strange_complex: (Twiggy)
Seen with [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan at the Cottage Road Cinema.

I went into this film forewarned that it would reduce the cause of feminism to a shallow, materialist parody, while also being terrifyingly offensive about Middle Eastern culture to boot. Some of the reviews I had read included:And you know, OVERALL, those reviews are all absolutely right. This film buys straight into any number of questionable western patriarchal stereotypes, which should be enough to write it off on its own. It also isn't a patch on the TV series, and is catastrophically out-of-touch with its recession-hit audience. It is poorly paced and structured, with minor characters popping up one minute and forgotten the next, and minor plot-points rushed through so fast that if you blinked you would miss them. It is crawling with unsubtle product placements (Rolex, Spanx, iPhone, and doubtless many others which I am too fashion-ignorant to spot). AND it includes a superfluous apostrophe, clearly visible in the title of a Vogue article entitled 'Marriage and the terrible two's' which we see Carrie printing out in the first half of the film. ARGH! [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan and I certainly had plenty to exclaim in horror and disbelief over as we headed for delicious Thai food afterwards, and I fervently hope that my memories of the TV show won't be further tarnished by yet another foray into sequel territory.

But the experience of watching it ended up being for me above all an object lesson in the dangers of over-stating a rhetorical case. Because while I agree with the basic points which all of the above reviews are making, now that I have seen the film I can also see that in several places all three of them have slipped into caricaturing what the film actually does in order to get those points across. The result is that I find myself in the rather odd position of feeling that I need to defend certain aspects of the film against particular points made in those reviews, even though I entirely agree with their overall assessments.

See the thing is - yes, Samantha is shown taking 44 vitamin pills every morning )

And yes, we are shown that Miranda's job is interfering with her home life )

And yes, we do indeed witness the sorry spectacle of Samantha hurling condoms at Middle Eastern men in the street )

So all in all, this may be a pretty crappy film, peddling some seriously unsound ideologies and not even terribly well put-together as a story. But you know, when the reviews make that very point by peddling distorted half-truths, they also undermine their own case. I guess I should know by my age that that's how journalism works (she says, still scowling angrily at The Telegraph). But sometimes I don't half wish it wasn't.

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strange_complex: (Miss Pettigrew)
This is the sort of book that I would probably never have read if I hadn't spotted it for £1.25 in a local charity shop. But I have always been curious about the origins of the TV series, and at that price it seemed foolish not to have a closer look.

The link between the two is recognisable, but nothing like as straightforward as I'd assumed. For a start, Carrie Bradshaw is not the narrative voice - although she is a journalist, and one of the most frequently-recurring characters. The fabulous foursome at the centre of the TV series is also absent. There are characters present in the book called Charlotte York, Miranda Hobbes and Samantha Jones, but their jobs, backgrounds and personalities don't match the HBO characters at all. Besides, they only crop up a couple of times each, and never together.

That means that one of the most comforting and alluring aspects of the TV series - the emphasis on supportive female friendships - is totally missing from the novel (or the newspaper columns which it collects). As in fact, are many of the other elements which give the show its veneer of glamour - the fabulous frocks, the cocktails, the shoes, the parties. Mahnolo Blahniks get mentioned all of about once in Bushnell's novel, and then only really to act as a symbol of empty consumerism.

In short, the novel is darker. The characters (both male and female) come and go without ever establishing any emotional connections with one another; the only thing they really care about is constantly outdoing one another; and the world in which they move is brutal and unforgiving. There are no happy endings here.

This rather took me by surprise, as I had been expecting brainless, fluffy chick-lit. I'd assumed that the TV series with its confident, liberated women and witty lines was cleverer and more highly-developed than the book, but that isn't really true. In many ways the book is much more hard-hitting, and much better at exposing modern illusions.

That doesn't mean there isn't a place for both of them. The TV series certainly still acknowledges the inequalities and insincerities of the world that Carrie and her friends inhabit - the difference is just that it is more optimistic about their ability to overcome these things and enjoy happy and fulfilled lives all the same. Meanwhile, the book is more honest about the darker side of modern life - but arguably paints too negative a picture when it suggests that none of the people caught up in it have any warmth or kindness or generosity about them whatsoever.

It's a question of what you prefer, really, as well as what is appropriate to each medium. Bushnell's dark vision of 1990s New York probably wouldn't have made a very popular TV series. But it definitely deserves a lot more credit than I had assumed as a strong piece of writing in its own right.

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strange_complex: (Invader Zim globe)
Well, I haven't posted a Doctor Who write-up here since August, it would seem. What with Belfast, and then Vienna, and then term starting, I haven't had much time for anything but memes and cut 'n' paste lately. Which isn't to say that the last month or so hasn't been enormous fun. Just not conducive to writing about cult TV.

Now, however, I have a whole weekend to myself and nothing in particular to do - for the first time in about six weeks. So it's time to start catching up!

Fifth Doctor: Earthshock )

All in all, good stuff - and I look forward to seeing more of the stories which precede and follow this one.

Second Doctor: The Invasion )

Overall verdict - a real classic with some brilliant moments. Just a pity about the feminist failure surrounding Isobel's venture into the sewers.

What's more, with those two stories written up, I do believe I can allow myself to actually start watching Doctor Who again now, rather than getting by on old episodes of Poirot and Sex and the City in an attempt to stop my write-up backlog growing even larger than it already was. Hooray!

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strange_complex: (Sophia Loren lipstick)
Seen last night at the Light with [livejournal.com profile] glitzfrau and [livejournal.com profile] biascut

If you liked the TV series, you'll enjoy this film; if you didn't, you won't. The plot is pretty simplistic, and a lot of it was intensely predictable, but it was nicely paced and structured all the same. Given that we normally get S&TC in half-hour doses, and this was 2h30, I found my interest very effectively sustained throughout.

Fundamentally, though, the plot doesn't matter too much. If you love these four women, it's just great to see them still doing their thing in fine style at forty. I won't go into spoilers about what happens to whom, but suffice to say that it all felt very plausible, and though I had a quiet little weep every time they pushed the button that said 'Cry Now', everything wraps up in a very positive and life-affirming way for all of them.

Best moment in the film? I guess this is _slightly_ spoilery, but only about clothes, really )

Honestly, though, the very best thing of all was the audience. Laughing and groaning knowingly the whole way through - and then when we came out and the lights were up and we could actually see them? Well, I don't think I have ever set eyes on such an overtly female cinema audience in my life before. If 1% of them were male, I'd be surprised. And so many Shoes! On one level, I felt slightly ashamed for buying into such a cynically-marketed phenomenon like a bunch of sheep... but on another level, I felt proud of the Sisterhood.

Well. It can be both.

Farewell, Frasier!

Wednesday, 23 June 2004 09:50
strange_complex: (Default)
I think of myself as liking Sex and the City more than Frasier, and indeed the overall themes of SATC are more appealing to me. But as far as my personal laugh-o-meter is concerned, Frasier definitely wins hand down every time. Yup, SATC will raise the occasional chuckle. But Frasier has me hooting with helpless laughter practically every time I watch it.

Tonight, this magnificent series comes to an end on Ch 4 with a two-parter finale (*sob*). If you even slightly like it, don't miss this great occasion. If you've never seen it in your life, watch it tonight anyway! Older episodes are still being shown in the daytime, so you won't have to discover you like it tonight and then never get to see it again.

From the ever-helpful DigiGuide, this is what we have in store this evening (all Channel 4):

21:00 - Frasier: Analysing the Laughter (documentary about the programme)

21:45 - My Favourite Frasier (the programme's cast pick their favourite moments)

[22:00 - annoying hiatus while 'Big Brother' is shown]

22:50 - Frasier: Goodnight Seattle (part 1)

23:25 - Frasier: Goodnight Seattle (part 2)

And, rounding off the evening nicely:
23:55 to 00:30 - Sex and the City (episode 2.10)

Be there, or forever wish you had been!

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