Friday, May 28, 2010

How I learned to Love Liza (Sex and the City 2)

So I've been on CBC TV and Radio for the past couple days cataloguing all the things that are wrong with Sex and the City 2. The never-ending tide of brand-name goods. The guileless zeal the fab four display for their divalicious lifestyle. The colour-blind avalanche of designer disasters.

But....there are a couple things I liked about the sequel.
So in the name of positivity here is (semi spoiler warning...)


It's funny. Occasionally. I will say the writer/director Michael Patrick King has a knack for staging the outrageous. Two scenes stick in my mind. First, Carrie and Mr. Big in bed listening to a screaming baby in one room, and Samantha's wild animal sex in the other. Watch the trailer if you want to see the punchline.

Speaking of Samantha, my other favourite moment comes as Sam has just finished proselytizing about the power of vitamins for fighting menopause. Then she sees Charlotte's new nanny, (played by Alice Eve) a voluptuous vision, bounding bra-less towards them. Samantha's mouth hanging wide open crammed with vitamins is classic.

Carrie. I hate to say it but Carrie is still the best character Sarah Jessica Parker has played. When SATC works it's like the best of Woody Allen crossed with Nora Ephron. But I think part of the problem with the sequel is that Carrie's got it all. In the TV series she was still a scrapper. Sure she had the shoes, but only one apartment and hadn't hit it big as a writer. (At least not at the beginning.) Now Carrie has her man, the swanky NYC digs, she's a best selling author with presumably an unlimited credit card. Hard to feel her pain when it's whether to wear Dior or Dolce to dinner.

Liza. Yup, Liza Minnelli. The queen of Carbaret shows up at the ultimate and I mean ultimate gay wedding to officiate. (There are swans!)
Now when she first appeared and spoke, well to be honest, I felt a little sorry for her. But then Liza performed a cover of Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies." Now I'm not a fan, or at least I wasn't. But I gotta say Liza owned that song. She rocked it. Great performance from a real woman that almost, almost made Sex and the City 2 worth seeing.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Summer Alternatives

Long time no update, blah blah blah, is there anything worse than a blogger apologizing?

Right then, as I look back on the list of movies I've watched recently I see there's a number of little gems that might go unnoticed next to the season's swath of blockbusters. So here is a short list of some of the smaller and dare I say smarter alternatives out there.

If it sounds familiar it's because The Secret won the best foreign feature at the Oscars. At the time I couldn't see how anyone would fail to pick The White Ribbon, but having seen Secret I understand the decision. (I don't agree, but I think I can see why.) The Secret In Their Eyes has a lot of things voters look for in an Oscar-Caliber movie. An epic love story. Dark themes. Restrained but effective acting. This is a movie about the dangers of desire. About being consumed by it or haunted. It has touches of film noir. It's also a very subtle look at the many lives of Argentina. And, as a murder mystery The Secret makes most Hollywood films feel like an episode of Law & Order.

This is an extremely frustrating movie only because I greatly enjoyed it, but I'm afraid if I explain what makes it so satisfying I'll spoil it. So, I will only say this is much more than a movie about the street artist Banksy. This is movie about what happens when you invite the anarchists into the art gallery. It's quite consistent with Banksy's raison d'etre and one of the most provocative docs I've seen in years.

This is a high school comedy that posits the question "Boredom or Apathy?" Which is why I love it. (Well they already had me at the Battleship Potempkin parody.) But for the rest of you let me say Jay Baruchel is all the reason you need to watch this film. Like Che Guevera crossed with Buster Keaton, Jay's conviction brings Leon Bronstein (aka Trotsky) to life. The Trotsky is as close as Canada has gotten to making a movie like Rushmore but director Jacob Tierney did it, by creating his own unique spin on the high-school hero genre.

From the co-writer of the searing Gomorra comes a zesty,
light-as-air comedy of mild-manners: Mid-August Lunch. During a holiday in Italy a good-natured mama's boy Gianni gets stuck watching his mother and a couple other ladies.
Watching the suave, calm and collected Gianni deal with these clucking, complaining women is a master class in coping, not to mention an excellent advert for powers of white wine. A gentle, affectionate comedy that brings to mind Big Night at moments, Mid-August Lunch doesn't oversell its story and knows sometimes a little is enough. (Written, directed and starring Gianni Di Gregorio who based it on his own real-life experiences with his Mama. Awwwwwww.)