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Sherry’s “Secrets,” why the French rule cinema

After the challenging role she played in “The Family Stone,” Sarah Jessica Parker returns to more familiar comedic territory, as the girl hired to get commitment-phobic slacker, Matthew McConaughey, to move out of his parents’ house in “Failure to Launch.” It’s a piece of pure romantic fluff, and Parker graciously took time off from her busy life to sit down for a one-on-one with me.

When told that she’s a lot more likable here than she was playing Meredith, the homophobe in “The Family Stone,” Parker wailed, “I know! I’m sorry about that! But I do think it’s very important for an actor not to worry about being likable all of the time. You do a disservice to a part that’s so well written if you’re worried all the time and it’s a little result-oriented if you’re constantly peeking out, asking that question. I loved how complex Meredith and all those characters were, and loved how [director] Thomas Bezucha weaved it altogether, and she is redeemed at the end, but authentica­lly.”

“Sex and the City,” with its alluring Manhattan zeitgeist, was probably, as much as anything else, responsible for the huge boom in tourism we now experience on a daily basis in New York and Parker acknowledged, “I never thought about that, but I knew there were demographics of people that really experienced New York City through the lives of those four women. Woody Allen has always shot the city in a very unique way and then there was a rash of great TV shows, all the Dick Wolf shows [‘Law and Order,’ and its multiples], that showed the gritty New York. We got to shoot the city in a poetic way and I do think that it was really good for the city and, frankly, it was good for all of us because it established a kind of identity to this city that we really feel privileged to have.”

But, really, don’t wait for the movie of “Sex and the City.”

“No, you know, there was a time when we thought we could all do it together and it was a great script. But you have to respect people’s choices to want to move on, so unfortunately it’s not happening.”

As for Parker’s perfume, “Lovely,” she said, “It’s doing really well in a very competitive market. That project has been a real dream. I knew what I wanted going in, so that cut a lot of the time. From my first meeting with Coty until the launch, it was less than a year which is a pretty accelerated pace for a fragrance. But we did it!”

Questions about her status as a style icon rather get on Parker’s nerves, however. When I asked if she ever gets tired of being dissected this way, she replied, “I can’t pay that much attention to it because that’s not who I am. I’m an actor first, so you know—good or bad you sort of just have to take it with a grain of salt.”

“But you do love it, and obviously have fun with it, don’t you?” I asked.

“Yeah, I like it, but I also understand its place in my life and in the world. It’s wonderful to wear these beautiful things, but it’s not ultimately who I am. It’s just some nice benefit of what I’ve done.”

Representing another female side is Sherry Glaser, whose one woman show, “Family Secrets,” opened at 37 Arts (450 W. 37th Street; 212-307-4100). A humorous autobiographical work about a Jewish family transplanted from the Bronx to Southern California, out lesbian Glaser is directed by Bob Balaban, who made his movie debut in “Midnight Cowboy” as the scared kid who goes down on hustler Jon Voigt in a cinema.

Glaser told me, “My producer brought Bob in, and offered him the script which he loved. He’s kind of a quirky guy in his choices and you can’t pin him down, but he has a beautiful sense of family and was an amazing support, very simple, never overreaching.

“I decided to do this show when I realized that I was turning into both my father and my mother. I came out to them at 19, when I fell in love. My mother was happy, but it scared my father very badly. I was so different from my brother, who went to Hebrew school, got bar mitzvah’ed, and has a job in an office, like my Dad. I had to tell him, ‘It’s okay. Just because I’m a lesbian doesn’t mean that I’m going to hurt you! That’s the way I love!”

After that, Glaser did meet and marry a man, Greg Howells, who co-wrote this show.

“I was married for 10 years, and when he was gone, I went back to women. It was just a phase I grew out of!”

Glaser, who has two daughters, now lives in Montecito, California “with Sheba Love, who’s about to give birth, herself. She’s an amazing farmer, six feet tall, with white hair and eyebrows, and a beard. People stop when she walks into a room, but so many women have facial hair and shave it because it’s totally unacceptable in “normal society.”

Lincoln Center Film Society’s “Rendezvous with French Cinema” (through March 19) proves once again that the French are the standard bearers of the art form. Don’t miss the audacious “Heading South,” which stars Charlotte Rampling as the alpha leader of a cadre of women, reveling in the sexual paradise offered by young, available men in Haiti. The real problems of non-white immigrants in France are humorously, trenchantly dealt with in “Housewarming” and “Zim and Co.” Valérie Lemercier, like a modern Rosalind Russell with her rapid-fire delivery and gangly physical comedy, has two strong appearances, in her self-directed “Palais Royal,” a sparkling comedy inspired by Princess Diana, and the lovely “Orchestra Seats.”

This last is a particular love letter to the Queen of Cities, Paris, as is Cédric Klapisch’s romance, “Russian Dolls, featuring Cécile de France, enchanting in a lesbian role. Yves Angelo’s “Grey Souls’ is a magnificent melodrama dealing with the horrors of World War I. “Cold Showers” is an excruciatingly sexy tale of a teenaged, impoverished judo enthusiast, which joyously celebrates male physical beauty, especially that of yummy French heartthrob, Pierre Perrier. The shower scene alone has already stirred discussion on hunkvideo.com.

Contact David Noh at Inthenoh@aol.com.

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Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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