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The life of a divorced television writer dating a teenage girl is further complicated when he falls in love with his best friend's mistress.
Isaac Davis: My analyst warned me, but you were so beautiful I got another analyst.
Isaac Davis: Why is life worth living? It's a very good question. Um... Well, There are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. uh... Like what... okay... um... For me, uh... ooh... I would say... what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing... uh... um... and Wilie Mays... and um... the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony... and um... Louis Armstrong, recording of Potato Head Blues... um... Swedish movies, naturally... Sentimental Education by Flaubert... uh... Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra... um... those incredible Apples and Pears by Cezanne... uh... the crabs at Sam Wo's... uh... Tracy's face...
Isaac Davis: I had a mad impulse to throw you down on the lunar surface and commit interstellar perversion.
[first lines] [music: the opening of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Voiceover] Isaac Davis: Chapter One. He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion. Eh uh, no, make that he, he romanticized it all out of proportion. Better. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin. Uh, no, let me start this over. Isaac Davis: Chapter One: He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything else. He thrived on the hustle bustle of the crowds and the traffic. To him, New York meant beautiful women and street smart guys who seemed to know all the angles. Ah, corny, too corny for, you know, my taste. Let me, let me try and make it more profound. Isaac Davis: Chapter One: He adored New York City. To him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. The same lack of individual integrity that caused so many people to take the easy way out was rapidly turning the town of his dreams in - no, it's gonna be too preachy, I mean, you know, let's face it, I wanna sell some books here. Isaac Davis: Chapter One: He adored New York City. Although to him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. How hard it was to exist in a society desensitized by drugs, loud music, television, crime, garbage - too angry. I don't want to be angry. Isaac Davis: Chapter One. He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat. Oh, I love this. New York was his town, and it always would be.
Isaac Davis: I think people should mate for life, like pigeons or Catholics.
Mary Wilke: Facts?I got a million facts at my fingertips. Isaac Davis: That's right, and they don't mean a thing, right? Because nothing worth knowing can be understood with the mind. Everything really valuable has to enter you through a different opening, if you'll forgive the disgusting imagery.
[On her ex-husband] Mary Wilke: I was tired of submerging my identity to a very brilliant, dominating man. He's a genius. Isaac Davis: Oh really, he was a genius, Helen's a genius and Dennis is a genius. You know a lot of geniuses, y'know. You should meet some stupid people once in a while, y'know, you could learn something.
Isaac Davis: I can't express anger. That's one of the problems I have. I grow a tumor instead.
Yale: You are so self-righteous, you know. I mean we're just people. We're just human beings, you know? You think you're God. Isaac Davis: I... I gotta model myself after someone.
Party Guest: I finally had an orgasm, and my doctor said it was the wrong kind. Isaac Davis: You had the wrong kind? I've never had the wrong kind, ever. My worst one was right on the money.
Isaac Davis: You know what you are? You're God's answer to Job, y'know? You would have ended all argument between them. I mean, He would have pointed to you and said, y'know, "I do a lot of terrible things, but I can still make one of these." You know? And then Job would have said, "Eh. Yeah, well, you win."
Yale: It's just gossip, you know. Gossip is the new pornography.
[last lines] Tracy: I'll be back in six months. Isaac Davis: Six months are you kidding? Six months you're gonna go for? Tracy: We've gone this long, well what's six months if we still love each other? Isaac Davis: Hey, don't be so mature, okay? I mean, six months is a long time! Six months, you know you're gonna be, you'll be in, in, in, in the th - working in a theater there, you'll be with actors and directors, you kno w you're, you know, you go to rehearsal, and you, you hang out with those people, you have lunch a lot, and, and, before you even know it attachments form and, and, you know, I mean, you, you don't want to be get into that kind a, I mean, you, you'll change. You know, you'll be, you'll be, in six months you'll be a completely different person. Tracy: Well, don't you want me to have that experience? I mean a while ago you made such a convincing case. Isaac Davis: Ye, yeah of course I do, you know, but you - you know, you, I mean you, I, I just don't want - that thing about you that I like to change. Tracy: I've got to make a plane. Isaac Davis: C'mon, you don't - c'mon. You don't, you don't have to - go. Tracy: Why couldn't you have brought this up last week? Six months isn't so long. Not everybody gets corrupted. You have to have a little faith in people.
Party Guest: Oh,but really biting satire is always better than physical force. Isaac Davis: No,physical force is always better with Nazis.
Isaac Davis: So what does, what does your analyst say? I mean, did you speak to him? Mary Wilke: Well, Donnie's in a coma, he had a very bad acid experience.
Isaac Davis: Don't stare at me with those big eyes. Geez, you look like one of those barefoot kids from Boliva who needs foster parents.
Isaac Davis: I got a kid, he's being raised by two women at the moment. Mary Wilke: Oh, y'know, I mean I think that works. Uh, they made some studies, I read in one of the psychoanalytic quarterlies. You don't need a male, I mean. Two mothers are absolutely fine. Isaac Davis: Really? Because I always feel very few people survive one mother.
Mary Wilke: What are you thinking? Isaac Davis: I dunno, I was just thinking. There must be something wrong with me, because I've never had a relationship with a woman that's lasted longer than the one between Hitler and Eva Braun.
Isaac Davis: You honestly think that I tried to run you over? Connie: You just happened to hit the gas as I walked in front of the car? Isaac Davis: Did I do it on purpose? Jill: Well, what would Freud say? Isaac Davis: Freud would say I really wanted to run her over, that's why he was a genius.
Tracy: Let's fool around. Let's do it some strange way that you've always wanted to, but nobody would do with you.
Mary Wilke: I'm honest, whaddya want? I say what's on my mind and, if you can't take it, well then fuck off! Isaac Davis: And I like the way you express yourself too, y'know, it's pithy yet degenerate. You get many dates?
Mary Wilke: [reading aloud from Issac's wife's memoir] "He was given to fits of rage, Jewish liberal paranoia, male chauvinism, self-righteous misanthropy, and nihilistic moods of despair. He had complaints about life but never any solutions. He longed to be an artist but balked at the necessary sacrifices. In his most private moments, he spoke of his fear of death, which he elevated to tragic heights when in fact it was mere narcissism."
Isaac Davis: Plus I'll probably have to give my parents less money. It'll kill my father. He's not gonna be able to get as good a seat in the synagogue. He'll be in the back, away from God, far from the action.
Isaac Davis: She's 17. I'm 42 and she's 17. I'm older than her father, can you believe that? I'm dating a girl, wherein, I can beat up her father.
Isaac Davis: What are you telling me, that you're going to leave Emily, is this true, and run away with the winner of the Zelda Fitzgerald emotional maturity award? Yale: Look, I love her, I've always loved her. Isaac Davis: What kind of crazy friend are you? Yale: I'm a good friend! I introduced her to you, remember? Isaac Davis: Right, what was the point? I don't understand that! Yale: Well, I thought you liked her? Isaac Davis: Yes, I do like her, now we both like her! Yale: Yeah, well I liked her first! Isaac Davis: I liked her first? What are you, six years old? Jeezus! Yale: Look, I thought it was over. I mean, would I have encouraged you to take her out if I still liked her? Isaac Davis: So, what, you like her, now you don't like her, then you did like her, you know it's still early, you can change your mind one more time before dinner! Yale: Don't get sarcastic about this. You think I like this? Isaac Davis: How long were you going to see her without saying anything to me? Yale: Don't turn this into one of your big moral issues! Isaac Davis: You could have said, but all you had to do was call me and talk to me. You know, I'm very understanding. I'd have said no, but you'd have felt honest! Yale: I wanted to tell you about it, I knew it was going to upset you! We had a few innocent meetings. Isaac Davis: A few? She said one! You guys should get your story straight, you know. Don't you rehearse? Yale: We met twice for coffee. Isaac Davis: Hey come off it, she doesn't drink coffee! What'd you do, meet for Sanka? That's not too romantic, you know, it's a little on the geriatric side. Yale: Well, I'm not a saint, okay. Isaac Davis: But, you're too easy on yourself! Don't you see that? That's your problem, that's your whole problem. You rationalize everything, you're not honest with yourself. You talk about, you want to write a book, but in the end you'd rather buy the Porsche, you know. Or, you cheat a little bit on Emily and you play around the truth a little with me, and next thing you know, you're in front of a Senate committee and you're naming names, you're informing on your friends! Yale: You are so self righteous, you know. We're just people! We're just human beings, you know. You think you're God! Isaac Davis: I gotta model myself after someone!
Isaac Davis: It's an interesting group of people, your friends are. Mary Wilke: I know. Isaac Davis: Like the cast of a Fellini movie.
Isaac Davis: I think that, under my personal vibrations, I could put her life in some kind of good order. Yale: Yeah, that's what you said about Jill, and under your personal vibrations she went from bisexuality to homosexuality. Isaac Davis: Yeah, but I gave her the old college try.
Isaac Davis: The steel cube was brilliant? Mary Wilke: Yes. To me it was very textual, you know what I mean? It was perfectly integrated, and it had a marvelous kind of negative capability. The rest of the stuff downstairs was bullshit.
Mary Wilke: Don't psychoanalyze me. I pay a doctor for that. Isaac Davis: Hey, you call that guy that you talk to a doctor? I mean, you don't get suspicious when your analyst calls you at home at three in the morning and weeps into the telephone? Mary Wilke: All right, so he's unorthodox. He's a highly qualified doctor. Isaac Davis: He's done a great job on you, y'know. Your self esteem is like a notch below Kafka's.
Isaac Davis: When it comes to relationships with women, I'm the winner of the August Strindberg Award.
Mary Wilke: Isn't it beautiful out? Isaac Davis: Yeah, it's really so pretty when the light starts to come up. Mary Wilke: Yeah, I know. I love it. Isaac Davis: Boy, this is really a great city, I don't care what anybody s-s - it's really a knock-out, you know?
Isaac Davis: You certainly fooled me. [crosstalk] Mary Wilke: What do you mean? Isaac Davis: I mean, I was shocked. 'cause that's not what - this is not what I expected. Mary Wilke: What did you expect? Isaac Davis: I don't know. You said you, you know, you had always led me to - I uh - you said that, that he was a great ladies' man. [cosstalk] Mary Wilke: Yeah. Isaac Davis: And that he opened you up sexually... Mary Wilke: So? So? Isaac Davis: So I - you know, and then this little homunculus is here. Mary Wilke: [sneers] Isaac Davis: Really? Well, see you know [shaking head] Isaac Davis:
Isaac Davis: It's brown water! I'm paying seven-hundred dollars a month, I got rats with bongos and a, and a frog and I got brown water here.
Tracy: Let's fool around, it'll take your mind off it. Isaac Davis: Hey, how many times a night can you, how, how often can you make love in an evening? Tracy: Well, a lot. Isaac Davis: Yeah! I can tell, a lot. That's, well, a lot is my favorite number.
Jeremiah: I'm going to a synposium on semantics.
Isaac Davis: Years ago I wrote this short story about my Mother called "The Castrating Zionist"
Isaac Davis: They probably sit around on the floor with wine and cheese, and mispronounce allegorical and didacticism.
Mary Wilke: Well tell me, why did you get a divorce? Isaac Davis: Why? I got a divorce because my ex-wife left me for another woman. Mary Wilke: Really? God, that must have been really demoralizing. Isaac Davis: Well, I dunno, I thought I took it rather well under the circumstances. I tried to run them both over with a car.
Isaac Davis: No, I didn't read the piece on China's faceless masses, I was, I was checking out the lingerie ads.
Pizzeria Waiter: Who ordered the green peppers? Was that you? Must've been. Anchovies, sausage, mushrooms, garlic and green peppers. Isaac Davis: Forgot the coconut.
Willie Davis: Why can't we have frankfurters? Isaac Davis: Because, this is the Russian Tea Room.
Isaac Davis: This is so antiseptic. It's empty. Why do you think this is funny? You're going by audience reaction? This is an audience that's raised on television, their standards have been systematically lowered over the years. These guys sit in front of their sets and the gamma rays eat the white cells of their brains out!
[Looking at old meat] Isaac Davis: Corn beef should not be blue
Isaac Davis: I give the whole thing... four weeks. That's it. Mary Wilke: I, I can't plan that far in advance. Isaac Davis: You can't plan four weeks in advance? Mary Wilke: No! Isaac Davis: What kind of foresight is that?
Mary Wilke: I guess I should straighten my life out, huh? I mean, Donnie my analyst is always telling me... Isaac Davis: You call your analyst Donnie? Mary Wilke: Yeah, I call him Donnie. Isaac Davis: Donnie, your analyst? I call mine Dr. Chomsky, y'know, he hits me with a ruler.
Isaac Davis: My ex-wife left me for another woman.
Isaac Davis: This is shaping up like a Noel Coward play. You know, somebody should go out and make some martinis.
Isaac Davis: Hit the lights. Go ahead, turn 'em out again. We'll trade fours.
Isaac Davis: [after reading his ex-wife's book about their relationship] [to his ex-wife] Isaac Davis: I came here to strangle you!
Isaac Davis: Has anybody read that Nazis are gonna march in New Jersey? Y'know, I read this in the newspaper. We should go down there, get some guys together, y'know, get some bricks and baseball bats and really explain things to them. Party Guest: There is this devastating satirical piece on that on the Op Ed page of the Times, it is devastating. Isaac Davis: Well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the point.
Yale: You know we have to stop seeing each other, don't you. Mary Wilke: Oh, yeah. Right. Right. I understand. I could tell by the sound of your voice on the phone. Very authoritative, y'know. Like the pope, or the computer in 2001.
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