Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Old Friends Return for Fun in City and Desert

Miranda, Carrie, Samantha and Charlotte belt out "I am Woman," Abu Dhabi karaoke-style in a scene from "Sex and the City 2."

A woman at the bar says she prefers the first. A colleague favors the newbie. The new mother and reporter for a Spanish-language magazine says Miranda and Charlotte’s experiences and frustrations with motherhood resonated with her. “It’s real.”

Of course, the conversation is about the long-awaited, much-anticipated “Sex and the City 2,” which opens tomorrow (27 May) in the United States. The film had its world premiere Monday night at Radio City Music Hall. Yours Truly saw it last night at an HP advanced screening at the Paris Theater followed by a smashing party at Carrie Bradshaw’s shrine, Bergdorf Goodman, where I gathered my data. There have been and will be other sponsor advanced screenings around the country, including one tonight in New York by Moët et Chandon, the official Champagne of the film.

Doubtless, a hot topic over Memorial Day weekend will be about the second film based on the wildly popular HBO series. Fans will discuss and debate every nuance of it with the intensity of economists arguing the state of the nation’s recovery from the Great Recession.

By the year 2000, “SATC” had captured the imagination of many women the world over in their 20 and 30s and in so doing morphed Manolos and martinis into household names and household necessities. Women related to the man woes and bad hair days. Many admired and tried to replicate the fealty among the four characters. How refreshing.

And the sex. How frank! Heretofore, we had not witnessed such sexual aggression and expression, unless there were serious punishing repercussions for the whore. The girls, particularly Samantha, went much further than anything Diane Keaton could have imagined in “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.”

The series had its detractors, and rightly so. Own it: it glamorized drinking. And premarital sex. Far too many episodes were sketchy about whether the women were using condoms. Seemingly under pressure from critics – and possibly the suits at HBO – series creators contritely served up the episode in which Samantha decided to take an HIV/AIDS test. Nobody believed Samantha had an STD. Had she, it would have been a buzzkill for the series. In “SATC 2,” Samantha’s condoms!

Very few “SATC” fans will likely share V’s sentiments of the latest installment. I met her after a tête-à-tête with “SATC2” star Mario Cantone. V thought Himself rude when in response to her interruption he fixed upon her an evil-eye stare before he returned his attentions to me. In any case, V asserts that the film is shallow. “It has no substance, and it’s all about Carrie. The other women, they don’t have anything to do.” V discloses that she is not a fan of the series.

Another quibble about the film will no doubt be its length: 2 hours, 27 minutes. Fair. Tsk, tsk: the film has a little too much “brand seepage.” This BS robs it a bit of its innocence and purity. Yes, innocence and purity.

Fans, though, will be looking for the elements that make “SATC” “SATC”: dining, drinking, double-entendres and duds. More important, is the reunion. As a Brit who blew into town from digs in Italy especial for the HP screening points out, “It’s about the relationship between the women.”

Men have had Star Trek and James Bond for years. Then came Batman, The Godfather, Star Wars and others, including Beverly Hills Cop, Conan the Barbarian and lately Iron Man.

For women (and gay men), SATC is their first true film franchise — one with blockbuster potential and pretensions. It’s not just a film; it’s an event. Now, they can look forward to the next installment approximately every two years or, until Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Jessica Parker call it quits.

“Sex and the City 2” is rated R for some strong sexual content and language.

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