Directed by Louis Malle
USA 1981

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 Upper West Side 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.

****

Bring two New York intellectuals together and they'll beat each other's ears off swapping stories about their psychoanalysts. Here Malle celebrates just such an encounter, recreated by the original participants: a sad, never-quite-made-it playwright (Shawn) and a brilliantly successful director (Gregory) who dropped out to 'find himself' in a quest ranging from Grotowski in Poland to Tibet, the Sahara and remoter Scotland. Just two people talking, shot mostly in close-up. Riveting, exhilarating stuff.

Excerpt from Time Out review located HERE

 

Poster

Theatrical Release: October 11th, 1981

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DVD Comparison:

Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

(Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

Thanks to Daniel Mott and Brent Wilson for the F/L captures!

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Fox Lorber

Region 0 - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 479 - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:50:56 1:51:32
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.29 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.63 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  Fox Lorber

Bitrate:

 Criterion

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Subtitles None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Fox Lorber

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Filmographies & Awards (text screens)

DVD Release Date: 25 August 1998
Keep-Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• New video interviews with actors André Gregory and Wallace Shawn by filmmaker and friend Noah Baumbach (1:00:36)
• “My Dinner with Louis,” an episode from the BBC program Arena, in which Shawn interviews director Louis Malle (52:08)
• 30-page booklet featuring an essay by critic Amy Taubin and the prefaces written by Gregory and Shawn for the published screenplay

DVD Release Date: June 23rd, 2009
Transparent Keep Case 
Chapters: 17

 

Comments:

ADDITION: Criterion - June 09':  I believe this was 16mm and blown up to 35 and the production is rather pragmatic. The single-layered Fox Lorber is easily dismissible. The OOP (out-of-print) DVD from 1998 was in 1.33:1, full-frame - probably open-matte, aspect ratio where the Criterion is 1.66 - and presumably accurate. Due to the source quality this is not our greatest disparity in quality (see De Sica's Two Women) but it's dramatic enough. The Criterion detail, colors and contrast are unarguably improved and it has more information in the side edges (less on top/bottom). The Criterion shows some grain but I bet this looks very authentic and textured in Blu-ray - although a 1080P rendition for consumers is not in the cards at this time.

NOTE: There is a, fairly recent, UK DVD edition from Optimum HERE but I don't own to compare.

While the audio on the Criterion is expectantly flat and occasionally scattered - it towers above the F/L which has background hiss issues that tended to disturb the viewing experience. The old edition has no subtitles where Criterion, expectantly, offer optional English (sample below).

There is no commentary but Criterion have added a second DVD of supplements.
There are new video interviews with actors André Gregory and Wallace Shawn by filmmaker and friend Noah Baumbach. Amusingly Gregory has really aged but Shawn looks about the same. Strung together it's an hour-long piece shot exclusively for the Criterion Collection. “My Dinner with Louis,” is a 52-minute episode from the BBC program Arena, in which Shawn interviews director Louis Malle and lastly there is a 30-page booklet featuring an essay by critic Amy Taubin and the prefaces written by Gregory and Shawn for the published screenplay.
Excellent work.

I saw this years ago but never really warmed to it, but my Criterion viewing changed that quite a lot - it's either the transfer of my taste has altered (probably both). Wally Shawn is such an intriguing character with his urchin looks and distinct voice - who can forget him in The Princess Bride. I truly believe Criterion have done the best they could with My Dinner With Andre in the SD-DVD format. A memorable, and now almost an iconic, film expression that few can forget. About time Criterion - Recommended!   

****




 

ON THE FOX / LORBER: This is often regarded by DVD-ophiles as one of the weakest looking transfers ever put to digital. Unfortunately, it is also the only release on DVD of this film and it continues to fetch prices above $100 in online auctions.

Matt Lipson from Criterion has confirmed that they own the rights and are planning to release it in the near future.

 - Gary Tooze

***

ON THE FOX / LORBER: An early and out of print DVD from Fox Lorber. The transfer is lackluster with chroma errors, color fluctuation and a green tinge, lots of damage during reel changes and dust and scratches all over. There's an irritating film error in chapters 7-8 (a white blob and a hair moving around). The picture is pretty soft but at least it's progressively transferred. This DVD is very pricey at Amazon Marketplace and I certainly don't think it's worth >$100 but the film is great and I do hope someone will re-release it to DVD in the future. Meanwhile, I don't think there's much difference between a VHS and this DVD.

 - Daniel Mott

 


DVD Menus / Extras

 

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Criterion Disc 2

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample (only Criterion has subtitles)

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

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(Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 


(Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 


(Fox Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 


DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Fox Lorber

Region 0 - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 479 - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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