AARP Eye Center
By Alejandra Owens, October 22, 2009 04:20 PM
From Bill Newcott
They're laughing uncontrollably in here, at the first screening of our annual Movies for Grownups Film Festival. We've got about 400 people here, thoroughly enjoying Certifiably Jonathan, a uniquely offbeat film starring the wonderful Jonathan Winters. It's amazing--the film opens with a 50-year-old clip of Winters on Jack Paar's show, and he just stands there with a stick, making believe it's a fishing pole (hooking his wife), a boating pole, a spear. He's inventing modern improvisational comedy before our eyes. The audience loves it not just because it's funny, but because many of them were there, witnessing history being made.
The woman sitting near me has just jumped up and is heading for the door. Her husband (?) reaches to pull her back, but she whispers, "I've got to get Celeste. She's got to see this."
Later, Winters is talking about his time in a mental hospital in the 50s, about the shock treatments he underwent. "What are you erasing?" he asked them. "We don't know," they answered, "But we need to erase some of that pain."
The movie features a lot of Winters' paintings--a surreal mix of Magritte and Dali. The audience gasps-even though he's painted all his life, few people know his work, until now.