The Big Lebowski

“This aggression will not stand, man.”

It’s not my favorite Coen brothers film — nothing tops The Hudsucker Proxy, nothing — but this dark crime comedy is still better than 98.2% of what you were thinking about watching today.

Bopping along with The Dude (a fantastically-funky Jeff Bridges) as he faces off with nihilists, rich pricks, anger-filled best buds, and freaky bowlers, it’s among the most-quotable movies of the modern age.

The cast is truly stellar, the zingers are many, and it’s 117 minutes of bliss.

To which some may say, “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

Exactly.

 

Reservoir Dogs

“Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?”

Here we are, 28 years down the road, and Michael Madsen dancing, straight-edge in hand, taunting a tied-up cop, remains seared in memory.

Same with the iconic opening scene of Quentin Tarantino’s band of hoodlums struttin’ in slow motion, which has been copied or parodied a thousand times over.

At its core, this is a lean ‘n mean crime thriller with big-name actors working for scale and delivering florid dialogue written by a guy trying to break into Hollywood by being too cool for school.

Looks like it worked.

 

Monster House

All treat, no trick.

One of the best Halloween-centric animated films, this is a smart, funny, sometimes creepy tale of a house, and a man, haunted by lost love.

Steve Buscemi-voiced Horace Nebbercracker just wants to be left alone with the memories of his wife.

Unfortunately, local kids have a way of bringing out the beast in his abode, and he’s left to pick up the pieces.

Dan Harmon, who would go on to give the world Community, as well as Rick and Morty, was a co-writer here, and the film is a mad mix of boos and yuks.

Fargo

“And I guess that was your accomplice … in the wood chipper.”

There are so many brilliant scenes in this Oscar winner, but the final drive, as pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson brings in the second hitman, crystalizes everything which is perfect about this film.

Marge, as played by Frances McDormand, is pure goodness — one of the very few people in this rogue’s gallery who is not comprised, devious, or downright evil.

As she grapples with the death and destruction which has upended her patch of paradise, and all over “a little bit of money,” it’s pretty near heartbreaking.