There has been much buzz for the Joan Rivers doc – and almost everyone who praises it, does so almost begrudgingly, like they couldn’t believe they would actually like a documentary revealing someone who is already practically over-exposed.¬† Somehow, though, the doc manages to say much about Rivers that hasn’t yet been said, mainly what a hard worker she is. Of course, the Oscar doc branch is notoriously prickly. One never knows what they will choose, usually not the popular documentaries.
The NY Times’ Manohla Dargis on the doc:
Smartly, the filmmakers take on Ms. Rivers‚Äôs own looks from the start, opening the movie with shots of her bare face ‚Äî a shut naked eye, a thin line of mouth ‚Äî as someone else greases it with makeup. It‚Äôs only after she‚Äôs put on this face that all these pieces come together in startling close-up. It‚Äôs a nice metaphor for the effort it takes to assemble the product known as Joan Rivers, but the bluntness of the images and her gaze are disconcerting. Is she daring us to look, or begging? It‚Äôs hard to know, and the filmmakers, who resist putting her on the couch, aren‚Äôt saying. In the end, all you really know is that when she stands on the stage, it‚Äôs as if she had tapped right into her id. It‚Äôs a gusher.
About.com’s Jennifer Merin writes:
The documentary is clearly a tribute to Joan Rivers and all she’s accomplished. Rich with Rivers’ trademark wit and razzle dazzle, the film is sure to entertain. But, while the filmmakers present a rush of amusing one-liners and a chain of interesting events in Rivers’ life to, they also gently guide you to contemplate the value of celebrity and our celebrity culture.
As seen in their previous films — including The Devil Came On Horseback, about a military advisor who feel compelled to take a stand against the genocide in Darfur, and The Trials of Darryl Hunt, about a wrongly convicted man who spent 20 years in prison for a murder he did not commit — Stern and Sundburg have a rare talent for defining and presenting their central characters. As a character, Joan Rivers demands their skills, and they do their subject proud. Very proud.