Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me

Joan Rivers

When Joan Rivers died last week, a common refrain resounded throughout the movie sphere of Twitter: “Watch Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.” It was good advice. Anyone who wants to understand her importance as a media figure, or just as a person, would do well to check out that documentary. And after seeing it, you might have a hankering to check out more docs about entertainers who are devoted to making people laugh. Here are ten, including the Rivers film, to catch up with: Elaine Stritch at Liberty (2002) and Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2013) The Broadway legend kept working right up until her death earlier this year. At Liberty is Elaine Stritch in her own words, a filmed version of her acclaimed one-woman show. She won an Emmy for her riotous recounting of her life and work, a two-hour cavalcade of memories shot by a team of directors led by D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. Shoot Me is Stritch as viewed through someone else’s lens. While the actress and singer is still on point with her defiant rambunctiousness, director Chiemi Karasawa delivers a more raw, vulnerable side of her. Footage of Stritch without makeup, lying in bed due to sickliness, are the sort of thing that you don’t get from a performer just talking about it on stage. It’s a funny but moving look at reflection in old age while still pursuing what one loves. READ MORE AT NONFICS


Warner Bros.

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Winter’s Tale Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) is a man out of time in early 20th century New York City. He’s on the run from a devilish mob boss (Russell Crowe) when a last minute detour lands him in love with a socialite (Jessica Brown Findlay) dying of tuberculosis. Can their romance survive human mortality, a Jimi Hendrix-loving Satan and a self-directed script by Akiva Goldsman? Winter’s Tale, so named because some scenes take place when it’s cold out apparently, is a terrible movie in most senses of the word. The romance doesn’t work, the fantastic elements feel out of place, there’s barely a single effective moment of suspense or emotion and the metaphysical message is a confused jumble of words randomly typed by chimpanzees while peyote smoke is blown into their anuses by drunken clergymen. There’s no getting around any of that, and yet… I want you to see it. To experience it. And to confirm for me that I didn’t just dream the whole damn thing. Check out my full review here if you still need convincing. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]


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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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published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.27.2015

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