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My Dinner With André

Andre Gregory , Wallace Shawn , Louis Malle    Unrated   DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 42.99
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

The sheer audacity of My Dinner with Andre drew throngs of curious filmgoers who made the film the most talked-about art-house hit of 1981. After all, who'd ever heard of a movie consisting of nearly two hours of nonstop dinner conversation? Ah ... but this isn't just any conversation--it's the kind of mesmerizing, soul-searching, life-affirming exploration that we feel privileged to listen to, and with unobtrusive style, director Louis Malle invites us to eavesdrop to our hearts' and minds' content. The film was written by two New Yorkers at the dinner table, noted playwright-actor Wallace Shawn and well-known stage director Andre Gregory, who essentially play themselves. They taped their conversations for several weeks and Shawn gradually shaped them into a scripted conversation, but you'd never know it by watching the movie. The talk flows and flows until you're captivated by Gregory's stories of world travel and spiritual quests in Poland, India, Tibet, the Sahara desert... the tales of a soul-searcher who'd dropped out of the theater world to rediscover his zest for living. Shawn plays the skeptic, the voice of reason, his feet on the ground but his own mind willing to soar. The cumulative effect of this conversation is almost hypnotic, and certainly plays into our eternal appetite for storytelling. Both primal and sophisticated, witty and profound, My Dinner With Andre is a film that can be savored over time, offering new revelations with each viewing as the listener-viewer develops his or her own appreciation of life's great mysteries. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

In Louis Malle’s captivating and philosophical My Dinner with André, actor and playwright Wallace Shawn sits down with friend and theater director André Gregory at an Manhattan restaurant, and the two proceed into an alternately whimsical and despairing confessional on love, death, money, and all the superstition in between. Playing variations on their own New York–honed personas, Shawn and Gregory, who also wrote the screenplay, dive in with introspective, intellectual gusto, and Malle captures it all with a delicate, artful detachment. A fascinating freeze-frame of cosmopolitan culture, My Dinner with André remains a unique work in cinema history

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
I just finished this movie, and I feel like I need to simply get a few thoughts down before my head hits my pillow. I didn't know what to expect entering My Dinner With Andre - after all, it is a movie about two guys who have dinner in a restaurant and talk the whole time. But from the moment that the goofy-looking, awkward Wallace Shawn lumbers down a New York street and we hear his voice-over, I knew that something more was taking place in this movie. What it was, I had no idea.

There are no character names; there is no 'plot;' Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, both prominent actors/playwrights of New York, meet after not having seen each other for years and they shoot the breeze. I learned that it's not as extemporaneous as I originally had imagined - Shawn and Gregory got together, recorded hours of their conversations, and then compiled a script based on them. The 'restaurant' is actually a defunct hotel, the waiters and barkeepers all actors. But there's a transcendence to it all, as the men sit and chat (mostly the powerful, lively Andre Gregory doing the talking), food being brought out to them.

What heightens the power of the film is the setup that Wallace gives in the voice-over before their dinner: Andre, the man he meets, has been living a peculiar existence traveling all over the world, when he used to never want to leave his family. A friend of Wallace's saw Andre weeks before sobbing uncontrollably on the street because he was violently moved by a line in Bergman's Autumn Sonata. Like Wallace, we don't know what to expect in the very context of the dinner conversation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tres Bon! July 18 2004
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
"My Dinner with Andre" is my all-time favorite film. I watch this movie often, each time of which I notice another layer of meaning. In addition to the superior dialogue and direction in this film (which other reviewers here have aptly described), the movie is rich, visually. This movie is not visually boring, despite the fact the cameras are on Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory for nearly two hours. Andre Gregory, especially, is such an engaging conversationalist that he evokes compelling mental images in the audience as to what these far away places might look like (i.e., the Sahara and the Polish forest to name a few). After all, Gregory said "I consider myself a bit of a Surrealist," meaning that the world of dream images in the mind's eye are the locus of true imagination. It's a superb use of the verbal to evoke the visual. Yes, the film is overtly naturalistic (i.e., the restaurant setting, a 2-hour meal with "real" characters), but the sheer dialogue transports one beyond mere verisimilitude.
Having the audience imagine, in their own ways, what these venues might look like is so contrary to what we get so often in American movies today. We typically get in your-face visuals and glitzy special effects (e.g., "Lord of the Rings) that allows no room for viewer imagination: its all artificially provided for you. Such films leave me, to use Gregory's words, "passive and impotent."
"My Dinner with Andre" respects its audience by reminding us what it is to be truly human. Having conversations as portrayed in this film is my ideal evening out with a good friend(s).
I can't recommend this movie enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I want to have a conversation like this April 24 2004
By stu
Format:DVD
I have not seen this DVD so my review pertains only to the movie itself.
This is one of my favorite films of all time. I can watch it over and over again and it remains enjoyable.
The entire movie consists of two old friends having a conversation over dinner. Wallace Shawn plays Wallace Shawn, a struggling playwrite who acts to pay his bills. He is a realist, but he has an unshakable faith in the power and importance of art. Andre Gregory plays Andre Gregory, a once successful director who had worked with Shawn in the past, but who has since had an apparent breakdown. Shawn has heard rumors about his old friend's erratic behavior.
Shawn is wary of the dinner. How crazy is Andre? Why does he want to meet after all of these years. He gently prods Andre with some general questions, but once he gets Andre started, there is no stopping him. He had had a breakdown - or a crisis, or an epiphany depending on how one looks at it. Andre had realized that he was not really living, but, rather, sort of existing in a semi-consious state. He looked around and saw that everyone was doing the same thing. He also lost his faith in the ability of art to communicate anything. This crisis is the result of his reaction to post-modernity in general. He proceeds to tell Wallace the extremes to which he went to try to feel like he was really experiencing life again. He traveled all over the world, experimented with all sorts of mysticism and unconventional thought, and developed a conscious, almost child-like view of the world.
I will not paraphrase the entire conversation. Wallace Shawn does get his rebuttal, and it steers the conversation in a cryptic direction. The conclusion, or lack thereof, of the argument is challenging, if not down-right depressing.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite Movie
Very happy with this product. One of my favourite movies and would recommend it to everyone who appreciates something quirky and different.
Published 15 months ago by beverly j bingham
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film
Bought this a present, the DVD edition was amazing, delivered fast and it's a great film, highly recommend it if you like the subtle quirky films
Published on Jan. 6 2012 by Ol blue eyes
5.0 out of 5 stars Andre still absorbing
Recently I made a resolution to own and review more Criterion editions of films and I've made plans to purchase one a month. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2009 by Joel Crary
1.0 out of 5 stars DP!=DVD
Full Screen. Does that say full screen? What is the point of a DVD if not to deliver the full quality of the original print. Read more
Published on April 5 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Quoting ebert..."its very hard to nail down great movies"
Give it a try: you'll either giveup in 15 minutes; or would get hooked to it. Like a evening breeze of a warm day, let the movie conversation flow easily. Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2004 by Sandeep Gupta
5.0 out of 5 stars Based on review of screenplay.
I will someday have to watch this film on DVD or video, but in the meantime I have read or reread the screenplay three times. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2004 by TheodoreStreet
1.0 out of 5 stars DVD = bootleg quality
yeah, the rating is for the DVD video transfer - *not* the movie itself.
you've gotta be a sap to actually purchase this DVD. Read more
Published on Jan. 19 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A dialogical journey into aliveness.....
Two men who haven't met for a long while sit down and talk--about life. One, Wally, starts the conversation with a thoughtless, "You look great! Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2004 by Craig Chalquist, PhD, author of TERRAPSYCHOLOGY and DEEP CALIFORNIA
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite movies
I first saw "My Dinner With Andre" when I was involved in theatre. The director I was working with was much like Andre Gregory, who had worked with Grotowski. Read more
Published on Dec 26 2003 by Damon Navas-Howard
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking film that will expand your thinking
First saw this movie when it came out. Went to see it with a group of friends. After the movie we went to an all night coffee shop and talked about the film and how it related to... Read more
Published on June 11 2003
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