Live by Night
The key question behind Live by Night isn’t so much “Why did they bother?” as “What went wrong?”
SJP sports her power flower.
"The weekend opening [of 'Sex and the City'] also ranked as the strongest ever for a movie carried by a female lead (at least if ticket-price inflation is not taken into account). Paramount’s 'Lara Croft: Tomb Raider' was the previous record-holder, with $47.7 million in ticket sales for Paramount during its opener in 2001.
“'I am so excited about the possibilities for movies about women,' Ms. Parker said."">
Summer's here and the time is right for fart, diarrhea and masturbation jokes in the theaters. Not just in raunchy male-oriented comedies, but in so-called "chick flicks" -- the kind groups of pals attend together after a few cocktails. I'm speaking, of course, about "Sex and the City." Could it, perhaps, be the long-awaited Judd Apatow(ish) movie for gals? You know, the one about a group of friends who hang out and get drunk or stoned, complain about their relationships (or lack thereof), make dirty scatalogical jokes, and generally prefer one another's company to that of the opposite sex?
You tell me. Because, sadly, nobody has enough money to pay me to go see "Sex and the City." I am not the target audience and I know that. I have no objection to it, either. As Roger Ebert succinctly stated at the top of his review "I am not the person to review this movie." Me, too. I am also not that person.
I have gotten a kick out of reading some of the reviews, though, because they remind me of certain complaints about male-oriented comedies such as "Knocked Up," "Superbad" and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." The difference is that those movies were about teen and twenty- to thirty-something middle-class suburban boys, and "Sex and the City" is about forty-something upper-class cosmopolitan girls.
More stunning "Sex and the City" fashions.
Manohla Dargis writes in the New York Times:
Roger Ebert describes the humor, involving bowels and bow-wows:
Unlike the show, which allowed the men to emerge occasionally from the sidelines with lines of actual dialogue, the male characters in the movie stand idly by, either smiling or stripping, reduced to playing sock puppets in a Punch-free Judy and Judy (times two) show. I’m all for the female gaze, but, gee, it’s also nice to talk — and listen — to men, too.
The sisters are doin' it for themselves, y'all! Not that there's anything wrong with self-gratification (as Woody Allen said, "It's sex with someone I love.") But I am reminded of Sheila Benson's classic Los Angeles Times review of "Thelma and Louise," in which she asked: "'Are we so starved for "strong" women's roles that this... fits anyone's definition of... neo-feminism?"
A little later, Charlotte develops a tragic case of turista, and has a noisy accident right there in her pants. This is a key moment, because Carrie has been so depressed she has wondered if she will ever laugh again. Her friends say that will happen when something really, really funny happens. When Charlotte overflows, Carrie and the others burst into helpless laughter. Something really, really funny has finally happened! How about you? Would you think that was really, really funny?
“Sex and the City” was famous for its frankness, and we expect similar frankness in the movie. We get it, but each “frank” moment comes wrapped in its own package and seems to stand alone from the story. That includes (1) a side shot of a penis, (2) sex in positions other than the missionary, and (3) Samantha’s dog, which is a compulsive masturbator. I would be reminded of the immortal canine punch line (“because he can”), but Samantha’s dog is a female. “She’s been fixed,” says the pet lady, “but she has not lost the urge.”
Samantha can identify with that. The dog gets friendly with every pillow, stuffed animal and ottoman and towel, and here’s the funny thing, it ravishes them male-doggy-style.
The ultimate fashion statement?
As men know, there's nothing like a poop or masturbation joke to make a woman laugh. But have the Apatow movies have ever stooped to this level? The Sandler-Schneider movies, maybe. (Sandler's "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" was co-written by Robert Smigel and Judd Apatow, so things could be looking up.) Even the period-blood gag in "Superbad" wasn't making fun of a woman for having her period. It was about the overwrought hysteria of Seth's reaction. He was the butt of the joke. Kind of like the old standby where the woman jumps up on a chair and screams when she sees a mouse or a spider. Only it was drop of menstrual blood instead of a household pest. Anyway, that's the way I looked at it.
And then, there are those, uh, "Sex and the City" "fashions." I admit I don't know from fashion. (I don't know from wine or sports or automobiles, either.) My idea of fashion is a $5 t-shirt and some $19 Old Navy cargo pants from 2003, with a pair of Converse high-tops or PF Flyers. In other words, pretty much what I've been wearing since I was four.
But take a look at that hilarious "flower" Sarah Jessica Parker is wearing in the accompanying photo. Not unlike one of those enormous "power bows" attached to the front of polyester business suits worn by Dress For Success career women in the 1980s. I hope that dress is supposed to be a joke. Reminds me of Odienator's comments about enjoying a fashion-oriented "public spectacle of bad taste" not long ago: "[Diana Ross] is credited with the costume design for "Mahogany," and... nobody was around to tell her the truth about her fashions."
So, the reviews for "Sex and the City" were... mixed. But according to that New York Times article:
So, again, you tell me. Are these "grown-up women"? I don't know any women (grown-up or otherwise) who liked the show or plan to see the movie. At least they're not telling me about it. Were the scatological and masturbation jokes thrown in as sops to fart-loving male heterosexual boyfriends who got dragged along, or are they feminist taboo-breakers? What, if anything, does the film's opening-weekend success signify?
“It’s a cultural phenomenon; it’s an absolutely incredible opening,” said Dan Fellman, Warner’s president for theatrical distribution, speaking by phone on Sunday. First-weekend ticket sales, he noted, were far beyond those of other R-rated comedies, including “American Pie 2” from Universal Pictures in 2001 and “The Wedding Crashers” from New Line Cinema in 2005. [...]
Grown-up women have never exactly been absent from the big screen. Women’s roles have been as complex and varied as Helen Mirren’s turn as Queen Elizabeth II, which won her an Oscar in 2007, and Meryl Streep’s performance as the semi-monstrous fashion magazine editor in “Prada,” which turned into a box office smash.
But the female audience has seldom showed its potential in the way it did this weekend.
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