Monday, February 21, 2011

Public Speaking

"Sitting in bars and smoking cigarettes—that's the history of art." So sayeth Fran Lebowitz. If you're a longtime fan of the truly iconoclastic essayist (responding to one lecture attendee's inquiry as to how she feels about being called the modern-day Dorothy Parker, Lebowitz snaps that's she's "not big on emulating"), expecting to learn what makes her tick then “Public Speaking,” Martin Scorsese's loving profile of the early bloomer who subsequently spent a decade with "writer's blockade," is certain to disappoint. How exactly this high school dropout (well, she was kicked out) who fell in with Warhol and his crowd after fleeing Jersey for the Big Apple developed into a NYC legend in her own right is never addressed. Instead, we catch only glimpses below the surface of this whirlwind of wit as Scorsese steps out of the way and lets Lebowitz herself run the show. Which ultimately proves to be the smartest move. When a language locomotive as entertaining as Lebowitz barrels your way, it's best just to jump on then hang on for dear life.

To read the rest of my review visit Slant Magazine.

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