|Slow Burn: An In Person
Tribute to JEFF BRIDGES
From his gleeful recklessness in BAD COMPANY, RANCHO DELUXE and
THE BIG LEBOWSKI through his edgy, complex performances in THE FISHER KING, FEARLESS and
now DOOR IN THE FLOOR, Jeff Bridges has transformed the natural in acting into his own,
nearly invisible art form. Critic Pauline Kael has noted that Bridges "may be the
most natural and least self-conscious screen actor that ever lived." Ironically,
while Bridges has progressed from one brilliant role to the next, he has also remained the
most elusive actor of his generation: that genuine rarity, a star without a fixed persona.
Born in Los Angeles in 1949, the son of actor Lloyd and actress
Dorothy (Simpson), Bridges first appeared in walk-on parts on his fathers "Sea
Hunt" TV series. But critics didnt sit up and take notice until Peter
Bogdanovich cast him as brash high school football-star Duane in THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, a
role which led to a long run of hilariously offbeat performances in films such as RANCHO
DELUXE and HEARTS OF THE WEST. It wasnt until his startling transformation as
drifter/gigolo in CUTTERS WAY that Bridges began the transition to the darker, more
self-contained characters of recent years.
As remarkable as his performances is Bridges insistence on
choosing hard-edged, often defiantly non-commercial material, and repeatedly working with
first-time directors, including Michael Cimino (THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT), William
Richert (WINTER KILLS) and Steve Kloves (THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS). Bridges has commented
that he likes that, "the audience is never sure what Im capable of," and
in his best roles there is a deceptive slow burn at work most recently Walter
Hills WILD BILL and Mark Pellingtons ARLINGTON ROAD come to mind an
intensity barely masked by the natural, easy-going exterior. In Bridges latest, Tod
Williams DOOR IN THE FLOOR, he "
turns a two-dimensional image into a
presence so vital, so filled with breath and blood, that you uneasily fall in love with
his character and abandon all thought of the artifice that brought it to life."
(Manohla Dargis, Los Angeles Times.)
The American Cinematheque is very
excited to welcome actor Jeff Bridges in-person for a two night tribute to his outstanding
achievements as a performer.
Friday, December 17 7:30 PM
Double Feature: THE
DOOR IN THE FLOOR, 2004, Focus Features, 111 min.
Adapted from John Irvings novel, "A Widow For One Year," director Tod
Williams supplies a frank, riveting character study of a Long Island couple, Marion
(Kim Basinger) and Ted (Jeff Bridges) as they go through the agonizing aftermath of the
death of their two sons. Dysfunction mushrooms in tragedys wake as both characters
deal with their despondency in different ways and try desperately to find a path back to
"normalcy." With Mimi Rogers, Jon Foster. "Extraordinary in every way,
from the pitch-perfect performances to the delicate handling of explosive subject
" Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.
THE FISHER KING, 1991,
Columbia/Tri-Star, 137 min. Jeff Bridges pulls out all the stops as a shattered
radio dee-jay trying to escape self-pity and remorse, and Robin Williams is the
sanity-challenged homeless vagabond who helps him in director Terry Gilliams
modern fable of love and redemption. "I had doubts that I could do it
although, just uttering those words sealed my fate." Jeff Bridges. Co-starring
Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer. Discussion between films with
Saturday, December 18 6:00 PM
Double Feature: THE
BIG LEBOWSKI, 1998, Universal, 117 min. Dir. Joel Coen. Joel
& Ethan Coen did it again, creating another wildly funny, absurdist shaggy dog
saga in this tale of an easygoing forty-something hippie, The Dude (perfectly cast Jeff
Bridges) who decides to seek satisfaction when hes mistaken by some hoods for
his uptight, multi-millionaire namesake, Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston). Enlisting
the help of best bowling buddies, short-fuse Nam vet Walter (a brilliantly misguided
John Goodman) and wimpy Donny (Steve Buscemi), The Dude is determined to get
to the bottom of the confusion of identities, charting him on course with the other
Lebowskis eccentric sculptress wife, Maude (Julianne Moore) as well as mob
boss, Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara). Watch out for the German-Kraftwerk-clones, The
Nihilists (Peter Stormare, Flea, Torsten Voges), not to mention pedophile bowling champ,
Jesus Quintana (John Turturro)!
THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS,
1989, 20th Century Fox, 113 min. Dir. Steve Kloves. Jeff Bridges plays
lounge lizard Jack Baker, one half of a jazz duo partnership with brother Frank (Beau
Bridges). The pairs mutual equilibirium is sent teeter-tottering when they take-on a
sexy chanteuse, Suzy Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer) to augment their act. Bridges
plays Jack with a moral and physical exhaustion bordering on contempt when he
finally cracks a smile at Pfeiffers wise-ass Suzy, its like a man
returning from the dead. With Ellie Raab, Jennifer Tilly. Discussion between films with Jeff Bridges.