Actors: Elaine Stritch, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin
Director: Chiemi Karasawa
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
DVD Release Date: June 24, 2014
Run Time: 81 minutes
My grandfather was an actor his entire life. From a lengthy list of stage shows that he was involved in to a familiar filmography of TV shows and films, Victor Izay had a successful career as a performer that carried on well into his 80s. Weeks before his death at 90 years old, he was still reciting Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe, and so I found this documentary about 87-year-old actress Elaine Stritch to be remarkably familiar. Shoot Me captures the spirit of a performer perfectly, especially in showing struggles of the spotlight with the increased difficulty of aging. Elaine Stritch is a unique personality, but my experience with my grandfather showed me that there is also a great deal of universal truth in her individual struggles.
Although Stritch may be best known now for her scene-stealing performance playing Alec Baldwin’s mother on the hit show “30 Rock,” most of her career was carried out onstage. Broadway legend and Tony Award-winner, Stritch prepares and performs a new show featuring only songs from Stephen Sondheim during the course of this documentary, which highlights some of her struggles. Remembering the lyrics of the songs is often difficult, and I know that this fear was a major reason that my grandfather stopped taking new jobs later in his career. There is also a great physical demand in the energy required for performing, and news of a canceled show delights rather than disappoints Stritch at one point in the process.
As well as the effort put into her latest performances, Shoot Me gives an intimate look at some of Stritch’s personal struggles as well. Diabetes is an every-day issue which must be dealt with, affecting her mentally as much as physically. This is often made more difficult by her self-proclaimed love of alcohol, returning to drinking moderately after struggling with alcoholism for much of her life. Interestingly, you can’t really separate Stritch’s medical issues from her performing, because of how often the two inevitably collide with each other. Thankfully, despite some somber moments of serious introspection about aging and death, Shoot Me manages to capture the essence of Elaine Stritch’s zest for life as a nice counter-balance.
The DVD release includes even more of Stritch’s personality in a handful more deleted scenes, as well as some behind-the-scenes footage from the photo shoot for the film’s poster. Also included are outtakes from some of the interviews done by the many stars she has worked with, including Baldwin, Hal Prince, George C. Wolfe, Nathan Lane, Cherry Jones, Tina Fey, the late James Gandolfini, and John Turturro.
Entertainment Value: 7.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 7/10