Ten years after Martin Scorsese teamed up with writer and essayist Fran Lebowitz for the HBO series Public Speaking, the filmmaker has unveiled a surprise follow-up documentary for Netflix, titled Pretend It’s a City. Lebowitz, who executive produced the documentary, appears again in her famously sardonic glory alongside Scorsese as they take on (a pre-COVID) New York City. Watch the Pretend It’s a City trailer below.
Pretend It’s a City Trailer
Fran Lebowitz is a born and bred New Yorker, but that won’t stop her from using her famously sharp tongue to critique the city. The humorist, writer, and raconteur shares her opinions on everything from the subway, to tourists, to real estate, to people who drag tires along the sidewalk as exercise.
“It would take one subway ride for the Dalai Lama to turn into a lunatic, crazy person,” Lebowitz jokes in the film, which is comprised of Scorsese interviewing Lebowitz about various topics, and scenes of Lebowitz wandering around the city, flipping off bikers and berating The Strand’s kiosk at Times Square for bringing books to the tourist trap.
It’s a fitting follow-up to Scorsese’s 2010 documentary Public Speaking, which covered the life of Lebowitz through a series of informal chats, formal interviews, and speaking engagements, and was nominated for Best Documentary at that year’s Gotham Independent Film Awards. The first team-up between longtime friends Scorsese and Lebowitz spawned a wonderful partnership, with Lebowitz making an appearance as a judge in Scorsese’s 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, and now we have this surprise Netflix documentary that he directed.
While Lebowitz had teased the follow-up Netflix documentary in an interview with Jimmy Fallon earlier this year, the announcement of Pretend It’s a City comes as a surprise — first because Netflix dropped the announcement trailer a week before the film is set to debut on the streamer, and second because the documentary seems to have evolved from a docuseries to a feature film. But it’s a pleasant surprise, for sure, and will make a nice counterpart on Netflix to HBO Max’s critically acclaimed How To With John Wilson, a comedy docuseries with a similar love-hate depiction of New York City.
Scorsese had previously directed documentaries on Bob Dylan (which premiered on Netflix), George Harrison, Elia Kazan, and the Rolling Stones, and is now directing a documentary about New York Dolls frontman David Johansen.
Pretend It’s a City debuts on Netflix on January 8, 2021.
Wander the New York City streets and fascinating mind of wry writer, humorist and raconteur Fran Lebowitz as she sits down with Martin Scorsese.
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