Public Speaking: Introducing Fran Lebowitz

Although I was raised in the American South, I never felt more like what Fran Lebowitz calls a ‘hillbilly’ – her term for New York tourists – until I watched Martin Scorsese’s documentary about this writer/speaker/actor I’d never heard of before seeing this HBO film.

FranSince Lebowitz was brand new to me, I have no idea if you, dear reader, know her work. In either case, you may thoroughly enjoy spending 75 minutes with Fran Lebowitz as she shares her life and thoughts in intimate conversation, and, of course, as she speaks in public.

In addition to addressing a cornucopia of topics, the film includes a bonus feature: Seeing Lebowitz drive her 1978 Checker Marathon – which she bought new – around town.

Lebowitz reports she was expelled from school, primarily because she would read novels and non-fiction books instead of her assigned books. Being self-taught is fully congruent with the personality we quickly discover in Scorsese’s film. Lebowitz steadfastly considers herself to be the ultimate arbiter on virtually any topic. So, it makes perfect sense when we suddenly see clips of her performing as a judge in television’s “Law and Order”. Her judgments about art, writing, race, Manhattan, gender, children, society, politics, and any other topic that may come up in discourse are absolute.

Public Speaking includes a hodgepodge of clips and stills relevant to Lebowitz, her life, and her adopted home town of Manhattan. Whether you view Scorsese’s film on HBO or DVD, you may want to turn your Closed Captioning on. Like the film’s director, Lebowitz speaks mighty fast for a Georgia boy to follow.

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