If I were to note a theme for the day in the pictures I saw at Newport Beach Film Festival on Saturday, it would be finding satisfaction in life. The two films I saw were very different kinds of films, but each had that as a key element.
Take My Nose . . . Please is a documentary about plastic surgery, that focuses on two comediennes (Emily Askin and Jackie Hoffman) who are contemplating having some work done. Along the way it raises some questions about beauty standards and how women (especially in the entertainment industry) are expected to measure up to those standards. At one point Emily Askin ponders “You wonder when you should just accept what God gave you.” Is plastic surgery just a manner of vanity or does it serve to enhance our self-image as well? Is it a matter of having control of our bodies and our looks? There are some interesting comments by many people during the closing credits that remind us that there are lots of ways we all seek to enhance the face we put forward to the world. Take My Nose … Please plays again at NBFF on Thursday.
There is a much different approach to finding satisfaction in Katie Says Goodbye, by Wayne Roberts. This is the story of a young woman in rural Arizona who struggles to get by with her do-nothing mother. Katie (Olivia Cooke) works at a waitress at the local diner/truckstop where she also earns extra money as a prostitute. Yet the character exudes a sense of innocence. Each night in bed she closes her day by addressing the father (Father?) she never met: “Thank you for this day, Daddy.” Her dream is to go to San Francisco and become a beautician. Katie reminded me of an old Harry Chapin song, “They Call Here Easy.” She falls in love with a new mechanic in town. He is as closed and taciturn as she is open and hopeful. The film begins filled with hope but bit by bit becomes darker and more depressing, before the ending which can be read as a new hope. It should be noted that there are some Christ-like tendencies in Katie, which might make for interesting studies to see to what extent she can be considered a Christ figure—or at least in the mold of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant.