Archive for the Sex and the City Category

Where are all the women—on the big screen?

Posted in Fashion, Movies, Sex and the City with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2009 by Dawn Raftery

Bring on the next “Sex and the City” movie. If “Obsessed” or “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” are my only options at the movie theater when I want to revel in the female experience, I’d rather spend time with Carrie Bradshaw, even if she isn’t leading the single in the city lifestyle anymore. When I did the online equivalent of yawning at news of a sequel two months ago, I didn’t know that, much like the dating dry spells Miranda has on the “Sex and the City” TV series, there would be a drought at the theaters of perceptive, engaging movies made about and for women. Carrie and her friends at least provide the opportunity for intelligent discourse on the challenges and rewards of being a modern woman.

Other films have tried to copy the “SATC” formula for success and failed miserably, whether on an emotional, intellectual or commercial level. Earlier this spring I decided to see “Confessions of a Shopaholic“—I was initially attracted because of the fashion montages promised by the title—but it’s a silly concoction of cinematic fluff better served up to young women who haven’t actually entered the workforce (read what I think about it here).

As for “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”—is Charles Dickens rolling in his grave at the abusive play on his words?—not even the well-tanned brawn of Matthew McConaughey could entice me to pay money for “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.” The trailer song alone—“Pictures of You” by The Last Goodnight (not to be confused with The Cure’s superior but different song by the same name)—makes me want to throw a stiletto heel at the TV screen.

“Obsessed” has less comedic moments, but I wouldn’t call it a real drama either. In the movie, a gorgeous woman (Ali Larter of “Heroes”) stalks a married man from work and eventually gets in a knock-down -drag-out catfight with his equally gorgeous wife (Beyonce Knowles). It’s a cross between “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” and “Fatal Attraction,” and the premise of beautiful women physically competing for the love of one man puts this realm in the realm of deranged male fantasy.

Management,” starring Jennifer Aniston, Steve Zahn and Woody Harrelson, opened last weekend. According to the Movie Insider Web site, “A traveling saleswoman sells cheap art to small companies and motels. She has a fling with an aimless, underachieving assistant motel manager at one of her stops, and he pursues her all over the U.S.” The genres it’s listed under? Comedy and romance. Only in Hollywood is a stalker considered the protagonist of a romantic comedy.

If we aren’t being presented with silly or superficial films about women, we’re offered cinematic fare lacking in any sort of meaningful female presence. I recently saw “The Departed” and “We Own the Night,” two male-centric movies that, if they feature women at all, bestow upon them only the most insubstantial of roles—typically that of a girlfriend or wife who has very few lines and almost none of any import. They are by no means the exception. So many of the movies on top 100 lists—or any reputable list, for that matter—focus so much on the story of men from a male perspective that women are relegated to minimal screen time or, in the worst case scenario, they don’t appear to exist at all in whatever landscape the director has created. With the frequent dearth of women in movies, an alien species might assume men spring entirely from the loins of other men. It’s an inane trend, given that women make up more than half of the U.S. population.

As much as this irks me, I don’t abhor movies meant to appeal mostly to a male audience. I saw both “Star Trek” and “X-Man Origins: Wolverine” on their opening weekends with my boyfriend without any coercion from him. I love action, adventure, fantasy and/or science fiction movies, all of which are intended mostly for men. And women like me are part of the reason why these movies do so much better at the box office. Women are more willing to compromise. How many women saw “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” last summer? How many men, do you think, went to see the “SATC” movie, either by themselves or accompanied by their significant other?

Which brings me back to my original complaint. Since the release of “Sex and the City: The Movie,” we’ve had few choices that really appeal to those of us who seek a versatile handbag as well as gender equality. Women need to start taking control of their purse strings when it comes to movies, and maybe then we’ll have more box office power.

Advertisements

‘SATC’ withdrawal not getting any easier after five years

Posted in Fashion, Sex and the City with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2009 by Dawn Raftery

So they’re filming the next cinematic installment of “Sex and the City” this fall. Can’t say I’m too excited. Yes, I adore Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her three New York glamazons—and of course I’ll make a trip to the theater to see the movie—but it’s just not the same when three of the four main characters are married. Unfortunately, I don’t have any alternatives. Those of us who long to view candid, funny, and occasionally poignant depictions of female single life have been sorely disappointed by what’s come after the “SATC” TV show.

In the five years since the series ended, its fans—women who love their shoes as much as professional advancement and who believe female empowerment includes sexual freedom—have had to endure such inferior tripe as “Lipstick Jungle” and “Cashmere Mafia,” neither of which really made it past one season. I wonder what made the shows fail more: the lack of chemistry among its female leads or the PG rating its writers had to abide by. Bill Cosby might disagree, but trying to honestly convey the messy, complicated but thrilling lives of single women without swear words or sex scenes just isn’t possible.

sex-and-the-city-tv-p99

I turned on “My Boys” once, which has its core a strong female character surrounded by guys—hence the title—but I was turned off by the lanky Jordana Spiro. She doesn’t have the stellar fashion sense, introspective musings and “everywoman” appeal of SJP, who has been charming audiences since her days on “Square Pegs.” (Spiro also has an oddly gruff voice that makes her sound like one of the boys too.)

I regularly tuned into “Desperate Housewives” in its first season but eventually grew bored of the domestic struggles and family life. This is “Sex and the City” after the honeymoon; it’s the kind of existence you picture Laney Berlin (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson) from “The Baby Shower” episode leading in the well-to-do suburbs of Connecticut. I’d rather, as Samantha (Kim Cattrall) does in that episode, throw an “I don’t have a baby” shower party. Another flaw on Wisteria Lane? “Desperate Housewives,” which spawned an annoying reel of reality show knockoffs, lacks the heart that elevates “SATC” above other she-centric television fare.

If I were a decade younger, “Gossip Girl” could be considered a contender with its fashion-forward focus and bed-hopping socialites, but like Samantha being alarmed by 13-year-old Jenny Brier and her over-sexed friends in “Hot Child in the City,” I’m a bit taken aback by adolescent sex addicts on basic television. “Gossip Girl” is aimed at the tween and teen set, and although the actors are undoubtedly older than the characters they are playing, I have no desire to engage in this kind of voyeurism. Plus, all the backstabbing is unattractive. I’ve already lived through “Beverly Hills, 90210”—the original—and still haven’t recovered from the betrayal of Kelly (Jennie Garth) seducing best friend Brenda’s (Shannen Doherty) boyfriend, Dylan (Luke Perry).

On the occasions that I tuned into “Girlfriends,” which centered on four African-American women in Los Angeles, I found the show to be tolerable, even amusing sometimes, but it’s more parody than dramedy. There may be some stereotyping on “SATC,” but Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) are not caricatures. Ever.

Despite the multitude of storylines involving sex, love and relationships, “SATC” is not a soap opera. Carrie and her gal pals may be seeking many of the same things—well, actually, Samantha is only ever on the lookout for her Next Good Time—but they’re not stepping over each other in their high-heeled Jimmy Choos to achieve them. They’re the best of friends. And that’s what I feel like I’ve lost: a best friend.