I’ve watched episodes of Sex and the City on HBO maybe five or six times, which obviously indicates I’m not a huge fan but also that I’ve found it agreeable enough from time to time. The movie version, which runs around two and a half hours, takes whatever it was that made the show half-palatable and just amplifies and gussies it up all to hell. I’ve been told that the movie is the show and that any perceived degradation is a judgment that begins and ends in my own head. Not so. The first hour of SATC is as garish and putrid and spiritually repulsive as can possibly be imagined without throwing up, and I was never so moved during those episodic HBO sojourns.
Wednesday, 5.28, 1:35 pm — taken during a short break from the film that I needed badly.
Each main character — Sarah Jessica Parker‘s Carrie Bradshaw, Kim Cattrall‘s Samantha Jones, Kristin Davis‘s Charlotte York and Cynthia Nixon‘s Miranda Hobbes — have their own story here. (Naturally.) Three experience the usual issues with boyfriends/husbands, but it’s all blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The last 90 minutes are a bit more tolerable than the first hour, but that’s like saying the visit to the dentist got better after he pulled the tooth with a pair of pliers.
The soul of this movie is infected with gross materialism, the flaunting of me-me egos and the endless nurturing of the characters’ greed and/or sense of entitlement. It’s all about money to piss away and flashy things to wear and lush places where the the girls lunch and exchange dreary confessional chit-chat. And this, mind you, is where millions of middle-class women in every semi-developed country around the globe live in their dreams. They’re going to this movie right now in multitudes. Sad. Really sad. Because SATC is crap through and through.
A few items back I called Sex and the City a Taliban recruitment film. All I know is that I felt ashamed, sitting in a Paris movie theatre, that this film, right now, is portraying middle-class female American values, and that this somehow reflects upon the country that I love and care deeply about. It’s a kind of advertisement for the cultural shallowness that’s been spreading like the plague for years, and for what young American womanhood seems to be currently about — what it wants, cherishes, pines for. Not so much the realizing of intriguing ambitions or creative dreams as much as wallowing in consumption as the girls cackle and toss back Margaritas.
The HBO show’s dialogue, frequently written by Michael Patrick King, who directed and wrote the screenplay for the film, never riled me that much. But I was wincing at it during today’s screening at the UGC Les Halles. Some concepts play better on the tube; amplifying them only pushes the flaws into your face. All I know is that the faux-splendor of the movie — the insipid Marie Antoinette-ishness of the damn thing with the look-at-me clothes and sets and nouveau-riche ickiness of the apartments and restaurants — felt to me like a kind of hell.
“I’m watching this of my own free will,” I muttered to myself a few times, “and with my own money.” To cope with these feelings of remorse and repulsion, I staged a mini-rebellion somewhere between the halfway and two-thirds mark by heading out to the lobby for a Diet Coke, a cafe au lait, a little i-Phone catch-up and to take some photos of the huge SATC standee. It helped.
I’ll tap out some more after I come back from dinner this evening. We’re having our first day without rain here, and life is short. To hell with this movie, and scratch any woman who says she liked it off the list. For anything.
“Hollywood is not Republican country,” Ben Stein has told Politico‘s Jeffrey Ressner in a column about John McCain‘s fundraising efforts there. “There are some of us here, but not enough to make a difference. I don’t think Hollywood will be counted on to make a great deal of support for Senator McCain.”
Ressner reports that McCain’s contributors include producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Paramount Pictures chief Brad Grey, MGM chief Harry Sloan, Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons, Saturday Night Live creator-producer Lorne Michaels, General Electric chairman Jeffrey Immelt, former MGM owner Kirk Kerkorian, as well as Stein, Rip Torn and Dick Van Patten. (Immelt and Grey also donated to Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ressner adds.)
There’s an indie puzzlement called Bunraku now shooting in Bucharest, Romania. Josh Hartnett, Demi Moore, Ron Perlman and Woody Harrelson are costarring under director-writer Guy Moshe. Here’s the link to an IMDB plot synopsis. Romanian friend Laura Gutanu sent me this 5.19 story about the film that appeared in Ciao!, a Romanian publication. Odd that a straight news org chose this photo.
Five long years after the publication of Alanna Nash‘s “The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley,” producers David Permut and David Binder have acquired the screen rights. But given the tragic slant of the story, it sounds HBO-ish to me.
The film will inevitably register as a downer of some kind, as any kind of honest translation of the book will basically be the story of a greedy Svengali‘s brilliant promotion of Presley (from the mid to late ’50s), followed by the slow ruination of his musical reputation and career (from the early ’60s onward) by cutting Presley off from the world (i.e., no European concert tours), turning him into a joke by putting him in those godawful ’60s movies, looking the other way at Presley’s drug dependency and basically grabbing all he could until Presley turned things around somewhat with that 1968 TV concert comeback show.
It’ll be, in short, a tragedy about how Parker went for the short-end money and all but killed the King’s career, but also about how Presley was a none-too-bright soft touch who let himself get pushed around by Parker, lacking the character to say “you’re fired” and not getting himself back into a semi-serious rock groove until it was almost too late.
Permut and Binder’s film will be called The Colonel. The role has Randy Quaid‘s name written all over it. Parker was in his mid ’40s when Elvis’s career began to take off; Quaid is in his late ’50s. Who else would be right or it? Somebody big and fat with a natural oozing-sleazeball quality.
Wednesday, 5.28.08, 2:55 pm — emerging from the 11:55 am show of Sex and the City (a reaction to which I’m tapping out now) at the UGC Les Halles. The film is another Taliban recruitment film — a grotesque and putrid valentine to the insipid “me, my lifestyle, my accessories and I” chick culture of the early 21st Century. Guys everywhere — if you’re in a brand-new relationship, take her to see this thing. If she even half-likes it, dump her and walk away cold. Save yourself!
Brian Lowry‘s 5.27 Variety piece about old franchises refusing to die (Indy, Rocky, Rambo, John McLane) says that in “this latest flurry of comebacks, all these heroes can still party (and punch) like it’s 1989.”
But he’s doing a disservice, I feel, to Sylvester Stallone‘s recent Rambo flick since it’s the only aging action-hero franchise to deliver a truly fresh charge. The genius of this sleazy Southeast Asian actioner was to reinvent and reinvigorate an old formula by submitting to a kind of deranged self-parody. The key is that it was so unabashedly nutso — to me it was only a couple of steps removed from being an outright comedy — that it didn’t feel like a here-we-go-againer.
“It’s so relentlessly blunt, so absurdly violent in a ’70s exploitation vein, so visceral and depraved and elbow-deep in jungle blood & guts that I loved it,” I wrote on 1.27.08. “Rambo ‘works’ in its own deranged way. It’s like an ultra-violent half-time show at the Super Bowl. It’s shit, of course, but it’s fast, fun and agreeably grotesque.”
As Stallone said to a Scottish radio interviewer earlier this year, “What do you mean one of the most violent movies of all time? It is the most violent movie of all time!”
“We need your help to make a critical decision — our next official campaign t-shirt,” reads a 5.27 e-mail from Chelsea Clinton. “We recently launched a contest to design a campaign t-shirt, and I couldn’t believe the incredible response. We got thousands of great entries. They were creative, inspirational, funny, and beautiful. It was amazing to see the devotion to my mom’s campaign come through in each t-shirt.
“It wasn’t easy to narrow it down, but we’ve chosen five we think are particularly great, and now we need your help in making our final decision. Please vote for your favorite design — the winning shirt will go on sale in our online campaign store. Please click here to see the finalists and vote for your favorite.
“Thanks again for everything you’re doing to help my mom!”