Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Random DVD Round-Up 2 - SEX AND THE CITY 2

I didn't hate SEX AND THE CITY 2 as much as I thought I would, but then again, my expectations were very low indeed. I'd never been a fan of the series. I didn't relate to a bunch of women defined by their conspicuous consumption of luxury goods or the apparent contradiction of wanting to be both sexually liberated AND pining for a rich husband. The show, and indeed the first movie, wanted to both have its cake and eat it, and was expressed with a vulgarity of tone, and shameless excess that seemed to undercut its wannabe-serious political agenda.

Fast forward to 2010 and the release of SEX AND THE CITY 2, and the franchise's crass vulgarity has been amped up even more than I thought possible, simply by transferring the four most egregiously consumerist girls in the US to the most egregiously consumerist nation on earth, the UAE. The resulting film feels like a 2 hour info-mercial advertising Abu Dhabi as a vacation resort just so long as you don't want kiss in public, and of course, conditional on you having $22,000 a night for a suite. The plot is the same-old bullshit we got on the TV show: privileged women whining about how tough life is. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), the lawyer, is angry because her male boss dismisses her. Rather than deal with it maturely, she just quits. This is meant to be seen as a victory. Charlotte (Kristin Davis), having sweated spinal fluid to catch a rich husband and have two children, is tired and pissed off with being a mother, despite the fact that she has full-time help. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is angry her husband is, well, old, and wants to stay in, and when her book gets a bad review, kisses an ex- in a fit of pique. Her husband's reaction to this is just plain unbelievable. And finally, Kim Cattrall is eating hormones to stave off the menopause, and angry she can't fuck anyone she wants in public in a Muslim country.

Now, there are some moments when the movie feels vaguely interesting. I mean, it's nice to see women actually speaking openly about menopause and hot flashes. And yes, being a mother to small kids is hard. But the movie consistently fails to make itself relatable beyond this. There are few casual sentences referring to the awful economy, or congratulating mothers who survive without help, but when uttered by women in a $22,000 a night suite, it just feels condescending - as condescending as Carrie tipping her Indian butler so that he can fly home and visit his wife.

I guess it must sound like I'm criticising the movie less than criticising the lifestyle of the characters, but in a franchise that sells a lifestyle choice, I think that's fair game. But even if I bought into its lifestyle, would I like the movie? Nope. Because even on its own terms, it fails. The fashion is not fabulous but looks horrid. The women don't look wonderful in their middle age, but haggard and trying to hard. The shooting style is pedestrian and the direction workmanlike at best. And just what was that Liza Minelli song and dance number? Did they take her face and morph it onto a different body? It just looked plain weird.

SEX AND THE CITY 2 opened in summer 2010 and is now available to rent and buy.

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