Review: ‘Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me’ is as fun and salty as its star

A showbiz legend gets profiled in the documentary "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me." Credit: Sundance Selects
A showbiz legend gets profiled in the documentary “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me.”
Credit: Sundance Selects

‘Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me’
Director: Chiemi Karasawa
Genre: Documentary
Rating: NR
3 (out of 5) Globes

Elaine Stritch has made waves recently for speaking her mind, which has included swearing on live television. To say that, at 89, she no longer cares whose toes she steps on would imply that she ever did. As the doc “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” reveals — to the few who didn’t already know it — she’s always lived her life as though she had nothing to lose. She’s made a career and reputation out of being bluntly honest, and therefore often “difficult.” She might have had a rough career had she not had the talent to back up her tough talk.

Centered around the showbiz legend doing what she has long threatened — that is, moving out of New York City, where she’s long been an institution — “Shoot Me” paints a loving but prickly and honest portrait of someone who’s never been less than honest, if sometimes to a fault. (This doesn’t, however, mean she is retiring.) Since her Tony-winning show “Elaine Stritch at Liberty,” she’s been honest about her illnesses and her alcoholism. (She was sober for over two decades, and today enjoys — and really enjoys, it seems — a daily cocktail.)

“Shoot Me” is a continuation of everything she’s worked for, only with voices other than her own allowed in. What all of her talking heads — including Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, who played her son on “30 Rock,” and Stephen Sondheim, who wrote her signature tune “The Ladies Who Lunch” for her — have in common is a mix of love and weariness. Their testimonies are almost verbatim: Elaine Stritch can be a pain, but she is definitely worth it — a statement said through apparent shellshock. Stritch even gives the filmmakers a hard time, at one point snipping at the cameraman for pushing the camera too close to her. James Gandolfini swings by to say, with a huge smile, that, had they come through the ranks at the same time, “We would have had a torrid love affair that would have ended badly.”

Such comments aren’t little character assassinations; they’re part of what makes her unique and great. And Stritch is more sweet than salty. She tells it like it is, but she’s no blowhard, and most of what “it” is to her is positive. She’s a lifeforce whose every interaction takes on the quality of a roller coaster. Stritch is such an open performer that anything she’s done, even the occasional fiction film — including Alain Resnais’ excellent, hard-to-find 1977 art film “Providence,” which paired her with greats like John Gielgud and Dirk Bogarde — can’t help but have chunks of the real Stritch in it. “Shoot Me” isn’t the last word on its subject, nor wants to be. But anything with Stritch is inevitably, to a point, priceless.

Read our interview with Elaine Stritch here.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Easter Egg hunt horror as skydiver plummets to…

A FAMILY Easter egg hunt ended in horror when a skydiver plummeted to his death in a New York garden after his parachute failed to…

News

Boston Marathon 2014 on high alert, Red Sox…

One year on from the horrific Boston Marathon bombings a ring of steel has been thrown around today's race, and a city stands defiant against…

News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Local

Best nature spots for kids in New York…

When it comes to kids and nature, most U.S. parents agree: children should be spending more time outdoors. According to a recent survey by The…

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.