Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (NR)

Documentary 80 February 21, 2014
By Alan Scherstuhl
"I've got a certain amount of fame, I've got money -- I wish I could fuckin' drive," 86-year-old Elaine Stritch carps just a breath into Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, a gift of a documentary celebrating its subject's brittle brilliance, still-here indomitability, brash comic truth-telling, and principled refusal to wear anything more substantial below the waist than those iconic black tights, even as she's hustling across the avenues of the Upper East Side. Moments later, to a one-time Broadway costar who spots her by the park, Stritch barks, "This business sucks." The kind of movie fans will be quoting for the rest of their lives, Shoot Me, from director-producer Chiemi Karasawa, is as much a playdate as portrait, a jumble of salty highlights attesting to the pleasure of her company. Relish Stritch rehearsing Sondheim numbers, Stritch dishing about her two dates with JFK, Stritch comparing blood sugar levels with Tracy Morgan, Stritch at a rehearsal complaining, "It's hard enough to remember Sondheim's lyrics when you don't have diabetes." She softens, adds, "but everyone has their sack of rocks," and then is dishing again -- this time on what a great line that is. Hal Prince, Cherry Jones, Nathan Lane, Rob Bowman, James Gandolfini, and others pop in to toast the Broadway great. The peak here isn't "I'm Still Here" or "The Ladies Who Lunch." Instead, it's "I Feel Pretty," got over in that incomparable talk/bray/shout, the phrasing wry and cockeyed, all of her anxiety about forgetting the words crystallizing, once she's in front of an audience, into masterful comedy.
Chiemi Karasawa Cherry Jones, Elaine Stritch IFC Films

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