Public Speaking

July 10, 2011 1 Comment

What happens when an Oscar winning director who revels in intensity turns his lights upon an iconclast whose verbalizations have been exploding the usually unflappable literary scene and lecture circuit for over thirty years?  Martin Scorsese’s new documentary “Public Speaking” is a well crafted and thoroughly entertaining tribute to Fran Lebowitz, a fascinating figure who burst onto the New York scene via Andy Warhol in  the late 1960’s, published  two very successful books of her own essays, stopped writing (“writer’s blockade”) and took to speaking.  Lebowitz is acerbic, irreverent and direct in her colorful opinions about everything especially race, gender, culture and second hand smoking-musing “when I was little they called it ‘talking back’ now they call it ‘Public Speaking’…Scorsese does a masterful job of weaving just enough of himself into the film(we see his head from time to time. we hear him laugh and he references himself with a clip from “Taxi Driver”) to make us feel part of a dialogue rather than on the receiving end of a  clever rant.  Although Lebowitz’s words are the focus of the film (and in other situations  would speak for them self), Scorsese uses black and white film footage of other icons (James Baldwin , Truman Capote, Picasso and  William F. Buckley among many others) to create an Olympian cast to which he admits Lebowitz.  Lebowitz remains opaque throughout:  WHY does she have writer’s block after success?  What is her personal life like?  Does she have other close friends besides Toni Morrison?  Why does she feel so dismissive of  motherhood? (hmmm…wonder what her mother was like??)..such questions are clearly NOT the focus of this film (can’t blame us shrinks for being curious though)…The DFT is repeating the film on Sunday, July 17th at 4:30 pm…it’s a definite “Must See”……Don’t forget to post your comments!!!!!………..Jolyn Wagner

Must See Movie of the Week
One Comment to “Public Speaking”
  1. Kendra says:

    Wow, this looks like a great film, gotta check for showtimes…

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