Stritch won the Tony and Emmy Awards along with legions of fans for her
incomparable Broadway and cabaret work. 30
Rock’s twenty or thirty regular viewers were probably also grateful to her
for classing up the joint with her regular guest appearance. Even if more critics than viewers followed
the show, at least Chiemi Karasawa could enlist Alec Baldwin as a co-executive
producer for her documentary profile, Elaine
Stritch: Shoot Me,
screens as a Spotlight selection of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.
Stritch appeared in a Broadway production of Dracula with Bela Lugosi and introduced the world to “The Ladies
Who Lunch.” Stritch’s brassy, acerbic
performing style has made her the preeminent interpreter of the Sondheim
songbook. Without question, they are one
of the truly great vocalist-lyricist tandems.
Anyone who tackles the “Ladies” stands in her long shadow. (Cassandra
Wilson’s rendition was perhaps the shrewdest, cranking the tune down on Don
Byron’s Fine Line album.) However, as Stritch begins rehearsals with
her supportive music director, Rob Bowman, she starts having trouble.
documentary like Shoot Me necessarily
involves a delicate balance. Fans will
want to see the wise-cracking, cosmo-swilling, “Ladies”-belting Stritch they adore
from her shows. Yet, cinema patrons have an expectation of on-screen drama and
a desire to peak underneath the public persona. Karasawa finds a nice balance,
including plenty of Stritch’s zingers, but not ignoring the challenges she
faced over the course of a difficult year.
As a result, viewers will be awed by Stritch’s sheer grit as she guts
out one show after another.
presented by Karasawa, Stritch might be one of the coolest show business
figures ever. There is absolutely no
pretense with her. She will tell people
exactly what she thinks and make them laugh even when the truth hurts. It also seems like she treats her musicians
well, which is always telling.
Karasawa takes a pretty traditional
observational-talking head approach, but she gives the audience what it wants,
letting Stritch have her full say.
Wickedly tart but at times also surprisingly touching, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me is highly
recommended for Stritch, Broadway, and cabaret fans when it screens again
tomorrow (4/22) and Tuesday (4/23) during this year’s Tribeca Film festival.
Labels: Documentary, Elaine Stritch, Tribeca '13