photo and excerpt from yesterday's New York Times Book Review section. Review title: "Dissertations on his Dudeness" by Dwight Garner. What Umberto Eco says about "ricketiness" seems somehow important to me today.
Reading “The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies,” it’s hard not to recall some of the profound and not-so-goofy things the novelist Umberto Eco had to say about cult movies in his 1984 essay “ ‘Casablanca’: Cult Movies and Intertextual Collage.”
“What are the requirements for transforming a book or movie into a cult object?” Mr. Eco asked. “The work must be loved, obviously, but this is not enough. It must provide a completely furnished world so that its fans can quote characters and episodes as if they were aspects of the fan’s private sectarian world, a world about which one can make up quizzes and play trivia games so that the adepts of the sect recognize through each other a shared expertise.”
(If the phrases “Nice marmot,” or “You’re entering a world of pain,” or “I can get you a toe” mean anything to you, then “Lebowski” has entered your private sectarian world.)
Mr. Eco certainly seemed to presage the existence of “The Big Lebowski” when he wrote in his essay about “Casablanca” that a cult movie must be “ramshackle, rickety, unhinged in itself.” He explained: “Only an unhinged movie survives as a disconnected series of images, of peaks, of visual icebergs. It should display not one central idea but many. It should not reveal a coherent philosophy of composition. It must live on, and because of, its glorious ricketiness.”
The glue that holds “The Big Lebowski” together, as gloriously rickety as it is, is Mr. Bridges’s performance. Pauline Kael once observed that Mr. Bridges, who is gathering Oscar buzz this month for his performance as a down-on-his-luck country singer in “Crazy Heart,” “may be the most natural and least self-conscious screen actor that has ever lived.”