Saturday, February 14, 2015

Which is worse: Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey?

In a comment to my post yesterday on Fifty Shades of Grey, Kyle asked the important question that is the title of this entry.  In my response to him, I copped out and declared the two a tie. 

That's clearly not good enough.  If I'm going to besmirch not just one but two movies based on books that millions and millions of people love, I ought to be willing to face the tough questions.  The only fair way to do this is to compare key points of the movies. 

Length:  Twilight clocks in at 2:02, while Fifty Shades piles on an extra three minutes and hits 2:05.  With movies this bad, every extra minute is a lash from an incompetent dominant, so Fifty Shades is the worse on this front.

Plot:  Sure, both are stupid beginnings to inane trilogies, but because the question is about only these first movies--and those are all I've seen--we have to restrict the comparison to just what happens in these two.  In Fifty Shades, we have a boring love story that makes no sense at any turn, but few film love stories do.  In Twilight, we have sparkly vampires and werewolves who imprint on their love-mates and, well, you get the point:  Twilight carries far and away the worse plot. 

Acting:  Assume here that we must use this term for the performances in the films; don't grouse at me that no one acted at all.  I'm going to stick to the two leads in each case.  In Fifty Shades, we have Jamie Dornan doing his best impression of a sad gray sofa in a Bronx heroin den, but at least you can tell it's a sofa.  In Twilight, Robert Pattinson manages to be nearly invisible, even while sparkling, in a performance so bad I believe my memory actually contains blanks spots where he should be.  Similarly, Kristen Stewart's only acting achievement in Twilight was to piss off all sensible viewers, while I have to grant that Dakota Johnson had two whole acting moves and was frequently recognizable as human.  For worse acting, Twilight wins going away. 

Creepy factor:  Mid-twenties billionaire Grey falls for boring woman something like five years younger (no, I'm not willing to research the exact difference), and definitely out of college.  Yeah, he's supposed to be a dominant, but his few kink acts are so tame that you'd find more sexual heat in Julia Child dressing a chicken.  In Twilight, Pattinson is over a hundred years old and becomes infatuated with a high-schooler.  Twilight once again wins by a mile. 

I could go on, but I believe the answer to Kyle's question is abundantly clear:  Twilight is far and away the worse of the two movies. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey

So sue me:  a group of us went to see this movie.  I was curious about what exactly was so exciting so many people, and I'm just not willing to devote the time necessary to read the three books. 

The Thursday night theater was 90% full.  About 80% of the attendees were women.  The crowd had the sort of nervous energy you'd expect before a bull fight--or in an old-fashioned porn theater.

An hour later, the sounds I'd heard most were laughter--and almost never at the movie's intentional jokes.  This film frequently was so bad it was funny.

Most of the time, though, it was dull.  Deadly dull.  Dakota Johnson, the female lead, had two moves:  look up from under the hair, and bite the lip.  Sometimes, she used them at the same time, a combination that seemed to be more than her co-star could resist.  Neither worked for me.  There was not a single second in the movie in which I found her hot, including when she was naked.

Johnson was, however, Katharine Hepburn and Meryl Streep combined in comparison to Jamie Dornan, who looked at all times as if he was seeking a way out of the film.  Though I never found Johnson hot, she was at least clearly human; Dornan could easily have been a CGI character, the Jar Jar Binks of kink. 

Speaking of the kink, which I gather was supposed to be a key part of the books, I can say only that if you are considering this movie for that reason, you'd be better off staying home and trolling for porn snippets.  The kink scenes had all the heat of a blast chiller.  Not since Eyes Wide Shut have I found sex scenes this dull. 

It probably sounds like I hated the movie.  I didn't.  Two hours passed relatively painlessly and with a modicum of giggles.  To hate it, I'd have to care about it, and I didn't.  Nothing in it ever made me care about either lead character or what they would do.

Because I haven't read the books, I can't tell you if liking them will make you like this movie, but perhaps it will. 

Me, I'm looking forward to the real star of this weekend's films, Kingsman

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin

If these names mean nothing to you, you are not a fan of the old TV show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 

I am.  I have been since I was a kid.  I know it's kitschy and dumb and the very definition of camp, but I still enjoy it.

Now, Guy Ritchie is directing a reboot of this old spy show, and from the looks of this trailer he is doing a good job of balancing camp, humor, and action.

As I say so often about movies--and mean every time--I can't wait to see it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Three years ago today,

on February 11, 2012, my mother died.  I still miss her.  I thought of her often today.  A week never goes by without me thinking of her, and most days she passes through my mind.

My mom raised me and was a single mother for most of my life.  She was a strong, fierce woman; never be fooled by a person's size--she never made it to five feet tall--into believing they are not powerful and formidable.  She made a lot of mistakes with my childhood, and some of them left scars that will never fully heal, but she also did a great deal right.

She taught me many things.  To protect with all my heart and energy those who are with me.  To work hard.  To be grateful for every blessing.  Most of all, to fight, no matter the odds, no matter the difficulty, to fight and to never ever ever give up. 

I have learned from her death that though we will all die one day, we will live on, at least for a time, in the hearts and memories of those we touched.  Mom will in that way live for at least as long as I do, for she will never leave my heart or mind.

She told me she would always love me, and I believe she kept that promise.  If there is a heaven, she is in it, and she is still loving me.

This song is about romantic love, and so in that sense it is not appropriate, but it is also about staying with those you love.  Mom will always stay with me, and in my heart I will always stay with her.

Rest in peace, Mom.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Delta Rae on my mind

For multiple reasons today, so I thought I'd share with you another of their great songs

and the tease for their new album, After It All, which comes out April 7.

An unusual tease.  I'm looking forward to hearing it all.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Scary study about men and rape

Read this bit

Approximately 32 percent of study participants said that they would have “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse” if ‘‘nobody would ever know and there wouldn’t be any consequences.’’ Yet only 13.6 percent admit to having “any intentions to rape a woman” under these same circumstances. With the exception of one survey that was not counted because of inconclusive answers, all of the men who admitted to rape intentions also admitted to forced intercourse intentions. (Worth noting: Though the legal definition of rape varies from state to state, these researchers are using the widely agreed upon definition of the word as “intercourse by use of force or threat of force against a victim’s wishes.”)

from this Newsweek article about a December study in the journal Violence and Gender.  If you don't trust the summaries, check out the hard data in the study itself.

You may want to dismiss the study because it involved only 86 college-age men, but that's enough of a sample to be, at a minimum, disturbing.

I believe the study is at least directionally correct.  That 13.6% of the men in the study would admit to rape intentions is astounding; that nearly 32% would admit to the same thing under a different name is even worse. 

If you believe that young men going off to college understand that rape is bad, this data strongly suggests that your belief is wrong for a significant fraction of those men.  We need to keep educating men that rape is a horrific crime that is simply wrong, regardless of whether anyone would know about it.  We need to educate them that forcing a woman to have sexual intercourse is rape. 

A letter from RAINN to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault makes the point that those college men who commit rape represent a very small percentage of the male college population.  Even if that data is true--as I hope it is--I still believe that this new study means we need to improve our education of all young men.  I don't believe education alone will stop that small percentage of young men from committing rape, but it might stop some of them, and it might increase the peer pressure on them to behave better. 

We have to try.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Today the weather here in N.C. reminded us

not to worry so much about winter and instead to remember that spring would indeed one day come.  The mid-day high hovered around 73, the sky was clear, the sunlight hit us with more strength than we have any right to expect, and a light breeze carried with it the promise of more good days to come.

If you're of a pessimistic bent, you could reasonably argue that the perfection that was today was in fact all a horrible lie.  You could point to Friday's projected high of 38 and the cooling days between now and then as proof that nature was having us on.

I don't hold with that perspective.  I increasingly believe that we must cling to the joys this life gives us, marvel at every second of them, and appreciate their beauty and their magic, because however often you receive them, they remain precious.

So today I stood for a time in the sunlight, and smiled, and squinted in the bright light, and basked in the joys this day offered.

I hope your day brought its own measure of happiness.


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