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The Dude Strikes Again 

Tower Theatre to host Coen brothers film festival

If you love The Dude, Marge Gunderson and Harry Pfarrer, pour yourself a white Russian and mark your iCal—three great films from the award-winning Coen brothers are coming the Tower.

The Tower Theatre is showing the trio of favorites on three consecutive Fridays starting Jan. 11 as part of its first-ever, Coen Brothers Film Festival.

Ray Solley, executive director of the Tower Theatre Foundation said the idea was hatched after last year's successful screening of the brothers' '98 release, The Big Lebowski.

Solley said after the show a few moviegoers approached him and said that they wanted more Coen brothers.

He though the idea was brilliant and got the rights from the studios for the screenings.

"We wanted to show The Big Lebowski again because it has evolved into an important part of cinematic history," said Solley. But this year, Solley isn't stopping with The Dude.

Solley picked Fargo from the Coen brothers' 20-film catalog because, after the early success of Raising Arizona (1987), Fargo "put the brothers on the map."

The executive director chose Burn After Reading because he wanted something "thematically different that was a dark, quirky comedy."

This melancholic style has become a Coen brothers trademark. Such violence juxtaposed with light, seemingly inappropriate humor can be seen in their films The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), No Country for Old Men (2007) and True Grit (2010).

Like last year, The Tower is hosting a costume contest with prizes for patrons of The Big Lebowski screening.

"The Coen brothers have become an acquired taste but seeing their directing elements on the big screen makes for an entirely different experience," Solley said.

Fargo (1996)

8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11

Set in Minneapolis and Fargo, N.D, against a snowy, barren landscape stained with splashes of blood, this comedy-thriller masterpiece commands the viewer's attention with a plethora of tangled plot twists and idiosyncratic characters. This film cemented the violent, absurd and unorthodox style that earned the brothers their first two Academy Awards—best screenplay and best actress (Frances McDormand as Marge Gunderson). McDormand, who is married to Joel Coen, had already appeared in other such Coen brothers favorites as Blood Simple (1984), Raising Arizona and Miller's Crossing (1990). Fargo struck a personal chord for the brothers who shot the film near their hometown of St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The "true story" has become a Coen brothers standard—dark and humorous with unforgettable characters.

Burn After Reading (2008)

8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18

George Clooney, Brad Pitt and John Malkovich make for a goofy circuitous storyline that involves elements of misunderstood information, bureaucratic bumbling and reluctant Russian involvement. The movie also marked Frances McDormand's sixth appearance in a Coen brothers film. In Burn, she gave another stellar performance, this time as a plastic surgery-obsessed gym employee who is caught up in the crazy shenanigans that unfold throughout the dark spy caper comedy.

The Big Lebowski (1998)

8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25

This movie has become one of the most widely viewed cult classics of all time. We have no real proof to support this statement, but everyone from my 12 year-old-cousin to my grandmother knows who The Dude is. The film follows a hilarious story of mistaken identity involving Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), his eccentric bowling buddies and a slew of other zany characters. "The Dude" role, which is based on real-life robe-wearing friend of the Coen brothers, Jeff Dowd, has outgrown the movie and become a favorite Halloween costume, subject of scholastic study and an endless source of quotable lines.


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