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Top 10 Life Lessons from “The Bachelor” (The Women Tell All)

March 3, 2015

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via The Bachelor’s Twitter feed

Last night, we came to the cat fight portion of the season with “The Women Tell All” episode of The Bachelor, in which producers gather together all rejected participants in a room with a live studio audience to watch — and defend — their most humiliating, offensive, mean-spirited and basically indefensible moments. Your mother catching you in your teenage bedroom naked with a bowl of Jell-O would be less awkward. There were new hairdos (Kelsey), new extensions (Carly), new cleavage (Ashley I), and new boobs (Jade) — and we learned that new doesn’t always mean better. We learned a lot of other decent life lessons, too — ten, in fact. Because just watching The Bachelor to make fun of other people’s highly entertaining foibles and personality flaws would not be honorable. Bettering ourselves in the process makes it meaningful. See, this is God’s work we’re doing here, people!:

  1. Live life like the cameras are not watching: be authentic, honest, unselfconscious, and unafraid to ugly-cry. That said, if you’re going to fake cry, do it better than our 7-year-old daughters.
  2. When someone asks you a question, don’t pussyfoot: be direct, forthcoming and honest. (Lady: “Can I ask a question?” Chris Harrison, channeling his inner Christian Grey: “No.”)
  3. Closure is overrated…and often an illusion: you’re never going to hear what you want to hear.
  4. Stealing kisses = a big no no. You must give you’re intended the chance to decline your generous offer of osculation. Otherwise it’s basically mouth assault — even when done by someone old enough to be your mother.

  5. Being a space cadet from your own planet is better than being a Barbie from L.A.
  6. Having a sense of humor is the most attractive quality, not only in the next Bachelorette (Kaitlyn!), but in any human being.
  7. When someone asks you for forgiveness, accept it graciously, even if you think they’re full of shit. You can take measures to distance yourself from them going forward to avoid further harm or hurt, but you’ll have ended things on a positive note, with you looking (and feeling) like a decent person.
  8. The best “Bachelor” drinking game for getting plastered: Drink when 1) anyone says “amazing,” 2) the craziest person on the show does something crazy, 3) the Bachelor/ette kisses someone, 4) tears, or 5) anyone says “the right reasons.” (Credit: the “hardiest” of the party girls Prince Farming and Host Charming busted in on.)
  9. When life gives you onions, use your magical thinking to turn them into pomegranates.
  10. If Chris Harrison can write a novel, so can you.

Read up on last week’s love lessons learned from “The Bachelor.” 

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Blog Snog: Photos of Kansas City’s 1960s Drag Scene

February 27, 2015

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LELO’s First Movie Explores Modern Intimacy… Without Sex Toys

February 26, 2015

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You may know LELO as the creator of some of your favorite pleasure objects, but now they would also like you to think of them as movie people… though it’s all still in the interest of intimacy.

Sex toy skeptics like to claim that bedside accessories reduce intimacy, inserting a piece of high-end silicone where two bodies meet. Nervous men worry that bringing a sex toy into the bedroom will make them suddenly dispensable to their wife or girlfriend. But we’ve always known otherwise: the right kind of sex toy can actually bring a couple closer in bed, helping them explore new sensations and fantasies. And when a couple gets closer in bed, that intimacy spills over into the rest of their relationships.

As it turns out, the right kind of sex toy company can bring a couple closer, too — both in and out of the bedroom. LELO, ever at the head of the pack, will release its first feature movie this summer, called Beyond the Wave. It will be the world’s first ever mainstream movie produced by a sex toy company.

No, it’s not a Fifty Shades knock-off — in fact, there’s not a single sex toy in the entire movie. No Red Room of Pain, no whips, no paddles, not even a pair of fuzzy hands. What there is is a smart take on modern intimacy, in a post-apocalyptic world where men and women choose to live apart. Beyond the Wave, starring Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers, Sleepy Hollow), Emilie Ohana (Paris, Je t’aime) and newcomer Zhu Wei Ling, examines the importance of understanding someone else’s perspective. On the surface it’s a love story, but it’s also a reminder about how to enrich relationships in an increasingly individualistic and divided world.

And here’s the sexy part: There is a special extended interactive trailer that can only be watched with someone else — ideally your other half! Called the PlayTogether experience, it’s the first ever movie trailer that requires a partner. (So there you go, all you naysayers who say that smartphones, like sex toys, are reducing intimacy!) You and your loved one put your smartphones side by side, and the trailer displays across both of them — then you have to decide, together, which scenes to watch next.

“By bringing couples closer,” says Steve Thomson, LELO‘s Head of Marketing, “PlayTogether encourages them not merely to sit in the same room but to engage with each other’s point-of- view. The trailer becomes a catalyst for a rich, shared experience.”

Though no LELO products are featured in Beyond the Wave, the movie’s title is a cheeky nod to customer feedback about the brand’s Ina Wave device, launched last year. According to Thomson, “Many testers commented that the Ina Wave was ‘better than sex’ or ‘there was no need for relationships anymore.’ That really got everyone at LELO thinking hard about our brand’s responsibility.”

You can watch the solo trailer for Beyond the Wave at the top of this post, and you can go behind the scenes of the movie here. But for the full interactive experience, find a loved one (or a lusted after one!) and sync up  your smartphones here. There’s no need to download any software or apps — you simply need to share the regular trailer on Twitter or Facebook, and then the extended trailer will unlock. Popcorn optional. Because only LELO could make a movie trailer feel like extended foreplay.

PlayTogether Here! 

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The Best (and Worst) Quotes from the 2015 Oscars

February 23, 2015

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Speeches about equal pay for women and gay rights…equal opportunity objectification (thanks, Neil!)…straight men being sensitive and highly emotional about their mothers…more jokes about balls than boobs…anyone would think it was 2015 out there! Here are our favorite quotes from the Oscars last night:

“I tried to commit suicide at 16, and now I’m standing here. I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along.” — Graham Moore, accepting the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game

“If I may, call your mom. If you’re lucky enough to have parents or two alive on this planet…Don’t text, don’t email. Call them on the phone tell them you love them. Talk to them for as long as they want to hear you. Thank you, mom and dad.” — J.K. Simmons, accepting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s civil rights. It is our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” — Patricia Arquette, accepting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood (to enthusiastic cheers from Meryl and J.Lo. who basically stormed the stage in her support, see photo above)

“Benedict Cumberbatch: It’s not only the most awesome name in show business. It’s also the sound you get when you ask John Travolta to pronounce ‘Ben Affleck.’” — host Neil Patrick Harris

“They are four women. Plus — in accordance with California state law — Meryl Streep.” — Jared Leto introducing the best supporting actress nominees

“Our next film is amazing. I’m blown away right now myself. [tearing up] Our next nominee for best picture reveals how the visionary father of modern computing Alan Turing helps defeat the Nazis only to have his own greatness stripped away from him for his sexual orientation.” — Terrence Howard, introducing The Imitation Game (as he began to get choked up, most people assumed he was going to introduce Selma)

“Good luck charms work … tonight I am wearing the real Michael Keaton’s tightie-whities. They are tight and smell like balls.” — Alejandro González Iñárritu, accepting the Oscar for Best Director for Birdman

“I read an article that said that winning an Oscar could lead to living five years longer. If that’s true, I’d like to thank the Academy because my husband is younger than me.” — Julianne Moore, accepting the Best Actress Oscar for Still Alice (and for the record, he’s not just younger than her, he’s nine years younger!)

“Who gave this son of a bitch his green card? Birdman!” — Sean Penn, presenting the Best Picture Oscar to Birdman

“We don’t stand here alone, it’s possible through the great organisations that support us. The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed aren’t only a threat to privacy but to democracy, when the most important decisions made affect all of us. Thank you to Edward Snowden.” — Laura Poitras, accepting the Best Documentary Oscar for Citizenfour

“Welcome to the 87th Oscars. Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest — sorry, brightest.” — host Neil Patrick Harris, in one of the rare funny jokes of the night

“Our next presenter is not only the star of the record breaker for biggest February premiere ever, Fifty Shades of Grey, she’s also the reason you had to explain to your grandmother what a spanking bench is.” – host Neil Patrick Harris, introducing Dakota Johnson

And, finally, the very worst quote of the night happened backstage:

“Fear is the condom of life. It doesn’t allow you to enjoy things.” — Oscar-winning Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu

Seriously, dude? It’s one thing to make fun of the ball-sweating properties of tight-whities. That’s funny, and also, it makes us think of balls during a night when it’s mostly golden globes on display. But don’t go giving condoms a bad name!

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Blog Snog: What I Learned From Remarrying My Ex

February 20, 2015

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YourTango: What remarrying my ex taught me about anger and forgiveness.

The Frisky: How to host a small penis party.

Pop Sugar: Promposals are the new proposals.

Nerve: The year I spent as a phone-sex operator.

150 Shades of Play: Now you’ve seen the movie, learn how to do all that stuff without losing an eye… or your sense of humor! 


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Jumping on the “Fifty Shades” Meme Bandwagon

February 19, 2015

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Okay, we know we said we’d stop with the “Fifty Shades” posts once the movie came out, but we can’t stop! We’re addicted. We’ve been enjoying the Shades meme wherein Christian Grey reveals his curiously singular tastes, and they turn out to be….an interest in, say, computer servers. So we thought we’d come up with a few of our own (there are 13 in all). If you can stand it, enjoy!

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Top 10 Reasons Why “Secretary” Is Better Than “Fifty Shades”

February 18, 2015

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Okay, so yes, the Fifty Shades movie was better than the Fifty Shades book. But, like we said, the bar wasn’t exactly set high for that. And yes, the movie may help to make BDSM even more mainstream, just as the book did. (Now everyone and their grandmother knows what a safe word is!) It will also likely increase sex toy sales, and hopefully improve the sex lives of at least a handful of long-married couples who could use a little more kink in their lives. And lovers all over the world may now find themselves associating the smell of buttered popcorn with handcuffs and paddles. On the other hand, the movie may also create tension in relationships… a woman finds herself suddenly annoyed that her man doesn’t own his own helicopter… or a man is suddenly annoyed that his woman doesn’t bite her lip and say “sir.”

But none of this means that the Fifty Shades movie is even close to the best cinematic depiction of a BDSM relationship out there. In fact, the 2002 indie film Secretary, a Sundance favorite, blows Fifty out of the water, if you ask us.  Here’s why:

10.
Grey was here first. E. Edward Grey is the name of the dominant boss played by James Spader in Secretary. Almost ten years later, E.L. James names her dominant lover Christian Grey — and three years after that, Jamie Dornan gets the worst haircut ever to play Christian Grey on screen. Perhaps it was an homage.

9.
It’s actually goodThe Fifty Shades books may be a record breaker (it’s the fastest-selling paperback of all time) and a crazy money maker (E.L. James’s net worth is apparently a cool $80 mil), but they’re never going to win any literary awards — and, likewise, while the movie broke all sorts of records for advance ticket sales and drunken women renting limos for screenings, we don’t see any Oscars in its future. Secretary was nominated for a Golden Globe (best actress in a musical or comedy) and three Chlotrudis Awards (best actor, actress and adapted screenplay), among others; and it won an Independent Spirit Award (best first screenplay) and a Gotham Award (breakthrough performance, Maggie Gyllenhaal), among others. Sorry, Jamie and Dakota, don’t start working on any awards speeches… unless it’s for the Razzies.

8.
More likable protagonist. Yes, Dakota Johnson is about a hundred times more likable than Ana-Steele-on-paper, with all her Oh my!s and the countless Holy shit!s and that irritating inner goddess. But Dakota Johnson’s Ana is nevertheless a bit of a lip-biting blank space who submits a little too easily to the whims of her controlling stalker boyfriend. (She doesn’t even ask him how he managed to break into her apartment!) The flaws of Secretary‘s Lee Holloway, on the other hand, are not only believable, but relatable (to a certain extent), and make her a sympathetic, grownup character.

7.
More believable love interest. A 27-year-old gazillionaire with impossible abs and a million obsequious employees who has time to get a pilot’s license and shop for his own hardware supplies? Who deflowers a virgin and wins her over with extravagant gifts like rare books, a new computer, and a new car? (Who does he think he is, Oprah?!) Yeah right. Much more realistic is the socially awkward, emotionally sensitive Lee and her creepy-seeming and ultimately conflicted love interest — both of whom are pretty normal looking. Plus, this Grey actually does sit-ups. And he has way better hair than Jamie Dornan in the movie.

6.
We actually see Grey working in Secretary. Over the course of the entire film, you see Christian Grey take a single “urgent” business phone call, and when he talks into his phone he sounds like a little kid impersonating his working father. Or like a trust fund baby who is allowed to pretend that he runs a business, while the real grownups actually get the work done. (Sure, we see Ana working in the hardware store, but it’s just a setting for her to blush and stammer.) Admittedly, it’s been a while since we saw SECRETARY, but we’re pretty sure some actual work takes place there, along with all the kinky dictation.

5.
More honorable origins. Secretary was based on a short story by literary power house Mary Gaitskill. Fifty Shades, on the other hand, was based on the cliche-ridden book of the same name, which in turn was originally online fan fiction, based on the Y.A. Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers.  Yup.

4.
A sense of humorErotica and romance, almost by definition, have to take themselves extremely seriously. The sex is earnest to keep up the fantasy, and the Fifty Shades books are as earnest and unfunny as it gets. As an indie film, Secretary didn’t have those restraints, and therefore could wade into the waters of black comedy. Can you imagine a scene in Fifty Shades where Jamie Dornan covers his desk in hay and has Dakota Johnson kneel upon it on all fours with a carrot in her mouth and saddle on her back? Didn’t think so. But that’s the kind of scene that made Secretary awesome — and funny. There are a smattering of funny moments in the Fifty Shades movie, but most of the humor is unintentional.  Sadly, we have a feeling that director Sam Taylor-Johnson would have included a lot more humor, if it wasn’t for the heavy hand of “consultant” and earnest erotica peddler E.L. James.

3.
Better writing. Actually, there is something kind of funny about the Fifty Shades books — the writing! The repetition of phrases, the cultural anachronisms, the offensive overuse of adverbs, the misuse of the word “subconscious.” If you didn’t laugh you’d cry, because you’d be so sad about the fact that you couldn’t put down something so poorly written. And while, happily, most of those adverbs didn’t make it into the Fifty Shades screenplay, a lot of the bad dialogue did. You can almost see Jamie Dornan cringe when he has to utter the line, “I’m fifty shades of fucked up.” Secretary, on the other hand? It won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.

2.
BDSM is freeing, not the other way around. In Fifty Shades of Grey, both the book and the movie, Grey beats the shit out of women because he had a literal “crack whore” for a mom who didn’t love him enough — it’s an obsession that haunts him and that he feels great shame about (okay, so in the movie he calls her a “crack addict”… but still). In Secretary, Lee is a troubled self-cutter, but it’s the BDSM relationship that frees her. Production designer Amy Danger said of the story: “With this S&M material, we could go into a dark place… Steve [Shainberg, the director] and I wanted the total opposite: that the nature of this relationship freed [the characters] to be their natural selves.”

1.
Secretary didn’t need wealth to make the kink acceptable. One of the reasons, in our opinion, that so many millions of readers and, now, viewers find the Fifty Shades kink acceptable is that Christian Grey is a billionaire. It’s the same with luxury high-end sex toys encrusted with diamonds: for some people, the more they spend on a sex toy, the less dirty it feels. Sure, it’s okay for Christian to spank Ana and ask her to do unspeakable things, so long as he also takes her out in a glider and buys her a new car. Secretary, on the other hand, manages to make the BDSM totally relatable — romantic, even! — without a single helipad in sight.

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Guess the Quote: “American Sniper” or “Fifty Shades”?

February 17, 2015

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Top 5 Love Lessons from “The Bachelor” (Iowa + Hometowns)

February 17, 2015

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from “The Bachelor’s” hysterical Twitter feed

It’s kind of ironic that “Fifty Shades of Grey,” with its helipads and helicopters and gliders and penthouses and fancy cars, came out the same weekend “The Bachelor” aired its least glamorous episodes ever, featuring the scent of manure in the air, the shuttered businesses of a 400-person town, the fluorescent-lit high-school hallways of one’s glory days, the tattered drapes and 80s-style couches of three-star midwestern hotels… (Seriously, shouldn’t these ladies be traipsing quaint European villages by now?) In a first for the show, the producers pulled back the curtain to reveal the real Bachelor with all the bells and whistles removed — in this case, Chris Soules in his natural habitat, a ghost of a town called Arlington, Iowa. The ladies quickly learned that life with Prince Farming would include fifty shades of corn and not much else. That only one of the remaining contestants expressed a real impulse to run just goes to show how lights, cameras, too little food, and too many cocktails can really impair one’s judgment.

Don’t let your romantic judgment be impaired, either: learn the dating lessons from this week’s double feature of  ”The Bachelor” right here, right now:

  1. Beware the man who’s main method of communication is silent bobble-heading. Also, look out for someone who, when he’s at a loss for words, immediately starts making out just to fill the long, awkward pauses.
  2. Talking shit about other women to your date is unattractive. Only do it if you want to get dumped.
  3. If you feel you are being mistreated in your relationship, by all means speak up and speak your mind to your partner. But do it in private, not in front of other people — especially if those other people are interested in your partner for themselves.
  4. Everyone makes mistakes. Even if you have regrets in your past, own them. Don’t treat them like a mutant half-sister you secretly keep locked in your attic (unless, of course, your regret is enslaving your monster sibling). So, you took some nude photos on a lark — so what? The bigger the deal you make of these kind of mistakes to your date, the worse they’ll seem.
  5. Don’t throw your friends and relatives under the bus in a paternalistic effort to protect them from getting their hearts broken. Let them make — and learn from — their own romantic mistakes.

Read up on last week’s love lessons learned from “The Bachelor.” 

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How the “Fifty Shades” Movie Is Better Than the Book

February 16, 2015

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Yes, the movie was better than the book. Of course, if you’ve read the book, then you know that’s not saying much. The bar was pretty low to begin with. And one would hope that with a 40 mil production budget and a feminist director, that bar would inevitably be raised pretty high. Of course, as it’s been widely reported, the author E.L. James did everything she could to keep that bar right where it was, for the sake of her die-hard fans. So the movie was an improvement, but not a miracle.his

Rotten Tomatoes gives it a rating of 26%. Ouch. We guess that’s understandable if you’re judging it as a stand-alone movie. But we would argue that you can’t take it out of its context as Twilight fan-fiction turned historically successful — and historically acceptable — “mommy porn.” If you judge the movie by comparing it to its literary (and we use that term loosely) origin, then it’s smarter, funnier, and more believable. It’s also shot beautifully and delivers in the sexy department (though the book will still surely be better wank material for most women).

Before the movie came out, we had a list of ten ways we hoped the movie would improve upon the book. Let’s see how it faired below. Then we’ll cover our pleasant surprises and less expected disappointments.

1. No cable ties: FAIL

In the first book, when Christian visits Ana at the hardware store and picks up some DIY bondage supplies, it’s implied — intentionally or not — that he’s hoping to use cable ties as wrist restraints on his next guest in his Red Room of Pain. Big mistake. HUGE! If used in such a way, cable ties could cause cuts, poor circulation, and a little thing called nerve damage. The only thing they should be used for in BDSM play is organizing all the cords of your various plug-in vibrators. The movie doubles down on the idea of cable ties by having Christian actually explain they are items, in addition to rope and cuffs, that he could use to restrain her. Bush league!

2.  No explosive orgasms from Ben Wa balls: SUCCESS

In the book, Christian pops them in, spanks away and then it’s Orgasm City. Very unrealistic, at least for the majority of women. They don’t even make a cameo in the movie, which we’re sure disappointed fans (there was no tampon removal either — damn, MPAA!). But at least by omitting the balls, the movie did away with another ridiculous sexual expectation most women can’t meet.

3. Give Ana some sexual experience: FAIL

Just a smidge? Nope, not in the book or the movie. We’re supposed to believe an adult woman who’s not a member of the FLDS can graduate college with absolutely no sexual interest, no experience with men, and no attempts at masturbation ever? It perpetuates the myth that women aren’t sexual creatures until the right man comes along. Please. She’s the virgin and he’s the stud, and they save each other — gross. And even if we were to believe that such a mythical woman could actually exist, it would be totally irresponsible — reprehensible even — to dunk her over her head into the world of BDSM (even with a single introductory vanilla cherry popping’ sesh). At least in the movie, Christian seems as surprised to hear about her sexual status as we were.

4. Full disclosure on the slave contracts: SEMI-FAIL

Christian doesn’t ever clearly articulate to Ana that slave contracts are not actually legally binding — you know, thanks to Abraham Lincoln and that whole abolitionist movement. Here’s a kid, for all intents and purposes, who is not what you would call worldly or business savvy or lawyered up. Not cool for a romantic interest who’s supposedly falling in love. But we will say this: if this is one of those suspension-of-disbelief things Hollywood requires for the fantasy, then at least they didn’t push it too hard in the movie. And major points scored for making the contract negotiation scene a meeting of the minds, in a boardroom, head to head, with witty repartee and humor and Ana ultimately holding all the control (rather than Christian wining and dining and pressuring her to just sign the damn thing, as it goes down in the book).

5. Easy on the controlling, abusive, stalker-ish behavior: SEMI-SUCCESS

In the book, Christian spies on her and tries to control who she can see, where she works, what she eats, how she works out — and she is not down with it. She’s afraid he’s going to hurt her; he causes her physical and emotional pain she doesn’t want — that’s not a D/s relationship, that’s abuse. And where’s the aftercare? The movie does make him less of a criminal. It eases way off on him obsessing over her food intake and workout routine, which helps make him much less creepy.  Meanwhile, Ana seems to have a much stronger sense of herself, a greater ability to assert her desires, and a better sense of humor. She basically tells him to cut the shit and open the door when he’s hesitating outside his playroom. However, he still breaks into her apartment and she never says, “How the fuck did you get in here?!?”

6. More well-adjusted kinky characters: N/A

We thought it would be nice if the movie could add a character or two who’s into kink who isn’t royally fucked up. In the book, it’s Christian the controlling abusive boyfriend, his crazy gun-wielding ex sub, and his statutory rapist from when he was a kid. Not exactly the best advertisement for the kink community, the majority of whom are uber-responsible, law-abiding, stable citizens. The first movie in the series focuses solely on Christian, with his ex-dom, “Mrs. Robinson,” just a mysterious off-screen character.

7. Drop Ana’s issues with eating:  SUCCESS

With Ana forgetting to eat all the time, not being hungry and being forced to eat by Christian, it’s like she’s got an eating disorder. Maybe EL James was just playing around with a woman’s ultimate fantasy of never being hungry, but it’s a distracting issue — let the girl have a healthy appetite. Fortunately, in the movie, she enjoys making — and actually eats — food.

8. Have Ana enjoy the kink more: SEMI-SUCCESS

She can be conflicted about it, sure, but she should ultimately love it, embrace it and not be so afraid of it. In the movie, we’re spared Ana’s original wishy-washiness: visually, she seems to be thoroughly enjoying every kinky sexual experience, at least up until the walloping climax. A truly novel ending would have had Ana, through tears of pain, grinning in ecstasy, in spite of herself.

9. Make the sole minority character less date rape-y:  SUCCESS

Jose, basically the one minority in the book, is on a clear path to sexual assault as he tries to take advantage of Ana when she’s super drunk outside the bar. In the book, he tries to kiss her even though she keeps saying no and trying to push him away. He continues to hold her in a bear hug and is about to commit a crime before Grey breaks it up. Criminal tendencies aren’t a great quality in a “really good friend.” Fortunately, in the movie, they softened this scene by making it clear Jose and Ana are both drunk and by having Jose basically go in for a single kiss that’s more “I’ve been in love with you for a long time and am so pathetic I can only admit it when we’re both wasted” rather than “I’ve wanted to fuck you for a long time and now I’m going to take advantage of your inebriation to get what I want.”

10. No Ana narration: SUCCESS

Thank the Inner Goddess, the movie dispenses with Ana’s insipid internal dialogue. There are no voiceovers about the “ghost of a smile” on Christian’s face or her rather communicative Subconscious. There’s just a single, quiet, understated “Holy cow” uttered after she leaves his office — it’s manageable, just barely.

 

THE PLEASANT SURPRISES

1. Ana has pubic hair! 

We were pleasantly surprised to see some real bush (or even just merkin) in the movie — in ANY movie. In an interview, the director Sam Taylor-Johnson says Ana’s pubic hair goes on a journey with Ana throughout the movie; if that means Ana doesn’t have any pubes by the end — implying Grey’s insistence in the book on down-there-hairlessness — we didn’t notice.

2. No “crackwhore.”

Fortunately Christian doesn’t call his mother a crackwhore — instead, he refers to her as a crack addict and a prostitute. A small but still significant victory.

3. More funny jokes.  

There were some nice, unexpected moments when the movie had the audience laughing intentionally.

4. Dakota Johnson wasn’t half bad.

We were braced for a cringe-inducing performance (akin to that of Drew Barrymore in “Mad Love”), but Johnson (aided by Taylor-Johnson’s attempt at giving Ana more control and agency) actually made Ana bearable, likable even.

 

THE DISAPPOINTMENTS

1. Too many terrible lines from the book. 

With all the control given to the author over the movie, we knew a lot of the worst writing would have to be included, but we still hoped for heavier editing. There were quite a few times when the cheesiest lines from the book elicited loud laughs from the movie-going audience.  And when Dornan has to say “I’m fifty shades of fucked up,” he turns away from the camera and lowers his head — we have a feeling the shame he was emoting was NOT acting.

2. Wet-noodle flogging scene. 

The scene with the rope and the flogger in the Red Room of Pain was pretty mild, and didn’t do much to convey how pleasure and pain can mix erotically.

3. Jamie Dornan was pretty flat. 

After his great performance in the BBC series “The Fall,” in which he plays a serial killer, we had high hopes for what he could do with Christian. But sadly, he’s more charismatic, sexier, more soulful even as a soulless murderer.

4. Not enough male nudity. 

Hello? Women are the ones going to this movie. We want to admire Christian Grey’s body! While we appreciate the realism and subtlety with which Dakota Johnson’s nude form was shot, we really would have appreciated a heavier female gaze when it came to Dornan’s bod. We’re not even asking for full frontal. How about a quick side shot? Hey, if Ben Affleck can do it…

5. That hairpie! 

Oh, how can you make Jamie Dornan not hot? Somehow, the stylists managed to give him a hairdo that conveyed more “dork” than “dreamboat.” And the occasional mussiness resulting from t-shirt removal was not enough to fix it.

 

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