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 5 months ago by beverly j bingham
3.0 out of 5 stars Come, Let Andre Wine and Dine You.
I found this movie rather boring, but I must admit, it did appear insightful. Though yes, at times, pretentious. This is my take on the film. As the evening wore on, Andre and Wallace became increasingly drunk. However, whereas the wine seemed to loosen up Wally's tongue, Andre strangely became more sane (?????).
Published on Nov. 20 2002 by Electra83
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5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite Movie,
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece! - The best movie of the past 25 years,
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.
Some of the things that Andre and Wallace discuss in this movie are so unimaginably crazy, so hauntingly horrific, that even the mental images that went through my head sent chills all the way through me. At one point, Andre tells of a strange rite with some friends on Halloween in which some of them let him through a strange process of being stripped completely naked, bathed, led through a field, lowered into a grave and buried alive for half an hour. Of course, I tell you this just to tantalize you, because to begin to even summarize what goes on in 110 perfect minutes would be impossible. Andre and Wallace discuss love, marriage, perception and reality, theology, and even the validity of their very statements. That they relate it with such grace and raw, real emotion makes me refuse to believe that this was staged in any way. It feels so natural.
I can't believe that something like this could actually make its way onto film, because it's such an amazing achievement for the art itself - in a way (especially in an early story that Andre tells about the nature of performance), seeing these men talk over dinner on film is the actual embodiment of a movie folding into itself in perpetuity. These men are real figures, play real figures in the film, recreate real conversations, and talk about reality in such a way that a heightened sense of awareness pervades the whole film. I didn't get up once, check the time - a few times I leaned closer to the screen because what was being said struck so close to me, hit home so hard, that I wanted to just be nearer to it. At one point, I gasped as Andre related the idea of New York, of working society being a new kind of concentration camp in which the prisoners make the prison, abide by the rules, and don't even realize it's holding them in. Whether I believe that or not is irrelevant - the fact that it's worked into a conversation like this is amazing.
The movie moves with grace between moments of hauntingly dark realizations, to soaring epiphanies of happiness and then back again. Much of the film may be discussion about the zombie-like nature of human existence, but there is a certain empowering quality to it all. My Dinner With Andre is not just about a conversation; it is about living; it is about life; it is about reality; it is about love; but most of all it is about the fact that we can all be happy with what we have right now, even with the infinite, scary knowledge that we receive over time. We meet a man who personnifies 'normalcy' with every gesture (Wallace), and yet there's a man who has done everything in his power to resist stasis (Andre). I left the movie with a changed perspective on each man, which I'm sure is what happened between them, too. More than a few times, I felt on the verge of tears watching this, and I felt it more than ever when Erik Satie's "Gymnopedie for Piano" began at the film's conclusion. One of the most transcendent works of music was chosen for one of the most transcendently great films I've ever seen. How cool.
I'm sorry. I'm just rambling at 2:15am, but I just thought it was impossible to not attempt to put into words what could be one of the single most important experiences I've ever had with a movie. I've seen a handful of movies that have drastically changed my thinking about a certain theme or notion. My Dinner With Andre might have just changed my life.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Andre still absorbing,
The film opens with shots of Wally traveling across New York City to meet Andre for dinner. Wally is a meek and nervous playwright who spends his days performing the errands of the playwright who hasn't yet had a success. He has a girlfriend and worries about paying his bills. Andre is a former colleague and close friend of Wally's. Once a successful theater director, Andre all but disappeared from the country and the two haven't seen each other for years. Stories have been circulating about Andre's recent strange behaviour and emotional instability. A friend insists that Wally meet with Andre, who was discovered weeping against a wall after viewing an Ingmar Bergman movie. "He had been seized by a fit of ungovernable crying," Wally explains, "when the character played by Ingrid Bergman had said, 'I could always live in my art, but never in my life.'"
Andre appears excited and refreshed as the two men sit down to dinner in a fancy restaurant. After pleasantries are exchanged, he begins to tell Wally stories about his travels to Tibet, northern Scotland and the Sahara, relating his strange experiences abroad while Wally sits in awe, never quite knowing what to add. Indeed, for the first half of the film, Wally sits nearly silent, offering only small bits of insight and trivia that cannot possibly be latched to Andre's wild tales of being buried alive and traveling with 40 non-English speaking Polish thespians into a forest as an exercise to rediscover his interest in the theater.
Eventually, however, the crux of the conversation comes about and the playing field is evened. Andre has been desperately trying to figuratively wake himself up from what he views as a life of tedium and mechanical action. Wally opens up more and more as they discuss themes of loneliness, love, art, existentialism and what it means to live a worthwhile life. The conversation flows eloquently and the men seem to always be dancing close to a series of great discoveries before they move on to new territory. Small, humourous bits of irony are injected when the waiter approaches at certain moments. The conversation feels free-flowing, but there is a precise attention to detail that envelopes its audience.
What makes the conversation especially fascinating are the obvious character differences, both in their physical appearances and their thoughts on existence. Wally enjoys his comfortable life. He likes a cold cup of coffee ready to sip when he wakes up in the morning. He enjoys his electric blanket and reading the autobiography of Charlton Heston. Andre believes that humanity is becoming too attached to its comforts and that they are becoming pushovers politically as a result. As his arguments bring Wally out of his shell, we admire Wally for his honesty and simple way of expressing himself, while Andre's observations continue to amaze.
Andre's stories put the film on the level of many an action blockbuster. His dialogue is delivered with the focus and attention to detail of a storyteller that has an entire room hanging on his every word. Images of his descriptions leap to the mind and build an impression of Andre's world better than special effects ever could because they are presented with the passionate belief of a man who has just found religion. The film's screenplay was pieced together by the men based on conversations the two shared in life and recorded. Beginning with a 1,500 page script, the film was carefully pared down to its essential themes by Shawn, Gregory and Malle.
"My Dinner with Andre" is as current in its exploration of human connection today as it was 30 years ago, and that's a scary fact to admit. So many of us get older and find it nerve-wracking or even a waste of time to sit down with another person and have an honest and direct conversation about how we are living our lives, more than likely because we're afraid we're not getting it right. Life is the most fascinating and most important topic of conversation there is.
Perhaps we are afraid of talking about life because it is inevitably entangled with the subject of death. The modest Wally observes: "If I understood it correctly, I think Heidegger said that if you were to experience your own being to the full, you would be experiencing the decay of that being toward death as part of your experience." If we are able to live only in art, our guaranteed fate in life will take us by surprise, slowly and tragically. There is no shame in trying to understand it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tres Bon!,
By A Customer
This review is from: My Dinner With Andre (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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film,
5.0 out of 5 stars I want to have a conversation like this,
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. This aspect of the film is rarely mentioned. Although Shawn leaves exhilarated by the conversation he has had, that conversation has left the audience in a quandry. The movie should instigate some interesting conversations of your own.
The script is just wonderfull. The two men taped many of their conversations and then edited them up and made a script out of it. Great idea that I am surprised is not used more often. The result is complete naturalism. Malle is reserved and delicate in his direction. A must for anyone who likes intelligent cinema - or simply craves a good conversation. Have that conversation vicariously through this splendid film.
1.0 out of 5 stars DP!=DVD,
By A Customer
All involved with this great film [especially its fans] deserve something better than the VHS quality of the cassettes that routinely go missing from libraries. But this is not any better. Letterbox this movie. It is high time.
5.0 out of 5 stars Quoting ebert..."its very hard to nail down great movies",
Its not going to change your life, but would defintely effect your view about it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Based on review of screenplay.,
Had the pleasure of taking a theatre arts course in Austin back in 95' where I was assigned Wally's long speech found on page 97 of the screenplay. I didn't have time to see the film or read the earlier bits so I could never quite understand where Wally was coming from when he started ranting about leaving a cold cup of coffee overnight and being really glad to find that there is no cockroach lying in it. Alas in my own life there was a job change and I had to quickly move out of Austin and drag a U-Haul trailer to Regina, Sask to start a new job...
So I never got to do the monologue in class but I kept the book figuring I should get around to reading the whole thing some day.
So recently I read it through and found so many similarities to my own life, spiritual journey after reading Andre's description of running around Polish forests, getting buried alive in Long Island, and travelling to the Sahara desert. It was about pushing the limit of your consciousness and seeing where it takes you. I was very impressed and the play seems more about coming to grips with your soul, or self, and in the end, after you go through the whole story, there's more philosophy and theology in this screenplay than I have ever encountered in any other work...and it wasn't a presented in a pedantic way. It was real and fantastic. It is really helpful in enabling each of us to formulate our philosophy. This is where my thinking is at after being so influenced by My Dinner with Andre:
1. What is your latest revelation?
Idea that life goes on yada yada.
2. How did you discover this idea?
I was reading up on various religions, trying to gain an understanding about the origin of religions.
Also I'm interested in the various shapes that are associated with the circle, everything from triangles, squares and pentagons up to the various angles and wedges that make up compasses, clocks and dart boards.
3. It must be fascinating to rediscover geometry and draw various shapes with a compass and protractor. What are your deeper reasons for looking at this?
I've been keeping journals, writing various entries, even saving emails and letters for the last fifteen years. as a way of building up a base of material for what I think will be a terrific book. The form of it changes. For a period I figured I'd be able to assemble a brilliant autobiography, but I get bogged down with too much information.
Also I find the process of writing it gets me worked up. You think it will be fantastic but you end up with so many details, only your mother or a few close friends who cared about you would find very interesting. You wouldn't be able to publish it unless you were famous, you were looking to exploit someone's private thoughts, like Courtney Love publishing Kurt Kobain's high school journals.
I discovered that if I stay away from the computer when I'm initially writing, and do a combination of writing and drawing I can slow the flood of experiences, and start thinking about the continuim, the flow of life and the possibilities.
I start by drawing a circle, a pentagon or some circle based shape using points on the circumference, and then I write out various events and experiences until I end up at the start of the circle.
I guess if you wanted to you could also look at your life as a set concentric circles. Of course, we're not like trees, in the sense that we don't have growth rings, but there is definitely a seasonal aspect to decisions and choices you make, as well as to the things that happen in your life.
4. Can you give an example?
But if you look at your own experiences in terms of concentric circles, or as a person who is part of a universe, yet connected to various networks and organizations, then the reality of marketplace, the various trends and forces takes on a different picture. At least there's a context to your plight.
You can start to think about possible changes you can make, trying to find a match between your skills and the needs of potential employers, and if you can't think of an obvious position that someone is trying to fill, perhaps self-employment is a possible solution.
Also, you can take the view that you can change, go with flow, that even if you were reduced to living in a bed sit and eating Kraft dinner, perhaps there would be something more to your so-called empty life. You could add Dijon ketchup to it, as the Barenaked Ladies sing in that song If I Had a Million Dollars. Personally I would add canned salmon, some garlic and red peppers so I really don't need to buy Kraft dinner, except for the sensory experience of opening a box, pouring a predetermined quantity of macaroni into a saucepan. It's so easy, you don't have to think about how much pasta do I need, what ingredients to use.
5. What does making pasta, or let's say the whole business of cookery, have to do with life and your philosophy concerning circles?
For starters, there's a whole cycle of activity connected with cooking, from serving the food while it's hot to washing up. I don't like to leave dishes piling up, and I think the person who prepares a meal should also do the dishes. I hate washing up for someone who uses every pot and pan.
Another component to cookery is in the shopping and provisions you keep in your kitchen. Obviously there is a cycle of buying groceries and consuming the food before it goes bad. I also found that I enjoy running out of bread, or some ingredient. It forces you to consider the possibilities, for example baking pancakes or crepes, or eating porridge or cereal, so that helps you to be in less of rut.
I think when I was living in Saudi Arabia I became aware of the connection between my use of Q-tips and the number of days that I would stay in the country before at least having the relief of an annual vacation. You could start at the beginning of a year with a box of four or five hundred Q-tips and think to yourself if I make a dent in this thing then I can go home.
6. Surely you didn't spend your entire time thinking about going home -- that would drive me nuts? to be continued
1.0 out of 5 stars DVD = bootleg quality,
By A Customer
you've gotta be a sap to actually purchase this DVD.
my VHS copy picked up at the flea market is light years clearer and more distinct. DVD menus/chapters are a joke - everyone knows Fox/Lorber doesn't give a **** about its DVD products or customers.
as for Louis Malle's excellent film: when will Criterion, New Yorker Films, or Wellspring give this one - and others MIA such as "Ascenseur pour l'échafaud", "The Lovers", "Zazie dans le métro", "The Fire Within", "Murmur Of The Heart", "Lacombe Lucien", "Black Moon", and "May Fools" - top-notch anamorphic DVD transfers and supplemental features?
(laughable postscript: Paramount's Nov. 2003 anamorphic DVD release of "Pretty Baby" has several scenes cropped or censored - but they remain viewable in VHS pan & scan/cable TV broadcast versions of the film . . .)
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My Dinner with Andre by Andre Gregory (Paperback - Jan. 7 1994)
CDN$ 19.50 CDN$ 14.24