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Jun 13 2024
LIZA: A TRULY TERRIFIC ABSOLUTELY TRUE STORY — A Review Of The New Minnelli Doc Comments (0)

Liza-doc-boyculture(Image via TriBeCa Film Festival)

I caught director Bruce David Klein’s Liza Minnelli doc Liza: A Truly Terrific Absolutely True Story at the TriBeCa Film Festival.

Klein spoke before and after adoringly of the 78-year-old icon, who sat for one long, formal interview for the project, as well as allowing a couple of other filmed encounters. She looks great, all things considered, and her ribald sense of humor is beautifully underscored. Her fans will be delighted to see her, and to hear her sing a bit, too!

The film is a love letter, and is framed as a sort of origin story, but rather than focusing overly on her famous parents, it closely examines how Liza became LIZA, truly became herself, as opposed to obsessing over her silver-spoon childhood and famous folks.

Most interestingly, the film makes allowances for Minnelli’s mentors and the other people who truly helped her shine — most docs seem to believe their famous subjects were born perfect and got better. Liza herself graciously allows the spotlight to shine on Kay Thompson, Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse and Halston.

Newly discovered footage is fantastic — or terrific — including a sweet home movie of Liza kissing Ben Vereen, who is deeply moved to be shown it on camera. Her lovers and husbands are briefly aired out, with confidante Michael Feinstein repeating the Bette Davis line about death in relation to Liza’s odious last husband, David Gest: “Nothing but good should be said of the dead. David Gest is dead. Good!”

It wouldn’t be a doc without footage of Liza performing, and that film was wisely chosen.

I wasn’t wild about the structure; nonlinear has its creative advantages, but it did feel a bit unmoored at times, if never less than compelling. Her gay appeal and Pet Shop Boys era both go undiscussed by the straight director, who also shockingly ignores most of her acting career (“Cabaret” is thoroughly covered).

But overall, this doc is sunny and nearly as innocent as Liza, something she deserves.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll Liza. (Film is seeking distribution.)

Check out my footage of the director speaking: