Sex and the City: The Movie: Extended Cut (2008)
Audio Commentary-Feature length by writer/director Michael Patrick King
Featurette-(23:50) A Conversation with S. J. Parker and M. P. King
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(18:05) The Fabulous Fashions of ... (1.78:1 / 16x9)
Additional Footage-(3:41) Four scenes with director's commentary
Additional Footage-(3:41) Four scenes without director's commentary
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(2:11) Fergie in the Studio (1.78:1, 4x3)
|Year Of Production||2008|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Michael Patrick King|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Sarah Jessica Parker
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, Without end!|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, Characters and their past established in credits|
One of the most eagerly awaited cinema releases of 2008 was undoubtedly Sex and the City : The Movie. On television, after some initial teething problems - for one, the uncomfortable down the lens direct to audience comments by characters - the original series developed into one of the best comedies ever seen on television. Each week, for six seasons, albeit some rather short, the makers regularly accomplished more in twenty-two minutes than seemed possible. After four years without their weekly Sex and the City fix, fans of the series have embraced the feature film making it a monstrous box-office success, drawing a multitude of female admirers back into a cinema for the first time in years. Roadshow have now released Sex and the City : The Movie- Extended Cut in a two-disc special edition DVD. There is much to enjoy in this superbly produced film, but some of the strengths of the TV original have been lost in the process.
In a spectacularly original opening title sequence writer / director Michael Patrick King presents an exhilarating montage of key moments from the TV series, combined with text from the book and "now" footage of "the girls" in New York. The four ladies look slightly older, and the big cinema screen made this even more obvious. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) seemed on TV to be a perennially leggy ingenue, but here, suddenly, she is definitely forty. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) are slightly younger than Carrie, but Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is, and looks, "fifty and fabulous". Sex and the City ("and" - never "in") always rejoiced these four characters, and that celebration the film most defintely continues. No kind softening lenses for these ladies - they are fantastic looking women, and this opening sequence brings them back to life with a bang!
The screenplay, "based on characters from the book by Candace Bushnell", basically finds the four friends where they were four years ago. Miranda is married to Steve (David Eigenberg), with son Brady (Josph Pupo) now five, while Charlotte and husband Harry (Evan Handler) have their adopted daughter Lily (Alexandra and Parker Fong). Samantha (Kim Cattrall) has moved to California and has dedicated her professional life to promoting her blonde super-stud Smith Jarred (Jason Lewis). Carrie and Mr Big (Chris Noth) are looking for a new apartment to share, and the process finds them nervously committing to marriage. Ensuing events in the screenplay all hinge around this marriage, and we have the ups and downs of the couples' four relationships, although Charlotte is the one whose marital relationship is almost always "up". You could summarise the plot of this film in about ten seconds flat, but King's series was never about "story". It was about relationships and friendships, and here most are tested in one way or another. The central test is between Carrie and Big, and we won't spoil that. Miranda and Steve are under pressure when they find that sex has retired from their relationship, leading to Steve's infidelity. Miranda's friendship with Carrie is also put into jeopardy when she, Miranda, makes a comment to Big regarding marriage. Samantha and Smith are sexually hyperactive, but Samantha feels she has lost herself somewhere in the process. Any admirer of the series is sure to become totally immersed in the interaction of the four women as they wend their way through their crises to the final fadeout.
For those who inferred that "bigger and better" meant "ruder and nuder", there may be some disappointment. The raunchy discussions of sex which were so genuinely jaw-dropping on TV are much more subdued, in the writer/director's commentary attributed to the "growing up" of the four ladies. There is also much less nudity, particularly from Kim Cattrall and Jason Lewis, who regularly bared (almost) all in the series. Poor Samantha here actually observes the sexual Olympics rather than participates in them, particularly events involving her handsome Malibu neighbour, Dante (Gilles Marini), her voyeurism climaxing when she glimpses him full-sidal as he enjoys a sensual shower. Sadly there is also much less emphasis on the (usually) clothed men from the television original. Now that each woman has settled on, if not down with, her one man, those male partners hold much less fascination. Charlotte is the exception. With her conflicts with Harry settled, mainly over religion and his physical appearance, Charlotte has settled down with her man, telling her incredulous friends that she is "happy every day". Sadly the reason for this happiness has very little to do in the film. Regular minor characters carried over from the series are also given very little to do, such as Mario Cantone's Anthony, Willy Garson's Stanford and the wonderful Magda of Lynn Cohen, so touching in the brilliant closing episodes of the final season of the series. This is a pity, especially as the later section of the film devotes so much time to the newly added character of Carrie's "girl Friday", Louise, played by Jennifer Hudson. Poor Miss Hudson has had some horrendous developments in her private life of late, but here she confirms that her Academy Award win for Dreamgirls was possibly the biggest mistake Oscar ever made. As some compensation some spice is added by major talents in cameo roles, such as Candice Bergen (Soldier Blue), Daphne Ziega (Broadway's Rent) and Joanna Gleason (Broadway's Into the Woods). As for the four leads, these actresses have perfected their performances, so it hardly seems to be acting at all - even in an over-the-top lavish concoction such as this. This does not mean that there are no memorable dramatic moments, far from it. Each actress has her big scenes, highlights being a distraught Miranda's restaurant confession to Carrie, pregnant Charlotte's verbal street explosion at a stunned Big and Samantha's tender spoon-feeding of a bedded, emotionally wounded, Carrie.
Which leads me to Sarah Jessica Parker. A child star on Broadway in the 1970's (Annie) and a screen star now for thirty years, in 1997, just before she began the TV series, I was lucky enough to see her star in a Broadway revival of the musical Once Upon a Mattress. At a Wednesday matinee this wafer of a young woman, with not much voice, exploded across the orchestra pit totally enthralling a packed theatre. This commitment and dynamism is evident in everything I have seen her do. Not really pretty, and with, from the knees down, legs that definitely do not belong on an actress, especially a New York stage actress, she has the ability to convince you that she is what she is playing. There are scenes here when she looks twenty and "younger than springtime" as she leggily struts the avenues of New York exuding sunshine and light. Elsewhere she is sophisticated and icily elegant, the epitome of the aloof Vogue model, who when wronged suddenly becomes a violently ugly woman, her scrawny arms flailing at the man who has abused her. Best of all is the section of the film where she looks a very bad forty-plus, no make up, circles, emotionally spent and washed up. There are scenes in this entertaining "piece of fluff" that show a major star exposed to an extent rarely seen on the screen. She is a gifted, brave actress.
The production is impeccable. Every aspect of camerawork, sound, colour, music and, needless to say, wardrobe is flawless. Like every decent "women's picture" of the 30s and 40s - hate that label, and "chick flick" - there is even a fashion parade. And, of course, we have the fifth star of the film, the city itself. Apart from some of the films of Woody Allen, I doubt if New York, New York ever looked better. Of course there is extensive location work, in parks, public and private buildings, on the Brooklyn Bridge and it is all spectacular without ever becoming a tourist's view of the great city. These characters are of this city, and it is a natural part of their every day existence.
Most fans of the series will love this film. There's nothing as diamond perfect as, say, the TV series post World Trade Centre homage to New York City, or the "An American Girl in Paris" finale episodes , but this is a sumptuous banquet of entertainment, even though the desserts mostly dominate. Audiences paid their money, took their seats, and this film delivered with production values that were not even dreamt of when George Cukor made his comparable classic, The Women. No wonder they returned to see the film a second, or more time, dragging along the uninitiated to share their pleasure.
The producers have just announced that the next cinema instalment will go before the cameras in May 2009.
The sound on the disc is beautifully rich and clear, though it does lack the "big picture" dynamics that really show the capabilities of a system.
There are five audio streams : English Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 Kbps
English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded at 224 Kbps
English Audio Commentary (by writer/director Michael Patrick King) Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded at 224 Kbps
English Narration for the Vision Impaired Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 Kbps
English Narration for the Vision Impaired Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded at 224 Kbps
The feature was watched listening to the Dolby Digital 5.1 stream and Michael Patrick King's commentary was listened to in its entirety. The other three streams were sampled.
Dialogue was superbly clear and balanced, with no directionality that I could note.
Audio sync was perfect, even in the re-dubbed inserts from the TV series used in the opening credits.
With minimal movement across the fronts, and only basically ambient use of the surrounds, the film is still not an aural disappointment, as the music is outstanding.
Opening with the HBO logo and two bars of the original TV theme, in severely limited centre channel mono, the credits music then explodes into all six channels, instantly establishing music as an exciting element of the film. The original score by Aaron Zigman is extremely varied, ranging from combo percussive interludes to sweeping symphonic passages, all beautifully arranged. The recording is technically magnificent and the elsewhere underused surrounds frequently fill the room with gorgeous music, with the sub-woofer giving a throbbing heartbeat to it all.It was a real pleasure to hear a score integrated so well with the dialogue and action on screen, timed to the split second like the classic scores of yesterday.
The aural enjoyment of this film is perfectly in tune with the lush visual pleasures it provides.
|Surround Channel Use|
Considering the fact that this release has a second disc devoted to "extras" what is offered is disappointing. Instead of repeated ravings about the wardrobe, it would have been much more enlightening to see some of the behind the scenes problems involved in shooting so much of the film on location around New York City. What about an interview with Candace Bushnell, talented composer Aaron Zigman or director of photography John Thomas? This film was a huge box-office hit with women, and it seems that the producers of the DVD have assumed that its female audience is only interested in "the girls" and their clothes. So, if you're a female with a thirst to learn a little more about the film than merely its wardrobe, or a mere male who enjoyed these four feisty women on TV, or one who just enjoys a darn good movie, EVEN if it's about women ... tough!
Disc One :
Presented 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced, with a still graphic and theme music from the film.
Options presented are :
Scene Selections : Thirty-eight chapters with thumbnails, on seven screens. No animatiuon or audio.
Commentary by Director Michael Patrick King
Setup Options : A second screen without animation or audio offers the following :
Audio English 5.1
Audio English 2.0
Narration for the Vision Impaired : On / Off
Subtitles : English Captions (Descriptive Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired : Off
At Start-Up :
Piracy Warning (0:22) : 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 enoded at 192 Kbps.
Dolby Digital Train (0:32) : 2.25:1, 16x9 transfer, Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 Kbps.
Start-Up Trailers :
He's Just Not That Into You (1:48) : Presented 2.35:1, 4x3 transfer, Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 224 Kbps.
Silk (1:58) : Presented 2.35:1, 16x9 transfer, Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 Kbps.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2:26) : Presented 1.85:1, 16x9 transfer, Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 Kbps.
Get Smart (2.23) : Presented 1.78:1, 16x9 transfer, encoded at 192 Kbps.
Audio Commentary by Director Michael Patrick King :
This should defintely be the last of the extras you sample. After listening to the writer/director gush over his film for just under two-and-a-half hours, I doubt if you'll ever want to hear the man's voice again. He begins by describing the movie as "a big box of chocolates", and that this extended version has "an extra layer of chocolates". He does give an interesting description of the creation of the title sequence which uses new full screen footage combined with "jig-saw" pieces from the TV series and chapter pages from the book - King describes it as "the book springs to life". After this rather promising beginning, King does nothing much more than to psychoanalyse the characters - and discuss their wardrobe. This probably comes from his origins as a writer, and it is a pity that he did not share the discussion with other voices from the technical side of the production. We do get welcome comments regarding the restored footage, and some justification as to why the movie differs from the TV series. Also of interest is the decision to include an African American character as a response to specific comments to King by "sisters" who were fans of the movie. King is obviously thrilled with the inclusion of the "delicious" Jennifer Hudson. Dreadful things have occurred recently in this young woman's private life, but it is a pity that she cannot act.In the course of production King also seems to have discovered the existence of Auld Lang Syne! Too much television, perhaps?
Two hours twenty-four minutes and twenty-five seconds never seemed so long.
Disc Two :
Menu : A still graphic with the title music from the film.
Featurette : A Conversation with Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Patrick King (23:50) :
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with a 16x9 transfer and Dolby Digital surround encoded at 224 Kbps this featurette has excellent visual quality, with superb colour.
This is quite an enjoyable, chummy chat between star and creator, relaxing in an oppulent sitting room as they enthuse over their movie. MPK is very amicable, and SJP, girlishly giggly at the beginning, but always charming and delightful. Much time is given to enthusing over the wardrobe and accessories but eventually they do get down to discussing the characters from the movie. The most interesting section is that dealing with SJP's desire to be seen as ugly in one dramatic sequence, and physically exposed after the great crisis in the plot - "my version of nudity".
Featurette : The Fabulous Fashions of Sex and the City (18:05) :
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with a 16x9 transfer and Dolby Digital surround encoded at 224 Kbps this featurette is also of excellent visual quality allowing us to see the "fabulous fashions" at their best. Here we get raves about the contribution of costume designer Patricia Field, with the four female stars, producer John Malfi and writer/director Michael Patrick King. Patricia Field takes us on a tour of the wardrobe department, discussing some of the over three hundred costume changes for the four female principals.
Additional Scenes with Commentary by Michael Patrick King (3:41) :
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with a 16:9 transfer and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded at 224 Kbps we are given four scenes not included in the film, and in quality comparable to the film itself. King's explanations of the scenes and the reason for non-inclusion make for a few minutes of moderate interest. The scenes are :
Carrie and Big at dinner discussing the impending wedding;
Miranda taking her son to visit Carrie and Big;
Samantha and Smith at dinner; and
Samantha dancing down hallway in Mexico, with other three femmes in tow.
A second "more" extras screen offers :
Additional Scenes without Commentary (3:41) :
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with a 16x9 transfer and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded at 224 Kbps. Here we get the identical footage from the previous "extra", without Mr King.
Music Video : Fergie in the Studio (2:11) :
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with a 4x3 transfer and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded at 224 Kbps. Just a so-so piece, with minimal footage of Fergie - no, not the Duchess of York - actually singing, Fergie enthusing over being part of the movie, and some poor quality scenes from the film.
|DVD||Onkyo-SP500, using Component output|
|Display||Philips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|