Sunday, February 28, 2010

another bad title and the danger of poor memory

A friend of mine lamented recently that his memory is going to crap, particularly bad news for this friend who is a history professor. In the same vein, I've been freaking out about my increasingly bad film programmer memory. What good is the wealth of film information my mind has gathered if I can't recall a director's name, film title, or recollect a plot detail. More and more this happens to me and it's scary. My wonderful Grandma Nelson suffered from Alzheimer's, which was especially awful in her last decade, and it made the rest of the family wonder if this would be our fate too.

The memory-loss fear came up again when I watched Youth Knows No Pain (Mitch McCabe,  2009) with my friend Jessica in New Orleans in our HBO binge. I know that I had seen this doc before. But was it in consideration for my program at NMWA? Was it at a festival, on a screener, in a theater? If she released it in 2009, I must have seen a rough cut or another version of the piece, a shorter one maybe. Where the hell did I see this? And it wasn't called Youth Knows No Pain, was it? Not a memorable title anyway, rather an awful one, and not suited to this doc, which is about our internalized agism and the fear of getting old, or rather the fear of LOOKING old. I must admit, especially in the last couple years, I'm feeling the "I look so old" thing as I never expected I would. And as much as theoretically I am much more concerned about the memory-loss associated with getting older, my vanity also gets stronger each day and the looking-older thing gains importance. Ugh.

Youth Knows No Pain is a feature length doc that follows filmmaker McCabe (whose name is really familiar- I know I've screened work of hers in the past. What was it? When was it? How come I can't remember anything?) whose father was a plastic surgeon and died in a car accident that she and the rest of her family survived when she was a teenager. The doc serves for her as a tool to pay homage to her dad, but more to indulge her own fears of aging. She interviews various people who have had plastic surgery and delves a bit into their psychology, what it's meant for their self-image, for their social lives, their intimate relationships, how they view youth and how they view plastic surgery in general. It's a disturbing and mildly fascinating of investigation.

I saw another documentary that was submitted to a film festival I organized a few years ago, I think it was from a Dutch director, examining plastic-surgery-happy Americans and their obsession with youth and beauty. It was actually very wry, entertaining, compelling, the most memorable bit being of a 16 year old girl who was getting labiaplasty because she thought she had flabby vagina lips, her mother sitting next to her in agreement the whole interview. What the hell was that doc called?

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