Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sex and City 2- err which city again?

Spoiler alert*

SATC-2 was Hollywood’s nod to the Middle East money-loaded market. And America’s way of sucking up to the oil-rich nation. What other fathomable reason could there be for the outlandish “Abu Dhabi rocks” ad?! And it was not even bloody shot in Abu Dhabi! The barefaced plugs (did Aidan have to recite the names of the UAE States before he and Carrie kissed-SERIOUSLY!?!) would even put Bollywood-Cola  and Mahi Way-YRF Films plugs to shame!

So did the Abu Dhabi government fund the filming of the entire movie? And threw in lifetime of free Botox treatments for Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP), Kim Cattrall, Kristen Davis and Cynthia Nixon?

SERIOUSLY!!? Did Michael Patrick King forget that the “City” in “Sex and the City” is New York? I want to see Fifth Avenue, Central Park, the Manhattan Skyline, Brooklyn Bridge even (hell I would rather see Brooklyn itself), Magnolia Bakery, Times Square and not Abu-bloody-Dhabi! Ok, this is nothing against Middle East or Abu Dhabi in particular. I would feel the same if the movie was based in Barcelona or Athens. New York is a big part of Sex and City- and to lose it, is cheating the fans! (Remember Season 6 when Carrie was in Paris? It was the most boring part the TV Series. And Paris is a lovely city, but it’s not THE city when it comes to SATC).

I know it’s impossible to recreate the wonders of a fabulous TV series in a 2.5 hour movie (remember X-Files the movie? That’s why I am so happy that ‘Friends’ has not been made into a movie- recipe for disaster). And hence my expectations from even SATC-1 were not very high. But as it was the first one, the excitement was there. And it did not disappoint as much as I thought it would. As there was a natural progression from the story line.

Come on! Admit it! We all wanted Carrie and Big to marry. The series ended with only them finally together (and we found out that Big’s name was John). SATC-1 also shared with us what happened further in Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte’s lives. And even SATC-1 had an out-of-New York location shoot in Mexico, but it was a natural part of the story and not the centre of it like Abu Dhabi and STAC-2.

For SATC-2, the excitement was lesser, the cast was older (coming more on that later) and the expectations non-existent.

But I was still checking for show times since a week so I could ensure I have tickets for the weekend of the release. And also made sure that my girl friends had cleared their schedules and we all made time for the movie- and in true SATC style- drinks and dinner before. It was a great evening- Riva and Manisha! :) So yes, was I ever not going to watch it? Out of the question. Would I listen to the reviews saying how terrible it was? Not really.

Excerpts from some reviews:

Among other brickbats, the Guardian's film critic Peter Bradshaw called it "misjudged and quite incredibly boring", the Times said it was "a waste of four great characters", and the New York Times thought it was "desperate, grating and a little sad". The movie has scored a pitiful 14% on the Rotten Tomatoes website film review aggregator. A user review on IMDB said- For the storyline is seems like it should be nominated for Worst Screenplay and Worst Sequel and win both Razzies.

But none of this has dented its commercial prospects – aimed at the bumper Memorial Day holiday weekend at the US box office. Influential website Deadline Hollywood reported that Sex and the City 2 took USD17m on its first day on release in the US alone, and expects to make a healthy $75m-plus for the entire five-day holiday period. It is the latest example of an ever-more prevalent phenomenon: the critic-proof movie.

And just like the Box Office, I knew my fate with SATC-2 as well- I knew I would go see it on day 2 in the cinemas. And I would not be disappointed, as I had no expectations- except to see the 4 of them together again, the great wardrobes and those sweet and funny moments.

But what was lacking was exactly that- those sweet and funny moments. There were few and far between. The loudest I heard the audience laugh was when Miranda and Charlotte were discussing how difficult motherhood is. Their frank discussion and portrayal of real mum’s thoughts was funny and sweet. But since when did the ‘SATC moments’ come from motherhood stories?! (It’s like Seattle Grace Hospital from Grey’s Anatomy suddenly becoming like a real hospital!)

The few magical moments for me were:

1) When John comes to pick Carrie from her old apartment and she voices “And then, just like that, it was 1998 again”. For that brief moment, SATC-2 took me back to the original magic

2) The reference and portrayal of the 4 friends when they first came to New York was a lovely start

3) The ‘gay wedding’ was a fun, very true to SATC style next step

4) The red carpet Samantha-Miley Curtis same-dress-near-fiasco
5) The karaoke bar scene in Abu Dhabi and the song choice- cliché, but the “best friends moment” was captured wonderfully

6) The Abu Dhabi shoe shop bazaar reference was sweet. Of course when Carrie expressed sheer amazement at the shoes that cost only $20, I wanted to invite her to Charles and Keith here.

Hey! Here’s a thought! May be STB (Singapore Tourism Board) can sponsor SATC-3? We have the IRs here now for the glamour and plenty of 20$ shoe shops too! And may be Carrie can strut on Orchard Road instead of Fifth Avenue. And Miranda can do a family vacation in USS (Universal Studios Singapore). And Charlotte can get a hot Filipino maid as her nanny! Samantha would feel at home in Orchard Towers. And all 4 of them could do brunch at PS Cafe, Dempsey or Fullerton and drinks at Aticca, Clarke Quay. There you go! SATC-3 script is done. Do not ridicule! I think that pretty much was the extent of thought that went into script of SATC-2.

On the 4 ladies:

a) The lovely, beautiful Carrie: No guy I have even known or met thinks SJP is pretty. One of them went to the extent of describing her as a ‘cross between a horse and a transvestite’. OMG! That’s brutal. But she did look very tranny-like in the scene she was getting dressed to meet Aidan for dinner and applying the ‘kajal’. And boy did age show on her face! She looked older than all of them. Sorry sweetie- think you have lost way too much weight on your face- it does look rather horsy now.

b) The sexy Samantha- losing the Samantha edge in Abu Dhabi are we? All the sexual innuendos (“I am open”-really? That was your best retort?), were so damn predictable! And one thing we do not expect from Samantha is predictability.

c) Miranda- Actually she looked the youngest of them all. And her face was the least wrinkly. Guess lesbianism agrees with her! Or I would like to know which anti-ageing product she uses. Good show girl!

d) Charlotte- She has always been the most insipid of the 4. I can’t really think of one thing to say about her that stood out. And yeah, the nanny thing is so old!

On the fashion:

I must qualify here that I am not a fashion expert. I can’t differentiate a Jimmy Choo from a Manolo Blahnik and a vintage Dior from a Valentino. I only know of these as designer names and labels and love looking at them without getting too attached, as I can’t afford a dress that costs more than my mortgage. So here is a list of my favs- but don’t expect any further info. These items made it to the list simply because I think they look awesome and oh-so-pretty!

1) Carrie’s moon and star pendant- I want!

2) Carrie’s entry shot- the fabulous white dress and the golden shades (very few people can carry off shades like that)

3) Charlotte’s white dress- image above (you now know what my favourite color when it comes to dresses is- white)

4) Carrie’s outfit when she met Aidan in the Abu Dhabi Bazaar- image above

5) The orange flowing dress Carrie wore when she was upset about her bad book review and she went for a walk on the beach. Though how can someone so short and tiny carry a flowing dress like this is beyond me. But Carrie can!

6) The necklace that the ‘young new age Abu Dhabi’ woman admired too

7) All the desert-lunch dresses except Samatha’s. I like Charlotte’s the best. The neck is simply gorgeous!

However I have to say this- the blatant “Spring-Collection- under-the-Burkha-fashion-show" was simply sad!

Parting words...

The movie missed the mark in that one aspect where the series hit a sixer (or a home run) every time- the writing. There are hardly any memorable quotes in SATC-2. Everything the ladies spouted was predictable, stale and plain old boring. Such a shame!

Will end off with some of my favourite SATC quotes- from the TV series:

“I will never be the woman with the perfect hair, who can wear white and not spill on it.” Carrie

“Are there some women put in the world just to make you feel bad about yourself?”

“It takes half the amount of time you dated someone to get over them.” Charlotte

“I'm thinking balls are to men what purses are to women. It's just a little bag, but we feel naked in public without it”. Carrie

“When Charlotte really liked somebody she said their whole name. It helped her picture their future monogrammed towels”. Carrie

“How does it happen that four such smart women have nothing to talk about but boyfriends? It's like seventh grade with bank accounts”. Miranda

“What if Prince Charming had never shown up? Would Snow White have laid in that glass box forever? Or would she have gotten up, spit out the apple, gotten a job and a health care plan and moved on with her life? I could not help but wonder inside every confident driven single woman, is there a delicate, fragile princess just waiting to be saved?”

“Why did we ever stop drinking these?” Miranda on Cosmopolitans. “Because everyone else started!” Carrie

I know how to please a man. You just give away most of your power”. Miranda

“Marriage does not guarantee a happy ending, just an ending”. Samantha

And my all time fav: “All I had to do to meet the ideal man is to give birth to him”. Miranda

* Ok, a ‘Spoiler Alert’ highlight was not really necessary, as SATC is as predictable as Singapore’s weather. But I hate to know even a bit of any movie- no matter how predictable- before I watch it. So if you are anything like me, thought it was best to caution.

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