Saturday, May 29, 2010

Film reviews: Whip It; Sex and the City 2

These are good movies. They are driven by strong female characters who are smart and have shit to say. Frequently, what they say is very funny; other times what they have to say is relevant. They speak from their own situations.

I can't help the fact that they are white and upper class, for example (as in the case of the entire Sex and the City series), or that their concerns are not my own. I have my own concerns. However, I have always appreciated the opportunity to see things from other perspectives; particularly perspectives that are so far removed from me that I would likely never encounter them otherwise. I have never been to a luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi, or had any concept of what they are like (even if the representations in S&TC are to some extent always caricatures); I find New York fashion fascinating, even if it is completely alien to me.

I won't say much about Whip It, because I think the film speaks for itself. Sex and the City is always where the controversy erupts.

A friend explained to me yesterday that Sex and the City is Die Hard for women. I think this is the best description I have heard. Nobody carps about Die Hard being unrealistic, or about Bruce Willis being too old. No, this gets saved up for the outlandish romps of women, which incidentally are not occupied with violence, but much more appealing pastimes, like hanging out with your friends and getting boffed. I have no objection to either of these things.

To the extent that Sex and the City swims in the ocean of commodities, well, so does everyone else in the developed world. That should be reason enough for self-reflection. It is hard to tell a story about anything without it being a story about consumption. Does it glorify it? No, we glorify it, and then we put it in our movies. I haven't put my finger on it, but something about Sex and the City bothers me less in this regard than most of the films which play at seriousness.

A final note for Sex and the City fans. This sequel is much better than the original, which seemed to suffer in its transition from television to the big screen. It works to its own logic much better, like the best of the HBO episodes.

7 comments:

Ethan said...

I have no idea if I'm anywhere near to it with this, but maybe what you can't put your finger on with S&TC is similar to why I love Dude, Where's My Car? so much, which is that I see it as a satire of bro-ishness, taken to its logical conclusion.

Your mention of Whip It, which I haven't seen, makes me wonder if you've seen Jessica Bendinger's women's sports movies. Bring It On is enjoyable fluff, for the most part (though with quite a bit of the "Die Hard for women" factor, which is always nice), but Stick It is something else entirely (and I don't think it's a coincidence that Bendinger wrote and directed it, as opposed to just writing it as with Bring It On). It's not just that it takes female solidarity farther than most movies I can think of. I came out of it wanting to overthrow all authority. Uh, more than usual.

Ethan said...

I meant to clarify, where I see DWMC as a bro satire, maybe you're seeing S&TC as on some level a commodity satire. Again, no idea if I'm right, since I'm not you and I haven't seen it; just a thought.

Richard said...

I admit I had this movie pegged as awful from the getgo, and the reviews focusing on the orientalism didn't change my mind. But isn't it interesting that we accept the validity of the mainstream media when it seems to conform to our prejudices? Anyway, thanks for a corrective. Here's another.

JRB said...

Ethan:

I've never consciously thought of S&TC as satire; I don't think that's how the show was written. It has some satirical elements. I think of it as a liberal fantasy cocoon, from the perspective of women. Everything that being a modern successful woman is supposed to entail, for women at the pinnacle of success.

I'm not familiar with the other titles you suggest -- except DUDE!, which I also loved and agree with you about the satire -- but they sound worthwhile. I'm sure I would like them. Thanks for the recommendations.

Richard: Sex & the City is the same thing it's always been; the only question for me is whether it lives up to the best of what it's been before. In this case I think it does.

Very interesting that liberals are having the reaction they are considering that they created the show in their own image. Guess they don't like what they see anymore.

Ethan said...

JR, it's not fully thought-out or anything yet, but you might be instigating a revolution in the way I think about how I like things. Which I guess sounds like nonsense. I'll have to think about it. Just thought I should let you know, somehow this post and the comments on it are rearranging some things in my brain.

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