BY FLO DWEK
(Directed by Joan Kron, 2017, 1 hour, 39 min.)
TAKE MY NOSE…PLEASE! is a wistfully comic tale about the pressures of looking and staying beautiful. Under Joan Kron’s sparkling and impressive debut direction (at the vintage age of 89), she turns her lens on the ups and downs of two female comedians in New York City as they weigh the benefits of cosmetic surgery.
Emily Askin, riding high with an improv group and soon to be a bride, has always craved a better looking nose. And comedian Jackie Hoffman, known for her wonderfully witty portrayals on Broadway and TV, has always thought of herself as ugly, but still is hesitant to go under the knife. Kron takes us on an emotional roller coaster ride through the glitz and gloom of several surgical takers and leavers.
But the real pizzazz behind the film comes from all the extras Kron doles out for our viewing pleasure. She provides just enough context, opinion and perspective to make our heads spin, plus a whole lot of crazy comic relief—from a wealth of sources, including surgeons, psychologists and some comedic greats (there are truly memorable cameos by Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers and Totie Fields).
“We learned in festivals and in our theatrical screenings,” says Kron, “how the picture resonates with women – and men – by opening up for discussion a topic often spoken about in whispers. After years as a print journalist, it is thrilling for me to see how a film can affect audiences viscerally. Not only is TAKE MY NOSE…PLEASE! entertaining – even hilarious – it is visual truth serum, giving viewers permission to talk about their own experiences with age or appearance discrimination and their attitudes, pro and con, toward cosmetic surgery.”
According to the film’s publicity notes, “The Orchard, a pioneering independent film, TV and music distribution company, will distribute the film in the United States and Canada on all digital and on-demand platforms beginning on January 9, 2018, director Kron’s 90th birthday.”
TAKE MY NOSE…PLEASE! is currently finishing its Oscar® qualifying theatrical run in theaters in Los Angeles and New York. It won the Audience Award at the Miami Film Festival and at the Berkshire International Film Festival.
An eye-opening conversation with Director Joan Kron follows.
A CONVERSATION WITH JOAN KRON: DIRECTOR, TAKE MY NOSE…PLEASE!
BY FLO DWEK
JOAN KRON — PHOTO Courtesy of PARVENU VENTURES LLC.
WIFV: TAKE MY NOSE…PLEASE! is your first film at the vintage age of 89! Congratulations from all of us in the WIFV community! What made you choose to turn your lens on the concepts of facial beauty, women’s self image and plastic surgery as the main topics for this very special film?
KRON: I had been covering plastic and cosmetic surgery for 25 years for Allure magazine—and they say, “write what you know.” In this case—film what you know.
WIFV: Why did you choose to focus on female comedians, in particular, to tell these stories? Has comedy always been an important part of your life?
KRON: I love to laugh and believe I have a good sense of humor—how else to get through life? But I chose female comedians because, with few exceptions, they are historically the only celebrities who are honest about their own cosmetic procedures. And there is a lot of history in my film.
WIFV: How did you end up following Emily Askin and Jackie Hoffman on their unique plastic surgery journeys?
KRON: I knew I had to find comedians to follow who had not had surgery but might be considering it. And with great difficulty, I found Emily. I was looking on the alumni website of the comedy school, The Upright Citizens Brigade, and her bio jumped out. She wrote, “I’m an expert in beauty.” I was curious and found her in Pittsburgh, where to earn a living outside of comedy, she was co-owner of an organic hair salon. When I called and told her the name of the film, she said, I’ve always wanted a nose job—and we started talking and filming. I found Jackie after she gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal saying she believed she was ugly and regretted not having the nose job her mother offered when she was in her teens.
WIFV: What would you most like an audience to remember and think about after seeing this film?
KRON: I want audiences to know that extreme makeover shows are just that—often showing the extremes. Most cosmetic surgery patients just want to look like better versions of themselves and don’t want to look different. This is rarely, if ever, conveyed in TV and films about plastic surgery because it’s boring. So we are deluged with the idea that cosmetic surgery causes people to look overdone and freakish. Which is not true for the bulk of people who have these procedures. And there is no law against dying your hair, plucking your eyebrows or having your nose slimmed. Although we do have a very active “beauty police” operating on the Internet. And making fun of people’s appearance is the only thing that has escaped political correctness. (But that’s another film.)
WIFV: What if women accepted themselves with grace as they aged and looked for their beauty within? Is that a totally unrealistic view of aging in this beauty obsessed world?
KRON: Women would accept themselves if society accepted them. The issue isn’t self acceptance. The issue is how often women are discriminated AGAINST for the way they look. Studies have shown, when all things are equal, the prettier, slimmer, better groomed, younger-looking person gets the job. Self acceptance does nothing for a person when society is ageist. This is blaming the victim: “Why can’t you accept yourself?” Because you lost a job to a younger looking woman with less experience. And you say to yourself, “maybe if I made some small changes, it would help me.”
The world is swiping left and right, and we are constantly being judged by appearance; yet we persist in demanding that people accept themselves—when we are constantly making judgments about them by their appearance.
For centuries, women were condemned for trying to look better by concocting beauty treatments. Looking better increased their chances for better marriages. There were times when people could be killed for having the wrong nose. The technology exists. People will use it. But deep down, people against cosmetic surgery resent the fact that there is a way for others to get an advantage.
WIFV: What challenges did you have in making your first documentary, and what would you do differently, knowing what you know now?
KRON: I don’t have a long enough piece of paper. There is no school that can prepare you for all the problems you face. You do your best by reading, by asking questions, by being resourceful and by applying the lessons you have learned in life. It is not that different from journalism, so I moved easily into it. And I have been in business before, so I know how to do bookkeeping. I have had many small businesses in my life.
WIFV: How has the making of this film changed your life?
KRON: It has enriched my life and ruined my sleep because I tend to take my problems to bed with me. I will wake up in the middle of the night and go into my home office because I have to send one more email or look up something. It’s endless, but in the end, it’s worthwhile because I have made a film that makes people laugh, cry and rethink their prejudices.
WIFV: Has plastic surgery been important to your own sense of personal satisfaction and confidence?
KRON: I am happy to look in the mirror and not face my grandmother. It makes me feel younger and not want to retire. I don’t know about you, but no one has ever complimented me for looking tired and sad. People look at you more, interact with you more. And a study has found that women who have cosmetic surgery live longer.
WIFV: Where can audiences see TAKE MY NOSE…PLEASE! in the Washington, DC area? Where and when will it be screening?
KRON: It will be streaming on many video platforms starting in early January. And eventually, it will be on a major video on demand channel.
WIFV: Could you please give us a sneak peek at your next project? What lies ahead for your next film?
KRON: I am planning on making a short film on another area of cosmetic surgery. I was going to write a book about it—but now that I’m an award-winning director, I want to make a film on the subject instead. People are reading less and love to look at images. Why not?
WIFV: Thank you so much for your time and efforts on our behalf!
KRON: You are very welcome!
Watch the clips from TAKE MY NOSE… PLEASE! here: