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MY DINNER WITH ANDRE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Two friends, playwright and actor Shawn (Wally Shawn) and actor/director Gregory (Andre Gregory), meet for a meal in a smart New York restaurant - to eat and most importantly, to talk. They cover a host of subject areas, both about their own lives, and those of others.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The inauspicious opening shot of a dirty downtown Manhattan street as balding playwright Shawn walks briskly towards camera ... going somewhere, and telling us in voice over how tough a playwright's life is. He catches a subway as he continues his sorry tale about his sorry life. He's going to have dinner with old friend Andre ... in a rather smart restaurant, where Shawn feels quite out of place. But then Andre arrives and they begin to talk ...

The film has a special appeal to anyone interested in human nature and cinema; Louis Malle's film was unique and exceptional in 1981, and it's still fairly unusual. It's a lesson in the value of listening and squeezing riches about humanity out of the swag of talk. Most of the talk is Andre's, a likeable character playing himself and talking about his profession: acting. This adds another layer to the work, a self referential layer, but not self indulgent.

Students of cinema will also be interested in how Malle shot this restricted scenario; Jeri Sopanen's camera seems invisible and as if duplicated, achieving coverage like a multi camera shoot - with the added complication of a mirrored wall behind Andre, which the camera has to avoid. The life of the restaurant continues around the two men, and their dinner arrives as if in real time.

As for the subject of the conversation, it ranges across Andre's experiences at a Polish acting workshop to his adventures in the Sahara desert and his marriage and Albert Speer and Tibetans and electric blankets. It's captivating, if you succumb to the concept - and if you imagine yourself sitting at the table with the two men. It's the sort of intelligent, wide ranging conversation that a decent dinner deserves.

It's quintessential arthouse filmmaking, a dash experimental, a dash intellectual and a dash 'in' for the writers/artists of the early 80s.

Published January 22, 2009

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

MY DINNER WITH ANDRE: DVD (G)
(France, 1981)

CAST: Wally Shawn, Andre Gregory, Jean Lenauer, Roy Butler

PRODUCER: George W. George, Beverly Karp

DIRECTOR: Louis Malle

SCRIPT: Wally Shawn, Andre Gregory

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jeri Sopanen

EDITOR: Suzanne Baron

MUSIC: Allen Shawn

PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Mitchell

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

PRESENTATION: 4:3; DD stereo

SPECIAL FEATURES: none

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Aztec

DVD RELEASE: October 15, 2008







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