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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK (2010)


Anyone who's seen LE PLAISIR/'51, Max Ophuls'superb adaptation of three Guy de Maupassant stories, will recall THE MASK. It’s the one about an old man who maintains the illusion of youth by wearing a smooth featureless mask as he frantically dances his nights (and his life) away at the Palais de la Danse. That pretty sums up the attitude of Stand-Up comedienne Joan Rivers in this highly effective documentary; she's still going for the brass ring at 75 & counting. After all these years (and all those cosmetic procedures), her life is more about staying in the chase then in getting a reward. (Though Joan explicitly says otherwise.) Especially when ‘youngsters’ like Kathy Griffin are taking your best club dates. It’d be nice if the filmmakers didn’t ask us to applaud Joan’s bravery in letting herself be seen in such a harsh light. But the portrait, both admirable and appalling, rings true. And, enough of the time, she’s pretty damn funny.

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