Strong Sexual Content?  A "Big" Arrival?  Commitment Lusting?  Must Be Those City Girls In Gotham, and Celluloid Can Only Hope To Contain Them

Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon as Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda respectively, in Michael Patrick King's "Sex And The City: The Movie", which stars Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie.  The film is based on the seven-season series on HBO cable television in the late-1990's to the early-2000's, opens across the U.S. and Canada on May 30.  (Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Cinema)

By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel

May 12, 2008

The bigger, the better.  The Big Apple.  The Big Show.  Mr. Big.  And Those Four Women -- back in the saddle, with Charlotte, looking for a child.  Samantha, looking for love in all the spontaneous places.  Miranda, looking to keep the relationship she has intact. 

And then there's Carrie.  Looking to reel in The Big Catch, once and for all.

It's been several years since the end of the seventh and final season of "Sex And The City", the highly-popular HBO cable television series cooked up thanks to the book written by Candace Bushnell, an autobiographical expose of her own tales of single womanhood.  The television series was produced and created by Darren Star and some of the episodes were written and directed by Michael Patrick King, who writes and directs the big screen arrival, "Sex And The City: The Movie", which opens in the U.S. and Canada on May 30.  The film will be released with an R-rating in the U.S.  After all, what else could a film with the word "sex" in its title be rated?  (The R-rating by the Motion Picture Association of America is for "strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language.")  Audiences are expected to flock to the multiplex this summer to see the fashions, the handbags, the shoes -- those Manolo Blahniks! -- the splendor that is New York City nightlife, and of course, the ladies themselves and their trials and tribulations.

Sarah Jessica Parker is Carrie -- not the most attractive character of the four but arguably the most alluring and intriguing -- and possibly the most complete and real character of the four Ladies of Gotham.  The other three, played so ably by Kim Cattrall (Samantha), who was born and raised in Liverpool, England, Kristin Davis (as Charlotte), seen by many as the most likable of the four, and Cynthia Nixon, the stage actress (as Miranda), viewed as the smartest.  The big screen "Sex" will feature new characters such as Carrie's assistant, played by Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, a character looking to find love and contentment in New York City.

Four years have passed since the end of the television series, which has tackled everything from black-white sex relations to same-sex relationships to role-playing to . . . well, you name it.  Over the past couple of years a bastardized version of the unexpurgated HBO series ran on the American cable television station TBS, which dubbed out any foul language and trimmed heated sex scenes and nudity.  Most, if not all of the television mainstays are back.  Willie Garson returns as Stansfield, Carrie's gay friend and confidante, as are numerous other players such as Chris Noth as Mr. Big, the businessman who had played with Carrie's heart more than a number of times on the small screen, David Eigenberg as Steve, the husband of Miranda, Evan Handler as Charlotte's husband Harry, and Candice Bergen as Vogue Magazine editor Enid Frick, among others.

Over the last few weeks there have been rumors searing the Internet about a supposed demise of Mr. Big in the film.  Of this rumor -- as Dusty Springfield once sang -- it may be false, it may be true.  But nothing has been proved.

Proven time and time again however, is the immense popularity and appeal of "Sex And The City", not just among women but also among a fair number of men.  And the trailer for the new film shows four women older, more vulnerable and happier than before, although there is a melancholy feel in the two-minute preview that hovers just beneath the surface.  Once again the Big Apple itself is a monumental character, with its sweeping skyline at night and its sunshine visions during the day.  The film is shot in numerous New York City locations, including (surprise, surprise) Fifth Avenue, the home of Ferragamo and Faccionable.

The threads that became Candace Bushnell's series of columns in The New York Observer back in the late 1980's and early 1990's caught the eye of one Darren Star, who in the film's production notes knew he had a great opportunity to take hold of in Miss Bushnell's writings.  "I just loved the character of a single woman who is writing about herself and exploring the city and the nature of relationships at the same time," said Mr. Star, who along with Sarah Jessica Parker is one of the film's producers.  Mr. King, who was captivated by the quartet of ladies he fell in love with over the years of the show on cable television, said that the show's success was due to a vacancy that needed to be filled.  "Someone had to speak out for single women, someone going through life alone in a society that says everybody should be together . . . [I]n the show, subliminally and sometimes not so subliminally, is the other voice that is saying, 'Be smart, strong!  Follow your own road!'"  Mr. King, who has followed his own road after some financial struggles and now lives in Hollywood Hills, California, made a distinction between the hit television series and the new film: "The series was really about the search for love.  And I think the movie's about what happens when you find it." 

Carrie Bradshaw has had experiences in a life as a woman that every woman can relate to, especially in the roller-coaster road to love.  In a big city where one has so much company but can feel so lonely, Carrie's diaries offer an intimate glimpse into love, longing, commitment and the politics of sex.  In the film, Carrie has come of age in a different sense, as everything comes together.  Older, wiser and more secure, thanks in part to a stable relationship with handsome hot shot Mr. Big, Carrie has a glow, brightness and optimism and is ready for new challenges.  "She's experiencing New York City in a different way.  It's the first time she's been wise and smart enough and prudent enough to save money.  She's much more of an adult," said Ms. Parker.

While Carrie is looking to make a big move with Mr. Big, Charlotte, the Park Avenue Princess, is sitting pretty with her husband Evan, and with an adopted child to call her own she is turning to toward impacting other people's lives.  Says Ms. Davis of her character: "Because she has so much of what she wants, she's kind of focused on other people."  The sexual livewire of this ladies' gang is Samantha and four years of time have changed her.  She, believe it or not, is committed to her boyfriend Smith, an actor (Jason Lewis), and is living in Los Angeles, 3500 miles away from her beloved girl pals.  Ms. Cattrall, who along with Ms. Parker and Ms. Nixon have won awards for their work on "Sex", alludes to the reality that her girlfriends have grown up in the ways that most women who move up the ladder of life grow up.  "Her girlfriends are getting married and having babies . . . there is that feeling of being left behind, not just distance-wise."  Miranda is in Brooklyn, but with Steve and son Brady she feels isolated and claustrophobic at the same time.  "She's just exhausted.  Just like a working mother, she's extended in five different directions," said Ms. Cattrall.

While the four ladies of love are going through new adventures, there's a fifth lovely leading lady in town, a new character addition to the Big Apple and to Mr. King's film.  Louise, as played by Jennifer Hudson, is hired by Carrie to be her assistant.  Ms. Hudson, fresh off her Academy Award-winning role in "Dreamgirls", has a supporting but significant role as a protege-of-sorts to Carrie, a kind of heir apparent to Carrie's glamour throne perhaps.  "Louise is a twenty-five year-old girl from St. Louis who moves to New York to find love.  She believes in love.  And what greater message is there than to spread love?"  Ms. Hudson, who is a singer and songwriter, also supplied a song ("Dressed In Love") for the film's soundtrack, which will be available in stores on May 27 in the U.S. and Canada.  The role of Louise was up for grabs, and Ms. Hudson admitted that she hadn't been an avid viewer of the television series and used the six and a half seasons of the HBO series, which are forever memorialized on DVD, for insight and research for her character.  In the film's production notes she has clearly caught the fever for "Sex".  "I have not stopped watching it since.  I'm addicted -- I'm in love with it."

There's actually a sixth leading lovely lady -- of song -- who like Ms. Hudson is involved musically in "Sex And The City: The Movie".  India.Arie, the supremely talented Grammy award-winning artist, provides the song "The Heart of The Matter" to the film's soundtrack.  The song can be heard during the trailer of the film.

A major player in the proceedings for the film as well as the television series is its costumer/designer fashion icon Patricia Field, who has a style and uniqueness that is obviously all her own.  With long, bright red scarlet hair, Ms. Field made a few and selected the many different wardrobes for the ladies and the rest of the cast.  Ms. Field had done the same for the entire duration of the television series.  "When you work with a crew for so many years, it's family, so it was great getting back together again," Ms. Field said.  She brought co-designer Molly Rogers on board for the film, among others.  The challenge for Ms. Field was to design a wardrobe for the four ladies after a gap of four years.  What was the clothing going to look like and evoke, four years later in their lives?  "I think Michael Patrick trusted me to do what was right.  And for me, it just had to be intelligent, it had to have a reason.  There had to be a logic behind the way they looked, because those girls are a part of everyone's living room, and they will check it out, detail for detail.  So there has to be a real truth there."  Director Michael Patrick King sung Ms. Field's praises.  "People have been waiting a while to see these ladies.  And when they see these ladies. they're going to see some color and they're gong to see some new ideas.  Pat is at the top of her game."

All involved with "Sex And The City: The Movie" are hoping that the film will be on top of the box office tree when it opens on May 30, and that it can be every bit the $100 million-plus hit that similar fashion-themed film "The Devil Wears Prada" was two summers ago.  All indications are that "Sex" will sizzle on screen and off. 

After all, sex sells.


Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in a wallpaper image for the new film "Sex And The City: The Movie", which opens in the U.S. and Canada on May 30.  Jennifer Hudson stars as Louise, Carrie's assistant.  (Courtesy: New Line Cinema; Photo of Jennifer Hudson by Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Cinema)

"Sex And The City: The Movie" also stars Candice Bergen and Mario Cantone.  The film opens on May 30 and is written and directed by Michael Patrick King.

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