By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Charles Taylor
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Brian Feinzimer
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By Amy Nicholson
Jeff Bridges is inspired in this shambly Coen Brothers comedy about Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, a charming, hippie-ish layabout who gets into some very un-groovy trouble when he is mistaken for a millionaire with the same name. Some goons bust into the Dude's grungy Venice home, one of them pisses on his living room rug . . . and this aggression will not stand, man. What begins as a simple quest for compensation for a ruined rug soon leads to an epic adventure involving kidnapping, toe amputation, German nihilists and (perhaps most thrilling of all) a bowling showdown with The Jesus.
The Coen Brothers spun The Big Lebowski's story loosely (like, very loosely, man) from the work of Raymond Chandler, plunking the Dude into a deliberately confusing, crowded plot and leaving the poor ol' stoner to sort it out with what's left of his brains. Although The Big Lebowski was only a modest success at the box office in 1998, it has since become a durable cult fave, with Lebowski's slackerish philosophy striking a chord with unemployable misfits everywhere. It's even spawned actual conventions at which people dress up like John Goodman and John Turturro, get drunk, and bellow quotes from the movie at one another. I'll be there next year in Julianne Moore's Viking outfit. Bay Theatre, 340 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 431-9988. Fri., 10:30 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; Mon., 8 p.m. $6-$8.
The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress. Learn about excessive corporate influence on politics, education and society. Green Party of Orange County at Irvine Ranch Water District Multipurpose Room, 15600 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, reclaimdemocracy.org or ocgreens.org. Sat., 6:15-9 p.m. Free.
Dr. Strangelove (Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb). Peter Sellers plays three roles in Stanley Kubrick's apocalyptic 1964 satire. General Jack D. Ripper, paranoid that communists are trying to take over the world and corrupt our "precious bodily fluids," launches a B-52 nuclear attack squadron against the Russians. Will president Merkin Muffley be able to call back the squadron before the Russians retaliate with their Ultimate Doomsday Weapon? Local film authority Dr. Arthur Taussig hosts the screening and discussion afterward. Orange Coast College, Fine Arts Building, Room 116, 2701 Fairview Rd., Costa Mesa, (714) 432-5599. Fri. 6:30 p.m. $5-6.
Greece: Secrets of the Past. The producers of Everest and Coral Reef Adventure bring you another big-budget documentary, this time examining the ancient mysteries of the Greek islands in IMAX format. Every IMAX documentary I've ever seen has been astonishingly tedious . . . but maybe this will be the one that breaks the streak! Seating is limited, so RSVP. IMAX at Edwards "Big One" Megaplex, Irvine Spectrum, 65 Fortune Dr., Irvine, (949) 494-1055. $7-$10.
Little Big Man. Dustin Hoffman stars in this sprawling, much-acclaimed, 1970 black comedy about a white man, raised by Native Americans, who ends up adrift in both cultures. Vintage cartoons and newsreels are also included on the bill. Long Beach School for Adults Auditorium, 3701 E. Willow St., Long Beach, (562) 997-8000, ext. 7198. Fri., 7 p.m. $1.
Mexican short films. An evening of short films from south of the border, presented in Spanish and without subtitles. Cultural Stage of Art, 410-B W. Fourth St., Ste. 4, Santa Ana, (714) 543-0613. Sat., 6 p.m. Free.
Pioneer video artists. All this summer, the Orange County Museum of Art presents a new selection of video artwork at South Coast Plaza, including 1973's Global Groove by Nam June Paik, as well as Cory Arcangel and Frankie Martin's 2004 satire on early '90s pop culture, 414-RAVE-95. Jot that info down because we've been listing this thing for weeks, and if we keep listing it all summer, well, it won't be much of a Special Screening anymore, now will it? This is more of an Any Old Day of the Week kinda Screening, really. Orange Lounge at South Coast Plaza, third floor of the Crate & Barrel wing, 3333 Bear St., Costa Mesa, (949) 759-1122, ext. 272. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Free.
Twelve Monkeys. Bruce Willis stars in Terry Gilliam's trippy, time-traveling downer about a man from a blighted future who returns to the '90s hoping to prevent the release of a plague that will wipe out most of humanity. Glum and unfocused, but featuring some scenes of real power and a surprisingly affecting performance from Willis. If your girlfriend has a Brad Pitt jones, take her to see this thing and all of his creepy twitching and carrying on will put her off him for at least the next three years. Edwards Rancho Santa Margarita, 30632 Santa Margarita Pkwy., Rancho Santa Margarita, (949) 888-3358. Tues., 8 p.m. $6; Edwards South Coast Village, 1561 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana, (800) 326-3264. Wed., 8 p.m. $6.
The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau: Forgotten Mermaids. Rod Serling(!) narrates this vintage TV documentary, digitally projected with "nice big speakers" (it says here). Think you're ever gonna get another chance to see such a thing presented in such plush surroundings, in a museum, with the nice big speakers and everything? Think again. Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, 117 N. Sycamore, Santa Ana, (714) 667-1517. Fri., 8 p.m. Free.