Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Andre Opening

Recently, I watched "My Dinner with Andre" for the first time. It begins in the most promising way. The camera follows Wallace Shawn as he walks downtown, along Canal Street past the old electronics and junk shops, past vanished Pearl Paint.



He gets on the grubby old subway and heads uptown, all while voice-over narrating the daily challenges of the actor's life--no work, no money, just a mailbox full of bills and a lot of errands involving stationery and xerox shops.

Then he gets to the actual dinner with Andre and it's a different movie (the restaurant scene was filmed on a set in Richmond, Virginia), which is fine, but I found myself wishing the whole thing was more like the opening, which you can watch right here:




P.S. Here's what Pearl Paint looks like today--the sign has been completely removed:

10 comments:

Donnie Moder said...

I look at the opening and I instantly recognize Lispenard Street and then Canal Street. Lispenard was once more like an alleyway for grey market goods, derelicts and druggies. That was at least 20 years ago. The movie was something like 35 years ago. Now Lispenard is renovated luxury loft condos. Pearl Paint had several warehouses and storefronts on Lispenard. Maybe I exaggerate a little, but not much.

James said...

At least we have feature film records of these bits of New York - as in Woody Allen's "Broadway Danny Rose", so many of the Scorcese films, and on and on. In My Dinner with Andre we even get the IRT trains as they were - constantly in and out of paint jobs, vainly beating back the graffiti. We can't change the fact that generations come and go and that all businesses are not just family businesses like Russ & Daughters. Memory becomes the great city, just as in the WPA Guide from 1939. We get to hear how much more colorful the city was then, how much more manageable, how much cheaper, how much more familiar. I don't know what the antidote to our current disappointment is, save that we keep saving memories and try to appreciate our lives in whatever stage we find them. What offends most, I have found, is the complete forgetting of times and places.

Downtowner said...

Lispenard still feels like a beat up street. "Luxury condo living, alley-like vibe."

Scout said...

You don't exaggerate, Donnie Moder. That part of Tribeca was interesting and rough as recently as 1990. Shawn and Deborah Eisenberg lived there for decades, but finally sold their place (I imagine for an enormous profit), and moved to Hell's Kitchen. That part of Tribeca is now a wealthy blank, totally devoid of any character at all.

Pat said...

Grey market goods...anyone remember Uncle Stevie's on Canal? Yikes!

Richard Federico said...

So sad what happened to that little industrious section of Canal St. I bought so many things around there in the early 80's when NYC meant plentiful and affordable. This location, chock full of industrial bric-a-brac had me many a time overloaded with inspirational purchases I lugged on the subway back to my art studio. Now Pearl Paint, Industrial Plastics, the hardware store, the fish fry dive, and all the machine shops that dotted the surrounding blocks are now a mix of redundant retail, overly contrived pretentious eateries with a dose of high rent blight filling in. The plague is now heading into the heart of Chinatown. It pained me to watch this, but thanks Jeremiah.

Gregoire Alessandrini said...

I had completly forgotten the beginning of the film with the exterior shots in NY. My dinner with Andre is a film school classic which is often used to show the importance of sound in movies. When you watch this movie without sound, you don't understand it at all...unlike other movies that can be fully understood without sound. Great footage and opening in any case...

John Craig said...

I miss Pearl Paint!

Unclemurray said...

I'm uncle Steve and remember, I love ya.

meesalikeu said...

Albeit a great one, let's don't forget it's just a movie though. Wally Shawn was born into one of the wealthiest families in the city, so his cries of bills and poverty and Ohh I met Andre at this crazy expensive restaurant, like he's never been in them, always make me laugh and wonder did they really think anyone would believe that? Anyway, while the opening scene is always cool to to see as it's so familiar, it's Wallys little lines at the very, very end of the movie that gets me every time. So elegiac. I'll not spoil it.