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Looking for Lenny (2011)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 1 September 2012 (USA)
Looking for Lenny is an in-depth, controversial documentary that uses Lenny Bruce's legacy to explore the present condition of the fear of words and expression. It also tackles the issue of... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lenny Bruce ...
Himself (archive footage)
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Himself
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Himself
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Herself
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Himself
Kitty Bruce ...
Herself
Mark Lonow ...
Himself
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Herself
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Himself
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Himself
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Himself
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Himself
Enrico Banducci ...
Himself
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Himself
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Himself
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Storyline

Looking for Lenny is an in-depth, controversial documentary that uses Lenny Bruce's legacy to explore the present condition of the fear of words and expression. It also tackles the issue of new limitations that the government and society are placing upon freedom of expression in the artistic and political discourse. It speaks directly to recent attempts by political figures to instill fear into American society by labeling, manipulating, and inflaming people's fear of the spoken word. Written by Anonymous

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1 September 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lenny Bruce ja komedian rajat  »

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Features Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann (2003) See more »

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Big Tom
Written by Todd Zimberg
Performed by the Island Jazz Quintet
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6 July 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I admit to knowing very little about Lenny Bruce's life and work, indeed I haven't even seen the Dustin Hoffman bio-pic from the 70's but being aware to some extent of his status as a comedian and his courting of controversy especially in the 60's, I was intrigued to watch this hour-long documentary.

I wasn't quite expecting the tangential diversions into the discussions on free-speech as the programme took in a couple of recent examples of censorship, which in fact i would argue are little known outside the States, presumably seeing in them a link to Bruce's pioneering comedy although I'm not sure he'd be completely comfortable with the godfather of shock-jock title conferred on him here. I also think the film uses too many interviewees, reducing their contributions to sound-bite status and while some do make pertinent points, too many just repeat the same old "Lenny died for our (future) sins", plus I just plain hadn't heard of many of them and so struggled to put their remarks in context.

I would have been happier to have learned more about Bruce's personal life and evolution as a human being, as well as a public-facing comedian and while it was bold to try and impart this dichotomy into the narrative, I felt this was two programmes in one, with Bruce's example being used more to back up the director's own agenda on free speech in latter-day America.

Perhaps there want enough archive footage of Bruce to carry a full documentary focused on him, but surely more could have been done to integrate his recordings and reminiscences of his immediate family (particularly his articulate daughter), friends and contemporaries rather than some of the fairly blatant hero-worship we get here.

This show did leave me wanting to find out more about this darkly complex man but the fact that it didn't satisfy my curiosity within its own confines was surely a missed opportunity.


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