Fifty Shades Darker (2017)

Fifty Shades Darker
Directed by James Foley
Written by Niall Leonard, based on the novel by E.L. James

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The sequel heard around the world is finally coming to theaters, Fifty Shades Darker, seemingly from the title anticipates the story going deeper (no pun intended) than the last and pushing back the layers around the characters that are Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and the formidable Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). The director of the first one bailed Sam Taylor-Johnson and has now been replaced by director James Foley. Whereas the first one served to push the envelope a bit and introduce audiences to the characters and the world of S&M, the second one felt like a clichéd version of what audiences would expect.

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Corny one liners and a banal storyline, I felt like I was watching a cheesy Hallmark movie with some sex scenes sprinkled into it. So much of it felt predictable and any suspense that was built up was instantly solved in a few minutes.

The sequel is about Anastasia and Christian coming back together because he simply cannot live without her. Except this time around she renegotiates her terms with him and wants to have just a real, normal relationship. The problem is can Christian handle, as she says a vanilla relationship? Meaning one without the constant badgering to play dom and sub in the bedroom and one where boyfriends don’t dictate your relationship like a legal arrangement. Christian is used to being in control, it’s what excites him, it’s what gets him off in every area of his life, but this time around he agrees to try this type of relationship out with her because she is worth it in every sense of the word.

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Anastasia is trying to lead a normal life, she finally got the job of her dreams, a position at a publishing house and wants so eagerly to impress her boss Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson). He is as equally enticing and sexy as Christian, but in a different way. He’s smart, he likes books as much as Anastasia and appears to be much more laid back. Immediately Christian cannot handle the fact that she has a boss and starts to try to manage her life, even trying to stop her from going on a work trip to New York City.

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What envelops from here is a story so ridiculous that I wasn’t sure whether to roll my eyes or laugh. In the sequel, we find out more about Christian’s tortured past and meet the elusive Elena, who first showed him the ropes of the S&M world when he was young. I loved that Kim Basinger played the character, in a way as an homage to her original bad ass character from 9 ½ Weeks, who unleashed her sexuality in the days before every movie had gratuitous sex scenes in it. What wasn’t great was the fact that she was underused in the film. I would have loved to have seen her do something interesting or mind grabbing with Christian, instead she remains as a foreground character, fourth to all the other nonsensical characters in the film.

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I found the sex scenes in Darker, to push the envelope a bit more, which was what I expected. Ben Wa balls and an adjustable leg spreader bar and cuffs (curious minds should look both those up), take the scenes up a notch. As she tells Christian at one point, “I was being romantic and then you go and distract me with your kinky f—kery.” What’s different this time around is that Anastasia is much more willing to explore her kinky side in the bedroom. Whereas before she may have turned away or felt scared, this time she is curious and wants to play.

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The movie is filled with leg grinding, lace panties, and sexy heels, and Dornan’s beautiful body. Director Foley gave audiences just what they wanted in that arena. As far as the storyline goes, it was simply lacking and unfocused. Many of the lines felt sterile and banal, but I guess this movie really isn’t going for Oscar worthy screenwriting. Although it could be nominated for a Razzie award. If you are a fan of the first one, then my guess is that curiosity will lead you to the theaters. The film could be fun to see with friends, have a good laugh, and see Dornan’s abs (it’s worth it just for that alone), but that’s about it. If none of that peaks your interest, then I would suggest saving your hard-earned dollars and waiting to see this one until it comes out on video.

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(Insert gratuitous pic of Dornan… DONE)

}}Melissa

Movie Review: How to Be Single (2016)

How to Be Single (2016)
Directed by Christian Ditter
Written by Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, & Dana Fox, adapted from the book by Liz Tuccillo

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Being single can be one of the best experiences of someone’s life and for anyone that is single the best advice I can give is to enjoy it while it lasts. Now for the person who is single, that is probably the last thing they want to hear from their smug friends in long-term relationships or their happily married ones. Instead being single can feel really lonesome, depressing (literally everyone is in a relationship or at least it feels like that), and sometimes the constant disappoint of meeting another douchey guy can be too much to handle. But the reality of the whole situation is that women and men should embrace their single lifestyle and welcome it with open arms. In the film How to Be Single, directed by Christian Ditter and based on the novel of the same name by Liz Tuccillo, the story follows a group of women with their struggles in finding love in New York City.

The story revolves around Alice (Dakota Johnson); she is the type of girl who has always been in a relationship, so when she finds herself suddenly single she is clueless about how to proceed with dating. Cue her friend Robin (Rebel Wilson) who completely enjoys being single and knows all the ins-and-outs of dating in the Big Apple. She teaches Alice a thing or two about navigating a world filled with mixed messages sent via text (never send a guy an emoji right after you meet him it screams desperation) and how to talk to guys at crowded bars.

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Alice lives with her older sister Meg (Leslie Mann), an overworked OB/GYN who rarely has time to sleep let alone date. She goes on a mission to have a baby of her own by finding a sperm donor, never really thinking she would meet anyone. When Ken (Jake Lacy) introduces himself to her at a work party, sparks fly and she cannot deny that she likes this much younger dude.

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Then there is Lucy (Alison Brie), the single girl who has gone so far as to create an algorithm to try to find the perfect match on a dating site. She has a horrible WIFI connection in her home, so she sets up shop with her laptop and sweat pants at the local bar downstairs where Tom (Anders Holm) the snarky bartender and experienced lothario tries to give her dating advice.

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All the meantime, Alice remains stuck between sort of still liking her ex Josh (Nicholas Braun) and meeting interesting new men like David (Damon Wayans Jr.), the single dad who is a total sweetheart. Alice must learn how to love herself before anyone else can come into her life and take pleasure in being a party of one.

I thought the film had a lot of funny moments in it, Johnson was great as the awkward, yet totally cute single gal and of course Wilson played her part to perfection and gave the film its most comical times. Part of me is kind of sick of seeing Wilson play the same persona, but we can’t deny that she plays it well and she embraces every inch of her wackiness which I totally love.

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Mann was funny and probably had some of my favorite moments in the film, like when Jake sees her shopping for baby items when he had no idea she was pregnant and she totally freaks out. That was pretty funny and I enjoyed the banter between Brie and Holm. He is slowly coming out of his Workaholics persona and turning into a bona fide actor.

I felt that at many times this film was trying so hard to be like Sex and the City, but I guess anytime you put single women in a film set in New York City its difficult not to make that comparison. I liked this movie more than the annoying show Girls, which again gives us the same NYC scenario; in fact I would have thoroughly enjoyed this as a series on HBO. I think it would be really promising and I would love to see many of these characters shelled out more.

This is a perfect film to see with your girl friends as it just oozes female estrogen in every scene. It could also be a fun date night movie to drag your significant other to or maybe a first date, although that might result in you staying single. But hey it doesn’t matter because being single is liberating, exciting, and a great state of mind to be in at any age.

}}Melissa

Also posted on Pink Egg Media

Movie Review: 50 Shades of Grey (2015)

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson
Written by Kelly Marcel
Adapted from the book by E.L. James

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The hype was palpable over the film 50 Shades of Grey. Everyone was clamoring over the steamy sex scenes, feminists were pissed off that it featured women being violated, and everyone was having a moment letting everyone know their opinion on the film. I had to see it for myself, for movie research of course (cough cough). I will easily give you my opinion in a few words, it’s not the worst movie, it’s not great, and I would say it is just okay.

Back when everyone was talking about the book, naturally I had to go read it and see what the fuss was all about, well I only got about 150 pages in and I put it down. I couldn’t take it, the writing was so corny, I felt like I was reading one of those old romance novels with Fabio on the cover. I thought the movie will probably better than this, and really who ever thinks that when they read a book?

 50 Shades of Grey is about a girl named Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), a normal college girl who is a bit frumpy and modest, and her relationship with the young billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), an enigmatic handsome guy and the most eligible bachelor around. In place of her roommate who is sick, she goes to interview Grey instead and upon arriving it is obvious that the two are completely different people. Where as he commands the room, she is meek and shy, his bravado is undeniable and hers is a bit softer hiding under layers of innocence.

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From there he becomes enamored with her, perhaps for her vulnerability, but his grasp on her becomes tight. He can’t stop thinking about her and wants to be with her. He appears at her work, a supply store, out of the blue, and asks her to help him find rope, ties and masking tape. If that doesn’t sound like a list for a serial killer, I don’t know what does. After inviting her over for dinner, he immediately knows he wants her to be his. Yes, his as in a possession, as in laying a claim over her.

He showers her with affection, takes on her a helicopter ride and of course has to help her with the seat belt. As he puts his hands around her waist area, the sexual tension can be felt. When he takes her back home, he lays down a contract and asks her to be his. In exchange, she will get her own room to stay in on the weekends, where she is free to decorate as she pleases, and anything she needs he will buy it for her, a new car, a computer, whatever it is. If she chooses to be his, she must adhere to his strict guidelines in being his partner, and not just any partner; she must essentially be his sex slave. Anything he wants to do, as far off as it sounds, whips, chains, being restrained with cuffs or rope, essentially anything goes if she is willing to play in his sex room. She can amend the contracts with what she does not want to do, but everything else is pretty much fair game if she agrees.

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When he shows her his play room she innocently asks if it contains an Xbox (which was really corny) and inside he shows his red room of sex. He has tables, chairs, whips on the wall of every style, flogging sticks and any sexual device that could be used for bondage. She is as much confused as she is in awe of her discovery of Christian’s deep and darkest secret.  In a way, I believe she feels special at the fact that he has shown her so much of himself, considering what a private person he seems to be to the public.

From there, the whole movie is her discovery of not only her sexuality and what it means to be pleasured in every way possible and her realization of who Christian Grey is as a person. He was orphaned and taken in by a wealthy family and that is as much as she really knows about him and he refuses to let her into his true world. Part of his rules, is that they cannot sleep together in the same bed or really do anything that would scream of a relationship, like normal dates and hugging. He is an odd person, but as he says throughout the film that is who he is and he cannot help it. Anastasia must take him as he is, if she wants to be in his life.

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The film was fun to watch, the corniness of it made me laugh. When I saw this in the theater months ago the audience was going a bit wild during much of the sex scenes. Mostly guys screaming silly stuff, it is obvious that sex still makes adults laugh as if they were in sex-ed class learning about this topic for the first time.

Johnson was pretty brave to put herself out there and be completely nude throughout much of the film, considering this was her big break out role. She delivered a performance that was heartfelt and endearing, and I became a fan of hers by the end of the movie.

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On the other hand, despite Dornan’s handsome looks and body, his acting felt very one note and dull. In the book, Grey is a force to be reckoned with from the boardroom to the bedroom and in the film, he was very blah and not that fun to watch. When the camera pans to him, he gives a gorgeous playful smile and he is great to look at, but everything else fell flat. I had only seen him in Marie Antoinette before, so I am not sure of his acting prowess as much, but I hope that he can deliver in the upcoming sequels. Since I knew that Charlie Hunnam was supposed to be in this role, but dropped out, all I could think about was how great he would have been in this film. Although I think he made a wise decision not taking the role and I think this would have devalued his image a bit.

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If you on the fence about seeing this movie, I think you should see it on one of those nights where you are really bored and have nothing else to watch, or if you are just curious to see it.

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lol

}}Melissa