Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hate-Watching in the City


"Hate-watching" is an amazing activity that I do without thinking a lot of the time, but last night a bunch of us intentionally hate-watched Sex in the City 2, probably one of the most unbelievably smarmy and self-involved pieces of cinema ever made.  It is superfluous and trashy in every sense of the word:  all the horrible clothes, glammed-out NYC locations, smug self-reflecting, the penultimate gay wedding with Liza doing a sad yet somehow sweetly inept version of "Singles Ladies" with two lookalike dancers, and finally most of all the completely unnecessary location of Abu Dhabi as the new center of all things urbane and high-style, but also symbolic of old-world misogyny.  It all gets worked out culturally by the four sexed-up gals from Manhattan lip-syncing to Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman Hear Me Roar" in an Arabian disco.  The whole Arabian disco crowd joins in.  Also, just to add in a touch of feminist class, there's a Muslim-dopple-ganger take on the Sex in the City icons:  four burka-clad ladies peeling off their burkas to show the latest spring fashions.

Very easy to hate, I know, and yet there's a succinct pleasure in the hating because of the movie's stone-cold arrogance, and the way Sarah Jessica Parker seems to gallantly shepherd the whole stupid thing toward an abyss so prissy and strained you feel dizzy, a kind of contact high.  Parker preens and poses and she seems caught in a web of her own silliness, gauzy with "sophistication."  And then there's Kim Cattrall's gloss on being a professional working girl:  rubbing hormone cream between her legs in front of her staff in her plush all-window uptown office.  And then there's the other two walking and squawking around in the in-between moments when Parker and Cattrall aren't doing their singsong, self-involved struts, Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum chatting it up over Cosmos about how hard it is to have kids and lives. 

What was this movie supposed to be?  Its essence has the feel of a big-budget superhero movie somehow, glittery and supersonic and over-stylized, and yet I guess its soul is with the spirit of being a lady who wants to have a lot of sex and write about it and drink cocktails and talk about it and be all I-LOVE-NYC and also somehow innocent enough to be googly-eyed about how lucky they are to be so sexy and in the city part 2.  But all of that gets eaten alive by the movie's almost mean-spirited love of itself.

Back to hate-watching though.  It somehow eases the pain.  The opposite of being snarky and trolling the internet saying bad things about Robin Williams, hate-watching is more about finding the pleasure in understanding that when something is really bad it has its own heart and soul, its own rhythm of debauchery that makes a movie like Sex in the City 2 seem as if it has been created and marketed by aliens from outer-space who watched a lot of other bad movies accidentally and decided to try to go all Hollywood on you.  There's nothing authentic or beautiful in this thing.  It is synthetic and full of nervous attempts at making movie-magic, but the magic actually comes from the hate and dread it instills. 

Can't wait for Sex in the City 3.  Maybe they can go to North Korea?