Wednesday, January 26, 2011

JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK (2010)

Did you know that Joan Rivers was the narrator of 'The Adventures of Letterman' on 650 episodes of "The Electric Company"? Or wrote and directed Billy Crystal's debut film? Or that she used to be a writer for "Candid Camera"? Me neither, I just learned all that on IMDb, not in this movie. Outside of the fact that she appears every once and a while on Howard Stern I know nothing about Joan Rivers. Her interviews with Howard are always interesting and her commentary about showbiz engaging, but it seems like she's always promoting something, which is fine. I wanted to learn more about her, so I rented this movie and it's interesting, but I don't think I learned anything outside of the fact that she's a workaholic that seems to be going 50 different directions at once just to support her lavish lifestyle. It was kinda depressing.

The structure of the film is they're just following Joan around for a year. There's up's (winning contest on a reality TV show; still doing stand up comedy) and down's (her play bombed; she fired her longtime manager) and it's all very interesting, but I would have much rather had a straightforward documentary about her career up to this point filled with vintage footage and interviews of her peers and people she used to work with. The highlight of the movie to me was when she spoke about her husband committing suicide(!!!) and then she made a TV movie about it where she played herself! That's crazy! It was a quick mention, but I found that to be completely fascinating.

Joan was complaining a few days ago on Howard about how this movie got snubbed by the Academy for an Oscar nomination nod, but I can easily see why: it's not that interested. I liked it, but I didn't learn anything new and it honestly seemed like it was filmed to be a reality show or something. Worth watching if you're like Joan, but it's not all that great. I was hoping for something more informative and maybe even shocking.