Sunday, January 7, 2018

VODebut--The high-end low-down on plastic surgery: Joan Kron's TAKE MY NOSE... PLEASE!

A fast-moving, hugely-enjoyable, surprisingly thought-provoking romp about a subject awfully dear to (but generally unspoken about) women and some men: plastic surgery, of the kind that will render the person undergoing it either younger- or more beautiful-looking. So, yes, we're talking "vanity" here. Now, really, you may be thinking: Could there possibly be anything more to consider, feel or say about a subject that is, as the phrase used to go, of so little redeeming social value?  Well, yes, since just last fall we saw yet another media kerfluffle regarding this surgery via that useless Jane Fonda/Megyn Kelly interchange. And if your guide to this subject is a woman named Joan Kron, who has covered the plastic surgery scene for decades and probably knows it as well as any journalist (or filmmaker) alive today, you're in the very best of hands.

Ms. Kron, pictured at left, has not only covered the scene, she's undergone it, too (multiple times, I think), and her movie, TAKE MY NOSE... PLEASE!, stresses a point made countless times already: that women's place in our society demands that they constantly look their best, as this is the route to their well-being and survival.

What makes Kron's film different and also allows it to resonate more strongly, is that the women she follows here are all comedians. They make us laugh, yes, but they also make us understand their very mixed and complicated feelings about undergoing "the knife."

Chief among Kron's funny ladies is, for my money, the most talented, funny and transgressive comedian I've ever seen, Jackie Hoffman, pictured above (and below, on stage), who talks openly and often hilariously about her appearance, life, work, career, upcoming surgery and even her very supportive and cute-as-a-button hubby. Hoffman is a delight, as usual, and her honesty, wit and willingness to confront-the-difficult are among the movie's great treasures.

We also spend a great deal of time with a lesser light named Emily Askin, below, who hails from Pittsburgh and works with an all-girl improv group called Bombardo. Emily is pretty and talented and has a fiance who feels absolutely no need for her to get that nose job (she's got a very small bump on her proboscis), but she is determined anyway, and so he stands by whatever she wants.

Interwoven with these stories are those of a number of other comedians -- Lisa Lampanelli, Judy Gold and Julie Halston (in the penultimate photo, below) among them -- as well as archival footage of the late and famous, such as Totie Fields (below), Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers (shown at bottom). Their stories (or parts of them) add to the pros and cons we're given regarding this surgery.

We meet a few of the better-known practitioners of the "art" (such as Sherrell J. Aston, at left, below), and watch them as they advise their clients on some do's and don'ts, and, as this 99-minute documentary comes to its close, we realize that -- well, I did, anyway -- some of our heavy-duty prejudices against the whole idea of this surgery have been at very least called into question.

We can certainly better understand how the women we see here -- who must continue to work, eat, live and maybe raise a family -- have to do what's best for their career (and, yes, maybe their vanity, too).

OK: When set against documentaries about our current takeover by the rich and corporate or those concerning global warming, this one is small potatoes indeed. But those potatoes are funny, entertaining, even thought-provoking.

From The Orchard -- the distributor which, surprising to me, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year -- the film, after opening to good reviews theatrically last year, will hit all digital and on-demand platforms this Tuesday, January 9. 

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