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Buy Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work 2010 Online (mkv, avi, flv, mp4) DVDRip
Drama, Biography, Comedy, Documentary
IMDB rating:
Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg
Kevin Brennan as Himself, Joan Rivers' housekeeper
Bill Sammeth as Himself (as Billy Sammeth)
Debbie Brennan as Herself
Analie Berthel as Herself
Graham Reed as Himself
Sean Foley as Himself
Denis Markell as Himself
David Dangle as Himself
Gilda Frost as Herself
Jocelyn Pickett as Herself
George Carlin as Himself (archive footage)
Joan Rivers as Herself
Kathy Griffin as Herself
Phyllis Diller as Herself (archive footage)
Melissa Rivers as Herself
Emily Kosloski as Herself
Annie Duke as Herself (archive footage)
Johnny Carson as Himself (archive footage)
Mark Anderson Phillips as Himself (as Mark Phillips)
Flo Fox as Herself
Sean Foley as Himself
Storyline: This documentary follows one year in the life of , who sees herself first and foremost as an actress, with her life as a comedienne/writer just an extension of being an actress. Now at age 75, Rivers has faced her ups and downs in her forty plus year career, the year leading up to filming being a down compared to what she would have wanted, which is a calendar full of engagements with several engagements each day. That want is in part to support her opulent personal lifestyle, but is more a need to bolster her own sense of self-worth as a basically insecure person who is probably best known now for her overuse of cosmetic surgery rather than her professional work. She feels that , who she admires, is now getting all the engagements she would have gotten in her prime. During this year, Rivers is seen going from engagement to engagement, some big - such as a Kennedy Center Honors for , a double bill with in New York, and her own celebrity...
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A very complex individual
The problem I usually have with documentaries is that, while I find them enlightening, I rarely connect to them on an emotional level. My intellect is stimulated, but I don't usually feel anything. The last documentary that made me feel anything was "Sicko." "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" succeeds in the same way. Here's a woman who is a bit of a joke and an easy Hollywood punching bag. But she shows herself to be quite a complex individual. She's of course funny and a workaholic. She's also quite vulnerable and doesn't take criticism well at all. At times, she's quite likable and very sympathetic. Other times, she seems twisted and self-absorbed. I suppose the real Rivers is a little of both. She's also a joy to spend 90 minutes in a theater with, should the opportunity present itself to you.

The film opens with a shot that tells you everything you need to know about this film and its intentions. The shot is an extreme close-up of Rivers without any makeup on. For someone so presumably consumed with her looks, this is a surprising image that tells you this film is going to show you the real Rivers. Like her or not (and many won't), this is her.

The rest of the film is loosely broken up into three sections. The first introduces us to the woman and follows Rivers as she develops an autobiographical play and performs it in the UK. The second follows her during her time on "The Celebrity Apprentice." And the final one shows her on the road across America doing comedy shows. Interspersed with these segments are sidebars about Rivers' past—her marriage, her time with Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show," her relationship with her daughter Melissa, and her annual Thanksgiving charity work.

The two biggest things I took away from the film are that Rivers is obsessive (desperate?) about working and that she is incredibly insecure—perhaps the two complement each other. At one point, she is trying to book a commercial. She tells the ad agency's representative that she'll wear diapers, anything, to land a gig. After seeing this film, I believe she would. She's also incredibly self-doubting. When her play opens in London to good, not great, reviews, she immediately decides it won't see the light of day in New York. She says she wouldn't be able to bear the criticism. And when she agrees to do a Comedy Central roast—well, let's just say, it's not pretty.

One of the most enlightening, and in some ways off-putting, scenes in the film is when she gets heckled at a show in rural Wisconsin. Rivers makes a joke about hating kids but thinking Helen Keller would be tolerable, and a man yells that he thinks she isn't funny, but mean-spirited. Rivers lays into him. She doesn't hold back at all, and while I hold the belief that comedians should be able to defend themselves as they see fit against hecklers, her expletive-laden tirade crossed a few lines. What was so telling about this scene, though, was just how insecure Rivers is. When one man, a nobody in her life, criticizes her, she viciously lashes out.

I really did find this film fascinating for just how complicated it made its star seem. In addition to that, it's also quite funny. Rivers hasn't lost much in 75 years. I'd argue that her best bits are the more recent ones. Most documentaries are intellectual exercises, but not this one. It felt refreshing—not at all like sitting through a lecture. I wasn't a fan of Rivers before. I'm not sure I'm a fan of Rivers now. But a can definitely say I'm a fan of "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work," and I would recommend it to just about anyone.
This is a Fantastic Documentary
I cannot believe Joan is over 75 years old and is still a relatively healthy, sharp, and current performer. I just adore her on E! Network's Fashion Police and I wanted to learn more about her, so I watched this documentary on DVD. I am impressed beyond words with her natural talent and work ethic. Although I am not a fan of the Botox and the plastic surgeries, I can see past them to view the funny but insecure genius beneath. The scene where Joan encounters the heckler was heartbreaking but she handled it correctly as a stand-up, and not as a parent. The crowd was paying for funny, not maudlin, and so Joan delivered, despite reservations afterward. I was surprised about her constant worry over money, not something I would have thought she'd be concerned about. (But, goodness, that apartment!) And the honesty over Edgar's suicide and her break with Johnny Carson made for some interesting moments as well. I highly recommend this film for anyone interested in either Joan or in the career of a stand-up comedian/actress.
Honest, Oddly Poignant
I wouldn't call myself a fan per se, but I've always admired Joan Rivers for just saying what she feels. This documentary chronicles a year in her life, her 75th year, and is not a laugh riot by design. She goes into the relationship with her daughter Melissa, her late husband Edgar and her long time manager whom she has increasingly been unable to trust to be available for her. The poignancy is from the various parts of this film of her life as a working performer. There are times that she is not in demand and more than once states she will "take anything". Also, there is a failed play and a scene at a Wisconsin nightclub where she has a shouting match with a person who objects to one of her jokes. You don't go to a Joan Rivers show to hear sweetness, she has always been pointed and sometimes outrageous. Anyone who doesn't know her well can get some insight into her from this film, but this film is more for people who know about her and like/love her. I like her for being bold and for being a pioneer. I would recommend it to everyone who is even vaguely interested but just know it is not a full concert performance. It held my interest throughout.
Well done doc that's blunt, brash, historical, and informative. It shows a lot of sides of the legendary female comedy queen!
Joan Rivers love her or hate her one thing is for certain this biography docudrama titled "A Piece of Work" is highly enjoyable as it shows a personal side of Joan, really it tells the history of her show business days. As you the viewer see old clips, and you get treated to interviews from other comics like Kathy Griffin and interviews with agents and managers are telling. Also hearing the mouth of Joan is a juicy treat as Rivers is always outspoken.

This is a woman of many sides revealing is how her humble start on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" helped launch her comedy stand up life. Only to later become Carson's fill in host only to have it end nasty with John when Joan left for FOX to start her own show(which would later fail)actually the two never spoke again. And heartbreaking is when you hear Joan talk about the suicide of husband Edgar, and how it strained the relationship with her only child a daughter Melissa(who's sexy and beautiful).

Aside from those setbacks this woman has stood out in the cruel rains of the comedy and television world since the late 60's. And this doc does a good job of following her around aside from the clips, and interviews you see what it's like backstage and the grueling travels that exhaust Joan as she goes city to city. And many think she's cruel and cold, but not as it's revealing and nice seeing her give some food to homeless people in New York City on Thanksgiving. And my personal favorite was her speech to honor my favorite comedian the late great George Carlin as Joan gave a speech on his behalf. And rewarding was her winning of Donald Trump's "Apprentice" this past season.

Really this doc shows the high and lows of Joan it proves with her interviews she's emotional, conflicted and brash, yet caring and outrageously funny. This film is an all access stage pass to her life and one year journey of all in between. It's clear that Joan at 75 proves she's still one of the best, love her or hate her Rivers is a stand up figure who's iconic and tough as nails strong with brash sassy wit and intelligence. This title rings so true Joan Rivers is clearly "A Piece of Work".
Joan Rivers: rest in peace.
If you only see one Documentary this year...miss this one.

While it's well made, and skillfully edited, (place cutting joke here) how much time do you want to spend with Joan Rivers? Like a shark that has to move through the water or die, she has to work or perish. The main thing you get, anyone who can stay in Joan Rivers's life deserves combat pay. The Johnny Carson impact on her life was interesting. There are some laughs. The footage with her grandson was touching.

It often feels repetitive and drags at times. It could be shorter. "The Celebrity Apprentice" footage especially with her daughter would not be missed. With so many more interesting people and issues in the world a star on Hollywood Boulevard is enough and perhaps more appropriate then a documentary.
a piece of (hard!) work
Also located at my blog (with many more!), Awards Wiz! (

A piece of work--an obvious double meaning, right? Referring to the plastic surgery, but also to her brashness. I would go a step further and say the title refers to her incredible career and work ethic.

"In order to get struck by lightning, you have to stand in the rain."

While this movie affected me on so many levels, it is this quote near the end of the film spoken by Rivers's agent that sticks with me most. It reminded me of every crossroad I have ever reached when times were difficult and decisions had to be made. There are so many chances to give up because it not easy to stay on the path. Rivers shows us what it really takes to not only "make it" but stay in this biz called show. What does it really take? In one scene Rivers tells her daughter that being an actor/performer is about rejection. So many people would give up and come in out of the rain. But there are the handful of people who stay out long enough to get hit by lightning...once. Then there are people like Joan Rivers. She gets hit, but then she goes inside when the rain stops only to venture back out the moment the first drop falls to do it all over again.

This film has been floating around since the Sundance Film Festival, and I have heard and read a few interviews with Rivers discussing the film. So, I knew the movie was going to strip away the public persona of Rivers as the joke of a poster woman for plastic surgery. But I was still unprepared to see her in this manner. And not just the vulnerability factor. I had no idea how hard she works, how persistent she is, and how much acting REALLY means to her. This lack of knowledge is partly because my generation knows her mostly from her red carpet appearances. Needless to say that part of her career is a torrential downpour, if you know what I mean. Honestly though, how many times have we seen her lacking her JOAN RIVERS persona-- whether on E!, TV Guide or even The Tonight Show? Almost never. And why should we, Joan might ask. What we see is Joan at work. There is really no reason for us to see anything else. Thank goodness that this doc actually gave us one. And the best parts are when she is on the road!

When Rivers goes to small town America to do her act, she is obviously slumming compared to what she is used to at home in NYC. But she never really complains, outside of a joke. At least not until a patron at the act heckles her. And it's less complaining and more defending what she loves--her art and what she feels should be clear to everyone. If you can't laugh at the bad you are in a hell of a lot of trouble. And in that moment she keeps going, strong as ever. She is one professional who simply can't quit, partly because she isn't ready to give up her fabulous lifestyle, and partly due to the fact that she hasn't run out of things to say. But mostly (I think) because she absolutely loves it.

We obviously have a great subject, but in lesser hands this film wouldn't be what it is. Never once did I even wonder where the film was headed and I never once wandered in any way off the path the Stern and Sundberg set for me. I simply watched a bit of perfect organic storytelling. Even the jokes are so impeccably placed it wasn't until I burst into laughter, then hearing my fellow audience members also laugh (yes, just like her shows there were a few groans of uncomfortable-ness) that I was taken out of that blissful life-forgetting trance that I strive for in the cinema.

The brilliant storytelling doesn't stop with her work ethic. We also get to see much deeper into her relationship with her daughter, told in such a simple way in just a few scenes thanks to their stint on Celebrity Apprentice (one in a car on the way to the first day on set and another in a hallway after Joan apparently (we don't see the actual event) shuts down at a cast meet and greet.) I almost cringed at the mention of Celebrity Apprentice, but I stuck with it...for Joan...because I know she had to stick with it. It was a job she needed to take for so many reasons, which you will discover watching the film yourself. The biggest reason was one she didn't seem to even grasp...winning! (lightning!)

The big question is (at least for me...and this site!) how long the lightning storm will last. She talks about how the critics never really embrace her. But they certainly have with this film. Now...will the Academy embrace her? In the documentary category, celebrity docs (The September Issue, Tyson, Valentino: The Last Emperor) don't do so well. Heck. They don't even get nominated. But the Academy loves a comeback. And although Joan might say, "what comeback? I never went anywhere," in terms of acceptance, it is one. I am personally tired of every documentary nominated being a stroll down misery lane. This film deserves (at least at the year's halfway point) a nomination. But...if she gets the nomination, won't that diminish the subject of the film?

Who gives a f#$*. Nominate the c&^#!
So much Potential...
When I was a kid, my mother always said the 'Hollywood Squares' contestants were idiots if they disagreed with Rivers, because Joan was very, very smart. I have always found this to be true, even when I'm not in love with her choices. Say what you will - the lady has brains. Unfortunately, this film chooses to emphasize only her unrelenting need to perform. The issue of her opulent lifestyle is mentioned, but why not get into Rivers' actual net worth, especially as she purports to be so driven to pay the bills? My guess is, there won't be food stamps any time soon. Which brings me to: no mention at all of her QVC empire, and how she handles/feels about it? There are excellent moments in this documentary, and there's a solid insight into the relationship with Melissa. Still - it's too one-note. Rather than present further, tired comments about the surgeries, could they not have had this remarkably intelligent woman discuss the matter for a minute, without jokes? She refers to it seriously, but only in passing, even as she admits that this radical face work defines how she is viewed. Too bad. This had great promise, but leaves the Rivers fan, or even merely interested party, unsatisfied.
Joan bares it all
In Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg's documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, we get an up close and personal behind one of the hardest working woman in show-business. From her youthful aspirations to become an actress, we find out that comedy wasn't always priority number one on Joan's list. Comedy was a way to support her acting career. She later notes that you can make fun of her comedy career all you want, but leave her acting abilities alone. She even suggests that she is an actress playing a comedienne.

Following a successful appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, her career was and her "industry" was set in stone. There was no turning back. From performing her act in Vegas and her hosting of The Tonight Show for Johnny on numerous occasions. Her comedy was (and is) in your face. If a joke is thought to be too edgy, she knows she hit her mark.

I'll let you fill in the rest when you see the movie, but this isn't about where Joan has gone or the accomplishments she has achieved. It's about who Joan is today, how she is constantly looking to reinvent herself and stay fresh. Her unbridled enthusiasm for performing and staying busy. Her commitment to family and helping others.

In the film, we see Joan talking on the phone, looking for an endorsement deal. She says she'll speak for anything, including adult diapers and male enhancement drugs. She's not a sell out, but is willing to thrust herself upon the masses in order to get noticed. Through much of the film we see her working on a stage play, a sort of autobiographical play where she delves into what it's like to be Joan. Her concern isn't about whether or not people will like her, but whether or not they will accept her back into the mainstream. She is well aware that people view her as the poster child for plastic surgery. She is well aware that her age (75) is something that can hurt her to land a job. Does that stop her? It only strengthens her desire to succeed.

While some people will view this movie as a cry for attention, and I can see how they would feel this way. Joan lives a life of luxury, in a posh, elegant, and expensive apartment in New York City. Her need to live luxuriously and with all of the plastic surgery stems from her past where she never felt nor was never told she was beautiful. She needs this things in order to feel pretty, to feel like there is a reason to wake up.

That is not what this film is about. We are not meant to feel bad for someone who doesn't feel pretty. We are meant to see a woman who gives her all for her fans, whom she adores, and her family, that she cares for tremendously, especially her daughter and grandson. There is a brief moment where she sits down to write out a stack of checks, both for herself and also to others, like family members who attend private school and whatnot. She doesn't bat an eye at this stack, but breezes through them because she knows they must be paid for.

Her comedy might not be your cup of tea, but I think we can all learn something from this relentless woman. A life devoted to work and to family. What a piece of work. It's a shame that this film was left off the short list for Best Documentary for the Oscars. I hope you will all see it nonetheless.
Incredible documentary
A documentary that followed Joan Rivers for an entire year when she turned 75. She talks directly to the camera and opens up about her life, her job, her family and what makes her tick. I should admit that I love Rivers! Her jokes are mean but hysterical. Seeing her here she comes across as insecure and a workaholic...but the you don't pity her and she doesn't ask you too. She just wants us to see her as she really is. What was really surprising was seeing her with her daughter Melissa. Melissa comes off as cold and unfeeling--NOT the image she ever gave before. Also there is footage of Rivers on stage. Her act is incredibly profane--but hysterical! My audience would gasp and then break up at her lines. An excellent documentary of a very complex woman. A 10 all the way!
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