Sunday, November 21, 2010
The Fran & Marty Show: Lebowitz and Scorsese score with the funny, literate documentary PUBLIC SPEAKING
Fran Lebowitz, whom Martin Scorsese's camera captures doing (now that she doesn't write) what remains for her to do best: speaking, publicly. Hence the title of this funny, frisky, nasty new documentary. Let the zingers fly. Not that this is anything like an evening with Don Rickles. As is made clear from the film's first few minutes, as the lady sits chatting with (and being videotaped, as she is interviewed by) over-rated writer Toni Morrison, Lebowitz challenges us to see the difference between wit and mere humor (as she would have it, at least). The name of Oscar Wilde is also tossed about, not without apt comparison, in both authors' writing and visual appearance, TrustMovies thinks.
PUBLIC SPEAKING, Scorsese (that's the happy he at left) gives us an 85-minute compilation of thought-provoking moments with this "writers'-blocked" speaker ("It's more like a blockade," says Lebowitz), who notes along the way that qualities such as niceness, kindness and their ilk have little place in real wit, or, in any case, the brand of it that she serves up.
So as not to ruin things for you (much, anyway), I'll refrain from quoting Lebowitz and let you have the fun of discovery. One of the things you may discover is how much like Wilde she is with epigrams that are indeed witty and clever but almost demand further discussion so as not to be taken as lightly and often foolishly as they sometimes come across. One example is her short "take" on the deaths from AIDS in the artistic/creative community during the early days of the plague (the 1980s), resulting, she says, in our current cadre of second- and third-rate art and criticism. What she says is almost breathtakingly shocking and, while probably not entirely correct, remains close enough for jazz. Her words bring up that old saw about so many in the creative community being homosexual -- and not just the artists but we who critique them. I suspect, should the movie be viewed in groups, by friends or in the workplace community, that much discussion, if not full-out arguments will ensue.
Still, there is so much witty fun to be had here that fans won't want to miss it. Newbies to Lebowitz should get enough of a quick fix to perhaps seek out her earlier two books (Metropolitan Life and Social Studies) or attend her next public appearance.
HBO presentation, makes its debut tomorrow, November 22, on the famous cable channel and will continue showing off and on through the end of December. The film is also available via HBO On-Demand, starting Tuesday, 11/23, through Sunday, 12/19. (And if you can wait long enough, it'll probably pop up on DVD.)