Australia for the right guy. It’s a very hard character to cast. He’s such an usual mix of sensitivity and awkwardness but at the same time the character has to have an inner strength he shows at night. So Ryan sent some tests to me and I still hadn’t met him and didn’t know how to make a decision. I didn’t actually meet him until rehearsal.

CS: Really?

FORD: Yeah. We spoke on the phone a lot but I hadn’t met him.

CS: That took a lot of trust. Coming out of the gate with just a short film credited to your resume.

FORD: Oh the Mechanicals and Katoomba were short films. Yes, it was a huge risk to come out between seasons of True Blood, it was quite amazing. But for the both of us we just connected immediately on the phone. From my point of view his tests were just spot on. It was such a relief because we had been looking for a long time.

CS: How long ago was this?

FORD: 2009 – 2010 we were filming and then it came out this year in Australia and is coming out in August in the U.S. The premier was in the Toronto and Berlin film festivals.

CS: To that point – do you worry or always worry when you make these films that they will just stay where they are? They won’t get to America or to film festivals.

FORD: Yes, because it’s at the festivals where it gets seen by American distributors. So for a film of this budget and size – it’s almost beyond the “hope” that it gets to these festivals, it’s it “has” to. Otherwise, it’s not going to do too much at all. So, at some point in your film’s lifespan is up to about 5 people – a panel of a festival committee – whether you are going to be seen by enough people to sell it around the world and the sales agents might be brilliant but they rely on the festival buzz as well. So, yeah, it’s crucial.

CS: What was it like to be crafting this story as other postmodern takes on the superhero genre, Kick-Ass, Super, Special come to mind the quickest, were breaking?

1122919_grifftheinvisible_06FORD: We were in production as 3 or 4 of those indie superhero, everyday super guy, wants to be a super hero, but I have not seen any of them. I was certainly familiar with the big ones like Batman because it’s hard not to miss those but, to my relief, we are showing a completely different side to a super hero – the romantic and a love story as a new angle and also the question of my reality is mine and who are you to say that’s not real. I really like the idea of where that’s taken. So I’m relieved with this angle.

CS: Did you find the story shifting at all as you went from page to camera to edit bay?

FORD: Yes. In editing particularly there was – I mean writing it, it started out a detective story and then after a few years of drafting it changed immensely. The characters were always at the core of it but the story changed. In editing we shuffled a lot and we deleted a lot of scenes and the love story really started to take hold in the editing and Maeve and Ryan’s chemistry was so powerful that we couldn’t avoid being with him as much as possible. Test screenings really back that up with people wanting to see more of them together.

CS: Looking at it now are you able to look at it and say “I did all I could” or do you look at it the way some other directors do and think you could have made changes here and there?

FORD: There’s a great story about an Australian artist – a painter, he went to an exhibition and started touching up his paintings when the audience was there buying paintings and stuff and security had to say, “Excuse me sir, what the hell are you doing?” He said “I just wanted to fix that” and they realized he was the artist and I feel very much like that when I see a screening. Not huge changes but every now and again a scene comes up and as an edit I would change dialogue but for the most part I’m ready to go to the next film and I’m very thrilled that that’s how it has to happen and how it is received.

I am getting to the point now where I’ve watched it enough that I’m being harder on myself than on the film. I would change different things about my style – for the next film. I still have a real affection for film. I might even watch it again tonight. I’m really interested to see how the Comic-Con audience will take to it because I feel like I’ve walked around the last few days and have seen so many Griff’s… real life Griff’s.

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