Not What the Doctor Ordered (On Festivals)

I am riddled with flu right now — no doubt filmfestivalitus, a common strain of cinennui, exacerbated by an immunizing shot of bridesmaideningtitus for good measure. Nothing more on the wedding circuit here, I do thee promise, but I must report that, although Ebertfest was a piece of peach pie, Trifecta has already gone Utarded.

I like the model that Ebertfest presents: a showcase for hand-picked films with absolutely no choices to make and very few distractions. It allows for gestation, conversation, even, at times, conversion. (I like silent films now after a screening of The Eagle.) While is Tribeca even an essential stop on the overground film railroad?

Because my whole attraction to movies will always be that luxuriant surrender to another world, the plaguing sense that Something Is Being Missed (not to mention the nonstop flicker of the Blackberry) feels contrived. Oh, I understand braving the hoopla of the Toronto Film Festival (especially as it screens so many international films that don’t make it to North America otherwise), and God knows nothing’s going to stop the behemoth that is Sundanceteria in its tracks (not even Redford, apparently). But Tribeca? For all its overkill, it simply doesn’t slay me.

Telephone: Cindy Adams Says Jessica Lange Says She Does Not and I Say Why Do We Bother?

I try not to read Cindy Adams. She is gossip’s answer to Ann Coulter and an iron-clad argument against brass balls as a socially acceptable strap-on. Occasionally, though, I fall prey to her, uh, column.

This is how I know that yesterday she claimed that Jessica Lange has not undergone any plastic surgery. (The Post is stingy with its links so take my word on it.)

Fact: In Broken Flowers (so broken) and Wim Wenders’ newest, Don’t Come Knocking, Lange appears so sewn up that she looks like she’s wearing a Jessica Lange mask from the dollar store. It’s either major work or a stroke, and the eyes staring out of that immobile face are not merely sad but abject, hopeless, and horribly afraid. They are the eyes of a woman who’s caught herself a mean case of the Dorian Grays.

Why do I care? Because she who is being honored by Lincoln Center for Career Achievement this month lost faith that we still would want to watch her even when she no longer wore a blank slate for a face. Because she’s probably right. And because on top of all of it, she feels compelled to lie about the work just like almost all American actresses over 30 probably do.

This epidemic of plastic surgery may never abate. What sign do we have that it ever will, except that it looks so crazily ET, so Faye’s Joan Crawford near the end, and, more to the point, so not young that maybe eventually people will throw in the towel and all come to worship at the altar of my frown lines and crazy-ass gap teeth?

And if it does not abate, then should the women who subject themselves to the botulism, the ass fat, the knife and the laser come out of the closet so they’re not doubly shamed? Only 20 years ago a cultural taboo presided against admitting to using hair dye. Now I challenge you to find any woman who won’t sing the praises of her colorist. At that, find five women in any city outside of New England sporting a full head of gray hair.

So will people grow more open about getting work eventually?

Actually, I think not. Serious plastic surgery is an attempt to erase the last 50 years of any given human life, and so it is a denial of the basic life cycle, in which girlhood is a mere drop in the pan. Even if we won’t allow ourselves to go so far as to acknowledge the ideological, cultural and psychological implications of widespread cosmetic surgery, we know somehow it’s taboo, the same way people instinctively understood fucking their parents was wrong long before science gave us the reason. Permanently altering your face is as unnatural as puking up your meals. And even if half of Hollywood does that — and a goodly part of all America — I don’t see the vomitorium coming back any time soon. It’s as creepy as that sad little Jessica Lange mask.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy