Pretend It’s A City

By Joanna Langfield

It’s not the vaccine, but watching Fran Lebowitz and Martin Scorsese talk about the world is (almost) everything I need right now.

Filmed mostly before, you know, everything, these two long time friends walked around New York City, visited some pretty swell places and chatted, as cameras rolled, about some pretty swell stuff. And, because Fran is Fran, and Scorsese knows how to lead their conversations, we all have a great time. While some of it is more structured, filmed while Lebowitz had a Broadway show in which she was interviewed by fellow celebrities Spike Lee, Olivia Wilde and Alec Baldwin, the bulk of this 7 part documentary takes place in a few nifty corners of New York, the talk, which pretty much covers everything, centered around the city both love, even if it drives them crazy.

Fran takes on tourists, bookstores, privilege, culture and those art installations that shut down subway stations for months with relish, dazzling perception and an infectious glee. I learned a lot watching her, in what feels like an impromptu monologue, dissect the world, and found myself exhilarated and literally laughing out loud. While some moments land differently than others, almost every single one has something very special to bring. We feel like we’re with these two, as they scamper through the stacks at the New York Public Library, check out those plaques in the sidewalks we all usually just step on, and gingerly shuffle through the panorama of the city, installed at the Queens Museum. While we may not relate to the access Fran readily admits to enjoying (those great parties, and, good for her, flying on private airplanes she thinks should be private enough not to allow her in), we can all love hearing her take on it. And, as an extra added bonus, there’s Scorsese, cracking up, just like we are, as his friend says all the stuff we may be thinking, but aren’t smart enough to say it in the way that makes Fran, Fran.