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DID YOU READ

“Sex and the City 2”: Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is why they hate us.

“Sex and the City 2”: Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is why they hate us. (photo)

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A friend describes the “Sex and the City” films as “Ladies’ ‘Star Wars.'” The description isn’t far off the mark — not just because the TV series and the spinoff films are critic-proof revenue-generators, but also because Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her gal pals inhabit a universe so far removed from anything resembling reality that it might as well be science fiction.

Picking up where the second film left off — as if there were a story! — “Sex 2” revolves around Carrie’s two-year-old and suddenly troubled marriage to the twice-divorced older hunk, Big (Chris Noth). And of course it features perfunctory detours into the lives of Carrie’s best friends, Samantha (Kim Cattrall), who’s over 50, still sexed-up, and ingesting dozens of vitamins a day; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), who’s struggling with a sexist boss and the demands of the domestic life that her work life forces her to neglect; and Charlotte (Kristin Davis), who’s feeling beaten up by her life as a mom and worrying that her husband is about to have an affair with their big-titted Irish nanny.

But really — surprise! — the film is all about the clothes, the food, and the real estate. Aside from a couple of moments that briefly remind you of the character- and acting-based charm that redeemed the series — for instance, Miranda and Charlotte’s drunken admissions that a lot of the time, being a parent flat-out sucks — this film, like its predecessor, buries the smoldering embers of its nearly extinguished humanity beneath a mountain of gaudy baubles.

The ladies model hyper-expensive, often stunningly tacky dresses, shoes and hats (including a Carrie chapeau that looks like a smashed popover made of wicker), dine in expensive restaurants, drink at hip bars, and lounge around apartments that are characterized in dialogue and voice-over as modest even though they’re big enough to house the mother ship from “Close Encounters.” (Carrie’s closet in the apartment she shares with Big has a center aisle wide enough for a comfy bench.)

And at the 40-minute mark, writer-director Michael Patrick King ratchets the excess up several notches by sending the gals on a trip to Abu Dhabi, where Samantha has been invited on an all-expenses-paid fact-finding mission to help a sheik craft a PR campaign for his a luxury hotel. Everything — plot, characterization, simple exposition — ceases for several minutes so that Carrie and friends can be presented with fabulous bedrooms, a fabulous private bar, a fabulous kitchen, and fabulous hunky man servants and luxury cars. (Although these scenes take place in the United Arab Emirates, they were shot in Morocco. But they still constitute what might be a movie first: product placement for a country.)

05262010_SexandtheCity2-15.jpgLike the characters’ customary melodramas back in the States, only more so, the Abu Dhabi folderol is inoculated against any possibility of real discomfort, however comic and momentary. Except for a few fleeting touches, such as Charlotte’s disclosure that she’s decided not to use her married name, Goldenblatt, on this trip, the movie erects (ahem) a wall between the ladies and their far-away playground, providing the women with a team of visiting Australian soccer players to ogle, giving Carrie a visiting (white) American ex-boyfriend to flirt with, and contriving a romance between Samantha and a Dutch tycoon named Dick Spyrt. (God forbid that nice American girls should get it on with beautiful Muslim boys!)

The final comic setpiece — which finds the heroines escaping faux-peril in a bazaar by dressing in burqas — is indeed offensive, not because Abu Dhabi has been characterized as a huge adult amusement park for rich, Botoxed white ladies (that’s how “Sex and the City” treated New York, remember?) but because of the moment when the film diminishes the complex and culturally deep-rooted gender apartheid of fundamentalist Muslim society by having a group of Muslim women strip off their traditional garb to reveal Carrie-approved Western haute couture underneath. As lighthearted sight gags go, it’s a few degrees removed from the moment in “Full Metal Jacket” when an officer declares that inside every gook there’s an American trying to get out.

05262010_SexandtheCity2-12.jpgStung, perhaps, by complaints that the first “Sex” film was aggressively insensitive to American financial hardship circa 2008, the sequel peppers its dialogue with references to financial struggle. But from my perspective (and a lot of people’s, I’d wager) they’re “struggles” on par with trying to find a parking spot on a busy avenue during lunch hour.

Carrie tried to sell her amazing bachelorette pad, but she couldn’t find a buyer, so she had to keep it (and it comes in handy when she decides she needs to escape Big’s passive-aggressive homebody sourness). We also learn that Carrie and Big traded their penthouse apartment for a seemingly identical-sized place a few floors lower in the same building. The horror!

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…