SHERDOG MOVIE CLUB: Week 131 - Withnail and I

Discussion in 'Mayberry Lounge' started by europe1, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. Zer

    Zer Gold Belt

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    I wonder if the film is a statement on the death of a certain kind of actor. Like Withnail is a relic from a different era. In a different time (Say when notorious drunks like Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole and Oliver Reed were around) he would've been better appreciated and people would've tolerated his shit knowing he could deliver. I suppose that's more of an actors question. I don't really know what the feels of the acting world were back in the late 80's when Withnail & I was made. It's not like British stage actors have ever stopped getting work. And it's not like drunken asshole behaviour ever went away in acting either. I guess it just got replaced with drugs and everyone became obsessed with good PR. I guess the shit that's gone on in Hollywood the last couple of decades makes guys like Withnail, Reed, Burton and O'Toole look like fairies
     
  2. MusterX

    MusterX Titanium Belt

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    @europe1 you were talking about "succulent carrots" and it made me think about other things in the movie. Uncle Monty when we first meet him chases his cat (pussy) around the room and laments that the cat has ruined everything once again. Also, the drug dealer rolls a huge joint shaped like a carrot.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Rimbaud82

    Rimbaud82 Brown Belt

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  4. sickc0d3r

    sickc0d3r Black Belt

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    Thanks to my sherbros for sending me via smoke signals some TOTALLY LEGAL ways to watch this movie.

    Now I wait for everyone in my house to fack off and go to sleep so I can have 2 hours to myself and watch...
     
  5. Zer

    Zer Gold Belt

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    This is a really good read if you get a chance bro

    [​IMG]
     
  6. MusterX

    MusterX Titanium Belt

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    <TheWire1>

    I didn't even think of that connection between sort of the oldschool heavy drinker actor and the changing of the times. I'll have to think about that one some. All this talk of drinking and drunks reminds me of the movie Arthur (1981)

     
  7. MusterX

    MusterX Titanium Belt

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    I watched that entire video. Some of those stories are hysterical like the bar owner cutting them off so they said no we are going to drink a lot more and bought the bar. <45>
     
  8. moreorless87

    moreorless87 Listening In

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    About a year ago I had a conservation with a woman photographer who was part of the extended group of friends Robinson had in Camden that the film was based on(Obviously "I"/Marwood is Robinson himself) who knew Vivian MacKerrell(who Withnail was based on although he did work a bit more) quite well and was putting on an exhibit of pictures from that time. Interesting that she wasn't present in the film, indeed I think its quite deliberate that bar the odd small role the film is almost 100% male with a good deal of homoeroticsm beyond Monty, you could argue its the brit version of Predator from the same year. ;)

    You get Danny's comments about the end of the swinging 60's but to me the film really feels like its more about the end of Empire and indeed how much the rest of society wasn't really involved in the image of the 60's. Withnaii and his family gives the impression of toffs fallen on hard times that Monty's waxing lyrical plays up and most of the locations like their house, montys country home and to some degree even his house has the air of 19th century decay to it, indeed we even see Victorian era houses having the wrecking ball put to them in favour of modern high-rise flats. Whilst the Monty plot is obviously played in a rather unflattering way to him in a lot of respects(was based partly on Robinson being chased by an Italian director I believe that's referred as well with Withnail commenting about the young actor cast by sleeping with the director) you could argue really he's more of a tragic character in the end. Highlighting perhaps that whilst technically homosexually was legalised in 67 there was still obviously a strong climate of homophobia not really in touch with the supposedly freedom loving times to the degree he needs a country hideaway/love nest.

    I would mention as well is it just me or has Johnny Depp based a good part of his career ripping of Richard E Grants performance as Withnail? I mean he even got cast by Robinson in the same kind of role for The Rum Dairies.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
  9. Yotsuya

    Yotsuya Green Belt

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    I know this Withnail type. Brilliant people on their own right, but too proud and impractical to make use of their talent and possibly also living on wrong era. Coming from wealth can really be a burden too. On the other hand, I saw Francis Bacon biopic Love Is the Devil few weeks ago. Makes me think that if Withnail ever got really successful, I can imagine him becoming even more abusive drunkard.

    Dylan Moran’s character in Black Books seems to be somewhat influenced by Withnail.

    Ghost Story seems interesting from his filmography. I'm very curious to see irl Withnail in action.
     
  10. moreorless87

    moreorless87 Listening In

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    MacKerrell 3 mins in I believe , "its jam!"

     
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  11. MusterX

    MusterX Titanium Belt

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    In the 1960s, British painter Francis Bacon (1909-1992) surprises a burglar and invites him to share his bed. The burglar, a working class man named George Dyer, 30 years Bacon's junior, accepts. Bacon finds Dyer's amorality and innocence attractive, introducing him to his Soho pals. In their sex life, Dyer dominates, Bacon is the masochist. Dyer's bouts with depression, his drinking and pill popping, and his satanic nightmares strain the relationship, as does his pain with Bacon's casual infidelities. Bacon paints, talks with wit, and, as Dyer spins out of control, begins to find him tiresome. Could Bacon care less?

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Yotsuya

    Yotsuya Green Belt

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    One of the most grueling movies I've seen recent years. Takes also place in 60's and there's a lot of boozing with a bunch of British bohemians, but the wittiness mentioned in that summary is not quite like in "W. and I".

    Btw, did you notice to plays Dyer?
    [​IMG]
     
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  13. MusterX

    MusterX Titanium Belt

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    Yea, Daniel Craig. This was 1998 so maybe he was hurting for work or just liked the script. I haven't seen the movie so I have no idea, but I did notice that.
     
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  14. Yotsuya

    Yotsuya Green Belt

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    It’s absolutely a quality movie.
     
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  15. MusterX

    MusterX Titanium Belt

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    I may have to check it out.
     
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  16. moreorless87

    moreorless87 Listening In

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    Bond is the Warmest Colour.
     
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  17. GSPSAKU

    GSPSAKU Brown Belt

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    Well, stayed past my bedtime last night to finish Withnail and I. Short notes

    - Far better than I remembered as a kid and having gone through drunken adventures in college, I could relate to alot of it.
    - Definitely British humor, very dry but witty and some epic one liners.
    - I have had friends like Withnail, drunkards who are pissed at the world and hilarious at that.
    - London looks like a spaceship took a dump on it, although Withnail and I aren't exactly wealthy to be kind.
    - It was clear as day Uncle Monty was swinging in a different direction but I wasn't too sure Withnail and I aren't either.
    - Overall, I found it to be fairly funny but not sure I would rewatch it by myself.
    - As I stated, some epic one liners that have burned into my memory. Well worth at least a single watch and the dialogue definitely drives the movie. Wish I could give you more but it wasn't a movie that made me ponder life...just few trips back to college life
     
  18. Tufts

    Tufts Blue Belt

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    LOL! You have to know your audience to be successful as a film maker!
     
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  19. Bullitt68

    Bullitt68 Senior Moderator Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    At the risk of having Rimbaud throw that drink in my face, if I were to use one word to describe my thoughts on Withnail and I, it would be:

    [​IMG]

    Like I said to @moreorless87 in the SMD, for the longest time Withnail and I was just a title. I had no idea what it was. When I started it last night, I still had no idea WTF I was about to watch. For the first 20 minutes or so, it was glorious. It was like a riotous UK comedy version of Midnight Cowboy. I loved literally every second, every line, every gesture. But then it turned into a Eurotrip-style "fish out of water" road trip movie and I was so bummed. All the Uncle Monty/holiday shit sucked; I actually found myself seriously bored at multiple points during the middle. Then, when they made it back to their apartment and the film wrapped up, I was back to loving it. So, in essence, I loved the introduction and the conclusion but disliked everything in between.

    No joke, though: The opening 25 minutes of that movie is arguably the funniest opening 25 minutes of any movie ever. Them in that apartment, doing the dishes, bitching in the park, going out to the pub, it was a riot. There are so many quotable lines, many of which you guys have already quoted, but my personal favorite was when I was trying to stop Withnail from going into the kitchen and he tells him that something might be living in there. Withnail's line upon being told that it might be a rat - "then the fucker will rue the day!" - had me rolling. And it's a credit to Richard E. Grant's performance that Ralph Brown wasn't able to steal the show the way that he did in Wayne's World 2, even though he was, of course, hysterical as Danny. My favorite line from him was his drugged out John McClane question: "Have either of you got shoes?"

    So yeah, very high highs but they weren't sustained. Still, I'm glad that I got to see this one. And I'm sure that I'll watch the beginning of that movie many more times even if I don't bother ever rewatching the whole movie again, though I'm sure I'll eventually give the full thing another try down the road.

    Fortunately, the time I spent in the UK helped immensely here. I streamed it without a subtitle option anyway but I was glad that I didn't feel that I needed it. But I totally get needing it. Cubo may not be in the same spot as those German tourists, but certain English accents are tougher to decipher than others even for English speakers, and that's to say nothing of the discrepancies in slang.

    I mean, take this, for example. It's from a segment called "Master of Accents" from Tom Segura and Christina Pazsitzky's podcast:



    [​IMG]

    QFT.

    I had the opposite reaction. I got jazzed up again once the last 30 minutes came around. Nailgun, do you not like the ending because you were having so much fun before it? Because it's too depressing and you don't like the tonal shift? And Yotsuya, why don't you find it entertaining? Because compared to the preceding it isn't as funny?

    Only wankers who can't afford lighter fluid would drink vinegar ;)

    Ignoring the heretics @jei and @LHWBelt, who've failed to worship at its alter, that aspect of the film brought Raging Bull to my mind. I've always found one of the most painful moments in all of cinema to be that moment early in Raging Bull when De Niro complains to Pesci about his hands and about how he "ain't never gonna get a chance to fight the best there is." He's certain that he's better than them, but he'll never even get the chance to prove it. It's fucking devastating to think about characters like that, characters who, according to their own metric of success, will always be failures in their own minds.

    I mentioned earlier that I got a Midnight Cowboy vibe. Well, from the instant it started and that music was going with I just sitting there on the screen, I was actually expecting a somber, cynical comedy. Tonally, it actually wasn't like that, but it certainly starts in that direction and then it for sure ends on a somber note.

    I'm actually going to take Muster's side on this one. That inspiration/influence is entirely plausible to me.

    That friendship aspect made me think of Good Will Hunting (with one friend leaving the other behind) and Sleepers (the sadness of knowing that a friend is on a certain path and they're going to take that same path right to their grave).

    On this point, I'm with Rimbaud. Not only do we never actually see I's talent, so there's no way to judge their respective talents, but the whole "for whatever reason his fate was much darker" thing is the type of bullshit cop-out that allows people like that to blame the universe for their misfortunes rather than taking any responsibility. I mentioned the Raging Bull comparison, but, strictly speaking, De Niro's despair and Grant's despair are not identical. To get nerdy here, in his book The Sickness Unto Death, Søren Kierkegaard outlined three "levels" of despair: Despair at not being conscious of having a self, despair at not willing to be oneself, and despair at willing to be oneself. As I see it, Grant's despair is first-level despair, which Kierkegaard himself regarded as "inauthentic" despair. There's a great book by a film scholar named Daniel Shaw called Movies with Meaning: Existentialism through Film in which he clearly breaks down first-level despair:

    "[First-level despair] occurs in the person who lives an immediate and unreflective life. In responding to fortunes and misfortunes of the moment, 'immediacy actually has no self, it does not know itself; thus it cannot recognize itself and generally ends in fantasy.' A person with little or no self-awareness despairs in the face of earthly troubles and can see no possible way out of them."

    That seems like Grant to me. De Niro's despair, by contrast, is an authentic and profound despair. As Shaw explains what I think captures De Niro's despair in Raging Bull (especially in Kierkegaard's emphasis on religion, which is always relevant when it comes to Scorsese films):

    "An even deeper type of despair results from dissatisfaction with one's self ... [and] deeper still is the defiant despair of the rebel who rejects God and His creation in response to profound suffering, injustice, or loss ... Such a person is obsessed with venting his rage, digging himself deeper into the hole of despair in the process."

    Flip-flopping once again, I'm with Muster on this point. Staying on the I-to-Withnail axis, I don't know that there was a "genuine friendship" there. If there was, it certainly wasn't a deep friendship. In Seinfeld terms, I's relationship with Withnail was more like Jerry's relationship with Kramer (friendship, sure, but not a deep friendship) as opposed to his relationship with George (a deep friendship, at least what constitutes "deep" in the Seinfeld universe).
     
  20. moreorless87

    moreorless87 Listening In

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    I would say though that really the difference between the characters isn't the drinks or the drugs which Marwood partakes of almost as much as Withnail its much more their approach to their careers. Withnail has dreams of success but those dreams are based on the idea that pure talent will be acknowledged, he's interested in acting but not in doing the work to build an acting career. Beyond the quotes I would guess a lot of the films appeal is that it speaks to the idea of the talented dreamer who never gets anywhere, the kind of role a great number of people probably see themselves in.
     

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