Sandra Bernhard's dazzling one-woman show comes to video after a wildly successful Broadway run and national tour that virtually jump-started her career after a low-key decade of writing books and making various television appearances (Roseanne
). Less structured and formal than her previous film, the cult classic Without You I'm Nothing
, I'm Still Here... Damn It!
catches La Diva Sandra in San Francisco, some six months pregnant and laying waste to the cultural detritus of the '90s. Nothing and no one emerges unscathed from Bernhard's lacerating wit as she paints a vast, swirling portrait of today's media-saturated landscape. This breathtaking ride showcases Bernhard in top form as she offers commentary on everyone from Mariah Carey to Courtney Love, as well as the waifish girl singers of Lilith Fair, to whom she offers the advice, "Just get out of that dirty bathtub for starters!" Bernhard is not afraid to call a spade a spade--and make that spade live to regret the error of its ways--but I'm Still Here... Damn It!
is also about the efforts to keep your soul pure under increasingly superficial circumstances. Bernhard touches on issues of religion, self-fulfillment, bravery, and motherhood, and utilizes her stunning voice as well as her scathing wit. A tribute to Christine McVie, "Nightingale," is both a send-up and homage to the Fleetwood Mac pianist, and Bernhard ends her show with an intoxicating Moroccan prayer and a stunning cover of "Midnight Train to Georgia." And as photographed by legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler (Medium Cool
), Bernhard is an electrical presence, beautiful and shocking at the same time. At only an hour, it's a condensed version of her show (for the full-on effect, buy the soundtrack), but amazing nonetheless. The DVD features about 30 minutes of bonus footage, including ribald observations of Rosie O'Donnell, Melanie Griffith, and Liza Minnelli, among others. --Mark Englehart