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June 02, 2008


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Every young critic should be forced, at gunpoint if necessary, to read Barthes' "Mythologies". It's a valuable corrective to certain stripes of pretentiousness.

As for the snob label: it's usually what people deploy, I've found, when you know what you're talking about and they don't.


As a woman and passionate defender of the woman's film, I gotta say your original post was very much in sync with my own take on the series and film. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, indeed. The few bits and pieces of the series I have seen never persuaded me that I was missing anything, much less reminded me of Sturges or Hawks. Not even The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend or El Dorado.

Not that there's anything wrong with the series, mind you, aside from a related bunion epidemic and its popularizing the ridiculous trend of women walking around bare-legged in New York in January. It just isn't my dish of tea.

as for Bunuel -- ooh, ooh, ooh, is this a Viridiana reference?


Glenn Kenny

No, although "Viridiana" is one of the many latter-day Bunuel pics to exhibit a foot fetish on the part of a character and/or the director himself. What I'm thinking of is the fact that Manolo Blahnik himself has cited Bunuel's "Diary of a Chambermaid" as one of his favorite films and a concrete influence on his work. Particularly the scene of the old patriarch asking Jeanne Moreau's title character to try on a favorite pair of boots...
The quote's actually in a not-too-old issue of Premiere, which I don't, alas, have access to at the moment.


I haven't seen the film and I'm not intending to; I never watched the TV show. It is just not my type of thing -I don't think that's snobbery, but just a matter of personal taste.
Re: when was the last time you saw a naked woman turn herself into a living sushi platter?
I'm pretty sure that was a plotline on one of the CSI shows a while back.

Herman Scobie

Regardless of how one feels about Sex and the City, which I'll eventually see as a combination of connubial obligation and Kristin Davis fetish, I'm appalled at Dargis' review. Except for the bit about Montezuma's revenge, she never connects her generalities to anything specific. She's just pitching a hissy fit at the very idea of the movie.


I absolutely love "Viridiana". I bought it blind because it was A) a Criterion release and B) a Bunuel film, and I wasn't disappointed. It's weird how Bunuel snuck up on me and became one of my favorite filmmakers when I wasn't looking. I just looked up one day and realized I'd bought pretty much all of his late period I could find.


Glenn: while this probably wasn't your intent, my opinion of Manolo Blahnik just zoomed way higher.

He's been somewhat supplanted by Christian Louboutin as the shoe of desire of the mo, but now he's got a special place in my heart ... if not, due to budgetary constraints, in my closet.

Glenn Kenny

Actually, MY opinion of MB shot up when I read the quote, which I recall was very precisely detailed with respect to both the footwear and the overall tone of the scene. The guy clearly got it. So in a way, it was my intent...


Except from when it comes from someone like Oscar Wilde, snobbery is pretty tiring. Who really wants to hear a person professing his/her grand dislikes unless it comes with some genuine wit? Pulling the "snob card" usually just sounds like somebody whining, particularly in Internet blog posts.

(And I say that just as an answer to the general question asked by this post, NOT that I think Glenn you are whining at all.)

steve simels

My somewhat jaundiced pictorial take on Sex and the City.


Tim Lucas

I enjoyed SEX IN THE CITY for awhile when it was HBO's post-DREAM ON shock comedy and took some pleasure in its trendy name-dropping (it was the first place I, a midwesterner, heard of Cosmopolitans and Cohibas) and taboo-breaking (eg., when a man in a sexual encounter group accidentally came in Miranda's face). But I got very turned off when the promos started treating the show's characters, all introduced as quirky misfits of a sort, as HBO rock stars, strutting down the runway at us in their matching haute couture. The show got very full of itself very fast and, as the show dragged on to its final season, the once-interesting characters lost their respective edges and all sold out in a variety of predictable sitcom ways. I have zero interest in seeing the movie.


"I mean, as it happens, I may wind up seeing the damn thing anyway. And then what will I say?"

I dunno, Glenn. I thought you were a formalist. If that keeps you out of arguments in re the historical content "Che" leaves out, couldn't you just review "SATC" as, you know, a movie?

I'm not trying to be snotty -- I'm not a fan of the show, and I think the lead character is the worst friend, worst girlfriend and worst writer ever depicted by a TV series. It's just that, cutting through the thicket of Barthes and Pedro Costa (and we're not going to get into that again, are we?) and Bunuel and even the very pretty Stephanie Swift, the snobbery this film attracts is tied directly and specifically to its appeal to women. To groups of women all keening together in their clickety heels, 10 years before they do it all again in ugly red hats. Chick flicks can be dismissed because they're not threatening and, for better or (pretty much always, and thanks Nora Ephron, for vulgarizing everything you touch) worse, they're part of a venerable and undeniably towering screwball/weepie tradition. Despite a valiant effort by the Washington Post to trace "SATC's" lineage to "Three on a Match" and "Valley of the Dolls" -- and come on, where's "The Group"? -- its weird, rabid, culty, aspirational appeal is sui generis. It's closer to "The Phantom Menace" than it is to "Shop Around the Corner." And yes, I'm going to see it. I like shoes.


"the snobbery this film attracts is tied directly and specifically to its appeal to women."

So, how do you explain women disliking it? Because I've read a lot of female backlash on this (a lot of women were less than enthused with the whole "Oh, you're female, you're going to see 'Sex and the City') and in fact it's been more vitriolic than the male reaction, which by and large has been "Jesus, this thing is HOW LONG?"

I'm not saying this isn't necessarily a factor, but I do happen to think it's overly simplistic, and I think it's used to excuse way too many bad movies, and this is true of any film aimed at any minority. At some point the filmmakers ARE responsible for the appeal or lack thereof of their work.

I think the key problem is any movie by, for, or about any minority is expected to cater to all of that minority. I find it all faintly ridiculous, to be honest. You mention screwball, and screwball was never explicitly female-aimed; popular with women, sure, but it's not like they do a gender test before they let you watch "Bringing Up Baby". I'd gladly show up to a movie about relationships, provided it actually looks funny.

Dave Kehr

I haven't seen SATC and probably won't until it comes out on DVD (such is the life I lead), but I'm in favor of anything that brings women back in big numbers to the multiplex. Anything to end the tyranny of 14-year-old boys!

Herman Scobie

"I'm in favor of anything that brings women back in big numbers to the multiplex. Anything to end the tyranny of 14-year-old boys!"

A word of wisdom from a very wise man. Lost in the furor is that Sex is one of the few big-budget films aimed at adults.

Glenn Kenny

I absolutely agree, Dave...and Herman. And felt that way about "The Devil Wears Prada" which is at the moment close to what I consider the Platonic ideal of female-centric Hollywood comedies.

And Demi, don't forget that the original impetus for my nose-thumbing was the fact that I'm NOT reviewing "Sex and the City" because at the moment I'm under no actual obligation to—my original post was called "The Perks of Unemployment." Were I employed I'd be happily reviewing the thing. Actually, I've noticed that Premiere.com still hasn't posted a review of "SACD". Wonder if they'd be interested. So the whole thicket came about as a result of circumstance as much as anything else. But I agree that the question concerning the type of snobbery that attaches to an aversion to "SACD" is central to any argument to be had about the whole thing.

Also, I design my thickets to entertain, for sure, but I definitely didn't contrive to put the S. Swift reference in there. Kurt Loder asked, is all...



It's not really the tyranny of teenagers (after all, it's not fourteen year old boys clamoring for, say, "The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2") that's the problem, it's Hollywood assuming they have no standards and filmmakers taking no pride in their work. Pixar's a good example; aside from "Cars" and "A Bug's Life", which I'd argue are movies made squarely for children, their films are largely aimed at everybody in the theater, not just the kids.

Aaron Aradillas

Once again one of my comments has inspired a separate post.

I guess I used the word "snob" a little too loosley. It seems to have become interchangealbe with "elite." Just watch Fox News or read armond White and you'll see how these words get thrown around. I should've chosen more wisely. I apologize.

But my disturbance by the negative reponse to SATC still interests me. I completely understand where Glenn is coming from with regard to being able to pick and choose what he feels like seeing. (In an interview with Janet Maslin, she told me more or less that she enjoyed the ability to not be obligated to see certain bloated product now that she was a citizen.) I guess it struck me that Glenn's "perk" conveniently lined up with a certain portion of critics who seemed to be exhibiting a let's-get-this-over-with attitude regarding SATC. I mean, if it was me, I would rather opt not to be obligated to see the latest dumb summer comedy from Adam Sandler.

I just think that any serious-minded chronicler-observer of movies and pop cultural would want to tackle a genunie phenomenon (as oppose to a manufactured one) like SATC. It's fun.

I do find it amusing the way some male critics are quick to point out the number of female critics-columnists-bloggers who are also panning the movie. I didn't realize that an opinion of SATC needed such validation.

As for the female critiics themselves: I hope they scrutinize their Phil Spector girl group CDs as thoroughly as they do SATC. It's Liz Phair and P.J. Harvey CDs for everyon! Anyone want to defend "He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)" while panning SATC?

For the record: I have the Phil Spector Back to Mono box set on almost constant rotation on my CD system.

And to the person known as Bec: I'm not sure I would want to boast about not seeing an episode of SATC AND not planning on seeing the movie. That kind of argument doesn't hold much water. It'd be like me saying, "I've never read Shakespeare and I don't plan on seeing any of his plays or movies of his plays. It's not my type of thing."


Aaron, it needs validation because pretty much any man I've seen who's given SATC a bad review has instantly been hit with: "WELL YOU'RE A MAN AND THEREFORE A SEXIST AND DON'T UNDERSTAND." It's playing defense, but it has to be done.


Aaron -I wasn't boasting about not seeing either. There doesn't seem much point (to me) to watching the movie without having watched the series. To boast would infer that I was making a (negative) value judgement on SATC and I don't feel that I could comment on the merits (or otherwise) of it, precisely because I haven't seen any of it. The whole SATC phenomenon just seems to have passed me by.
And I'll qualify my 'it's not my type of thing' -Reading film reviews is part of making an informed choice about what films I choose to go see and from what I've read/ heard/ been told by (enthusiastic) friends, it's not my type of thing.

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