Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Sex and the City 2
When the cinema is at it’s best it has the power to create great female characters like the ones of Mike Leigh, Jean-Pierre Junet, Peter Bogdanovich, Ingmar Bergman and so on. Has a man’s camera ever loved a woman more than Fellini’s loved Giulietta Masina? That’s what films about women should strive to do: create strong, interesting, intelligent characters, no different from men. That’s not what Sex and the City 2 does. Instead it spends its time creating unlikable, superficial, vapid, stupid, vein women who do nothing more than talk about clothing, sex, what a burden children are and so on for an ungodly two and a half hours. These women, contrary to why some might like them, are not liberated, but trapped in a petty, meaningless life in which the only way they can fill the black holes that are their souls is to constantly and shamelessly indulge in only the most superficial of splendours. This isn’t a fairy tale, it’s a cry for help. Socrates would have had a field day with these broads. Carrie Bradshaw (now Carrie Preston) (Sarah Jessica Parker) is still married to Mr. Big (Chris Noth), except now she’s feeling a little skittish. They’ve moved into a different apartment, one not as fancy, although not without the perk of a full walk-in closest. Trouble is, he would rather watch TV on the couch then go out to fancy premieres and would rather eat in than fuss about reservations. Carrie doesn’t like this. Oh course she doesn’t, it’s too much like real life; maybe her first ever taste of it. Not surprisingly, she doesn’t know what to do with it. The film begins with the wedding of two of Carrie’s gay best friends. There’s no reason for this except that 1) it wouldn’t be Sex and the City without some reference to gay men and 2) Liza Minnelli, playing herself, marries the two. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) helpfully explains that “Whenever there’s this much gay energy in one place Liza just has a way of materializing.” This leads to an extended musical number of Liza doing a full out song-and-dance number to Beyonce’s Single Ladies, which only brings to light the sad realization of how truly far from Scorsese’s New York, New York we are. That writer/director Michael Patrick King let’s Liza do the whole song and rarely cuts from it is an early indication that he is both incompetent and knows that it’s all downhill from there, so why not make it last? So Carrie has a mid-life crisis of sorts; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) quits her job because she can’t take the new male boss who also hates her; Charlotte (Kristin Davis) can’t stomach her new baby’s constant crying and is haunted by her braless new nanny as thoughts of Jude Law jump through her head; and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) throws back the vitamins (in one mouthful of course) in order to keep her sex drive raring during menopause. Cattrall is constantly victim of the film’s worst lines, which are mostly entandras that pack the subtly of a sledge hammer. When she spots a gorgeous man in Abu Dhabi, she refers to him as Lawrence of my labia. Get it? Ho ho. So, with everything falling apart around them, the women, through Samantha and her publicist powers, scores a free trip to Abu Dhabi, where they fall off camels, have a gay servant named Abdul (like Paula, get it?), offend the locals with their clevage and so on and so forth. There, Carrie meets a former lover and has a worthless moment with him, leading to a stupid climactic scene that is more petty than cathartic, and Samantha gets arrested while lip wrestling on the beach. Samantha’s antics also lead to a chase through market streets, ending in them being rescued by a group of local women in a scene of such jaw dropping stupidity, ignorance and condescending that it boarders on racism. It's not unlike movies to wave the American flag, but to degrade an entire culture in one foul swoop? Impressive. I didn’t much like the first Sex and the City film either, but I gave that one an easy ride because it was so clearly not made to appeal to me and was an adaptation of a show that I had not seen. I’ve still never witnessed a moment of the show and this film was not made for me either but now I’ve met these women, have a sense of them and know that I am truely irritated by most of them. That they have been dropped into a film that is long, boring, pointless and lacking in anything that could ever come close to resembling wit or charm doesn’t help. If the first film felt like a bunch of episodes strung together with no overarching narrative drive, this sequel feels like a ship that has desperately run out of steam. I’ve been told, on more than one account that the series was clever and sassy and gave the characters actual dimensions. Maybe that’s true, but Sex and the City 2 rarely ever amounts to any more than a feature length peepee joke. And then, as if to fuel the flames, the film makes several throwaway references to the struggling state of the American economy. When the trip to Abu Dhabi comes up, Samantha’s selling point is that they’ve been making bad business deals and suffering so much from the economy that they deserve the trip. Really now? That’s ultimately the philosophy of the entire film: life may suck for you, but it’s still pretty darn good for us. Maybe for the third film the girls can be sent on a trip to China so the Asians can see what their money is being wasted on to keep America afloat.