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Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010)

Joan Rivers , Melissa Rivers , Anne Sundberg , Ricki Stern  |  R |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Joan Rivers, Melissa Rivers, Kathy Griffin, Jocelyn Pickett, Bill Sammeth
  • Directors: Anne Sundberg, Ricki Stern
  • Writers: Ricki Stern
  • Producers: Anne Sundberg, Ricki Stern, Charles Miller, Molly Abrams, Seth Keal
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Ifc Independent Film
  • DVD Release Date: December 14, 2010
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00433KF1E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,916 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

One of the most critically and commercially successful word of mouth documentary hits in years, Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work played and played for months in major cities around the country as audiences discovered the film and urged their friends to go see it. Directors Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg (The End Of America) follow a year in the life of the trailblazing comic, covering her entire career (from that early break on Carson to heartbreak over the suicide of her husband and manager to Celebrity Apprentice) and her relentless desire to keep working (and working) with humor, empathy and of course more humor. Wickedly funny and surprisingly moving, it returns Rivers to the spotlight she so richly deserves and cements her reputation as one of stand-up's towering figures.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Human October 29, 2010
I've honestly never really been a fan of Joan Rivers. Although I love stand-up comedy, perhaps Joan's public persona as a plastic surgery cautionary tale, red carpet pest, and daytime talk show host had blinded me to her comedy accomplishments. I started to see her in a different light recently when I saw her roast on Comedy Central, which made me curious to check out this acclaimed documentary.

After seeing this film, it's hard not to like Joan. At 75, Joan Rivers has clearly gotten to the point in her life where she's no longer interested in apologizing for herself or trying to be anyone she's not. The film offers an honest portrait of a real woman who is made up of passions, flaws, idiosyncrasies, insecurities, relationships, emotions, and all of the other complicated, messy things of life. Joan comes across as ambitious, hardworking, frank, big-hearted, generous, passionate, and, of course, very funny. She also comes across as needy, vain, grasping, opportunistic, self-pitying, and self-absorbed. In a nutshell, she comes across as human.

Probably one of the most fascinating and insightful theories that the film perpetuated about Joan is that she is less a comedian than an actress playing the role of a comedian. Born without perhaps the beauty or sexual charisma to be a theatrical diva, Joan created her comedic persona in order to attain the attention, accolades, and ability to connect with an audience that she so clearly needed, and, at age 75, still needs.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Piece of Work...That Needed More Work March 2, 2011
As much as I was fascinated with getting to know Joan Rivers through this documentary, apparently, based on another review, there were other facets to know of Joan's life, i.e. being a "voracious reader". I didn't know that. This film showed her as go, go, go....the workaholic. Sure, there were some non-business related moments, but show biz was always beckoning. If there were other sides to her, then why weren't they shown? Was it the performer the filmmakers were documenting or the complete person of Joan Rivers? I think the former.

Of her peers, Don Rickles' was the only interview snippet. What would have fleshed out her life more colorfully would have been to get a cross-section of fellow performers, whether actors or comedians...her staff and agent chimed in, which was a good start, then it fell flat.

The history of her time on the Tonight Show, background of her husband, growth in relationship with her daughter, her charity work and the "interruption" during one of her shows and her subsequent reflection on that experience, were the highlights. I still wanted to know more about the major highs and lows of Joan's just seemed like too quick of a glossover. Her daughter inferring the insecurity of her mother was an obvious entry to deeper investigation. Alas, it never surfaced, which is partly why the film didn't seem like a documentary, but a "promo". The viewer was left to connect some vague, wide-spaced dots that could have been intimately elaborated along the way.

( In light of the movie, I DON'T give this documentary 3 stars [inside joke for those who've seen the film], rather 3 1/2...I would if I could register it as that )
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joan is the real deal on and off camera. December 17, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Waited patiently for this movie on DVD as it was not in wide release in the Chicagoland area. It's a stunning personal look at a wonderful person, Joan Rivers. I saw her in the airport and in first class on my flight and she was witty, fun, posed for photos, and never once seemed put off by the attention. Not at all a diva, she exemplifies an ethos that is now forgotten: hard work at a craft you love will pay off, and the fans are to be relished, cherished and treated as human beings. Joan was this in real life, and her charm and sincere heart comes through in spades on this excellent documentary. Her insecurities about her looks, her lack of true male love in her life (she and Edgar were more of a business relationship as portrayed in this film), her geographic distance from her only child Melissa, and her tireless work ethic are sparking gems in this well-paced movie.

Before leaving the airport, we had a lay-over, and Joan shopped alone in some of the stores in the terminal, dressed to the nines, hair perfectly coiffed and absolutely charming and gracious to everyone from the shop clerk to the janitor waxing the floors. The DVD is inspirational for the way to treat others. Joan truly does practice this even off camera,

Thank you, Joan. You're not only a comedy icon, you are a deep and thoughtful person, and it's my pleasure to get to know you.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work", subtitled "A Year in the Life of a Semi-Legend", follows the comic through her 75th year, remarkably still an eventful time for a woman who's been in show business for 50 years. To start the year, Joan's career seems to be in the toilet: Her appointment book is mostly blank, and "last year was a very difficult year -I was playing...the Bronx at 4:30 in the afternoon." But his year, she is rehearsing her autobiographical play "Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress" and taking it to the UK. She will be taping "Celebrity Apprentice" with her daughter Melissa, roasted on Comedy Central, paying tribute to George Carlin at the Kennedy Center, touring whenever she can, and filming this documentary by filmmakers Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg.

Joan Rivers is a workaholic. Her agent Larry Thompson says she has "a maniacal fanaticism to succeed." At 75 years of age, she wants every hour of every day in her appointment book to be filled, she wants multiple shows per day, and she wants to resurrect her career for the umpteenth time. And she succeeds -with great effort. This woman has the energy of a teenager. I could hardly believe it. She has the single-minded drive of a person obsessed. And she's tough. She's also very, very funny. Still. We get to see some of her old jokes through archival footage, which show that she was always shocking for her time. She did abortion jokes in the 1960s. I have to hand it to her: She had guts, and the jokes were great.

For the most part, Joan speaks for herself in "A Piece of Work". Her play provides a nice opportunity to explore the earlier years of her career. She talks about The Ed Sullivan Show, how Johnny Carson changed her life, and her husband Edgar's suicide.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Do not waste your money
Really a very dull documentary. I was hoping for some history or family stories. Very little of that. Seems that they followed her for a bit and put it together.
Published 11 hours ago by Bill Miller
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 7 days ago by C. Scott Strumello
5.0 out of 5 stars Stick around forever, Ms. Rivers.
Been a fan since she first appeared on Ed Sullivan in the 1960s. Saw Ms. Rivers in person in 2010 and the person who met with fans outside the stage door was very different from... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Michael E. Corby
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Loved seeing her " unplugged"
Published 22 days ago by julie
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring!
Save your money, not worth the money, even at the cost of $6.99 is too much! Gave up after 20 minutes. Not one funny joke.
Published 2 months ago by F. Reyes
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Bathroom Reading
Bought this realizing it would have some funny stuff in it. It does. It is not one of those books where you sit down, curl up, and read for a long time. Read more
Published 3 months ago by PdD Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Joan Rivers
I love Joan Rivers.
This documentary is touching. It shows such a personal view of this talented woman. She is so hard working and driven.
Published 7 months ago by Roberta Heffron
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Good Backstage Doc.
Joan is, was and forever will be a trooper. If you are thinking of becoming a stand up comedian or even any kind of touring performer watch this first.
Published 8 months ago by Rose Rambling
1.0 out of 5 stars Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
This was a dissappointment! I expected a comedy show, not a talk show. If you're hoping to laugh to Joan Rivers comedy, do not waste your time on this.
Published 10 months ago by dd
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it
could watch it over nad over loved it. great documentary about a comedy legend and what it means to get old in a youth obsessed industry
Published 11 months ago by Jimmy Yanes
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