Hands down the most special moment of my Tribeca Film Festival experience happened on Monday, when I got to see the wonderful new documentary Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, followed by a Q&A with the indomitable Ms. Stritch herself. The film is a remarkably candid look at a consummate performer, and Stritch faces down old age, sickness (the extent of her struggle with diabetes is eye-opening, as are her continuing battles with alcoholism), and the prospect of slowing down. It's also screamingly funny, full of the anecdotes and interactions of a woman who has come to define the term "brassy old broad." In the talk afterwards, Stritch made an entrance that couldn't have been scripted better, hollering from inside the elevator as she was taken up to the stage, requesting her cosmo in a paper cup, calling attention to her cute young assistant Hunter. Stritch is the kind of lifelong actress and comedian who is now unable to not perform when in front of her audience, and whether it's talking about her dear musical collaborator Rob Bowman or an anecdote about Elaine Kaufman ("the bartender?!"), she's always putting on a hell of a show.
As for the rest of my day ...
The Pretty One
I was faced with such a conundrum when it came to my mid-afternoon viewing choice on Monday. Playing in the Village was The Pretty One, starring Zoe Kazan and Jake Johnson. Playing in Chelsea was Hide Your Smiling Faces, which has been quite well-reviewed and promises to be a festival favorite. And just down the road a bit was the Before Midnight talk with Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy. After unsuccessfully trying to divide my essence into thirds via a horcrux or something similar, I made my choice and hiked on over to the Village. I'd like to say that I weighed my options carefully and scientifically, but really, it was simply a matter of Jake Johnson, which is currently one of my very favorite comedic actors working today. He gives a great performance in Jenée LaMarque's film, funny and heartfelt and unexpectedly romantic.
A Case of You
First-time screenwriter Justin Long put a very interesting spin on the romantic comedy in A Case of You, in which he also stars as a novelist looking for an edge in courting barista Evan Rachel Wood, so he takes his cues from the "likes" on her Facebook page. It's easy to root for two such likeable presences as Long and Wood -- Wood especially gets to work with a lighter palette than her recent roles have allowed her, not to mention getting to show off her rather lovely singing voice. The film also features a supporting cast of movie stars that stand out at a film festival, from Vince Vaughn to Busy Philipps to Brendan Fraser. Sam Rockwell is all over this festival (I just saw him in Trust Me), and his spacey guitar-instructor in this movie is a lot of fun.