HBO’s “Public Speaking” – Fran Lebowitz on film
“No. I save all my fear for writing.” – Fran Lebowitz
HBO, that smartest of networks, is currently airing a wonderful documentary called “Public Speaking.” Focusing on writer Fran Lebowitz, and directed by Martin Scorcese, the film is fascinating and seriously funny.
Though it’s a little bit about her life, it’s mostly just about the wonder that IS Fran. Though her last book came out in 1994 (her “writer’s blockade” has been going on for a long time) she does a lot of speaking engagements, and played a judge on Law & Order.
Like Dorothy Parker, she’s cranky and witty and just a blast – but a smart one.
In the documentary, the 60-year-old Lebowitz sounds off on everything from aging to race to gas to Andy Warhol to James Thurber. She’s devoted to New York City, doesn’t have a cell phone, and still drives a car she bought in the 70s when her first book was published. Her candid views on all this and more are delivered directly to her interviewers by Fran herself in the intimate setting of a bar. This is interspersed with footage of Lebowitz as a college speaking gig.
This is what works so well about the feature – when you have a writer as good and witty as she is, just let her talk.
“Public Speaking” is airing regularly on HBO now. It’s a trip – and you’ll learn something.
(“The Fran Lebowitz Reader” was published in 1994. Buy it now from a local Chicago bookstore, The Book Cellar.)