Witty Ad Infinitum
April 3, 2009 9:25 AM   Subscribe

...[Change of scene. We are looking out of a car window; it is raining, or has recently rained. Shops go by.] I treated myself to a taxi. I rode home through the city streets! There wasn't a street--there wasn't a building--that wasn't connected to some memory in my mind. There I was buying a suit with my father. There I was having an ice-cream soda after school. When I finally came in, Debby was home from work. And I told her everything about my dinner with André
And here is Sergio Leone and the Inside Fly Rule's meditation on the only possible other candidate for Best.Movie.Ever. posted by y2karl (52 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

When I watched part of My Dinner with Andre, I found myself staring at the mirror behind Wally, imagining something was going to happen in the reflection, like aliens or spies or time travel.

Nothing really showed up except a waiter, but it was fun to imagine.
posted by demiurge at 9:41 AM on April 3, 2009

The waiter is the secret star of that movie.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:42 AM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Criterion DVD Release of My Dinner With Andre, June 2009. Yea!

I can't even put into words how much I like this film. The only thing I can compare it to is staring at a serene lake. One moment, you are simply watching the water and the next your focus shifts and you are staring down into the sky and the world opens up below you and there is this wonderful, fleeting, effervescent sense of magic and vertigo that causes you to see your world differently. The lake isn't different, the sky isn't different, but it is, too.
posted by MasonDixon at 9:44 AM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, I'll go ahead and be the bleating dipshit who just doesn't get it. Mostly this movie filled me with a deep desire to punch Andre Gregory in the neck.
posted by Skot at 9:51 AM on April 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Seconding Skot. Although it's been years-years-years since I saw the movie. I'd give it another shot, I'd guess.
posted by the dief at 9:53 AM on April 3, 2009

Yeah, the Criterion DVD will be fantastic – not that a pristine image is the most important thing for this particular film, but the existing DVD release actually had hairs in the frame, for Chrissake.

What is the "Inside Fly Rule"? something to do with indoor baseball? or an injunction to players to keep it in their pants?
posted by RogerB at 10:00 AM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also recommended: My Breakfast with Blassie - pt.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:06 AM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Glad I'm not the only person looking forward to this one. Or the only person who loves title tags.
posted by rokusan at 10:10 AM on April 3, 2009

RogerB: The Infield Fly Rule
posted by Thorzdad at 10:12 AM on April 3, 2009

The A.V. Club interviewed Wallace Shawn recently.

So does anyone know who the first and second choices for Vizzini were? Shawn says he was third pick, but I can't find who else could have possibly been considered.
posted by Shepherd at 10:13 AM on April 3, 2009

Is this sort of like Sideways?
posted by Artw at 10:25 AM on April 3, 2009

Is this sort of like Sideways?

It's exactly like Sideways except it's good.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:28 AM on April 3, 2009 [6 favorites]

Thorzdad: you missed the joke there. But thanks.
posted by RogerB at 10:30 AM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

For years I have carried vivid images from this movie; from time to time remembering that the images were the ones I created myself listening to Andre's stories.
posted by pointilist at 10:30 AM on April 3, 2009

Looks interesting enough to save on my Netflix queue. And yes, Sideways SUCKED.
posted by daHIFI at 10:31 AM on April 3, 2009

So it's Sideways for snobby people?
posted by Artw at 10:34 AM on April 3, 2009

Ig by snobby people, you mean for people with curiosity and respect for interesting conversation, then yes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:43 AM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

A neat bit of trivia about MDWA is that it's not shot in an actual restaurant but in a constructed set. Which, I don't know, if viewers generally could be expected to know that would be a neat underscoring of the two guys playing characters named after themselves.
posted by juv3nal at 10:53 AM on April 3, 2009

I can't think of a single real way in which My Dinner with André is like Sideways, unless we're saying that any two movies with unconventional leading men and more than 5 minutes of converstaion are supposed to be alike, in which case we can also say that My Dinner with André is just like Frost/Nixon.

Also, Sideways didn't suck. It swirled, smelled and sipped.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:58 AM on April 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

My Dinner with Andre is an interesting film. But if there is a God, he will call into an existence oa version of the film with all the "I mean"s and "you know"s edited or muted out. It's worse than listening to teeangers on the phone. "I mean, you know, I mean" WE KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:00 AM on April 3, 2009

My Dinner with Andre is an interesting film. But if there is a God, he will call into an existence oa version of the film with all the "I mean"s and "you know"s edited or muted out. It's worse than listening to teeangers on the phone. "I mean, you know, I mean" WE KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN.

Really? I think that's part of the film's naturalistic charm. People, even educated adults, actually talk like that, regardless of what expectations about dialogue we may have inherited from watching other films/tv/etc.
posted by juv3nal at 11:06 AM on April 3, 2009

I checked out of the movie after about 45 minutes, but it was a fascinating 45 minutes.
posted by empath at 11:11 AM on April 3, 2009

What was actually more fascinating to me was finding out later that all his ridiculous stories were apparently true.
posted by empath at 11:14 AM on April 3, 2009

I tried to watch this movie a long time ago and hated it, and I mean hated it. But then again, I didn't know the premise going into it, so I kept expecting something to happen. Now that I'm older and know in advance that it's just a couple dudes talking, perhaps I can appreciate its finer points.

Maybe it will find its way into my Netflix queue one of these days.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:19 AM on April 3, 2009

I saw this in a movie theater with my father, over 25 years ago - on a double bill where the first movie was Harold and Maude. In the break, we agreed that there was no way the second film could be as good as the first - we had no idea what "André" was about.

We were blown away. I walked out and I felt like I was tripping - the colours seemed brighter, I can remember it till this day.

I don't remember expecting "something to happen". The title is very clear - like "Penn and Teller Get Killed", you have a good idea what to expect. If a movie grabs me, I'm very much in the moment...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:29 AM on April 3, 2009 [5 favorites]

(I should add that I had no idea who either of them were. In hindsight, I'm surprised my father didn't clue me in to who Wallace Shawn is - perhaps he didn't know...)

Reading the transcript is a trip through memory lane. I'm trying to remember when I saw this, perhaps 1982? And I never saw it since....
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:34 AM on April 3, 2009

Uh, have you ever heard of "SPOILER", Afroblanco? Thanks for ruining MDWA for me forever.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:37 AM on April 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

If anyone wants a Cliff Notes version, here's a cartoon version starring bunnies.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:50 AM on April 3, 2009

Despite the "director's cut," I will go to my grave always knowing that Andre shot first.
posted by malocchio at 11:53 AM on April 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

The whole movie is on youtube, btw.
posted by empath at 11:57 AM on April 3, 2009

If you think you were disappointed with MDWA, I thought the title was "My Dinner of Andre," with zombies.
posted by digsrus at 12:06 PM on April 3, 2009

I'm waiting for Richard Linklater's rotoscoped version to come out before I see it.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:10 PM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Like most great art, My Dinner with Andre changes with each viewing, gaining much of its meaning from the viewer's own state of mind and circumstances. Sometimes, like Skot, I want to punch Andre Gregory in the neck; sometimes, I get frustrated at Wallace Shawn's damned ordinariness. Sometimes, I hate them both, or love them both, or at least see that they both have good, fine, worthwhile points of view. It's a great movie that way.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:16 PM on April 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

It really is a great movie. I resisted seeing it like hell, as I resist all movies without swords and/or explosions (preferably both) but then once I had been dragged into the theater to watch it I was enthralled. I've seen it maybe three time and every time I expect to be bored and impatient and every time I'm disappointed - I get completely absorbed instead.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:33 PM on April 3, 2009

Wow maybe I am just blind but nobody mentioned MDWA action figures from Waiting for Guffman, or MDWA the video game from the Simpsons. "Tell Me More!"
posted by wheelieman at 12:37 PM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Age cannot wither nor custom stale the infinite variety of this wonderful film. May it continue to please, inform, and infuriate us in all media, throughout time.
posted by Faze at 1:09 PM on April 3, 2009

I can't stand obscure art films. I have no patience with films that bore me, regardless of what message they're offering for my edification. I'm a smart man, and I say this now, and to my friends, without apology. "The Incredible Lightness of Being"?. The incredible length of a stupid, self indulgent movie.

I loved My Dinner With Andre when I saw it in the theatre as an undergraduate. I recently watched it again, curious that I may have been an impressionable kid. I loved it even more. It's remarkable.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:24 PM on April 3, 2009

And what MrMoonPie said.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:25 PM on April 3, 2009

I feel like Andre is my twenties. Shawn is my forties. There is something sublime and comforting about aging if it brings with it an ability to let go and not need to find meaning around every corner. Or to find taking a taxi home a luxury. Those closing credits are the only thing I think of when I hear Satie anymore.
posted by docpops at 1:36 PM on April 3, 2009

The long section quoted in the Sergio Leone link is here.
posted by cogneuro at 3:05 PM on April 3, 2009

Fell asleep first time I saw it. I was so tired and I slept really well. Have seen it, and stayed awake, several times since. There are moments of incredible hilarity. Of course, there's that peak moment when Wally says he just doesn't understand what Wally is talking about. They're going on about how people don't really communicate, talk is just thoughtless, it's mechanistic, it's this and that. Then the waiter asks if everything is all right and Wally goes, Great!

The ending is a different kind of emotional peak entirely. The ending is just such so perfectly orchestrated. Who is that wife? Where is that son? They pay the bill, the Satie starts to play, Wally goes home to Debby to tell her about his dinner with Andre.

That just really gets to me.
posted by cogneuro at 3:48 PM on April 3, 2009

posted by humannaire at 4:09 PM on April 3, 2009

Wallace Shawn left a voicemail with one of my former co-workers in regard to an early piece of his appearing in an anthology. She played it repeatedly for us since, whether because of My Dinner with André, The Princess Bride, or The Designated Mourner, he loomed over us as a large-than-life figure. (Much later, I once encountered him on the subway - he's minute.) On the speaker phone, his instantly recognizable voice rambled a bit about the mundane details of reprint permissions and then brightly observed, "Some people say that I have too many commas in my work, but I like them."

I'd be tempted to complain about someone posting the entire text of My Dinner with André online, but shamefully, it seems to have fallen out of print.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:34 PM on April 3, 2009

It was obvious that something terrible had happened to Andre, and the whole idea of meeting him made me very nervous. I mean, I really wasn't up for this sort of thing. I had problems of my own.

Like that nasty business with the land war in Asia.
posted by hal9k at 5:23 PM on April 3, 2009

"Some people say that I have too many commas in my work, but I like them."

Some people have crawlen so far up their own assholes that they can't see anything but themselves. I also love phoning people to pontificate on my body of work.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:27 PM on April 3, 2009

Sideways and MDWA are both movies that people feel comfortable having a nice anti-intellectual, reverse snobbery attitude about.

There is one bit in Sideways, where Virginia Madsen does a solo about why she likes wine, that fits with MDWA because it is honest and articulate about what a person feels, even though it's scripted.
posted by cogneuro at 8:03 PM on April 3, 2009

Reading the front post again, I'm struck by the fact that 25+ years later, I now have the same relationship with New York that Wallace Shawn did - there isn't a block that doesn't have a memory attached to it.

I've had that same though in almost the same words recently and I only just realized now that I was cribbing from this movie, a long time ago...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:48 PM on April 3, 2009

MDwA is kind of the Koyaanisqatsi of relationship movies. Just like Reggio's film presents completely polarized settings of starkest wilderness with no people around and the most overcrowded cities, here you have the extremes of one guy talking about wandering all around India and Poland and Scotland, doing things like being buried alive and in the desert at night wailing and eating sand, and the other who doesn't even like to leave his apartment.

The first time I saw the movie I hated it; the second time I loved it. Both times I got the idea that the two were just talking away about themselves, with neither one really hearing a word the other man said. Which, yep, pretty much sums up modern life. (Except that I'm listening to MrMoonPie; he describes MDwA perfectly.)

p.s. I was somewhat surprised to learn, much later, that there actually was a script. They were such individuals I didn't think they'd need one.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:00 PM on April 3, 2009

Pace lelilo - I first saw 'My Dinner with Andre' on a double bill with Koyannisqatisi at the old UC Theatre in Berkeley - maybe the best double bill ever.

Seen it probably 10 times since - inspired me to hitchhike to Findhorn - but that's a story for another time.
posted by jettloe at 7:08 AM on April 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Criterion DVD Release of My Dinner With Andre, June 2009. Yea!

Is it going to have a commentary track, too ? For instance, The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack was a total hoot with Ramblin' Jack's ramblin' on about the movie. Oh, God, but what if it's Andre and Wally talking about Andre and Wally talking. Man, and people worry about the Large Hadron Collider imploding the whole world into a black hole: Andre and Wally tag teaming on Andre and Wally could create the naked singularity that sucks up the whole universe.

But, whether or not, it probably will be an ultimate experience either way. So, oh, please, let it be so.

And that is indeed one best double bill ever, jettloe. The concept has merit. On acid or not. Not that I have ever *cough, cough* had the experience myself.
posted by y2karl at 10:12 PM on April 4, 2009

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