Doodad Kind of Town

"Sex and the City: The Movie" Reviewed
May 30, 2008, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Sex and the City

Well, kids, I’m home from the matinee and still buzzed from our post-movie round of Cosmos, so let me get right down to brass tacks here. And be warned, I’m going to throw a few spoilers in here and there – so if you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to come back later.

Bottom line: I was a bit disappointed.

Not that it wasn’t entertaining. There were some laugh-out-loud moments, mainly when Charlotte literally shit her pants after absent-mindedly drinking the water on a Mexican vacation, and the repeated sight gag of Samantha’s new puppy furiously humping sofa pillows.

As you will note, the big laughs in this movie are not largely character-driven.

There is one genuinely touching moment between Steve and Miranda in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge. It was the only time I teared up in nearly two-and-a-half hours. The moments that should have been equally touching – Charlotte discovering she’s pregnant, Big proposing to Carrie on bended knee – are treated so perfunctorily that they have almost no emotional wallop whatsoever.

I saw “Sex and the City” with my friend, Jen, the witty and insightful writer of the fashion/travel/beauty blog Monkey Posh, and we came to this conclusion over lunch: We know those characters better than SATC creator Michael Patrick King thought we did. And in “SATC: The Movie,” they mostly behave in ways that feel very contrived and out of character.

(In fact, I think one or both of us may have uttered the phrase “Fuck you, Michael Patrick King!”I can’t say for sure. I’m remembering this from the other side of a vodka-and-cranberry-juice-induced haze, after all.)

Just as “SATC: The TV Series” was about what happens to women in their thirties while they’re looking for love, “SATC: The Movie” is about what happens to women in their forties when they’ve landed in stable relationships. It’s about loss, forgiveness and the challenge of keeping romance alive. I’ll just say that the story lines involving Miranda and Samantha fulfill these worthy objectives pretty darn well, Charlotte and Carrie’s stories less so.

Steve and Miranda’s lives are a blur of work, school and family commitments. They’re short on sleep and quality time, and haven’t had sex in six months. And (as you may have guessed from a confession scene that was included in early trailers), Steve has a one-time sexual encounter with another woman which leaves him wracked with horrible guilt. When she finds out, the typically hard-headed Miranda moves out and refuses to forgive him. You ache for Miranda to come to her senses and give Steve another chance; their relationship has the highest emotional stakes of any in the movie,and both Cynthia Nixon and David Eigenberg play them for all they’re worth. In fact, Jen felt that Cynthia Nixon was the real star of the movie. And Eigenberg is, notably, the only man other than Chris Noth to be given an appropriately substantial role

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, where Samantha now resides with her hunky actor boyfriend, Smith Jerrod, things are no better. Samantha, fifty-year-old fox that she is, still craves hot sex and adventure, but Smith spends more time at the studio than in her bed. She’s lonely, bored, driven to compulsive shopping and eating to fill up her emptiness. Kim Catrall gives it her best shot, but this Samantha is a whole let less fun. (We never once see her getting it on with Smith – or anyone else.) Yet the arc of her relationship with Smith feels pretty true to her character.

On the other hand…

If I were Kristin Davis, I think I’d be pissed off about my underwritten afterthought of a role in the big screen SATC. Apart from her surprise pregnancy, which is given very little screen time, nothing interesting happens to Charlotte. She’s mostly just there to provide prissy, Pollyanna-ish reactions to the events in her friends’ lives (in a way that seems like a throwback to the pre-Trey McDougall-era Charlotte, not the one who’s married to heart-of-gold Harry Goldenblatt.) We don’t get to see her interact with Harry at all, and her adopted daughter, Lily, pops up only as a cute, background distraction when Charlotte is hanging out with her girlfriends. Wouldn’t you have loved to see Harry in action as a doting dad? I know I would have. Too bad there’s none of that here.

And as for Big and Carrie…

You can count me among those who never quite bought into the whole “Big and Carrie live happily ever after” note on which the series ended. Big (real name: John James Preston) was all about head games and emotional unavailability until the last two episodes of the show when he suddenly turned into Mr. White Knight/Rescuer/Heart on his Sleeve guy, professing his love for Carrie and bringing her home from Paris. That transition always felt contrived to me, and so does everything that happens between Big and Carrie in this movie.

First there’s a non-proposal kind of proposal that’s motivated more by Carrie’s need to avoid homelessness and legal hassles if their relationship should end (“I wouldn’t mind being married to you. Would you mind being married to me?” “Well, no, not if that’s what you wanted.”) Then suddenly Carrie is modeling designer wedding gowns for the over-40 bride in the pages of Vogue and planning a 200-guest wing ding at the New York City Public Library.

And Big gets – wait for it! – cold feet!!! Betcha didn’t see that coming!

It starts at the rehearsal dinner, where some drunken jackass from Big’s office gives him shit about being a three-time groom. Then Miranda and Steve have a fight, and Miranda tells Big “You should never get married. Marriage ruins everything.” This is something which the Miranda we know and love would never say to Big -although Big is acting true to form when he takes this ominous warning to heart.

Then, there’s a whole lot of trumped-up wedding day trauma involving missed cell phone calls and Big leaving – then returning – to the scene of the wedding, where Carrie screams, bashes him over the head with her bouquet and runs, while Charlotte flounces along beside her in a too-tight black bridesmaid dress for comic relief. The whole scene is badly paced and completely unconvincing, with Carrie flying off the handle way too soon. It’s impossible to watch without thinking “WTF, Carrie – get your ass back there and talk to him!” This is the part of the movie where I started to think that both Carrie and Miranda were starting to behave like self-involved jackasses.

So Carrie goes into a year-long funk during which she has her hair dyed to a funereal brunette shade, her old apartment redecorated (by Pier One, from the looks of it) and hires a personal assistant, played by Jennifer Hudson. The jury’s still out on whether Hudson can handle a non-singing role; here she’s competent, but little else. But Carrie prizes her organizational abilities and, in gratitude, bestows her with the butt-ugliest handbag that ever came out of the Louis Vuitton factory.

(A side note on the fashions: they’re disappointing, too. Carrie wears the same Versace gladiator sandals in several scenes. She also recycles a godawful black, metal-studded belt way too often, and wears a white belt to her engagement party that I swear is from SJP’s everything-under-$20 Bitten line for Steve and Barry’s. From Jen, these observations: Samantha’s suits, with their peplums and shoulder pads, are very reminiscent of Kathie Lee Gifford’s late ’80s heyday. Also, Carrie’s bridal lipstick – a garish swipe of bright red – complements neither her peachy complexion nor her cream-colored gown.)

My other big complaint: Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson) is pretty much an afterthought in this movie, too. As Carrie’s ‘gay husband,’ he ought to get at least one scene to himself with her. As it is, he’s barely more than a cameo. Worse yet, his cute-but-dim boyfriend, Marcus, is nowhere to be seen, and no explanation is given for his absence.

In the days when I was watching new episodes of “Sex and the City” on HBO, I would literally be disappointed when the show was over each week. I wanted the stories to go on and on. “Sex and the City: The Movie” gave me no such feeling. At just under two-and-a-half hours, it was a bit of a grind to get through and I was happy to get up and leave when the end credits rolled. After four years of waiting, I really wish it had amounted to more than this.


"Sex and the City": The Buildup to Friday
May 28, 2008, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Sex and the City

It’s been another rough week here in IT land. More overtime, more conference calls, more deadline pressures.

One thing is getting me through… I’ve scheduled this Friday off work, and I’m going to see “Sex and the City: The Movie.”

My pal, Jen (who writes the fun and fabulous blog Monkey Posh) and I are heading to a matinee, then to the nearest dispenser of tasty Cosmopolitans to dish the movie and the fashions.

For some moviegoers, this summer is about Iron Man, Batman and Indiana Jones. My summer superheroes are Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha.

Hey, I’m a 40-something, fashion-magazine-reading woman. Deal with it!

In honor of my upcoming afternoon of escapist cinematic fun, I’ve decided to honor my top five all-time favorite episodes of “Sex and the City.” (Not a unique idea, since did the same recently. But I came up with a completely different list).

5. “A Vogue Idea”:
Carrie lands a writing gig at the venerable fashion bible, Vogue Magazine. This episode marks the debut of recurring character, Enid – an icy, hypercritical Vogue editor played with suitable snap by Candice Bergen. Ron Rifkin guests as the fellow Vogue editor who takes pity on Carrie, gets her drunk on martinis at 10 in the morning, and later tries to seduce her inside the Vogue accessories closet.

But the plot doesn’t enter into it. For me, it’s that moment when Carrie holds aloft a pair of shoes with look of teary-eyed wonder and whispers in awe: “Manolo Blahnik patent leather Mary Janes… I thought these were an urban shoe legend!” I’m a shoe lover from way back (I was collecting cute shoes when SJP was still a Square Peg), and I have coveted this particular pair ever since. I have even bid on gently used pairs of these Manolos on Ebay – unsuccessfully to date, but I keep trying. In terms of footwear, they are my holy grail.

4. “The Post It Always Sticks Twice”:

About the aftermath of a bad breakup and how Carrie bounces back. Berger (Ron Livingstone) disappeared at the end of the previous episode, leaving just a Post It on Carrie’s computer screen: “I’m sorry. I can’t. Don’t hate me.” Anyone who’s ever been dumped in a similarly shitty way can relate to Carrie’s determination that “today cannot be the day that Berger broke up with me on a post-it note.” So she and her friends decide to obliterate the bad memory with a night on the town. By the end of the episode, it’s become (in Carrie’s words) “The day I got arrested for smokin’ a doobie!”) What happens in between? Charlotte celebrates her new engagement, Miranda finds she can finally fit back into her ‘skinny’ jeans, and Samantha gets chased out of a bar by some ‘bridge and tunnel’ girls after she comes on to one of their boyfriends. It’s all very silly, but it’s also a lot of fun.

3. “The Real Me”:
Carrie gets her chance to be a runway model in a fashion show featuring both models and non-model NYC celebrities. She’s all excited and full of herself until she arrives at the show to find: 1) her Dolce and Gabbana gown has been swapped out for a teeny-tiny pair of jeweled panties – and nothing else; 2) the other ‘real New Yorkers’ on the runway include such glamour-pusses as Ed Koch and Frank Rich; and 3) she’s given an enormous, furiously backcombed ‘do and way too much makeup.

The perfect marriage of Carrie’s fashion mania with Sarah Jessica Parker’s gift for physical comedy: Carrie struts onto the runway and immediately takes a spectacular spill off her 6-inch stilettos. As Heidi Klum briskly steps over Carrie’s sprawled body, Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson) utters that immortal SATC line “Oh my God! She’s fashion roadkill!” Great, fun guest shots by Margaret Cho as the foulmouthed fashion show coordinator (her deadpan reaction to Carrie’s fall: “Fuck… me… hard”) and Alan Cummings as the fussy D&G assistant known only as “O” (his signature line “Me likey!”) The late makeup artist Kevin Aucoin also appears as himself backstage.

2. “I Love A Charade”:

It was the final episode of Season 5, neatly wrapping up some plot lines while leaving a few tantalizing suggestions of things to come.

Nathan Lane guests as lounge singer Bobby Fine (“the gayest gay man in New York”) who, to everyone’s surprise, is engaged and madly in love with society hostess Bitsy Von Muffling. Our four heroines head to the Hamptons for the wedding. Charlotte brings new lover, Harry, although she’s embarrassed by his crudeness and his very hairy back. Samantha hosts a party at the home of her former lover, Richard Wright; when some of Richard’s younger, hotter bedmates crash the party, Samantha ends up hurling melons at them (and breaking a window in the process.) Miranda succumbs to an afternoon roll in the hay with Steve, with regrets initially. But as the Hamptons weekend wears on, she begins to think more fondly of him. And Carrie is unexpectedly reunited with Jack Berger, now single and available.

Lane is a hoot as you’d expect, but he also displays tender and genuine affection towards his bride-to-be. And this leads Carrie and friends to ponder the mysteries of love and companionship and whether you can get by without the “zha zha zhou -that great, butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling when you don’t just love ’em but you’ve gotta have ’em.” At the episode’s end, everyone’s dancing. Harry and Charlotte admit they’re falling for each other, but as he tells Charlotte, “I’m Jewish, I have to marry a Jew.” (Charlotte’s retort: “That gay guy can marry a woman, and you can’t marry an Episcopalian?!”). Carrie and Berger, together at last, take a first step towards a relationship (SJP in a billowing, tentlike strapless number is undisguisably pregnant here; the season ended not a moment too soon.) And the camera pulls away from the dance floor to capture a final image of a butterfly on a lilac branch, fluttering its wings to the distant strains of the orchestra.

1. “Splat!”:The perfect episode and a truly great 30 minutes of television.

Alexandr (Mikhail Baryshnikov) has asked Carrie to come to Paris with him to live while he opens a new exhibit there. As longtime viewers know, this is a very significant invitation; when Big went to Paris for work four years before, he issued no such invitation to Carrie. But while she is thrilled with Alexandr’s offer, Carrie finds it isn’t an easy decision to go. For one, her friends seem more concerned for her than happy, possibly underscoring her own unspoken doubts about leaving a city, a job and a life that have come to comprise her very identity. And as she ponders, all the bleakest possible warning signs about growing old alone in New York manifest themselves before her. Enid, her persnickety editor at Vogue, sheepishly asks Carrie to fix her up with a party date, then makes a play for Alexandr with Carrie looking on in astonishment. ” Musing about the shortage of available partners for a 50ish woman, Enid tells Carrie “It’s a small pool. It’s a very small pool – it’s a wading pool! So, why are you in my pool?”

Carrie has no time to answer. One of her old buddies, overaged party girl Lexi Featherston (Kristen Johnson) has returned from coking up in the ladies’ room and needs a place to smoke. It’s snowing outside, so she cracks open a window, tells off the fellow partygoers, proclaims she’s “so bored I could die” and then catches her Manolo on the ledge, trips and plunges 18 stories to her death.

What follows are the quietest (and, strangely enough, loveliest) moments in the series’ history: a montage of hushed, snowy, exterior shots culminating with Carrie’s announcement to Alexandr, “I’m coming to Paris.” It’s a decision motivated by fear, of course; Carrie has glimpsed a future in New York with only two options – lonely desperation or tragic death. As she tells her friends in the funeral scene that follows, “Ladies, after a certain age, when you’re single in New York, there’s only one to place to go and that’s down.”

“Eighteen stories down to be exact,” quips Miranda.

She isn’t fooled, she knows Carrie is making a mistake. The ensuing scene between Parker and Cynthia Nixon as they walk away from the funeral still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, even after untold repeat viewings. Their escalating argument feels real and immediate, and Miranda’s admission that she doesn’t like Alexandr is ours as well. We’ve all seen that he’s a smug, arrogant prick. And yet… he’s pretty dashing and handsome and romantic,too. In the final shot, he’s whisking Carrie through a snow-blanketed Central Park in a horse-drawn sleigh, a romantic image if there ever was one.

In time, we learned that Paris wasn’t magical, Alexandr wasn’t good for Carrie, and that “our girl” belonged in New York with her friends and Mr. Big. But at the end of this episode, anything seemed possible.

(photos from

Light at the End of the Tunnel ! Things I’m Looking Forward To
March 26, 2008, 12:33 am
Filed under: George Clooney, Mathieu Amalric, Musicals, Sex and the City, Tina Fey

As I’ve mentioned several times recently, my job and the rest of my life have been kind of kicking my butt lately. I haven’t had much time to see movies or much to blog about.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. With Lent and Easter now over, my church choir commitments have lessened, and the work project I’ve been killing myself over is winding down.

At last, I can get back to the movies!!! And here are some of the things I’m looking forward to:

1. “Invitation to the Dance” Movie Blogathon

Marilyn over at Ferdy on Films is hosting a Dance Movie Blogathon from May 4 to May 10. Look forward to many fine and entertaining posts from fellow movie bloggers. I’ll be contributing a piece myself.

I want to be a dancer in my next life – ’cause in my current life, dance skills are among the talents I definitively do not possess. (During my years of community theatre performing, I heard one thing consistently from choreographers: “Honey, we’re going to put you in the back row.” I used to tell people I was the poster child for the American Society of the Dance Impaired.) Not surprisingly, I have great admiration for those who can do magnificently what I cannot. So I’m looking forward to everyone’s remembrances of great moments in the movies’ dance history.

2. “Leatherheads”

It’s a George Clooney movie. What other reason does a girl need? Opens April 4.

3. “Baby Mama”

If there was a Funniest Woman on the Planet award, Tina Fey would win hands down – and Amy Poehler would be one of the closest runners-up. Unfortunately, Fey didn’t write this one, but that won’t stop me from being there on opening weekend. (April 24)

4. “Heartbeat Detector”

A dark, corporate thriller that Salon critic Andrew O’Hehir calls ” ‘Michael Clayton’ on Nazi-grade Acid.” It stars Mathieu Amalric (of “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”) and it sounds fantastic. Unfortunately, it may be a long wait; the soonest I could find a screeing of “Heartbeat Detector” is at the Chicago International Film Festival – in October.

(BTW – If you aren’t reading O’Hehir’s “Beyond the Multiplex” blog, you should start now.)

5. “Sex and the City: The Movie”

I have a confession to make: I LOVED “Sex and the City.” I even still watch the crappy, hacked-to-pieces reruns on TBS. I’ll concede that some of the criticisms of “SATC” are justified. Over its five-year run, it did devolve from sharp-edged, envelope-pushing social satire into a glossy compendium of Madison Avenue product placements. (I don’t think the name ‘Manolo Blahnik’ was dropped once in the show’s first season.) And Sarah Jessica Parker’s portrayal of Carrie Bradshaw ran off the rails towards the end, with her early edginess giving way to a dumbed-down shtick of incessant squeals, giggles, and bad puns.

But despite the characters’ too-frequent trips to Barney’s and Carrie’s overused “today, I had a thought…” voiceovers, there was some damn fine writing and acting in that series, and the four leads created full-bodied and indelible characters that I’m looking forward to spending time with again. “Sex and the City” made me laugh and cry – and, yes, also influenced my shoe-buying habits. And I’ll be in the audience on the movie’s opening weekend.

The Sex and the City Movie! A Little Preview…
December 8, 2007, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Sex and the City

I’m too busy to post this week, but thought I’d pass on this trailer for the new “Sex and the City” movie. I loved the series, and I can’t wait for this!