Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sex and the City 2

I provided very vague descriptions to prevent spoilers—I made no mention of the surprises and funny scenes. However, if you're obsessed like Charlotte and would like to have absolutely no idea about the movie, then don't read this post. Otherwise, please go on and perhaps you can help me with the conundrums mentioned below.

When Sex and the City ended, people were stunned: we all wanted more. So the producers decided, let there be a film. And there it was.

As soon as the first film was made and audiences responded positively, the producers—even while the movie was still running in theaters—decided, let there be a sequel. And here it is.

Allow me to be direct: the sequel was a drawl. The storyline was made up of disjointed fragments, the adventures were watered down, plus the local distributor slapped it with a PG-13 rating WITH CUTS. Sex and the City had two chances to exit while it was on the top of its game. However, with this sequel—and you wouldn't want people to remember Sex and the City as a drawl—there better be a third installation. Another sequel however, is a problem, and I'll get to that later.

I was prepared to love this movie despite the initial stream of reviews that I read. There's Roger Ebert, who gave the film one star out of the maximum five and who begins his review with: "Some of these people make my skin crawl. The characters of 'Sex and the City 2' are flyweight bubbleheads living in a world which rarely requires three sentences in a row." I dismissed it. I mean, what does Mr. Ebert know about films, right? :-P No review will ever stop a fan from watching the movie; even non-fans might find themselves in the theater out of curiosity or spite.

In our postmortem discussion, as my friends sipped on their cocktail and I slurped my goto with tuwalya, Jill brought up a very interesting perspective: for a movie that touts itself for being consummately "New York," there was no New York; instead, it served as a tourist advertisement for the Middle East, the birthplace of those responsible for bringing down the World Trade Center.

And there lies the conundrum: Did the movie stretch a hand of reconciliation? Was it an attempt at magnanimity? Did it think it can change Arab people's perspective of women by bringing the fabulous four in the United Arab Emirates, specifically in Abu Dhabi, and not in the more progressive and accepting state of Dubai?

There were certain points wherein Carrie was almost at the brink of providing a feminist commentary about all the women surrounding her, Arab women, who were covered from head to foot except for their eyes. Instead, she held back and ran off to an adventure of her own.

High-strung Miranda turned into this wide-eyed Type A tourist, who was giddy about everything and reminded everyone to cover up. Charlotte somehow picked up after the old Miranda and became a sourly wife. I suppose she couldn't care less about the plight of these Muslim women; she is after all, Jew. One thing's for sure: these are not the Miranda and Charlotte we know.

It seemed that the burden of waving the flag of feminism fell on Samantha's shoulders: in fact, in a literal allusion, she wore spikes on them, as if she was geared for battle. Did she succeed?

There was a powerful scene, wherein she found herself taunted by the men, and in true Samantha fashion, she told them to go fuck themselves. She stood up for her rights; she made a statement for women everywhere. However, in a sudden turn of events, as if recoiling from having made this bold move, she and the girls found themselves gushing about Arab and New York fashion in a silly setup. I was frustrated at how it wasted an opportunity. I thought, Mr. Ebert may actually be right: these women are flyweight bubbleheads.

So again, the conundrum: Did the movie stretch a hand of reconciliation? Or was it made to spite its Arab fans: we're free, your women are repressed, and they look ridiculous in Western clothes?

I have to admit, intellectualizing Sex and the City is pointless—much like its plot. You're supposed to sit back and enjoy it, except that in this case, there are no memorable quotes, no memorable scenes, no memorable fashion.

I did understand the need to tone down the story. Seeing the women on the big screen with their ages showing in their wrinkles and saggy arms, their previous antics wouldn't work anymore—they'd look desperate.

Sex and the City badly needs to redeem itself and finally exit with a bang. But some of the characters are already married and have kids: what's there left exciting to do for women whom we embraced as perpetually single and fun ladies?

Sex and the City opens in theaters on June 2.

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