Winners and losers
On screen around Tulsa, the thrill of victory … and the agony of being a luckless burnout-turned-private eye.
Why not a couple of movie-centered outings this month related to sports? March Madness is upon us, after all, and baseball’s opening day is around the corner.
For your consideration, then: The first is a compelling historical drama about the rise and triumph of certain British track stars (some of them university students at the time) at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. The second is a dark, off-the-wall comedy from the Coen brothers about a trio of weirdo misfits who, despite a host of delusional, homicidal and freak-accidental setbacks, remain committed to their amateur bowling league.
“Chariots of Fire” (1981)
The non-sports angle: The best movie ever made about the Olympics (by far) is additionally a psychologically astute, refreshingly understated yarn about the social and religious pressures of post-World War I England. Mainly, it’s about two upstanding young men who ran like the wind, and about their different motivations for doing so. (One, Harold Abrahams, was among the first Jews admitted to Cambridge; the other, Eric Liddell, was a devoutly Christian Scotsman committed to missionary work.)
The music: The lilting, heavily synthesized, well-remembered title theme was composed and performed by Vangelis, a big-name Greek composer of electronic and progressive music who also scored the movie “Blade Runner” (1982). It plays only under the opening and closing credits; the rest of the film’s Oscar-winning score is also fine. And some great Gilbert and Sullivan numbers are presented throughout.
The whole stand-up-and-cheer vibe: Even if you tend to write off unashamedly “inspirational” films such as this as manipulative or overly sentimental, give “Chariots of Fire” a shot. For this sort of fare, it has few cornball clichés. And as with its score (see above), it won the Oscar for Best Picture.
When and where: 2 p.m., March 15, Barbara and Dave Sylvan Auditorium, Charles Schusterman Jewish Community Center, 2021 E. 71st St., 495-1111,
www.csjcc.org/jcccinemanew.htm. It’s part of the JCC’s Cinema Film Series, and it’s free to the public.
“The Big Lebowski” (1998)
The key performances: Jeff Bridges is the eponymous Mr. Lebowski, a funny, likable, forever-stoned former hippie who suddenly finds himself schlepping through present-day L.A. as a private investigator. It could be the greatest work Bridges has ever done on film, but before asserting this, consult Peter Weir’s “Fearless” (1993). Also: John Goodman (as a loudmouth, insufferable Vietnam vet who rolls in Lebowski’s bowling posse) has never been funnier. Or more profane.
The many quotable lines: If you’ve ever seen a bumper sticker reading “The Dude Abides,” this movie explains what that means.
The movie behind this movie: In its form and content — and its title — “The Big Lebowski” evokes “The Big Sleep,” the classic Philip Marlowe detective novel by Raymond Chandler, and the likewise-classic 1946 film version starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. As it turns out, both classics exhibit a plot that’s totally confusing at times. In fact, per movie whiz Leonard Maltin, the narrative is “so convoluted, even Chandler didn’t know who committed one murder.” The Coen brothers’ update on this legendary whodunit is similarly incomprehensible. Similarly brilliant, too.
When and where: Midnight Movie, March 27 and 28, Circle Cinema, 12 S. Lewis Ave., 592-FILM,
Scott Gregory hosts “All This Jazz” on Public Radio 89.5 KWGS, where he also serves as the producer and editor of “Studio Tulsa.”