Pretend it’s a City (2021)
- January 31, 2021
We are nearly a year into this pandemic and many of us miss travelling, miss wandering around our city, miss our friends and while I can’t magically end COVID, I can highly recommend Pretend It’s a City. Grab a coffee and settle in for an insider’s view of New York City and some truly great conversation between friends.
Martin Scorsese teams up with his long-time friend, Fran Lebowitz, to create some of the best programming I’ve experienced in ages. There are few things in New York as unchanging and as unapologetic as Fran Lebowitz. She likes what she likes and the things she doesn’t like? Meh. Lebowitz is a writer, thinker, talker and quintessential New Yorker. Her quirks and opinions, published during her time at Interview magazine and Vanity Fair, have made her an icon in her field and in her city.
In the seven, 30-minute episodes, Scorsese films Lebowitz at home on the streets of New York, chatting in the famous social club, Players, and wandering around a sprawling miniature of New York city. In between these segments, Scorsese add clips from previous interviews Lebowitz has done with the likes of Toni Morrison, Spike Lee, David Letterman and more. Lebowitz talks about everything from her disdain for sports, her lousy real estate intuition, her thoughts on cancel culture and her wholehearted devotion to smoking, book collecting and New York City.
During each episode we get a hefty dose of humour mixed with authentic thoughtfulness on important topics. While some might find Lebowitz’s ideas on the topics like feminism and the #MeToo movement antiquated, I find her opinions to be thought provoking and reflective of a person who has lived right in the middle of a time that others can only write about. It is her lived experience and her eclectic collection of friends and acquaintances that makes her who she is. There is an authenticity to Lebowitz’s words that takes the edge off of her blunt delivery and leaves on the conviction of a person speaking their truth. It is refreshing and intoxicating to take in.
As interesting and entertaining as Lebowitz is, the real star of this series is Scorsese’s respect and admiration for Lebowitz. It is clear through the editing, topics and clips that Scorsese adores her and all of her grumpy, quippy, clever ways. His pure enjoyment of his pal is evident in every single conversation and he has produced this series in such a way that it feels as though you are flipping through a scrapbook of collogues depicting a life-long friendship. It’s just beautiful.
So, if you are a bit lonely for your friends, if you love New York City, if you are delighted by witty words then this limited series is sure to delight you. Pretend It’s a City is the series I didn’t know I was waiting for.
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