Em & Lo: Sex. Love. And Everything in Between. » Movies http://www.emandlo.com Your daily dose of advice, news, and stories about sex, love, and other important stuff. No yoga mat required. Mon, 04 May 2015 20:09:47 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 30th Anniversary of One of the Most Romantic Movies Ever Made http://www.emandlo.com/2015/04/30th-anniversary-of-one-of-the-most-romantic-movies-ever-made/ http://www.emandlo.com/2015/04/30th-anniversary-of-one-of-the-most-romantic-movies-ever-made/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 18:46:33 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=32863

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Merchant-Ivory production, A Room with a View, which won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay in 1985 (along with best art direction and costume design) and introduced many of us to the possibility that mainstream movies could, in fact, have full frontal male nudity. Based on the 1908 novel by E.M Forster, it follows Lucy Honeychurch (a young Helena Bonham Carter) as she travels abroad to Italy and back home to England, as she denies her heart and resists the unorthodox advances of free thinker George Emerson (played by Julian Sands before he ruined everything with Boxing Helena) — perhaps not a ringing endorsement for taking women at their word about their own desires and preferences. But when taken in the context of the time it was written, along with the full confidence that we know Lucy’s true inclinations (even if she’s not yet permitted in uptight British society to admit them to herself), A Room with a View actually promotes the idea of women having the freedom to think their own thoughts and follow their own hearts, tradition and good manners be damned. We dare you to (re)watch it and not swoon a little.

Below are some of the best — and most romantic — moments in the film in chronological order, collated from IMDB and this copy of the screenplay:

Mr. Beebee (local English reverend): May I say something – rather daring?
Lucy: Oh, Mr. Beebee: you sound like Miss Lavish. Don’t say you are writing a novel, too.
Mr. Beebee: If I were, you should be my heroine and I would write: “If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting – both for us and for her.”

Mr. Emerson (George’s fathter): I don’t require you to fall in love with my boy, but try and understand him. My poor young lady, I think you’re muddled, too — you’ve let other people muddle you.
Lucy: Is that what’s happened to him? Has he let other people -
Mr. Emerson: No, in his case he’s done it himself – with all this brooding on the things of the Universe. I don’t believe in this world sorrow. Do you?
Lucy: No. Oh no. I don’t, Mr. Emerson. Not at all.
Mr. Emerson: Well there you are! Then make my boy realize that by the side of the everlasting Why there is a yes! And a Yes and a Yes!

After witnessing a murder in a piazza together and George catching Lucy in a faint:
Lucy: How quickly these accidents do happen and then one returns to the old life.
George: I don’t. I mean, something’s happened to me… and to you.

Miss Lavish: …I have a theory that there is something in the Italian landscape which inclines even the most stolid nature to romance.

From the screenplay:
COACHMAN stops to pick some violets and presents them to LUCY. She takes them with real pleasure. They walk on. The view is forming — LUCY sees the river, the golden plain, other hills.
Coachman: Eccolo!
Lucy gives a cry — the ground has given way and she falls on to a little terrace, covered with violets from end to end. It is like a sea of violets, foaming down the hillside.
Standing on the brink of this sea, like a swimmer about to five, is Geoge.
Georg contemplates Lucy – who appears to have fallen out of heaven into this sea of violets which beats against her dress in blue waves.
The Coachman watches them from behind the bushes, a violet between his teeth.
George steps forward quickly and kisses Lucy (on the cheek).
[In the movie, there are no violets, the coachman is silent, he simply points to where she’ll find George contemplating the landscape, she approaches, doesn’t fall, George notices her, and briskly walks up to her, grabs her face with one hand, wraps the other arm around her and plants one long kiss squarely on her lips. Still, the screenplay description is quite beautiful to imagine.]

 

Mr. Beebee: Does it seem reasonable to you that she should play so wonderfully — play Beethoven with such passion — and yet live so quietly? … I suspect that the day will come when music and life will mingle, and then she will be wonderful in both.

Freddy Honeychurch (Lucy’s brother): How d’ye do? Come and have a bathe.
George Emerson: I’d like that.
Reverend Beebe: [laughs] That’s the best conversational opening I’ve ever heard. “How do you do? Come and have a bathe.”

 

George Emerson (to Lucy): He’s the sort who can’t know anyone intimately, least of all a woman. He doesn’t know what a woman is. He wants you for a possession, something to look at, like a painting or an ivory box. Something to own and to display. He doesn’t want you to be real, and to think and to live. He doesn’t love you. But I love you. I want you to have your own thoughts and ideas and feelings, even when I hold you in my arms.

 

Mr. Emerson: You love George. You love the boy body and soul, as he loves you.
Lucy Honeychurch: [crying] But of course I do. What did you all think?

 

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25 Things You Didn’t Know About “Pretty Woman” http://www.emandlo.com/2015/04/25-things-you-didnt-know-about-pretty-woman/ http://www.emandlo.com/2015/04/25-things-you-didnt-know-about-pretty-woman/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:00:23 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=32628

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the movie Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts, Julia Roberts’ hair, and Richard Gere. (Now don’t you feel old?) The big celebration, with the cast reuniting for the first time in twenty-five years on the Today Show, happened last week. But we were out of town last week, so we’re going to join the party late, because Pretty Woman is one of Em’s favorite movies of all time. Right up there with Grease, Sound of Music, and Airplane. Somehow, director Gary Marshall managed to turn a movie about a street-walking prostitute into a much loved family classic. The original script, however, probably wouldn’t have been the kind of film Em and her family would have sat down to, hundreds of times, with a pot of tea. Read on to find out why… plus 24 other things you probably didn’t know about the 1990 film Pretty Woman.

1. The original Pretty Woman script was way darker. In the original script, Julia Roberts’ character Vivian is addicted to cocaine, and agrees to give the drug up for a week so she can earn enough money to take her friend Kit to Disneyland. And in the movie’s original ending, Richard Gere’s character, Edward, throws Vivian out of the car, and, yes, she takes a bus to Disneyland. Not quite the “Disney” ending of the final version!

2. The final version had Vivian’s roommate Kit saddled with the drug habit and the questionable life choices instead.

3. In the version of Pretty Woman we all know and most of us love, Edward breaks into the bathroom to find Vivian flossing her teeth, rather than doing drugs, as he’d suspected. In the original — and far more realistic! — script, he was right: she was doing drugs.

4. One of the main reasons that the movie got its fairytale ending was the immediate chemistry between co-stars Gere and Roberts. The filmmakers knew audiences would storm the screen if Vivian and Edward didn’t end up together. The other reason is that director Gary Marshall doesn’t do dark endings.

5. But don’t feel bad for the screenwriter, J.F. Lawton. He claims he was just trying something different with his Pretty Woman script, and that he likes a happy ending as much as the next guy.

6. Pretty much every actress currently in her forties or fifties is rumored to have either auditioned for the role of Vivian and been rejected, or offered the role and passed it up — and later regretted the decision, of course. (As Vivian says to the snooty shop assistant: “Big mistake. Huge.”) Actresses who allegedly turned down the role include Megan Ryan, Kim Basinger, Melanie Griffith, Sharon Stone, Michelle Pfeiffer, Heather Locklear, Diane Lane, Molly Ringwald, Sandra Bullock, Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Connolly, and Kristin Davis. And rumor has it that both Drew Barrymore and Winona Ryder wanted the part, but director Gary Marshall thought they were too young.

7. Speaking of that scene with the snooty shop assistant: that was in the original script!

8. Actors who (allegedly) almost played Edward include Burt Reynolds, Albert Brooks, Al Pacino, and Daniel Day-Lewis.

 9. In the poster for the movie, Julia Roberts’ head was superimposed on the body of famous body double Shelley Michelle (see above).

10. There was no body double for Richard Gere on the poster, but they did turn his hair brown for the poster! In the movie, on the other hand, it’s completely grey.

11. According to the IMDB Parents’ Guide for this movie, “The main character and a supporting character are prostitutes, and both sex and sexuality are repeatedly depicted as well as discussed (though not “coarsely”). The protagonists are sensually involved throughout the movie.” Which is pretty much the reason this movie was a huge hit and a family favorite in TV dens across the world: lots of “sensual involvement” and no “coarse” sex. It’s also the reason many people think the movie’s depiction of prostitution is unrealistic. (Duh. It’s a Disney movie!)

12. The IMDB Guide also offers this helpful heads up: “A woman wears a pair of fetish latex boots for most of the film.”

13. The famous scene where Edward gives Vivian a diamond necklace, and snaps the case shut on her hand, wasn’t in the script. They were filming the day after Roberts’ 21st birthday, and Gere and director Marshall planned it as a surprise for the (probably hungover) birthday girl. Roberts’ reaction (huge laughter) is genuine, and the filmmakers liked it so much, they kept it in.

14. That necklace is genuine, too, by the way: it was worth $250,000. During filming of those scenes, an armed security officer from the jewelry store stood behind the director.

15. Producer Laura Ziskin contributed the final line of the last scene: “She rescues him right back.” When they’d filmed the earlier scene, where Vivian says, “I want the fairy tale,” this closing line hadn’t yet been written.

16. Pretty Woman was originally titled $3,000, i.e. the amount Vivian was paid for the week.

17. Continuity oops: When Vivian is offering Edward a choice of condoms, she is holding four colored condoms (plus the gold circle condom). In one shot, Vivian holds the condoms in a certain order. In the next shot, they are in a different order, and then in the third shot, they are back in the original order. Given the number of times super-fans have watched this movie, the level of detail here shouldn’t be surprising.

18. You may recall that in that condom scene, she’s sitting on a desk (on a fax machine, actually). Vivian rarely sits down on a chair in the movie. The filmmakers wanted to show that, because of her profession, Vivian felt more comfortable sitting on the floor or on top of furniture.

19. In the famous piano scene, Richard Gere is actually playing the piano. He also composed the piece of music that he plays.

20. Later in that scene, Vivian and Edward get busy on the piano, hitting all sorts of random piano keys with flailing limbs. According to the DVD director’s commentary, the piano sounds you hear during that sex scene were dubbed in afterwards, because the actual keys the two of them randomly hit made such a discordant sound that it was unusable.

21. Porsche declined the opportunity for product placement in this movie, because they did not want to be associated with soliciting prostitutes. Lotus Cars UK said yes to being the car that Gere drives to pick up Roberts, and their sales tripled in the year after the movie came out. We’ll say it again: Big mistake. Huge.

22. In the restaurant scene when Vivian accidentally catapaults a snail across the room, the waiter says, “It happens all the time.” Many years later, director Gary Marshall cast the same actor in The Princess Diaries and gave him the same line.

23. Here’s another ridiculously detailed report of a continuity error: The pancake Vivian is eating during breakfast is, for most of the scene, a croissant. Then the croissant magically becomes a pancake. In the first scene with the pancake, she takes a second bite. In the next scene with the pancake in her hand, there is only one bite missing. Also, the pancake with one bite missing has a different bite pattern and is clearly a different pancake. Yes, people really do notice this stuff!

24. During a sex scene, Roberts got so nervous that a visible vein popped in her forehead. Director Marshall got into bed with Roberts and Gere and the two guys massaged her forehead until the vein disappeared. Roberts allegedly also broke into hives during this scene, and was given calamine lotion to calm them.

25. In the establishing shots of the city, at the start of the movie, some of the neon letters in the hotel where Vivian lives are burned out. The only remaining lighted letters spell “HO.” Stay classy, Hollywood!

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Interesting Kickstarter: A Documentary on an Alternative Love Model http://www.emandlo.com/2015/03/interesting-kickstarter-a-documentary-on-an-alternative-love-model/ http://www.emandlo.com/2015/03/interesting-kickstarter-a-documentary-on-an-alternative-love-model/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 11:29:22 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=32609 Filmmakers Ian MacKenzie and John Wolfstone are challenging what they call “the myth of the one” by profiling a group in Portugal called Tamera, a “free love” community dedicated to “social sustainability” and a “future without war” by making all matters of love and sexuality within a community completely transparent. Check out their impressive pitch video:

The filmmakers will be going to Tamera’s annual Global Love School in May to “capture and translate Tamera’s systems on love & partnership for a wider audience.” Principle photography will be completed at Tamera, followed by post-production this summer, for a wide-release of the short film in September, which will coincide with the North American release of the book “Terra Nova: Global Revolution and the Healing of Love” from Tamera’s co-founder Dieter Duhm. (Tamera started as a small group in Germany in the 1970s, natch).

To do this, they’re looking for 21K. For as little as $5 bucks you can get your name in the ending credits! You’ve got until April 26th to help spread the love.

 

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The 15 Best Sexiest Movies on Netflix Right Now http://www.emandlo.com/2015/03/the-15-best-sexiest-movies-on-netflix-right-now/ http://www.emandlo.com/2015/03/the-15-best-sexiest-movies-on-netflix-right-now/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 18:51:23 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=32425

We’ve scanned Netflix for the best sex-related movies so you don’t have to. Are they all “sexy,” in the traditional sense of the word? No. In fact, you might consider some the opposite of sexy. But most of them deal with issues related to mating and relating with ingenuity, style and/or intelligence. We’ve ranked them in order of Rotten Tomatoes freshness ratings from lowest to highest: all are “fresh” (the majority of critics — over 60% — gave the film positive reviews) and half are “certified fresh” (75% or higher, with 40 reviews counted and at least 5 reviews from top critics).

15. Bitter Moon (63%)

If you can get past the fact that it’s directed by statutory rapist Roman Polanski, Bitter Moon is a wonderfully campy dark-comedy about erotic obsession gone really, really wrong. Like oinking-in-a-pig-mask wrong.

14. Sex and Lucia (71%)

This is sexy — there is a lot of “strong sexual content” — but it is also super sad. Tragedy plus eroticism does NOT equal comedy.

13. Young and Beautiful (73%)

Sounds like a terrible soap opera, but this French film by the director of Swimming Pooland 8 Women centers on a teenager with a secret life as a blasé sex worker. (Actually, maybe it could be a soap opera…) Let’s just hope mom doesn’t find out!

12. The Piano Teacher (73%)

Basically, this is the opposite of the BDSM relationship in “Fifty Shades of Grey”: older woman, younger man; zero romance (and we mean it, unlike Christian Grey); and a seriously unhealthy approach to masochism. Makes “Fifty” look like a feel-good romantic comedy.

11. Nymphomaniac (Vol I 75%; Vol II 60%)

We’re almost morally opposed to including anything by Lars Von Trier on this list, just because his films are so painful to watch. But come on, this is an epic two-parter (over 4 hours long) about a sex addict. Do we have a choice?

10. Frida (76%)

This biopic of the Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo chronicles her complicated marriage to muralist Diego Rivera, which involved lots of lovers on both sides (including one shared mistress), as well as Kahlo’s affair with the Marxist revolutionary, Leon Trotsky.

9. Fatal Attraction (78%)

The classic that spawned the term “bunny boiler” wasn’t just a cautionary tale (be careful what you wish for, don’t take for granted all you have…) — it could also be seen as a feminist treatise on the dangers of ignoring women and their feelings.

8. I Am Love (80%)

Italian vistas + food porn + an affair + Tilda Swinton = intense, dramatic sensuality.

7. Don Jon (81%)

Funny and stylish take on the the deleterious effects the modern meathead’s porn habits have on his romantic relationships.

6. Submarine (86%)

Adorable, stylish and touching coming-of-age British film about a 15-year-old trying to save his parents’ marriage and lose his virginity.

5. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (90%)

Peter Greenaway, famous for combining beauty and horror in his art house works, carried on the tradition in this shocking film from 1989 which featured Hellen Mirren’s always-stellar acting, Jean-Paul Gaultier’s over-the-top costumes, and Michael Nyman’s creepy music. You won’t be hungry for a while after this one.

4. Like Water for Chocolate (90%)

Based on the best-selling book of the same name, the film tells the tale of star-crossed Mexican lovers with lots of foodie sensuality and magical realism. According to RT, it’s one of the highest grossing foreign films of all time. You will be hungry after this one.

3. Blue Is the Warmest Color (91%)

A French teenager explores her Sapphic sexuality with a blue-haired art student. Rated NC-17 for explicit scenes. Strap in, ’cause it’s over three hours long.

2. Y Tu Mama También (92%)

A coming of age story about two Mexican teenage buddies on a road trip with a 28-year-old married woman. It’s got all the fantasies: older woman, younger men, casual sex, threeways, homoerotic experimentation… Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who would later make Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004),  Children of Men (2006) and Gravity (2013), for which he won an Academy Award.

1. Gloria (99%)

It doesn’t get much better than 99 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. This Chilean film follows a divorced, middle-aged woman looking for love in singles’ dance clubs. She finds it…but it ain’t perfect.


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LELO’s First Movie Explores Modern Intimacy… Without Sex Toys http://www.emandlo.com/2015/02/lelos-first-movie-explores-modern-intimacy-without-sex-toys/ http://www.emandlo.com/2015/02/lelos-first-movie-explores-modern-intimacy-without-sex-toys/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 20:30:00 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=32228

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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Top 10 Reasons Why “Secretary” Is Better Than “Fifty Shades” http://www.emandlo.com/2015/02/top-10-reasons-why-secretary-is-better-than-fifty-shades-2/ http://www.emandlo.com/2015/02/top-10-reasons-why-secretary-is-better-than-fifty-shades-2/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 19:00:35 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=31873

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”? http://www.emandlo.com/2015/02/guess-the-quote-american-sniper-or-fifty-shades/ http://www.emandlo.com/2015/02/guess-the-quote-american-sniper-or-fifty-shades/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 12:07:46 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=32078

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How the “Fifty Shades” Movie Is Better Than the Book http://www.emandlo.com/2015/02/how-the-fifty-shades-movie-is-better-than-the-book/ http://www.emandlo.com/2015/02/how-the-fifty-shades-movie-is-better-than-the-book/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 19:13:37 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=32069

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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Top 10 Things We Hope the “Fifty Shades” Movie Does Better Than the Book http://www.emandlo.com/2015/02/top-10-things-we-hope-the-fifty-shades-movie-does-better-than-the-book-2/ http://www.emandlo.com/2015/02/top-10-things-we-hope-the-fifty-shades-movie-does-better-than-the-book-2/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 12:00:50 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=31915

OMG IT’S TONIGHT OMG IT’S TONIGHT OMG IT’S TONIGHT! The film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, the first book in the mega-selling erotic trilogy by E.L. James, finally opens tonight! Well, officially it opens tomorrow, but a bunch of theaters are holding screenings tonight. Ladies, we hope your limos are booked (ours is… seriously). With the casting of Jamie Dornan (The Fall) as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson (The Social Network) as Anastasia Steele, many diehard fans have been crying foul, saying that the filmmakers got it wrong. They certainly get Jamie Dornan’s hairstyle wrong in the movie, of that much we’re sure. Then again, we’re not sure any casting would have been universally warmly received (short of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart), but we do think the film has a chance to definitely get some other things right. Behold, our top 10 improvements on the book we hope to see in the movie tonight:

1. No cable ties: 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.

2.  No explosive orgasms from Ben Wa balls. It’s just not realistic, at least not for the majority of women. Giving them the same power as, say, a vibrator just sets women up for yet another sexual expectation most can’t meet. Balls (like LELO’s Luna Beads) are better suited for working out your pelvic floor muscles and thus improving pelvic health, which can lead to better sexual sensations. But as little balls full of cosmic orgasm potential? Uh uh.

3. Give Ana some sexual experience. Just a smidge. 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.

4. Full disclosure on the slave contracts. 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.

5. Easy on the controlling, abusive, stalker-ish behavior. Christian spies on her and tries to control who she can see, where she works, what she eats — 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? Christian is a terrible top. The movie should make him a better one.

6. More well-adjusted kinky characters. 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.

7. Drop Ana’s issues with eating.  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.

8. Have Ana enjoy the kink more. She can be conflicted about it, sure, but she should ultimately love it, embrace it and not be so afraid of it.

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

10. No Ana narration. We hope and pray the movie dispenses with Ana’s insipid internal dialogue. Please no voiceovers about the “ghost of a smile” on Christian’s face or her cartwheeling Inner Goddess.

For an awesome book about kink that should be made into a documentary movie, check out our award-winning “150 SHADES OF PLAY: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink” – now available as a Kindle E-book! 

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How to See the “Fifty Shades of Grey” Movie in Style http://www.emandlo.com/2015/02/how-to-see-the-fifty-shades-of-grey-movie-in-style/ http://www.emandlo.com/2015/02/how-to-see-the-fifty-shades-of-grey-movie-in-style/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 12:00:44 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=31797

In case you couldn’t tell from the onslaught of Fifty Shades posts on our site in the past week, we’re a teensy little bit excited about the Fifty Shades of Grey movie that opens this Friday. It’s not because we loved E.L. James’ book. (We didn’t. Too many inner goddesses doing cartwheels and too much cliched writing.) It’s not because we expect the two stars to have any chemistry on screen. (They clearly don’t.) It’s not even because HOLY MOTHER EFFING SPARKLY VAMPIRES IS JAMIE DORNAN HOT. (He absolutely is, but the filmmakers inexplicably ruined it all by giving him a bad haircut in the movie. Who knew it was even possible to make him look unappealing?) And it’s certainly not because we expect to get any decent sex tips from the movie. (That’s what our book is for, duh.)

No, the reason we’re excited is this: What better excuse can you think of to get your drink on with a bunch of lady friends and go giggle at the big screen? And that’s exactly what we plan to do. It will be a much needed respite from the rather bleak selection of Oscar movies this year: Nightcrawler is brilliant but cheerless. Mr. Turner is simply cheerless. The Theory of Everything seems kind of uplifting until you Wikipedia Stephen Hawking and realize how soon he is likely to be suffering from locked-in syndrome. American Sniper is a great movie that made us feel bad about America. Still Alice made us weep. Foxcatcher made us feel funny inside.  (Bad touch! Bad touch!) And so on.

So tell us this: Which of the above movies would be appropriate to see drunk on champagne? Only Fifty Shades of Grey! Which of the above movies would be appropriate to car-pool to in a cheesy white stretch limo that is more commonly hired for local proms? Only Fifty Shades of Grey! Which of the above movies warrants you getting dressed up and teasing your hair big like you’re actually attending one of those local proms? Yep, you got it: Fifty Shades of Grey.

And this is exactly what we plan on doing this Friday, February 13th. Yes, we’re serious about the stretch. Our husbands think we’re nuts, but they just don’t understand. Sure, this could be a painful viewing experience, but as the inimitable E.L. James wrote: “There’s a very fine line between pleasure and pain. They are two sides of the same coin, one not existing without the other.”

So get your tickets in advance (they’re selling out), rent the limo, and get your girlie drink on without shame!

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