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Movie Review: “Fifty Shades Darker” – A Foolish Tale Laced with Sex and Thrills

Ana and Christian are back in an even hotter and more ridiculous film!

Let’s get one thing out of the way before I begin. Yes, E.L. James’ Fifty Shades book series is unrealistic and incredibly cheesy. And Fifty Shades Darker encourages even more eye-rolls with its Lifetime style drama. However, this time around the film has added enough excitement and sex to where you can let go of reality, and just have fun with this Made-for-TV quality movie.

When we last left off on Fifty Shades of Grey, Ana (Dakota Johnson) had broken up with Christian (Jamie Dornan) after discovering how much pleasure he got from giving her so much pain. She realized she couldn’t be in a submissive relationship with him.
 
As we pick up with Fifty Shades Darker, some time has gone by and Ana seems to have moved on with her life, working for a handsome, yet questionable boss (Eric Johnson) at a publishing company. But it’s at her friend Jose’s (Victor Rasuk) photography exhibit that we find out Christian has been lost without her. Christian wants Ana back and is willing to have a relationship with no rules, no punishments, and no secrets. Essentially giving Ana the “vanilla” relationship she always wanted. Of course, this now “normal” boyfriend/girlfriend status isn’t going to progress smoothly by any means.
 
The two sexual love birds, who literally are going at it during any spare moment, must deal with an inappropriate boss, a former submissive girlfriend (Bella Heathcote), and “Mrs. Robinson” (Kim Basinger) – the woman who turned Christian into the sex hungry dominatrix. All three of these new characters create thrilling turmoil and more intrigue, as opposed to the previous film’s lackluster conflict of “will they or wont they” stay together.
 
Though some may find all the different struggles going on in the film messy or idiotic, I found them extremely entertaining. I mean Christian and Ana go through so many near death experiences that you almost can’t blame them for wanting to continuously have sex. It could be their last time! And as Ana says in the film, “We haven’t had enough time.”
 
Speaking of sex! Fifty Shades Darker turns up the heat with plenty of steamy sexual sequences that will have audiences either immensely uncomfortable, or anxiously awaiting their own bedrooms. Director, James Foley, allows for more provocative sex scenes by introducing a few new toys and intensifying the couple’s “love making”. The scenes are tastefully filmed and still limits the nudity to topless and butt shots. And might I add, Jamie Dornan looks better than ever! The man is ripped and the film clearly wants to show off the efforts from his intensive work outs.
 
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan have grown as actors since their last performance as these characters. They are what truly makes this film watchable. They succeed in delivering every cringe-worthy line with such conviction, that you might not notice the stupidity of what actually was said.
 

As much as I can ridicule Fifty Shades Darker, there’s no denying the moments of satisfaction. Though, this is still very much a film for fans of the book, the intended audience should sit back, throw away your thinking caps and enjoy the hell out of this electric and tantalizing romance.

Rating: 3/5

Fifty Shades Darker opens in theaters on February 10.

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Interview: Jovan Adepo talks “Fences”

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Jovan Adepo portrays Corey in Denzel Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama, “Fences.” I got a chance to talk with Adepo about the new film. We discussed how much someone’s career can affect their personal life, daily movie references and more!

“Fences” opens in theaters December 24.

Click Here to Watch Jovan Adepo Interview

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Movie Review: “Certain Women” is a Beautifully Shot Snoozefest

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There is beauty in simplicity, but there is also simply boring. I may come off a little harsh with Kelly Reichardt’s latest film, “Certain Women”, but unfortunately it’s hard to get captivated by the slow pace of each story-line and the dull main characters.

The film is essentially broken up into three parts as we follow three women whose lives intersect. They are adapted from several short stories by Montana writer Maile Meloy.

In the first story we meet Laura Wells (Laura Dern), a small town lawyer who’s having an affair with a married man. She is dealing with a frustrating client (Jared Harris), who was injured on the job and wants to pursue a case against his employer.

After that we are introduced to Gina (Michelle Williams) and her husband (James Le Gros), who was seen in the previous segment. The two have just finished a camping trip with their teenage daughter Guthrie (Sara Rodier). They visit their elderly neighbor, Albert (Rene Auberjonois) to purchase a pile of sandstone that’s been sitting in his front yard for years. Gina wants to use it for a getaway cottage she plans to build. This is by far, the most uninteresting part of the film.

Finally, the more intriguing moment of the movie is when we see Jamie (Lily Gladstone), a rancher; randomly walk into a night class she’s not registered for. The class is intended to teach the history of public education policy in the U.S. But it’s not the subject that fascinates Jamie; it’s the nervous young lawyer, Beth (Kristen Stewart), who’s the unfortunate instructor. Basically, she is forced to teach the class and has to endure a four hour commute. Soon enough, she befriends Jamie and after class they routinely go to a local diner for a quick dinner as Jamie just watches her eat. For Jamie, seeing Beth is the highlight of her week, however, Beth does not value their time together nearly as much.

By the time the film concludes, we have seen the very minor ways these three women’s lives intertwine. Ultimately, Reichardt does a good job of portraying the overdone, general theme of isolation and the difficulty of communication. But it’s the actual stories that don’t give you enough meat to bite into. Hardly anything pulls you in; with the exception of Jamie’s borderline stalking of Beth (maybe a full story on her might have been more satisfying).

On the positive side, the performances are strong and Christopher Blauvelt’s cinematography is about the only thing that truly shines in “Certain Women”.

Rating: 2/5

Certain Women opens in theaters October 28.

“Certain Women” Official Trailer HD

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Movie Review: “The Girl on the Train” is a Messy, yet Intriguing Thrill Ride

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Emily Blunt isn’t the only one taking a ride in The Girl on the Train. The audience should be warned of the many back and forth jumps throughout this mystery thriller.

The film follows Rachel (Emily Blunt), a divorced alcoholic who spends everyday on a train ride that passes her old neighborhood. She watches a couple, Megan and Scott (Haley Bennett and Luke Evans), whom she views as “perfect” and almost lives vicariously through them. All the while she still tries to contact her ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), who is now happily married and with a baby.

One day during Rachel’s usual stare at Megan and Scott’s house, she notices Megan kissing another man out on her balcony and freaks out! Completely wrecked by the fact that Megan would “throw it all away”, Rachel gets even more drunk and angry. When she stumbles off the train that night she sees a blur that looks like Megan. She wakes up the next morning in her place with a bloody head, and unaware of anything that happened the night before. Ironically, Megan has now gone missing, and Rachel is determined to find out what happened to her.

If you find reading that premise at all confusing, it’s even more of a mess watching it. To be fair, by the end everything ties together and there are no loose ends. But it might be a struggle getting there for some.

Yes, the plot might have been poorly executed, but that doesn’t make the story any less fun. From the moment the film began, I was on the edge of my seat trying to add up of every clue and anticipating the expected twist. Though the climax and the unveiling of surprises are far from Gone Girl standards, they were still satisfying none-the-less.

What’s certain is the subtle yet believable performance Emily Blunt gives as a functioning alcoholic. She stays committed the whole way through. So much so, that her character can be extremely frustrating at times.

The Girl on the Train may not please everyone. And yes, Tate Taylor’s direction is less than adequate as he struggles to give a steady flowing narrative. Luckily the mystery and story alone are enough to keep this ride interesting.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Girl on the Train opens in theaters October 7

“The Girl on the Train” Official Trailer HD

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Interview: John Magaro talks “The Big Short”

 

John Magaro plays Charlie Geller in “The Big Short”, the new release from Paramount Pictures that continues the movement of socially conscious dramas. This story begins just prior to the financial implosion the mid-2000s that was precipitated by the abrupt end of the housing boom. I sat down with Mr. Magaro to discuss film – and finances.

Interview with John Magaro

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Movie Review: “By the Sea” is a Dull and Pretentious Vanity Project

Dear Angelina Jolie, please give up trying to direct anymore films. To sum it up, at best, you are not very good at directing. Too harsh? Well then you clearly haven’t endured Jolie’s latest project, By the Sea, in which the Academy Award winning actress directed, wrote, produced, and starred.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Angelina Jolie, and I believe she is an incredibly talented actress, when she’s not directing herself that is.

By the Sea follows Vanessa (Jolie) and her husband Roland (Brad Pitt) as they vacation in France so that they may mend their marriage, and he can gain inspiration to write his next book. After what feels like an hour of nothing, they discover a peep hole in their hotel room that allows them to watch a newlywed couple (Melanie Laurent and Melvil Poupaud) on their honeymoon.

Let me first say, for a good thirty or more minutes we have no clue what this film is about. It is clear Vanessa is depressed and awkward, as she is quiet and almost always crying. Not knowing what’s wrong with Vanessa, you would assume her husband is some kind of monster and we’re just waiting for him to go off. Spoiler alert, he’s not. Don’t hold your breath on that one. Basically something did happen between these two. When it’s finally revealed, the story does come together and makes sense to a point. However, it is not worth the pay off, nor the two hours of your life you have wasted.

Pitt is the only saving grace to this wretched film. He seems to be the only character that has any sense and real personality. Unfortunately, for Jolie’s character, she clearly cannot get the best performance out of herself. It was as if she was an amateur actress trying way too hard throughout the entire story.

Though the setting of France in the mid-1970s was beautiful, the shots and the style produced came off too artsy and irrelevant towards moving the story forward. Jolie’s attempt at “deep” and “meaningful” scenes has a much more comical affect.

I’d like to say By the Sea had potential, but sadly, Vanessa’s opening line, “Smells like fish,” foreshadows all too well just how much of a stinker this movie is.

Rating: 1/5

By the Sea opens in theaters November 20.

“By the Sea” Official Trailer HD

Quick Review: “Dark Places”

DARK PLACES marks the second film adaptation of a Gillian Flynn novel. And no, it’s not a GONE GIRL sequel. This film just proves once again that Flynn knows how to capture her audience with intricate story-lines that keep you on the edge of your seat.

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Interview: “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” Cast and Director

Perhaps the best movie of the year, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is a funny, poignant drama reminiscent of the great John Hughes films from the 80’s. I sat down with stars Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler and director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon to discuss first impressions, what they hope people remember about them after they are gone, and more!

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“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” opens in theaters June 19.

Win a Pair of Tickets to see “Rocky” at B&B Theatre!

It’s Retro Night at B&B Theatre in Wylie and you can win a free pair of tickets to see the original “Rocky” film!  The first two people to either email, message or comment me will be the winner.

Movie Info

SCREENING: May 7th at 7pm

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE December 3rd, 1976

STARRING Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers and Burgess Meredith

RATED PG

SYNOPSIS Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer gets a supremely rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed, in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

 

Interview: Michiel Huisman discusses “The Age of Adaline”

I sat down with Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones) to discuss his new film, The Age of Adaline. We talked about the blessing of growing old with someone you love, which decade he would have enjoyed living in, and the importance of banter in a relationship.  Click the link below to see the full interview with the star.  The Age of Adaline opens in theaters on April 24.

“The Age of Adaline” Interview with Michiel Huisman

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