If you're like me, you hear voices when you read. If you're familiar with the author and his or her tone, you hear a familiar voice; if not, or if the piece is anonymous, the right voice gradually develops - and it is most definitely an audible sensation. So it can really fuck you up when you think you're reading one person's words but you're actually reading another's. I had just such an unsettling experience earlier this week while reading this blog recap of Billy Jam's excellent live-at-the-Knitting Factory radio show from May 23rd. I made the mistake (which I often do) of looking to see who posted it before reading it. Liz Berg posted it, so I heard Liz Berg's authorial voice as I read it. I missed the crucial "Billy Jam says:" way up at the top of the thing. Hearing Billy Jam's words in Liz Berg's voice (and not knowing it), I actually felt a bit of planetary shift in my confusion - it was just all wrong! Sure, there are probably greater distances than the one between Billy's and Liz's blogging / speaking / writing styles, but theirs still packs a disorienting wallop. The closest comparable experience I can think of is a bad acid trip in the company of a couple who're fighting, to a soundtrack of "The Above Ground Sound of Jake Holmes". Been there, brothers and sisters - great music, nice people, baaad trip!
Or I can share the experience. Jump the flip to enjoy four very distinct New York newspapers reviewing one egregiously New York-identifying movie with legs as unbreakable as the presidential campaign of one New York senator. All four reviews appear (in excerpted form) anonymously, so as to maximize your potential to confuse, say, New York for the New Yorker, or the News for the Post. (The Times chose to remain above it all, natch.)
I hate people who use "natch" in conversation - if there's an "ersatz" to follow, then I declare this post hijacked!
Meeting absent old friends can often be initially awkward. Familiar sure, but fitting back into the groove takes a little time. The same is true of "SATC: The Movie." Faces are the same, but things have naturally progressed since we last caught up with the fabulous foursome.
The film's initial awkwardness quickly disappears as King and his leading ladies quickly hit their stiletto-shod strides. Throughout, the four women turn in sensitive, solid performances - what you would expect from a cast totally familiar with the territory. Parker and Nixon shine particularly bright.
There's still sex, except now it's not "how big?" or "where?" but the age-old marriage conundrum of "how often?" And the city? Sure, it has changed since 1998, but who can argue when Samantha shouts down a Gotham naysayer with, "Old New York, new New York, it's still f-----g New York!"
Will love conquer all? Is age only a number? Does Samantha sleep with her hot neighbor? I'm not telling.
But just like any great night out with best friends, "Sex and the City: The Movie" is awash with so much love that it lingers long after the last cocktail runs dry.
Has there ever been a TV series more polarizing than Sex and the City? It polarized me: First it drove me crazy (like itching powder), now I’m madly in love with it. It’s hard to feel halfway about these women and their unabashed materialism, overprivilege, and self-indulgence, their overdependence on and objectification of men. But what a hoot it is to see babes, for once, doing the objectifying—and talking dirty and sleeping around and measuring their fantasies against the sobering truth of male emotional insufficiency. If the core friendship of Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte is the biggest fantasy of all—they complement one another perfectly; they’re never too competitive—it’s a moving design for living: existential haute couture.
The movie, which reunites the whole cast, even if the other actresses aren’t palsy-walsy with Kim Cattrall, has the delish/insufferable mixture about right. (It wouldn’t be SATC if it weren’t a little annoying.) Sex and the City: The Motion Picture (not the actual title) is a joyful wallow. And it’s more: In this summer of do-overs (The Incredible Hulk, a new Batman versus a new Joker), it’s what the series finale should have been. For one last time, the relationship columnist–cum (no pun intended)–anthropologist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) tests the fairy-tale trappings of modern romance—turns them inside out, pulls at the loose threads, and wrings the tears that have saturated them into iridescent cocktails. (God, that’s terrible. I have to work on my Bradshaw-esque relationship musings.) It’s not that the writer-director, Michael Patrick King, breaks new ground; it’s that these women are in their fifth decade, and age is a more insistent subtext. The time for do-overs is almost up.
I shall not spoil what follows, but the wedding sequence (about midway through) is a heart-stopper—a mirthless farce in which cell phones and limos function as agents of the unconscious. It’s a chance to watch Parker pull out the acting stops, and she’s spectacularly good: The neediness that makes her one of our giddiest comediennes is also a kind of black hole. Parker has come in for some monstrous derision of late—and I suppose it’s understandable, given that she’s pushed on billboards as the personification of kitty-cat sultriness. But you can sense the fragility beneath the poses. She’s always the little girl dressing up, wriggling from one outfit to the next, elated for a bit but apt to wither in the face of rejection or self-doubt. There are plenty of reasons to resent Carrie’s incessant hunger for designer anything, but how can you resent Parker’s fleeting enchantment? It’s what anchors the show.
I haven’t carped about the smooth-FM music or the fact that the hetero men (Mr. Big semi-excepted) are nonentities. But Sex and the City’s nod to the nonwhite is scary. Jennifer Hudson plays Carrie’s personal assistant, and Oh my God, it’s Hattie McDaniel for the new millennium: Instead of cleaning Carrie’s house, she cleans up her computer files (although she does help declutter the apartment, too). She admires her mistress in those beautiful outfits. And check out that smile when you give her a Louis Vuitton handbag! Please, Sex and the City, do not pretend you exist in the real multiracial world. White will always be your new black.
NEW Yorkers put up with noise, lack of privacy, tiny expensive apartments and countless other daily insults. But will they shell out 12 bucks for what amounts to a 21/2-hour "very special" TV episode of "Sex and the City" that feels like it was written and directed by an audience focus group in Omaha?
If the ecstatic reaction at the screening I attended is any indication, they might - at least if they're not heterosexual males bored by the movie's endless fashion montages, shameless product placements, lethally slow pacing and utterly predictable plot.
Or if they're not feminists distressed by the movie's regressive, unmistakable subtext: that unless she's a sexual compulsive, a woman is nothing without a man of her own.
I was a big fan of the TV series derived from Candace Bushnell's book, which defined turn-of-the-21st-century New York and its proudly independent single women in a way that no movie did - at least until it jumped the shark around the fifth season.
The series also broke many sexual taboos, but in the transfer to the more liberated big screen, the quips - like a critique of public grooming and the observation that wedding photos of mature brides carry an "unintended Diane Arbus subtext" - often seem more crass than funny.
Michael Patrick King, a series veteran who directs his lackluster script in a perfunctory manner, has added one character. Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls") plays Carrie's lovestruck personal assistant, whose main function appears to be to extend the movie's demographic reach to black women.
Carrie, Miranda and Samantha have their relationships severely tested. I won't disclose exactly how, except for the totally unsurprising revelation that Samantha - who acts more like a gay man than ever and, as usual, gets most of the best lines - is tempted from monogamy by a hunky neighbor.
As was often true of the series, Nixon gives the best performance and she's rewarded here with the most developed story arc. The still-sizzling Cattrall has lost none of her skill with one-liners - especially in the movie's funniest scene where the girls use the euphemism "coloring" to discuss sex in front of a child.Davis, still amusing, has almost nothing to do.
Parker's Carrie spends half the film in a depression, which is a drag to watch. And though Parker is one of the producers, she often allows herself to be photographed in a highly unflattering manner - including a close-up where her mole looks like Mount Rushmore.
The men serve strictly as plot devices. Even resident gays Anthony (Mario Cantone) and Stanford (Willie Garson) seem curiously toned down.
"Why did we ever stop drinking these?" somebody wistfully asks as the foursome hoists Cosmos. "Because everybody else did," is the reply.
This movie provides no good reasons to revisit "Sex and the City," except to fulfill fans' desires for one more for the road and add millions to Time Warner's coffers. Be careful what you wish for.
By now, you've probably heard the rumors that someone dies in the new Sex and the City movie. In fact, not just one character expires in the upcoming film—everybody croaks. How else to ensure that endless sequels featuring a doddering Samantha drooling over the dildo counter at Toys in Babeland and a silver-haired Carrie traipsing around in chic orthopedic shoes don't dog us for the next three decades?
But how does it happen that four plucky gals in the bloom of middle age meet such untimely fates? Perhaps you've seen the trailer on YouTube in which a hangdog Steve Brady is heard to say: "It only happened once." You probably think he's referring to some niggling infidelity, but nuh-uh. It turns out that Steve-O suspects that his wife, Miranda, is cheating on him with Syd, the lesbian lawyer from season one, and he's apologizing for getting blotto at the law firm's annual dinner and calling his Miranda a "pussy-gobbling dykey-doo." His fears are confirmed two days later, when he comes home early and finds her rolling around on their Duxiana mattress with Syd. Pulling out a Grohmann steak knife from their Poggenpohl kitchen cabinet, he cuts Ms. Muff Diver out of his life forever.
Steve hires Harry Goldenblatt, Charlotte York Goldenblatt's attorney hubby, to defend him. To raise money for Steve's defense, Harry convinces him to burn down Scout, the trendy-if-already-dated-looking downtown saloon Steve owns, for the insurance money. Unfortunately, neither Steve nor Harry is an expert in pyrotechnics: The saloon goes up in flames, but so do Harry and Steve.
Charlotte has no time to grieve. That very afternoon, she meets her maker when she slips on an errant square of coagulating matzo brei left on the floor by her adopted daughter, Mai Pang Goldenblatt.
At this very same moment, Samantha Jones is strolling happily out of her oncologist's office, having just gotten a super-clean bill of health. And how does she want to celebrate this good news? What do you think? She looks up old paramour Richard Wright, the hotel mogul/compulsive cheater, for some make-up sex, and he suggests a quick trip to Rio in his private plane. Unfortunately, while renewing their membership in the Mile-High Club, the plane's steering column gets stuck up Samantha's preternaturally perky keister. As she spirals to new heights of ecstasy, the Cessna spirals to the ground.
Carrie Bradshaw never finds out about this. Carrie is exiting Jeffrey's in the meatpacking district, her arms so full of new Choos and Louboutins that she can barely see over the top box. Thus impaired, she catches a heel of the sky-scraping Manolos she's wearing on a sidewalk grate, pitches forward, and is forthwith flattened by a 14th Street cross-town bus sporting a poster of a come-hither Carrie on its side.
Who is left to mourn her? Only Anthony Marentino and Stanford Blatch, who hated each other all through season six. But in art, as in life, sometimes the most unlikely pairings win out in the end. Apparently, all their bickering disguised a deep erotic longing, and when they finally get together, it is all fire and magic. So fiery and magical, in fact, that they rent the most gorgeous glass house on the ocean side of the Pines. Unfortunately, Hurricane Candace, the deadliest of the summer 2008 storms, washes Fire Island off the face of the earth, taking their un-humble abode with it. Anthony and Stanford are last seen clinging to a DWR Knoll sofa bobbing in the Atlantic, cackling over the fate of Carrie Bradshaw and her friends, with only the buzzards swirling overhead to hear them.