Day 47: 'Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work'

Joan Rivers in 'Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work'I have a newfound respect for a few people after 40+ days in the movie desert. Parents. Hugh Hefner. And Joan Rivers. To all of you I have to say - I have no idea how you do it. Those who have pets, too, (and yeah, for those about to rock), I salute you.

Never getting a break from work must be what it's like to be a mom or dad. At this stage of my movie watching odyssey, I've come to accept that feeling and being half-tired all the time. You do it because you have to...and because it's what you love...for me, it's movies...for heads of households, it's the kids...

For Hugh Hefner and Joan Rivers, the subjects of two of the best documentaries I've seen this summer, it's entertainment. Or a better word is "escapism." Hefner and Rivers, at heart, want to provide people with an escape from their everyday lives. For Hef, it's his magazine and his efforts to preserve film art (whether it's the UCLA archive, the Hollywood sign, or the downtown Orpheum). For Joan, it's her force-of-nature, singular presence and her strong comic instincts.

Rivers' documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, follows one year in her life and exploits, from putting together a mildy received stage play, to performing comedy to a crowd of Canadians and a disgruntled parent/patron, to winning it all on the latest "Celebrity Apprentice." Documenting her days of success on Johnny Carson, her family relationships, and her ups-and-downs taking every gig - QVC and otherwise - in sight, it's a warts-and-all portrait of a most fascinating lady and one-of-a-kind entertainer.

Like the Hefner documentary, Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, Rebel, it's informative and highly entertaining. Both docs present intimate close-ups of celebrity legends who've worked hard to achieve their dreams, and continue to dedicate themselves into their mid '70s and beyond. What they share is an unyielding drive...bordering on an unhealthy obsession. Maybe that's okay because it is their passion and it's been so from an early age. But since we're human (and I know on my day 100, I won't be passing up that nap), I can't help but want to give them a hug, and a gift certificate to the spa.

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