"When I was a child it was called 'talking back' and now it's called public speaking, you know? But it's really the same. So, the thing I used to get punished for at home and in school...and get bad marks in school for it...then at a certain point in my life I got actually paid and rewarded for it. But it's the exact same thing." - Fran Lebowitz
This film is loosely a documentary really; it's mostly a sit-down conversation with noted author Fran Lebowitz at her favorite table at the Waverly Inn in Greenwich Village, NYC interrupted only occasionally with bio doc clippage.
Scorsese embraces Lebowitz at the beginning of the film and the back of his head can be seen as well as his laugh can be heard throughout the film, but this is a showcase for Lebowitz's gift for gab - and a damn good one.
We hear the outspoken woman, who comes across as the consumate New Yorker, as she offers views on race, gay rights, and the over abundance of bad writers in the marketplace and it's funny stuff. Intellectual insights galore from one of the few people to get their own Jeopardy category: "The Quotable Fran Lebowitz".
A highlight are Lebowitz's telling of the many meetings she had with Hollywood people over rights to her books which she never sold are as gold as anecdotes can get.
Among the clips of Lebowitz on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, Charlie Rose, various speaking engagements, and most amusingly, as Judge Janice Goldbergon on Law And Order, there is illuminating archival footage of influences such as James Baldwin and Gore Vidal as well.
As "Jeopardy" attains there are many great quotes in this doc such as:
"Here's the problem with being ahead of your time...by the time everyone gets around to it, you're bored."
Maybe, but I wasn't bored for a second watching PUBLIC SPEAKING.
PUBLIC SPEAKING is now airing on HBO. Check your local listings for show-times. No word yet about when it will be released on DVD.