Saturday, May 30, 2009

May Flowers, Sex and The City

May Flowers

I'm not sure that Georgia O'Keeffe would have loved Sex & The City but I'm pretty sure Sex & The City loves Georgia O'Keeffe. Those lady flowers are everywhere.

While it's true that you can't really make a wedding movie without a floral arrangement, Sex... doesn't just use flowers for the bouquet toss.
Just give me the damn symbolic vaginas
-The Bachelor (1999)
Flowers cling to Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw like she's a one woman photosynthesis factory. It'd be a stretch to say that every costume includes them but more often than not costume designer Patricia Field has dipped Carrie in vats of them: green florals (buying an apartment), red (bragging about her boyfriend), purple (single again), huge gigantor white florals just because. She's a photosynthesis factory and a color wheel.

Subtlety has never been Sex and the City's strong suit. The movie is all about the act of handing her ladyparts over to Big permanently, so they must be fully visualized. She even beats Big over the head with them!

Carrie has never been a shrinking violet, she's always an exhibitonist. She parades it around. She turns heads with it on the street. She even writes best selling books about it as you know.

The other women are not without their own floral motifs. Charlotte (Kristin Davis), always the most subdued, doesn't wear a lot of flowers but she's named her daughter "Lily" so she's done her part. Her sexuality was always goal oriented anyway.

The older women get floral representation too, albeit with less saturation. Carrie's envious editor (Candice Bergen) has given up. She's framed hers and hung it in her office.

Samantha (Kim Cattrall), who kept Sex in Sex and the City (the TV show) even when it forgot its libido late in the run, isn't having a lot of sex (in the movie). She wears no florals but in one key sequence she decides that she must have a pricey bit of jewelry at auction.

This flower ring is the essence of me. One of a kind.
It's a symbolic vagina for a symbolic vagina (oh, the folds and layers!). See, her boyfriend Smith Jerrod also wants to purchase the ring and Samantha's entire subplot becomes a tug of war between them. Smith wants her ladyparts for himself. She wants them back.

This leaves two characters and they're both conspicuously lacking in the flower power. 'Saint Louise from St Louis' (Jennifer Hudson) has no vagina. Poor thing. She's only there to help Carrie, so I guess they figure she doesn't need one?

And finally there's Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) who definitely has one but is being punished for pretending she doesn't. Her vagina is furious and only comes out once (barely visible: black on dark brown) to warn Big away from Carrie's vagina.

My vagina's angry. It is. It's pissed off. My vagina's furious and it needs to talk.
-The Vagina Monologues
Miranda is all work work work and 'let's get this over with' mood killer. Unless she learns to let Steve in, she'll never be able to wear bright floral prints again!

P.S. We'll find out if Miranda is back in bloom when Sex and the City 2 opens next year on this very weekend.


cal roth said...

I really need to know why entertainment-for-women is so bad. The women I know are for more interesting than these chicks with credit cards? What was the last really good chick flick? I don't mean something like The Hours (which I don't like) but something aimed at the big market and still very good. I think we have to go back to My Best Friend's Wedding... Everything since then, from Prada and The Women to What's-The-Number Dresses is pure shit. S H I T. Meanwhile, despite very bad movies, this decade saw very good guys' flicks, like The Departed and Miami Vice.

Ok, I really don't think this entertainment and gender is important, but executives sure do. Why can't they produce something that doesn't show women like crazy shopping people?

cal roth said...

*entertainment and gender connection

Noecito said...

I have a penis and I loved, loved, loved this movie. Probably because my penis is happy around other penises (just one actually, I'm not like unfaithful Steve).


@cal... to lump Prada and the remake of The Women together in the same quality league is to overstate and hopelessly distort a point.

but if you really wanna go there the problem is super complex and definitely a chicken and egg problem... i mean what gets greenlit to begin with?

and i also think that Sex & The City gets a hopelessly bad rap on the label and shopping issue. It's always had more going on than that. It's just that that is its flashy element. How is its fashion parade all that much different than the fetishization of guns and cars in action movies primarily aimed at men?

cal roth said...

"How is its fashion parade all that much different than the fetishization of guns and cars in action movies primarily aimed at men?"

Of course, it's the same thing, but there is still a lot of directors that overcome this.

Let me explain. Forget the bad movies for a while. In 1950 we had George Cukor and John Ford, and they're both genius. Today there's no genius guys like them, but the ones who work inside the big market and are very good only work for boys, like Michael Mann or Paul Greengrass in Hollywood mode.

Where's the girls' Michael Mann? You know, I had this girlfriend, (and she likes movies a lot, but not exactly a cinephile), and we wanted to see a chick flick, we always went the classics way and rent some Audrey Hepburn movie again or a Katharine Hepburn comedy.

When we decided to get out and see Bridget Jones 2 or Prada or PS I Love You or SatC or The Princess Diaries, we both got very bored and sometimes angry. Just to be fair: we loved Pride and Prejudice, but that was British and period piece. Modern movies about modern women were bad, all of them.

That's definitely the dark age of the chick flick.

cal roth said...

I quoted you, but forgot to say what I wanted to say it first: the shopping thing is only one of the thing I hate about this movie, and I don't think it goes much further into whatever it has to say to women of anybody.

cal roth said...

And you know the worst thing about this whole crisis? Movies made by women like Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers. How can Meyers wake up every day, look at the mirror and recognize herself as a woman after something so awful like What Women Want? And people say Lars von Trier is a misogynist...

Derreck said...

wow. i never thought that SEX AND THE CITY would've fit the May Flowers theme in such great depth. good job, Nat.

and i think one of the biggest draws to the whole series was the fashion and the over the top bouts of materialism. it is basically woman porn. the whole porn aspect was really apparent during the whole wedding dress montage where Carrie's voiceover called out the names of the designers with nothing but pure lust. When i heard that they were planning on scaling back the fashion excess for the next movie to be more recession-conscious, i thought "whoa! what a stupid idea!"

scaling back the fantasy and fashion of the series kills the whole escapism aspect of going to the movies...but i digress.

but as a guy (not an overly masculine guy, but a somewhat regular dude), i really enjoyed the movie. i thought it was a pretty decent love letter for the series, kept the feel of a regular episode, and compelling enough for new viewers. it totally gave its target audience exactly what they wanted.

i loved the ending. Jennifer Hudson's "All Dressed in Love" playing in the background as the girls sit down with their signature Cosmos as they celebrate their friendship and their futures. Plus, seeing other groups of women just like the girls was a great metaphor for how the series had a great impact on the feminine culture. A great sense of closure.

Honestly, i do not think that a sequel is necessary at all...but how many sequels really are?

Derreck said...

and why the hell wasn't "All Dressed in Love" nominated for a Oscar? i thought it added so much to the ending.

Adam said...

Even though I just watched this for the second time and liked it even less, I think your post is fantastic.

To me the movie feels like the movie stereotyped fans are supposed to want, not the one I actually did. Cheesy love metaphors, excessive fashion and punning I expect, but montages and petty, forced drama amped up to cinematic levels seemed so very wrong to me as a fan of the show.

That said, your reading of it is excellent. The flower stuff is thankfully more muted thematically than the modern Cinderella parallels, but also more resonant. Any time someone wants to watch this movie, I'll direct them to this post instead.


adam. thanks, that's sweet.

i totally agree with the notion that the production let 'what the fans want' ideas take over from 'what the show is about' ideas. the second half of the last season had some problems with this and the movie definitely did.

what the audience wants is not always what's true to the material. And it's not even always what they want once they've gotten it.

i do think i overly valued the movie at first but it's totally watchable (i put it in for this post and just kept watching) so that counts for a lot.

cath said...

The film was great! Miranda is prettier in the movie compared to the TV series.

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