Nov 29, 2010

Sex And The City 2 – DVD Review

In the very centre of Hell, where, according to Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, a giant Satan resides in an icy palace of horror, one could imagine such a macabre scene replaced with a giant Piranese-like screening room showing Michael Patrick King’s Sex and the City 2 for all eternity.

Imagine it. Lost souls are gathered not into an icy pit of infinite despair but tied down into a really uncomfortable chair – no premier seating – and subjected to this. What a truly skin-crawling nightmare for the condemned. If you’re quiet enough, the faint echo of their cries can be heard on each Halloween night. Although if they’re in the very centre of Hell, they probably deserve my fantasy punishment.

Film critic Mark Kermode pointed out during his own review of SATC 2 that it runs for the same length as Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. One movie takes in the ancient past and distant future of human history and the other is a movie about four middle-aged women attending an OTT gay wedding and then taking a freebie holiday. For two hours and twenty minutes.

If you want to be really perverse you could compare SATC2 to an arthouse film, given that nothing at all happens but events take place in a slow, ponderous way. We aren’t treated to an existentialist tract, but you may want to question your existence and human nature afterwards. To be fair the odd one-liner and observation raises a chuckle here and there but at no point does King’s picture justify such a lengthy running time. It borders on the surreal. In fact, it feels televisual and un-cinematic for a good hour or so. Not even Penelope Cruz could liven things up for her one minute cameo.

Sarah Jessica Parker, in the opening wedding scenes, looks like an Afghan hound. That’s an incredibly cruel comment to make about somebody often compared to a horse, but then again, the film she’s starring in is cruel. If she’s meant to represent the modern, successful middle class woman to millions then we are truly damned. We don’t need to die and go to hell. We’re already there and the creation of Carrie Bradshaw is evidence.

However one does need to acknowledge that say, ten years ago, Sex and the City was a landmark HBO series that clicked with a lot of people, but clearly has descended into a parody of itself. SATC 2 is like fat bloated corpse pulled out the Hudson, slapped with rouge and put in a Prada dress.

The opening paen to Noo Yawk is itself sentimental and false. New York is still under the delusion it’s the greatest city in the world. It might have been once … in the 1950s. After an hour or so of nothing really much happening save for a couple of scenes about Charlotte’s hot Irish nanny, the four gals are whisked off to the Middle East. And yes, SATC 2 still continues in the vein of nothingness it exhibited with aplomb in Noo Yawk. Only now it’s got Middle Eastern stereotypes to display and make light of.

Plot machinations contrive for Carrie to meet an old flame (John Corbett) in a souk in Abu Dhabi. It’s like a Mills and Boon novel and they have a brief romantic entanglement and Samantha gets arrested for kissing on a beach.

The modern fairytale-like aspects with regards to materialism could provide an analysis of attitudes towards the finer things in life. But SATC 2 would never wish to be that interesting in a million years. We’re meant to find the characters charming, fun and entertaining. Their lives are so make believe and exciting!

But they’re not. Therefore it’s easily one of the stinker’s of the year. A movie so devoid of personality it might as well be a corpse in a Prada dress plucked out of the icy Hudson. Death and the City might be a fun concept. A dead body attends chic parties and premieres and nobody notices she’s dead – not even the young stud who seduces her. Kim Cattral’s Samantha would be the best candidate for the role.

Sex and the City 2 can’t even claim to be ‘so bad it’s good’. Ironing one’s arms might be more preferable way of passing the time than sitting through this again. I watched the film in the company of a successful career woman this material is supposedly aimed at. To quote her verbatim on asked to give her opinion: “Nothing happened.”

Yes. For two hours and twenty minutes.

The DVD extras – this is a two-disc glitzy bonanza – includes director’s commentary, featurettes on the non-hilarious 1980s flashback sequence and standard behind the scenes stuff.

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