Martin Scorcese’s profile on Fran Lebowitz is no ordinary documentary. After 90 minutes of essentially listening to this quick-witted brilliant observationist with her razor sharp tongue spend forth on some of her favorite bugbears, we actually learn very little about the woman behind all these rapidly fired opinions. By filming her in conversation in her favorite NY Bar, The Waverly Inn where she is not only part of the fixtures but also featured in the David Sorrel mural behind her regular booth, and interspersing it with clips of Ms Lebowitz holding forth at different speaking engagements around the city, he cleverly lets her torrent of words be the focal point of the movie.
Ms Lebowitz lets slip that although she is so quintessentially a New Yorker through and through, she actually grew up in a small town in New Jersey, and escaped when she could. It was the 1960’s and her life started to begin, and she found her ‘voice’, when she started to hang out with a group of very witty gay men. This led to her first gig writing for Andy Warhol’s ‘Interview’ magazine and she never looked back. The odd thing is that although she is lauded and acknowledged as a great writer, her published output consists of two slim books of essays, and one children’s book. Granted these were highly acclaimed best sellers, but for the past 30 years she‘s had writers block (or ‘blockade’ as she told David Letterman). She has no such issues with her talking though and with letting rip into anything that is a target for her acid tongue and her brilliant edgy humor.
Striding her beloved streets of New York dressed in men’s suiting tailored for her in Savile Row (and that earned her a place on ‘Vanity Fair’s Best Dressed List’ in 2007) without a Cell phone (she doesn’t posses a computer or anything else IT wise), the woman is an enigma and a true eccentric. But a brilliant funny and articulate one who was a sheer joy to watch and listen.
At one Q & A after a Speaking Engagement, Ms Lebowitz was asked if she had ever thought about getting a second opinion on any of her views. ‘No!‘ she replied without hesitating a second ’Why would I?‘ looking totally dumbfounded at the very question. And that’s when I realized that was why I thought she was such a kindred spirit.
Out now on DVD : if wit is your thing, then don’t miss it.