Sex and the Cinema

A few years ago I discovered ‘Sex and the City’ in reruns, awkwardly edited to cut out scenes relevant to the ‘sex’ part of the series title. I had heard about the original HBO series and was curious to see a few episodes. I quickly became enamored, and eventually saw many of the full episodes on DVD.

I enjoyed the series immensely – particularly the ongoing friendship among the four women. When the movie was released I looked forward to seeing how the quartet would transition to cinema. My reaction, as I sat in the theatre, was acute disappointment.

Afterwards, I wondered why I didn’t enjoying seeing that very special foursome friendship revived on the big screen. I realized, eventually, that it wasn’t a revival. It was a resuscitation. The series was over. The characters had resolved their various issues. There was nowhere to go.

Thus, in the movie, Charlotte, who can’t get pregnant and has adopted a child – gets pregnant. Samantha, who has hunkered down into a real relationship with her younger hunk – leaves him. Miranda’s husband, a standup guy devoted to her and their son – confesses to a one-night stand. And Carrie, who waited until the final episode to hear Mr. Big say “You’re the one” – decides they’re much too happy and they had better get married.

Readers and a few shameless writers have tried, unsuccessfully, to resolve the unresolved ending of ‘Gone with the Wind.’ John Fowles had the audacity to tack two endings onto his otherwise brilliant ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman.’ And now writer/director Michael Patrick King chooses to unravel 94 episodes of ‘Sex and the City’ for two hours and 25 minutes of cinematic fluff.

I’m reminded of another entertaining and addictive television series from the 1990s called ‘Tales of the City,’ based on the stories of Armistead Maupin and set in San Francisco in the 70s. The series was perfectly rendered on the small screen, which gave the stories and the characters a certain gem-like intensity. On the big screen ‘Tales of the City’ would have lost its focus, like a low-resolution photograph blown up to gigantic proportions.

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