Friday night Dash and occasional commenter Jennifer went to go see the highly anticipated “Sex and the City.” Even though we had already bought our tickets, Jennifer wanted to get to the theater early to get seats and impetuously insisted I turn off Top Chef. As I tarried, longing to see the nefarious Lisa get bounced from the cooking competition (alas, t’wasn’t to be), Jennifer grew more and more harried, and I eventually realized what was happening: this was her first “fanboy” movie. As a veteran of midnight shows for different Star Warses (Star Warsi? Star Warseux?), Matrixes (aha! a known plural!), Spidermen, the recent Indiana, and assorted other popcorn flicks, I’d learned that there are real event movies that require waiting hours in the cold, and fake event movies that simply require buying tickets on time. I was sure that this was one of the latter. And besides, how violent could an audience of fashionista dilettantes be? Getting to the theater on time to get good seats, Jennifer and I settled in for what we hoped would be an epic (2 hours and twenty minutes!) celebration of all things copulation, Manhattan, and, above all, excess told with its trademark brand of bittersweet punning.

Sadly the movie is nowhere near as good as its television forerunner. In fact, it’s pretty bad. The Metro paper proudly proclaimed that Bad Sex is better than No Sex, but I’m not really sure if that’s true. While it was nice to see some of the characters again, we now have the misfortune of added plot developments. Our lasting image of Miranda is not one of character growth, but of regression; Charlotte becomes a caricature; Samantha loses her sex appeal; and Carrie momentarily loses her ability to pun, and, save for the opening and denouement, her ability to narrate. This may not sound like much, but it’s a significant change in storytelling from the show, emblematic of the movie’s biggest problem.

“Sex and the City” the movie’s biggest defect is its obsession with movieness. Terrified of resembling a TV show, Sex goes to extremes to distance itself from its past: gone are the voice-overs, the sets, the pacing, even the theme song. It’s a brave new “Movie” world and everything needs to look new, bright, shiny, and new. The biggest blame for this lies with the movie’s “auteur” Michael Patrick King. The showrunner the last few years, King is a novice feature film director and it shows. Leaving aside the story for a moment, the movie has serious stylistic flaws. The cinematography is the primary example of Sex’s mal du cinema: the shots are bizarre, obsessed with monumentality rather than normal composition. Everything is made to look larger than life, and as a result, we’re visually separated from the characters. No-longer intimately in their world, but held at a distance. The mis en scene is also particularly troubling. Gone are the textures and contrasts. It cannot be repeated enough that the film’s primary aesthetic is blinding brightness. There are no shadows, no darker hues with which to cue our eyes to what is visually important or simply to give us something new to see. On the show, Carrie’s apartment was noticeably darker than the superficial world outside and matched Carrie’s introspective monologues. But the movie has no room for such applications of the objective correlative, and Carrie is given a bright and shiny apartment of her own. Even the show’s trademark costuming suffers from the malady of supersizing. The Times Style section perfectly deconstructed the film’s take on fashion: “But in the film the characters are now four years older and, in a disappointing way, their styles appear to have changed into one: the offbeat, orgiastic, do-it-yourself madness of Carrie, the dominant female. It is not only that they now dress alike. In every scene the women are practically coordinated by both color and style, as if they had received a morning memo detailing the day’s dress code. Let’s all wear primary colors to a jewelry auction! Let’s all wear psychedelic hippie dresses on a trip to Mexico! Let’s all wear smart black-and-white ensembles and fur coats to a fashion show!” (more here) Read the rest of this entry »