Review by Mark Wiechman
Director: Catherine Annau
Audio: Dolby Stereo 2.0
Video: Color Widescreen 16:9
Features: See Review
Length: 82 minutes plus extras
Release date: January 31, 2006
In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit here and now that I have long been a fan of Kim Cattrall’s beauty and acting talent. Not many women can boast of playing desirable females for so many years and also claim to have portrayed a female Vulcan opposite Leonard Nimoy himself. To me she has also aged very gracefully and actually exudes more charisma now than she did many years ago.
Having said that, I also have to admit that I find that her portrayal of Samantha Jones in the HBO hit series Sex and the City to be a waste of her talent. I have tried over and over again to watch one full episode and I have only succeeded once, and I regretted wasting thirty minutes of my time in that pursuit. The show had its funny moments, but that doesn’t change the shallowness of a show about four older women who do little more than shop for shoes and men. The never ending narration from Sarah Jessica Parker just made it worse. I expect much more from four actresses who are all above average in acting chops and beauty.
So it is with mixed emotions that I inserted this DVD into my player. Alas, it took less than five minutes to make me wish I could watch something else. The show seems to be Samantha talking about sex all over the world and throughout history in a very superficial way that is mildly entertaining but hardly educational. Now and then there is an insight that is stated but never explored, and the psychobabble can’t be overcome by the occasional lush vistas of Cyprus and other locations. For example, supposedly Aphrodite rose from the sea in Cyprus 5,000 years ago, and then we are shown famous portraits of Marilyn Monroe and other screen sirens. Aphrodite was a myth, but Marilyn was not, and all of this means what, that women are captivating in their beauty? Did she have to fly halfway around the world to tell us this?
The press release and Cattrall’s nude image on the cover makes this program seem special, but it really is not. The largely female audience of Sex and the City may find it interesting because it tends to speak from a female point of view, but there is no substance here at all and nothing which has not been told many times before in a better format by countless books. In fact I noticed the companion book to this program was half-price at my local bookstore, and if a book about sex does not sell, that should tell you how vanilla it is. It’s not as if people don’t already think and talk about sexuality all the time anyway, so a book about it better have some intelligent insight to share. As they say in Nashville, get hot or go home.
I suppose I just disagree with the whole premise of this program. It tries to be everything to everyone and fails all around. Merely because Cattrall is very attractive and was a star of a very successful sit-com that focused on four promiscuous and shallow women, what does she actually know about sexuality? While it may be true that “testicle” and “testify” share the same word origin, so what? How can a gigantic image of an ancient god with a huge phallus improve anyone’s sexual performance? Is it really news to anyone that much of the ancient world was obsessed with sexuality and did not hide it? Is anyone unaware that men and women are very different or that fantasies are important to the imagination of many of us? How is playing a woman so obsessed with sex that she will sleep with anything that moves make the actress who plays her an expert on real relationships? According to many of the guest interviewees, sex is important to their relationships. Really? Isn’t that important to anyone who would bother to watch this?
I think if it had been titled “Sex around the world” or something like that, maybe I could accept this just as light fare with a little trivia thrown in. But late-night low-budget HBO specials which talk to real people and real experts about sexuality are practically high art compared to this lame attempt to merge National Geographic specials with Dr. Ruth.
I decided not to use a quote from this program at the beginning of my review because I could not find one that was original or interesting.
Many lovely panoramic shots in many scenic locations and well-edited with high quality production, which unfortunately only make the viewer wish there was more substance to the documentary itself.
Not bad but the studio interviews are much louder than most of Cattrall’s narrations and sometimes her voice drops off and she cannot be heard above the roar of the waves and other exotic noise.
Special features include a behind the scenes featurette with the animators. There is not all that much animation in the special, but some of it is unique, so they do deserve some kudos for it. However, this little special is really just the animators talking about what they did. It is not terribly interesting or educational.
The music video of Tegan and Sasa’s “Speak Slow” is very amateurishly shot, the band looks bored and the song is nothing special. I can see bored teenagers anytime, anywhere. There is also a Kim Cattrall biography which is fairly complete as biographies go.
Documentaries about well-known subjects must be informative and entertaining, and this program is very light in both departments. It might be fun for young couples and fans of Ms. Cattrall who are not expecting too much.