Critics overseas haven’t been too kind to "Sex and the City 2." When that happens with any movie, there is no better tonic for the cast and crew than to head off to Japan to get the feel-good factor back again.
For Sarah Jessica Parker, 45, Cynthia Nixon, 44, Kristin Davis, 45, and Kim Cattrall, 53, the bliss began immediately upon their arrival at Narita where hundreds of women were waiting, bearing flowers and chocolates. Then the tumultuous welcome that the four stars and director Michael Patrick King, 54, received at the red carpet premiere at Roppongi Hills Arena left no doubt that Tokyo women have embraced "Sex and the City" during its six seasons on TV from 1998 through 2004 and the two ensuing films.
“Japanese audiences have been so loving,” gushed Parker. “In fact, Japanese fashions have had a huge influence on the show. Our costumer designer Patricia Field comes to Japan a lot and she would always bring back fashion magazines. From Season 2 on, Japanese fashion styles influenced the way my character of Carrie dressed.”
At the height of the show’s popularity, Japanese women often went to New York on "Sex and the City" tours. “I remember them coming up to us to explain how big the show was in Japan,” said Nixon, while Davis added that Japanese women would tell her much they understood her character’s conservative viewpoints and identified with her. “No matter where we go, no matter how different the culture is, the story translates so well,” said Cattrall. “I used to think it was just about four New York gals, but it seems to be a woman’s movement that cannot be stopped.”
In the new movie, the four women are dealing with the usual issues of love, relationships, aging, menopause, work and fashions. Courtesy of a sheik enamored by Cattrall’s character, the four jet off for a decadent week in Abu Dhabi, complete with chauffeured Maybachs, hotel butlers and lots of designer outfits. This gives the film a chance to take a few potshots at how women are treated in an Arab culture -- illustrated vividly when the quartet sing a karaoke version of "I Am Woman" at the hotel nightclub. They also find that they have much in common with their Muslim sisters beneath their veils, especially a passion for Suzanne Somers’ books.
The UAE segment (actually filmed in Morocco) has generated some controversy abroad, but the stars dismissed it. “We’re not a political show; we’re a social satire,” said Nixon. “For some reason, the TV show has always been incendiary to some people. A few years ago, when the Republican National Convention was being held in New York, I saw women wearing T-shirts that said ‘Carrie Bradshaw doesn’t speak for me, and neither does John Kerry.’ What was that all about? We never set out to be hard-hitting.” King, who also produced and wrote the script for the film, said it is “as fantastic, glamorous and grounded in reality as the women watching it want it to be. Really, all we are doing is exploring the lives and loves of these four characters.”
That exploration has been going on now for 12 years, longer than any of the cast ever thought it would last. “We all first met about 13 years ago,” said Cattrall. “We were having lunch with execs from HBO. They had a pilot script that was only 30 pages and no one knew where it was going. Usually, chemistry doesn’t exist on the page, but for us, that story came to life and we started to shape the show. More writers came on board and they started to write for our strengths and talent. That’s when you know you’re onto something good.”
Parker admitted that the fame of being associated with one part for so long can be a two-edged thing. “It’s delightful to do something you love for so long. People identify with us and we come into their living room each week, but there have been times when I have had to remind people that I’m not Carrie Bradshaw. In that sense, the whole phenomenon can be invasive, but not in a way that I feel resentment. After all, we are here because of the commitment that the women of Japan have made to us.”© Japan Today