Romance

[Movie Review] ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ is Heavy on Cheese and Light on Kink

fiftyshadesdarker_postertgofLet’s be honest with one another–the Fifty Shades series is an easy target for snarky critics. There’s not much of a challenge in sitting down and pinpointing every illogical turn the movie takes and every laughable line of dialogue uttered by actors who seem as tickled about what they are saying as we are hearing it. It’s hard to take a breath, collect oneself and approach a movie like Fifty Shades Darker and pick out why you should see it–and trust me, no one involved has made it easy.

For every one thing good you can say about James Foley’s film there are a handful more pushing into the spotlight to ruining it for the rest of us. Yet we march on–Fifty Shades Darker picks up shortly after the first film as Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) continues to creepily pine for the plain Jane, Anastasia (Dakota Johnson). After a half-hearted attempt to brush him off, Anastasia agrees to meet with Christian to renegotiate the terms of their “arrangement”. As they embark on their new relationship Christian’s past and Anastasia’s vanilla sex appeal proves to be a little more complicated than they anticipated.  (more…)

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Movie Review: Spring

spring_posterThere’s something I find inherently frustrating about aggressively vague and simplistic one word movie titles. If you think of something like, JAWS- that’s a perfect one word title for the movie it is, powerful, descriptive and memorable. Some movies bypass this by simply putting “the” in front of the title, thus clearing up any confusion of what the movie could possibly be about. Now, let’s talk about SPRING- a movie title so vague that if you didn’t know what you were in for could be extremely off-putting depending on your taste in movie, or pleasantly surprising. If I were to approach someone who asked me what movie I liked recently and I were to say, “I love SPRING,” which carries a few different reactions. Either they will think I’m confused and told them my favorite season, or they will know I just mentioned a movie and hopefully ask a followup question. In rare cases, those who keep an eye on the indie horror circuit will know what I’m talking about and we can continue the conversation.

With a name like SPRING, it’s tough to imagine what a horror film like that could possibly be about- unless you’ve already seen the trailer or read the IMDb synopsis. SPRING is a horror/romance hybrid that follows Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) who’s hit a bit of a rough patch in his life. His mother, who he’s been taking care of, just passed away and after a scruff in a local bar some rough characters have their sights set on him. If that’s not enough, one morning the cops knock on his door, presumably as a followup following the bar skirmish. Naturally, Evan makes the decision that it’s time to get the hell outta dodge, so he uses some of his inheritance to abscond overseas. He tags along with some Brits as he makes his way around Europe before finding his way to Italy where he decides to plant him self after having an intriguing encounter with a woman, Louise (Nadia Hilker), and finding a job helping an aging olive farmer. Evan again bumps into Louise and the two begin a sprouting romance that seems all too perfect from the outside. (more…)

2015 Academy Award Predictions

81st Academy Awards® Press Kit ImagesThe two most telling things I can possible say to anyone getting ready to read my ramblings about the Oscars is that (1) as of writing this I haven’t seen all the movies nominated and therefore can’t accurately speak for many of the nominations those movies have gotten (but I will try), and (2) I don’t necessarily care about the Oscars. I know what movies I saw in 2014 that I loved and many of them would have never had a chance to even enter Oscar discussions. Therefore the Oscars are more of a “cherry on top” should any of the movies I loved actually get recognition- and I’m not that big a fan of cherries.

I will say I do enjoy watching the Oscars….some of the time. I feel like the ceremony is too long and there are too many categories I don’t really care that much about. However, I do enjoy watching seasoned actors giving their acceptance speeches, especially if I’m a big fan of said actor/actress. In the event any of my favorite movies, actors, actresses, scores, and writers get recognized for movies I enjoyed during the year I get a pretty satisfying rush even having not been involved in their success. But seeing as how I don’t really hold the Oscars near and dear to my heart it’s more of a momentary celebration than anything I remember long after its over. So…all that being said aren’t you pumped for my predictions now? (more…)

Movie Review: The Other Woman

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There’s plenty of romantic comedies out there that get a bad rep for being misogynistic or just comedies in general; it’s only fair that the women have their day right? If you don’t want to classify THE OTHER WOMAN as a romantic comedy, I’ll play along, but I will then call it one of the weirdest buddy comedies I’ve seen in a while. It’s got a some sporadic laughs, but so much more about it is so confused and strange that I’m not sure what Nick Cassavetes was really going for.

Things seem to be going great when Carly (Cameron Diaz) meets Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and the two date for months. Carly feels comfortable enough for Mark to meet her father, but when he bails on the meeting last minute Carly begins to suspect something is amiss. Her suspicions are confirmed when she drives out to his home to discover her flame has a wife, Kate (Leslie Mann). Now Kate being tipped of her hubby’s illicit affair she tries like hell to befriend Carly to get to the bottom of Mark’s wrongdoings and discovering more than just infidelity. (more…)

Movie Review: Divergent

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Who out there is getting really tired of these young adult movie adaptations? I know I am. I haven’t even attempted to plunge the depths of the HARRY POTTER series, barely even remember that TWILIGHT was once a thing and the only one that seems to matter right now is THE HUNGER GAMES. Then of course DIVERGENT comes along. A few months ago I had no idea that this even existed- it was merely a weird trailer that meant nothing to me. I was then passed the book recently and I figured, why not? Took me about a week and a half to get through it and my feelings on the book pretty much mirror the film. It’s decent, but nowhere near great.

I barely even want to get into explaining the inner workings of DIVERGENT, but I’ll try. The world went through a massive war and in the wake the inhabitants of Chicago built a fence around the remains of the city, to protect themselves from whatever was left out there. Inside the walls the people in charge created five factions, each with a central set of ideals that they take very seriously. When the children of the society turn a certain age they are required to take a test that gives them an idea of what faction they would mostly likely belong to. However, in rare cases the test is inconclusive indicating the subject is divergent and therefore cannot be pinned to one way of thinking. The children then go through a choosing ceremony where they chose what faction they will spend the rest of their lives in. (more…)

Movie Review: That Awkward Moment

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There are so many movies out there with guy humor that get bad wraps for being sexist and so many romantic comedies that get dumped on for being, well, dumb. It seems only natural that one that combines them gets a bad wrap and dumbed on for both of the same reasons. That’s at least the impression I got from a lot of the things I read about THAT AWKWARD MOMENT and I laugh in the face at them all. This a guy’s film that as raunchy as it is, is not nearly as insensitive to the female condition as people will have you believe- and it’s damn funny to boot.

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT is three friends Jason (Zach Efron), Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) and Daniel (Miles Teller) who decide to make a pact to stay single for a while after Mikey’s wife cheats on him and asks for a divorce. The only problem is that once the pact is struck, Jason meets a girl he’s really into, Daniel thinks he might be ready to be in a relationship with a friend that’s been right in front of him the whole time and Mikey finds a way to put life back into his marriage. However, neither friend decides to divulge any of their new life developments to one another causing a serious of hilarious and awkward moments.

Yes, the film is not Shakespeare- but it doesn’t have to be. It’s not the handbook of love and all the secrets to make your love life perfect- but it doesn’t have to be. What it has to be is entertaining and it delivers on that in spades. Anyone telling you this is trash has a stick up their ass and it’s the longest relationship they’ve had. There’s moments of real relationship jitters and cute new relationship goosebumps for the ladies to get their fix and hilarious raunchy guy humor for the fellas. It’s a win win- guys satisfy their gal’s need for romance and get a chuckle for their trouble. More than a chuckle actually. (more…)

Mini Reviews: Mud, Rapture-Palooza, Solomon Kane, A Haunted House and More

mud_posterMud – I loved Jeff Nichols previous film TAKE SHELTER, which is why I was pretty amped to check out his latest effort, MUD. Nichols has been able to extract amazing performances from his actors and I had no reason to expect any less this time around. To an extent, MUD is pretty much what I was expecting, although it didn’t quite connect with me as emotionally as TAKE SHELTER- and for specific reasons.

MUD is about two young friends that venture out to an island off the river they live by to find a boat left by recent floods and find it high up in a tree- only thing is that they also find that a fugitive by the name of Mud (Matthew McConaughey) has been making it his home. As it turns out Mud’s presence becomes an obsession for the boys as he entertains them with stories of how he’s here to reunite with his true love, but has to lay low due to some trouble Mud got into for his true love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). As Mud uses the boys to retrieve him supplies to fix the boat so he and Juniper can make their escape one of the boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) struggles with personal problems of his own that deal with love and family. (more…)

Movie Review: Safe Haven (2013)

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At this point we’ve seen so many Nicholas Sparks adaptations that the formula is nothing more than a handful of producers throwing darts at a spinning wheel of generic directors that will jump at the opportunity to exploit the emotions of females around the globe. Also on that wheel are any remaining unproduced Sparks novel, generic actors/actresses in need of some sort of a quick cash grab and ways you can shoehorn in an incomprehensible plot twist. If SAFE HAVEN does any one thing right for the more testosterone heavy audience it’s the casting a pretty girl and a few explosions- even if they are in the form of fireworks.

The plot for SAFE HAVEN doesn’t seem all that different from any other Sparks film I’ve been to in the many years I’ve taken my SO to a movie on Valentine’s Day. The formula is as such: a character with a shady past meets and falls in love with a sweet unsuspecting character with a heart of gold and lives in a small sleepy town in somewhere in the United States. The rest of the film is filled with the type of stuff that works for a vast majority of girls, most of which may have already read the book in which case one of two things will happen- it doesn’t follow closely enough and they hate it, or they love it because they just love watching the romance. I don’t see a whole lot of wiggle room in terms of the middle ground on these movies.

I always make a note to mention that I am not the key demographic so anyone of the female gender reading this may not care to hear read what I have to say. That being said I still always do what I can to avoid an overall hatred of the film I’m reviewing. Now with that being said I may very well not hate this movie, but I wouldn’t be so bold as to say it’s good. There’s some nice scenery on display and the characters are likeable enough, but the script is generic and everything about it just feels too predictable and boring to offer anything to anyone wanting a deeper experience. This is the type of film for people who want nothing more than to get their goosebumps from men saying the sweetest possible thing to a girl so that they too can fantasize about a man saying those things to her. And the cherry on top is that in the film the girl can fantasize about an impossibly good looking guy wooing her to her heart’s delight. Most guys demand that from their movies and while watching something like SAFE HAVEN are already irritated by the PG-13 rating which robs them of any possibility of seeing someone naked- may not always be the case but as a guy I know a Nicholas Sparks film plays a dominant role in giving women the things that sweep them of their feet, not placate the male fantasy.

Speaking from a female perspective is not my forte, but I can say that from my experience seeing these types of movies with people that enjoy them it seems to get the job done. Granted depending on your date/SO/mistress there may be a bit more reliance on peril than I remember being present in even the last adaptation, THE LUCKY ONE. My memory may not be what it used to be, but there is a great deal of material here that borders in interesting tension, but the directors they hire for these just don’t know how to take those moments and make them last or even milk every bit of interesting conflict from them. SAFE HAVEN even has a bit of a ridiculous plot twist that I’m betting even if you haven’t read the book will guess before the reveal even happens.

Julianne Hough as the lead felt kind of a weak choice outside of her simply being attractive. She seemed little too stiff and hollow delivering her lines and when it came to plot points where you have to feel something for her it didn’t quite hit any high mark. Josh Duhamel seems to constantly be stuck in these thankless romantic interest roles where he does little to sell himself as a dramatic actor but he’s likeable enough to at least make the romance kind of work even when Hough drops the ball- no innuendo intended there. It’s the dynamic with the kids that makes SAFE HAVEN as charming as it is at its best which probably shouldn’t be the case of a romance movie, but given their importance to the Duhamel’s character they worked to help the weaker elements.

I don’t want this to sound like I’m talking down to anyone that likes these movies, because I believe in the freedom to like what you like and not be ridiculed for it. It may not be for me, but I watch them because my wife enjoys them and I’m not too proud to let myself give them a chance. I get as much entertainment as I can from them and it’s usually not a lot, but enough to not feel like I’ve just wasted my time. Expecting nothing from a film that delivers even a few interesting things is far more rewarding than the disappointment I get from movies I look forward to- at the risk of sounding obvious. SAFE HAVEN has a handful of enjoyable aspects that revolve around the charm of the kid characters, scenery and hit and miss romantic aspects. Aside from that I’m afraid that’s about the extent of my own enjoyment from this one.

Rating: C-