Is Nora Ephron Doc Everything Is Copy Worth A Close Read?
Her son Jacob Bernstein's look at his mother's life is professionally built and highly personal. Should you leaf through it?
Nora Ephron is, for me, the Barbara Walters of filmmakers: I don't have the highest opinion of/most interest in her output, but I know what it cost and I admire that she paid, if that makes any sense; she is interesting to me. I also think in the last ten years that her brand became to an extent a Catskills-y aphorism generator that obscured the other dimensions of her career, so I looked forward to getting to know her life better/again.
Jacob Bernstein's directorial résumé is...this, although it did win best doc at the Palm Springs film fest last year; he's better known as a print journo. His parental résumé is the thing, of course (he's Ephron and Carl Bernstein's son).
Doin' Your Homework
Not at all. It's paced well, and if, like me, you don't have a ton of patience with Ephron's filmic work, Everything Is Copy: Nora Ephron, Scripted & Unscripted doesn't ask you to subscribe to its greatness. It's more interesting in telling you how Ephron made things, why, what she was like on set and where that came from.
As sometimes happens with docs of this type, I feel sad that I won't ever get to meet her; she sounds like a mensch, such a smart and savvy person who didn't suffer fools.
And towards the end, it gets a little melancholy, with her friends and collaborators talking about not knowing until close to her death that she was even sick, or how sick, and remembering wondering when she died who would tell them what to do. Aw.
It's An Outrage!
It's not that kind of an evening, as the saying goes, although I could have done without some of the "poor Carl Bernstein, raked over the coals endlessly by Heartburn." Well, then don't fuck other people and think everyone else will be too dumb to figure it out, Pulitzer.
Intrusive Filmmaker Agenda
If you feel strongly that directors should stay off-camera and not become part of the story, maybe this isn't for you, but Bernstein's relationship with his mother, and with her sisters, and with many of the people he interviews create the texture of the film, and while he has a VO, it's sparing. EIC is a good mix of actors reading Ephron's articles, talking-head interviews, home movies, old TV interviews, and other materials that feels professional and broad, but also personal and unique.
Bernstein is her child, and if he doesn't know where the skeletons are, his aunts do.
Carl Bernstein, the other Ephrons, David Remnick, Lena Dunham, Meg Ryan, Barry Diller, Spielberg and Capshaw, Hanks and Wilson, Amy Pascal, Barbara Walters herself, Meryl Streep, Rob Reiner...decent roster. Heh.
I wouldn't have cared to read Ephron's essays one way or the other before; now I'll happily spend an afternoon with them.