CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
‘Sex and the City: The Movie’ a Frilly University For Understanding the Human Condition
CHICAGO – To its voracious universe of cult-following fans, it feels like a television marathon that spans an entire season. To everyone else who bats an indifferent eye at the religion that is “Sex and the City,” it may surprise you to find that all the glam and glitz has something even for you to learn, too.
Credit: Craig Blankenhorn, New Line Cinema
The thorniest proposition for “Sex and the City: The Movie,” though, is opening the minds of all the anti-fashionistas (such as yours truly) and those who habitually bottle up their emotions for safekeeping.
After all, “Sex and the City” is often about a word that hurls the masses off in a scurry: feeling. For those who embrace all that is “love and labels,” though, the film begins by succinctly flashing back on plotlines avid followers know all too well.
Season watchers are nearly forced and relatively brainwashed into securing a theater seat, and unfortunately, followers and non-followers alike arrive to the theater with having already been told much too much from the trailer.
Will Carrie marry Big? Will Charlotte – who’s thought to be infertile – have her own baby? What will become of Miranda and the cheating Steve? Will the scurrilous Samantha actually settle down with Smith? Will the predominantly white cast finally paint some color into the picture?
To the last question, Chicago’s Jennifer Hudson (who on the film’s “pink carpet” said she gets bronzed by rubbing on her “Dreamgirls” Oscar) says yes. As for the other questions, the film would have injected even more “what’ll happen next?” revelation by not giving such an initial peek up its own dress.
After initially cursing the all-too-telling trailer, I planted myself in my theater seat prepared for a 142-minute commitment. Not so. At our press screening, we were treated to another 30 minutes of a live satellite feed that counted down to the Chicago screening with the pink-carpet coverage.
Photo credit: Craig Blankenhorn, New Line Cinema
Combined, the experience even neared the 195 minutes it took Steven Spielberg to give justice to the entire Holocaust in 1993’s “Schindler’s List”. Writer and director Michael Patrick King could have cut nearly 30 minutes of screen time had he met with an editor by the name of No Cheese For Me, Please.
Alas, though, this critic indeed scores “Sex and the City: The Movie” with a relatively positive rating of 3.5 out of 5.0.
Despite the aforementioned relatively trifling gripes, the film indeed gets to the heart of the human matter. In consistently exploring and explicitly discussing what women feel and what men need, the subject matter has a higher purpose.
It’s a purpose that’s to be commended in entertainment today because while it’s still certainly entertainment, everyone – no matter what race, religion, sexual orientation or relationship status – has something to take from these four women and the characters who surround them.
Photo credit: Craig Blankenhorn, New Line Cinema
Of course, the “Sex and the City” style is to offer a carrot in the beginning and then change that story morale into, say, broccoli so we’re left with something to reflect deeply about. The process of delving into a woman’s head – for a man and even another woman – is ultimately a healthy exercise in understanding the human condition.
When women constantly compare themselves to Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, they’re forced to ponder who they really are and who they want to become. Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon themselves know most women are a combination of the foursome as a whole.
The film also explores a primary fifth character that – while not credited among the cast – is as large and tangible as any one of them: New York. Director Michael Patrick King has made the claim that this story couldn’t have existed anywhere else. While that’s debatable, what’s fact is that the show has brought some people to New York not only for the American dream but for the romance of falling in lasting love.
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More film reviews from critic Adam Fendelman.
Cast as Sarah Jessica Parker’s assistant, Jennifer Hudson has a convincing moment where she expresses exactly that pursuit. But with everyone trying to get hitched, hasn’t this story’s thesis rested squarely on the allure of being a single woman? No longer.
That said, what is it about television and film that hooks us into wondering whether someone will fall in love, break up, get married, have a baby, stop drinking or kick that drug habit?
While these celebrities are people the everyman will never associate with in their lifetimes, they’re actually more like messengers conveying portions of who we really are and hoping we find ways to improve ourselves.
That, at least, should be the point. Michael Patrick King (who also wrote various “Will & Grace,” “Cybill” and “Murphy Brown” episodes) succeeds at dangling that carrot and leaving us with something to chew on.