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Movie Review: “Fifty Shades Freed” Brings the Franchise to Sizzling End

It’s been a fun 3 years, but we finally close the book on the provocative “Fifty Shades” franchise.

When we last saw Anna (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) in “Fifty Shades Darker” they were rekindling their romance. Anna started a new job at a publishing company where her creep of a boss, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), came on to her. While Anna dealt with him, Christian dealt with some troubling ladies from his past. Eventually, the two over came those obstacles and the film ended with the couple getting engaged.

Now we are at the beginning of the end. “Fifty Shades Freed” opens with a montage of Christian and Anna’s wedding followed by what looks like a dream honeymoon in Europe. However, the newlywed’s aren’t in bliss for too long once they find out Jack Hyde is back and pissed at the couple for “ruining his career”. This puts a damper on married life all together, as Christian continues his controlling ways and has Anna continuously followed by his security.

Besides this bigger plot, there is a lot of other stuff going on. This is the negative part of turning a book into a movie, you can never fit everything in. And even with cutting things from the third book, they jammed a lot into only and hour and 45 minutes (the shortest of the 3 films). In a nutshell, Christian and Anna buy a house, another couple gets engaged, Anna gets a job promotion, there are spur of the moment trips, a pregnancy, and of course, lots of sporadic sex.

Oh, and if for some reason you thought the previous films lacked in sex scenes, this one makes up for it and then-some. It seems married life has only made them hotter! They are making love any chance they can, in the car, with ice cream, red room of pain, etc. Though Dornan’s acting is weak, especially in comparison to Johnson’s spot on performance, their sexual chemistry continues to heat up the screen. In a tantalizing scene where Anna is forced to use her safe word, I nearly shouted “Red” myself.

Unfortunately, out of the three films, I had the most problems with “Fifty Shades Freed”. It was by far the most rushed installment and slightly anticlimactic. The film makes you feel like it is building up to a showdown between Jack and Christian, but instead glances over their shocking history and squashes any conflict in a mere 60 seconds.

That being said, “Fifty Shades Freed” is still just as fun as the first two movies and it’s a great “Girls Night Out” flick. And once again, we are treated to an incredible soundtrack that distracts us from whatever nonsense is happening on screen.

“Fifty Shades Freed” has its flaws and by no means is it a “good movie”, but it is a solid end to a ridiculous romance. The story stays true to the books and ultimately, Christian and Anna are given the happy ending all us fans so desperately wanted to see.

Rating: 3/5

“Fifty Shades Freed” hits theaters February 9.

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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: Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers talk “Southside with You”

“Southside with You” takes audiences on Michelle and Barak Obama’s day long first date.  I got a chance to sit down with the stars, Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers, to discuss their charming, new film.  Topics range from first date prepping to hilarious and random impressions!

Interview: Tika Sumpter & Parker Sawyers talk “Southside with You”

southside

 

“Paper Towns” Get Lost Get Found Tour

Want the #GetLostGetFound tour to come to your state? Then vote for your state and Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne and John Green might visit a city near you! http://papertownsmovie.com/tour

Paper Towns – Get Lost Get Found Tour

Interview: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, & Nicholas Sparks talk “The Longest Ride”

I got a chance to sit down with Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook), Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland), and Scott Eastwood (Fury) to discuss their latest film, The Longest Ride.  We talked about love, how to impress someone you’re dating, sacrifices made in relationships, and the teachers who impacted them.  It was a fun and interesting interview! 

 Click Here to Watch “The Longest Ride” Interview

longest ride

The Longest Ride opens in theaters April 10th.

Finding “The One”-Top 5 Films that put your Love Life in Perspective

Are you looking for “The One” this Valentine’s Day?  Or maybe, you’ve already found that person.  In honor of this heart-filled holiday, I’ve made a list of the top 5 films that can put your love life in perspective.  These films are geared toward everyone, whether you’re in a relationship or not.  For couples, these movies could shed light on issues you may be having, or just make you appreciate that special someone in your life.  For singles, this list can maybe help you better understand what you’re realistically looking for in a relationship.  Either way, all 5 romantic movies are great choices to watch this V-Day.

Here’s what I take away from these films…

5. Don Jon (2013)

Listen and Connect

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, Don Jon, discusses how the media can often lead us to objectify people and treat them more like things instead of humans.  A lot of times movies and television can give us a false expectation of what we’re looking for in a partner.  Though it can be fascinating to watch a Hollywood romance or adult films, we must separate fantasy from reality.  Maybe the person you’re dating or crushing on fits the mold of what you expect in a partner, but is it really what you want?  Truly listen to that person and make sure you connect with them on both, a psychical and emotional level. (Don Jon is currently available to stream on Netflix)

4. Ruby Sparks (2012)

Nobody’s Perfect

We’ve almost all had that check list which bullet points the requirements for our partners.  Whether it’s based on their looks, or their jobs, or even their sense of humor, it DOES NOT matter.  That list needs to be deleted from your brain.  We have no idea what we want until we meet “that someone.”  Ruby Sparks is about a novelist (Paul Dano) who writes an ideal female character (Zoe Kazan) that comes to life overnight.  The film focuses on how there is no perfect person.  Part of really loving someone is seeing their imperfections and dealing with them in a way that isn’t bothersome to you.  When you wish your partner was a different way, it can actually speak more about something in you.

3. 500 Days of Summer (2009)

Different Points of View

I’m aware I’ve referenced this film a few times for my top 5 lists, but that’s only because you can take away so many lessons from the story and characters.   In 500 Days of Summer, Tom (Gordon-Levitt) believes his entire relationship with Summer (Deschanel), up until they break up, was perfect.  He’s in love and she’s almost so clearly not.   I truly believe the cruelest feeling we can experience is strongly caring for someone who doesn’t reciprocate that same feeling.  It makes you wonder how it was even possible to have those feelings in the first place.  Unfortunately, people are stuck in this situation all the time.  In the film, Tom copes with his heartache by reflecting back and noticing the signs.  For the most part, entering a relationship shouldn’t be that complicated, both people need be on the same page.  If one person is stalling to commit, then he or she may not be right for you.

2. TiMER (2009)

Do you Believe in Soul Mates?

If you could install a device that counts down the exact moment you’re going to meet your soul mate, would you want to?  Oona (Emma Caulfield) got one.  Only problem is her TiMER is blank, meaning her soul mate hasn’t yet signed up for the service.  This film raises the question of whether or not you believe that there is ONE perfect person out there for each of us.  And for those who have doubts in their own relationships, do you think there is someone else out there better suited for you?  Though very few have heard of this movie, TiMER is a charming, thought-provoking story that everyone should make time for.  (TiMER is currently available to stream on Netflix)

1. The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

Life is Too Short

I’m sure many people don’t want to ball their eyes out this Valentine’s Day, but I assure you The Fault in Our Stars is much more than a movie about teens with cancer.   Gus (Ansel Elgort) and Hazel’s (Shailene Woodley) inspiring, genuine love story reminds us to make the most of each day.  In a romantic aspect, life is too short to not be with someone you care about.  If you’re lucky enough to truly fall in love, then don’t take that love for granted.  Because even if it’s short-lived, you won’t regret the time spent with each other.

Movie Review/Interview: “If I Stay”- An Adolescent Romantic Tear-Jerker

It’s no surprise that big studio production companies are quickly grabbing hold of the rights to as many young adult novels as they can.  The fan base is already there.  Give them a “best-seller” and a good looking lead, and you may just have the next Twilight or The Fault in Our Stars.

Tweens are thirsting for romance that they can live vicariously through, and Chloe Grace Moretz’s latest drama will quench every young girl’s desire.

If I Stay is an adaptation of Gayle Forman’s 2009 best-seller.  The film centers on Mia Hall (Moretz), a straight-lace, gifted cellist who lives in Oregon with her ultra-hip parents, Kat (Mireille Enos) and Denny (Joshua Leonard), and her little brother, Teddy (Jakob Davies).  One day while Mia is practicing in school, Adam (Jamie Blackley), an up-and-coming rock star, passes by and it’s love at first listen.  Be warned now, if you’re in theater with any teenage girls, Adam will cause swooning and sighing.  The two go through a jagged relationship, proving that classical and rock doesn’t make for a smooth mix.

Priorities shift for Mia when she is invited to audition for Julliard but, her music and Adam become the least of her worries after a horrific car accident has caused her to fall into a coma. Anxious to know the fate of the rest of her family, Mia has an out of body experience. Her spirit roams the hospital halls and she eavesdrops on her loved ones as they try to cope and pray for her to make it through surgery.  As her future begins to be uncertain, Mia is faced with a choice.  She must decide if the life she’s waking up to is one worth living.

Call me a cheesy romantic, but I enjoyed this film.  I am fully aware the one liners, “I see you,” and “why me?” will have plenty of people rolling their eyes.  But there are certain qualities in a teenybopper romance that can always salvage the movie.  The key element is your lead.  Chloe Grace Moretz is a thriving young talent, and since I first saw her in 500 Days of Summer, she has only flourished in her career.  Whether it’s a success like Kick-Ass or a flop like Carrie, Moretz masterfully performs in all of her projects.

Of course, what’s love without believability?  Moretz and Blackley’s chemistry is hardly that of comparison to Hazel and Gus (The Fault in Our Stars), but it translates well here.  Mia and Adam’s relationship isn’t forced, we get to watch them grow as a couple and care for their story, a missing quality from many recent love stories.

There is more to If I Stay than just the romance.  The film also touches on how some people in your life don’t necessarily need to be blood related to be your family.  If I Stay may pull at your heartstrings and shed some tears, but think of this film as more of a “doesn’t-hurt-to-see” versus a “must-see.”

Rating: 3/5

“If I Stay” Interview with Chloe Grace Moretz & Gayle Forman

chloe and gayle

Movie Review: “And So It Goes” is a Generic Feel-Good Family Film

Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton team up for the first time in a comedy that will warm your heart, but most likely escape your mind once you leave the theater.

Oren Little ( Douglas ) is a successful, self-centered realtor living in a somewhat secluded, peaceful home.  But, his life is quickly turned upside down when his estranged adult son shows up out of the blue and drops a bomb on him.  He is about go to jail for nine-months and needs his dad to look after his almost 10 year-old daughter, Sarah (Sterling Jerins).   At first Oren is adamant that he won’t be looking after the granddaughter he never knew existed.   Luckily, Leah (Diane Keaton), the kind, self-less next door neighbor steps in assuring Oren’s son that she will be in good hands.  And so, begins a story you can probably already predict.

Love is not just felt for young Sarah; it is also spreading its way to an unlikely couple.  Leah and Oren share a sweet romance, but not an exciting one.  Michael Douglas definitely still has “it.”  Charm, wit, class, he exudes all of it when he is on screen.   Diane Keaton on the other hand offers some shrilling and quite annoying cries throughout the film.  The cries aren’t as bad as they were in Something’s Gotta Give, but my gosh.  Whoever thought the constant whiney sobs of woman are hilarious is seriously mistaken.  Keaton plays a very likeable character and caring one at that, but somehow her moments of comedy failed to produce any real laughs.  Douglas and Keaton have great chemistry as friends, but as lovers their relationship felt forced.

Though the romantic aspect of And So It Goes was weak, the family story-line was surprisingly enjoyable.  Seeing Oren with his granddaughter or even his limited moments with his son can’t help but make you smile.

And So It Goes hardly stands out among the films currently in theaters, and I can’t even say it should be in your top choices to see this summer.  However, if you are in the mood for a light, uplifting, and simple comedy, then I do recommend you sit back and enjoy this endearing story.

Rating: 2.5/5

And So It Goes hits theaters July 25.

And So It Goes Official Trailer HD

Theatre Review: “Beauty & the Beast” is a Terrifically Enchanting Musical

Rating: 4.5/5

It’s as true as it can be.  Disney fans will be in bliss as they watch one of the most beloved classics come alive on stage. Beauty & the Beast performed as a Broadway musical may seem like a tough feat with the surely difficult theatrics that the play would need to pull off.  Fortunately, AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Winspear Opera House put on a magical show that the whole family will enjoy.

Beauty & the Beast is one of the most beautiful tales of how the beauty within prevails over any outer appearance.  When Belle (Hilary Maiberger) sacrifices her own freedom in exchange for her fathers, she is forced to stay in an enchanted castle that is run by an angry and bitter Beast (Darick Pead).  To ease her distress, Belle is comforted by the other unusual members of the house who happen to be a candle stick, a clock, and tea pot.   Little does she know that the fate of everyone around her, including the Beast, hinge on whether or not she can fall in love with someone who looks like a monster.

Following the original Disney animated feature, this musical still contains the same script and music, but has added a few originals songs that go along with the familiar score.  The new songs blended in perfectly with the story, but they were no match for the classic soundtrack we all love to sing.  When “Gaston” is performed by the tavern patrons and the well-played arrogant Gaston (Tim Rogan), you might think “it doesn’t get any better than this.”  The musical number is humorous, creatively choreographed, and thoroughly entertaining.  But you have spoken too soon, because you have yet to witness the luminous, breath taking, work of art that is “Be Our Guest.”   The song begins with the voice of Hassan Nazari-Robati, who gives a stand out performance as the hilarious talking candle stick, Lumiere.  Hassan, along with the eloquent Kristin Stewart (not Twilight) who plays Mrs. Potts, lead the rest of the enchanted objects in a colorful dance that is enhanced by the vibrant set design (Stanley A. Meyer) and well produced lighting (Natasha Katz).  I am delighted to know that I will surely dream about dancing plates and silverware tonight.

They could not have cast a more perfect Belle.  Hilary Maiberger is no stranger to playing a Disney princess.  Having played Cinderella and Jasmine in previous musicals, she handled the role of Belle with such ease, and not once did she over act her character.  Her vocals are incredible, best out of the entire cast.  When she sings, goose bumps appear, as well as a smile on your face.  Her leading man played by Darick Pead did a fantastic job as the intimidating, yet sometimes juvenile Beast.

Beauty & the Beast the musical throws in some extra comedic moments that will only add to your laughter, and music that you will want to add to your play list.  I could go on and on about this lively performance, but I’d rather you allow yourself to be a guest and take pleasure in this remarkable “tale as old as time.”

Movie Review: “It Felt Like Love” Feels Uncomfortably Real

Rating: 4/5

Oh, young love.  It is amazing how strongly you can feel for the first guy you fall for.  However, this film isn’t a sappier and dramatic copy of Endless Love.  Instead, It Felt Like Love is a realistic portrayal of a young teen desperate to experience the same sexual activities as her best friend, as she forcefully pursues an unreciprocated relationship with a guy who will “sleep with anyone.”

In Eliza Hittman’s debut feature, we follow Lila (Gina Piersanti), a fourteen year old, spending a hot summer in a blue-collar Brooklyn neighborhood away from the city.  Often tagging along with her best friend Chiara (Giovanna Salimeni) and her boyfriend, Lila is the awkward and quiet third wheel.  But as she is riding in the back seat of her friend’s love life, she is taking detailed mental notes of what she feels she should be experiencing with a guy as well.  Cue the first semi attractive boy that acknowledges her!  Yup, meet Sammy, the “bad boy” with a reputation to sleep around.  Seems like the perfect guy for Lila to fixate on for the rest of summer.  Completely delusional in her endless attempt to pursue Sammy, Lila puts herself at risk in multiple situations.

As a girl who has never been in love, I painfully related to this film; to an extent of course.  Seeing your friends “in love” and doing what couples do can have a strong impact on you.  It makes you want what they have, feel what they feel, and experience what they are experiencing.  In your teens, this mostly stems from wanting to be at the same level as your friends.  Now, I was nowhere near as foolish or extreme as Lila, but the desperation that Hittman wrote in her character is something that almost all girls can understand.  We have all had that crush (guys have them too) we liked so much that we begin to imagine what a relationship would be like with that person, specifically thinking of certain scenarios with them.  Usually, we all keep these delusional thoughts to ourselves.   However, Lila decides the best tactic is to make those fantasies a reality, even if she has to force the hangouts and manipulate the truth.   And I have to give props to Lila, because this girl can lie.  She lies really well!  I couldn’t say half of the lies she told with a straight face.

The fresh cast led by Gina Piersanti is naturally effortless in their roles playing genuine teens dealing with sex, urges, and curiosity.  Characters like these have a tendency to be overacted.  It was nice to see Hittman’s powerful script didn’t get ruined by heavily dramatic performances.  And though you will probably be yelling at Piersanti’s character, she does a fantastic job as Lila, ranging from the harmless school girl crush to becoming the borderline Swimfan.  The uncomfortable squirming from Lila’s naïve actions will all be worth it after seeing this film.

Honestly, I expected something completely different going into this movie based on what I saw in the trailer.  What I got was much better.  I can’t say that this premise will be everyone’s cup of tea.  It Felt Like Love is a beautifully shot and twisted, coming of age story focusing on the pressures of sexual relationships for young teens.  Though the film has a simple plot, there are many layers to each character.  Watching the layers brilliantly unfold is what makes this movie hypnotizing.  I only wish the film was longer.

It Felt Like Love opens in Los Angeles on March 28.

“It Felt Like Love” Official Trailer HD

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com