Elaine Stritch

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In the entertainment industry, a lot of women get forsaken in the public’s consciousness even before they reach middle age. In Chiemi Karasawa’s documentary Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, the legendary Elaine Stritch celebrates her 88th birthday. And per one of her oft-performed Stephen Sondheim songs, “she’s still here.” The title of the doc is clearly a play on words – Stritch is hardly a fatalist, but instead she demands to be the center of attention, to be filmed. “Shot” in that way. The documentary follows Stritch as she gears up for her last tour as she battles the ravages of aging and diabetes. Karasawa paints a well-rounded portrait of Stritch here, because in addition to filming Stritch being her glorious brash self, Karasawa films her forgetting song lyrics, without her makeup, and dealing with her sobriety, among other things. Because of this multifaceted look at Stritch, the film succeeds in being enjoyable, especially since Stritch is such a magnetic presence on screen. There are also interviews with celebrity friends like her 30 Rock son Alec Baldwin (also Executive Producer), Tina Fey, John Turturro, James Gandolfini, and many others. However, Karasawa doesn’t take very many filmic risks that make it stand out from the rest of the pack, and that generic approach ultimately detracts somewhat from the film’s overall quality.

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