Lebowski Podcast Blog
Almost home E-mail
Written by Chalupa   
Monday, 10 September 2007 13:20
Well, we're almost home.  The Liz and I are still on vacation.  Currently in Hollywood enjoying the sun.  Things didn't quite go as planned last week, but we're still having fun.
Average Shot Length E-mail
Written by Chalupa   
Friday, 31 August 2007 01:57


Average shot length (ASL) is a concept I learned from reading Roger Ebert's column "Ask the Movie Answer Man" in the Chicago Sun-Times.  He's had readers asking him various questions about it for years.  Generally, the trend in movies is for ASL to decrease as moviegoers' attention spans get shorter and shorter, thanks to video games, music videos, and the hectic pace of modern life.  MTV is frequently blamed for this phenomenon.  The theory goes that audiences --especially young people who are likely to buy movie tickets -- are so used to the quick cuts they see on MTV that they can't concentrate on longer shots.  Therefore, modern movies are more likely to cut from one thing to another more rapidly than movies of the past.  Figuring a movie's ASL is a way to put this theory into numbers.  If modern hit movies like The Incredibles or The Matrix have an ASL of only 2 or 3 seconds, it shows how movies in general have sped up over the years.  (A blockbuster from the 1940s or 1950s might have an ASL of 10 or 11 seconds.)
The Coen Brothers, however, are known as more "old school" filmmakers whose films have a classic feel and rely more on acting and writing than quick cutting and fast action sequences.  Some of their films, like Blood Simple and The Man Who Wasn't There, are known for being relatively slow-paced, which might make them seem odd to modern audiences who are used to more hyperactive films like the recent hit The Bourne Ultimatum (whose ASL is 2 seconds).  I just wanted to see how The Big Lebowski stood up against other movies in terms of shot length.  What I found out was that the average shot in the movie is about 6.4 seconds long, which is somewhere in the middle -- neither particularly fast nor particularly slow.  (Pulp Fiction's ASL is 7 seconds.)  While preparing the ASL analysis, I realized that there are some sequences -- particularly the ransom drop, the marmot scene, and the final confrontation with the Nihilists -- which rely on fast cutting.  Those scenes bring down the ASL mathematically.  But that's appropriate: those are action scenes in which the film should naturally speed up.  On the other hand, I was amazed how many shots there were in the film which were incredibly long.  In the bowling alley, for instance, there are dialogue scenes between the Dude and Walter where the Coens go a looooooong time without cutting.  But, again, that's appropriate: time is slowing down in these scenes.  The Dude and Walter are "takin' 'er easy," and it's only natural that there should be less cutting.  I also noticed that in any scene involving the Stranger -- including the introduction -- the cutting slows way down.  I believe the single longest shot in the movie is the three shot of the Dude, Donny, and Walter at the bar about an hour into the movie,  (The scene where the Dude is worrying about his johnson being cut off.)  This is, of course, right before the Stranger shows up.  Notice how the character of the Stranger is introduced visually: instead of cutting to a shot of Sam Elliott walking up to the bar, the Coens instead push in towards the Dude -- without cutting -- and when they pull the camera back, the Stranger is sitting there like he's been there the whole time.  It gives an element of mystery to the Stranger by making it seem that he appears out of nowhere, sort of like a ghost.  His mystique would have been diminished, I think, had they handled it in a more conventional way, i.e. with cuts.  The very last shot of the movie is also a very long one and, again, involves the Dude and the Stranger.  It's one, long, unbroken take of the Dude and the Stranger's final meeting, and the shot is actually bookended by the lone bowler in the background rolling strikes.  He rolls a strike at the beginning of the shot and another one at the end.  It should be noted that long shots like these are complicated because if anything goes wrong technically or if any actor misses a cue or flubs a line, they have to start all over again.  During the "they're gonna kill that poor woman" scene, there's actually a really long, unbroken tracking shot which takes the Dude, Walter, and Donny through the bowling alley and out into the parking lot where they pause to see that the Dude's car has been stolen.  From what I've heard, shots like these that transition from indoors to outdoors are tricky to pull off, so the Coens must have felt strongly that this was the best way to handle the scene if they were willing to even attempt it.  I call this one shot in the movie their "Kubrick shot" because Stanley Kubrick liked long tracking shots of people walking through environments where the camera stays in front of the characters and moves with them as they walk.  (If you've seen A Clockwork Orange, think of Alex walking through the record store or the shot of the psychiatrist walking down the hospital corridor near the end of the film.)
Listen to me, I'm ramblin' again.
I'm sorry if this is more of an explanation than you wanted.  I get carried away sometimes.


Viajamos a México E-mail
Written by Chalupa   
Friday, 31 August 2007 01:55
This will probably be the last post you get out of me for about a week and a half.  Liz and I are off to Mexico for vacation.  However, there's still plenty of things going on.
Stormare in Nacho Libre E-mail
Written by Chalupa   
Wednesday, 29 August 2007 07:02
Matt from Jersey sent us a MySpace message letting us know that Peter Stormare was in Nacho Libre, it was just a very short scene.  None of us had seen the movie recently so we were a little fuzzy on remembering Stormare's part.  Thanks Matt!
Episode 8 E-mail
Written by Chalupa   
Monday, 27 August 2007 13:23

If you didn't know already, Episode 8 is hot off the press.  It's a short episode, but if it was any longer it might have been too much.  Liz and I were the only ones on this time due to circumstanced beyond our control.  Next month is going to be all about Donny, or Theodore Donald Kerabotsos if you're not into the berevity thing.  Just like Episode 8, we'll also be discussing some of Steve Buscemi's other films, projects, etc. 

I don't know about you guys, but I had a bad case of the Mondays.  Fortunately I don't work in a place where somebody might declare that to me.  I hear that can leave you physically injured in some occupations.  Well, here's to the weekend.  It's only four days away.

Soundtrack Project E-mail
Written by Chalupa   
Monday, 27 August 2007 13:17
Joe wrote in to us recently and was telling us about working on a "complete" soundtrack.  Now that's what I would call an Achiever.  If you have any help or advice, feel free to post something on the forum. 
Just wanted to drop you a line.  I'm a newcomer to the Lebowski podcast.  I think it's great that there even IS such a thing, and I'm trying to catch up with the episodes.  Luckily, I have a job where I can listen to music while I work, so I've been listening to your podcasts while I work lately.
I listened with great interest to the episodes about the soundtrack and about the feminist critique of the film.  I'm currently trying to assemble a "complete" Lebowski soundtrack, and I'm doing pretty well.  I've given up on trying to find "Viva Las Vegas" by Big Johnson, so I've substituted the ZZ Top remake (which is darned close), and I have my local library searching for a copy of the CD with Shawn Colvin's "Viva Las Vegas" on it.  The only other major things I'm missing are "Piacere Sequence" by Teo Usuelli and "I Hate You" by the Monks.  In both those cases, I couldn't find the songs available for download anywhere except in abbreviated form, and the albums that they come from are not on iTunes or anything.  You can get both of those on Amazon if you want the whole albums, but the Usuelli one is eight bucks and the Monks one is eleven bucks, so I don't know if I'm going to pony up that much dough for two songs.  As it is, I have about a minute of the Monks song and 30 seconds of the Usuelli song. 
HOWEVER -- the Usuelli song plays on the Collector's Edition DVD during Jeff Bridges' photography slideshow.  If I knew how to make MP3s from a DVD, I could record the song from there.
The new Lebowski book is awesome, by the way.  You could do a whole podcast about just that.  It's what I used as my guide to assemble a "complete" (or almost-complete) soundtrack album.
One last thing: I don't know why but for some reason I want to know the names of the songs on the Autobahn album, "Nagelbett."  You can see the back cover during the Dude's second visit to Maude's loft.  Right after he says "Not exactly," he hold the LP in such a way that you can almost see the back cover.  I can tell that there are eight songs, and I've just about identified the song titles:
1. Saturation
2. Faking It
3. Hit and Run
4. No Way Out
5. Toilet & Bar   [possibly "Toilet & Bed"]
6. Big Bat  [???]
7. Take It Up
8. [???] [hard to read - the last word could be "Lab" or "Lax"]
Joe B.
Why Timmy isn't here... E-mail
Written by Tim Lofton   
Sunday, 26 August 2007 08:35

Good day to you, Achievers, Nihlists, and Video artists...

This is your interweb friend Tim from the podcast, testing himself out on the new blog... I wasn't able to join Chalupa and Liz this weekend in recording, but the things that have been going on here in the Circle City have been more than blog-worthy...

I got my book! E-mail
Written by Chalupa   
Friday, 24 August 2007 05:11
This may mean nothing to many of you, but I received my pre-ordered copy of the new Lebowski book, I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski: Life, The Big Lebowski and What Have You.  I've been looking forward to this for months and now it's finally here.  If you're into the movie at all I can pretty much guarantee you'll find something interesting in here.
The Lebowski Cult E-mail
Written by Chalupa   
Wednesday, 22 August 2007 13:58
Some of you may have already been aware of this, but in September of 2006, there was an academic symposium where learned people submitted and presented papers they had written on their philosophies and theories regarding The Big Lebowski.  I'm not always with it, and I just happened to find out about this last week.
Next on the podcast: Uli Kunkel! E-mail
Written by Liz   
Tuesday, 21 August 2007 11:10

After some schedule adjusting, we've found a time to record the next podcast episode.  This Friday, Chalupa, Tim, and I are going to get together to record Episode #8.  We're working around some pretty lame work schedules (mine, particularly, because I have to work at a public showing of High School Musical 2 on a Saturday night), a Rufus Wainwright concert, and the cruise that Chalupa and I are taking in less than two weeks!  Chalupa wouldn't leave you guys hanging without an episode before we go on vacation, so Friday it is!

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