Movies You Might Prefer to Too Many Shades of Christian Grey
Changes from Grey to Red
I reviewed 50 Shades for a family oriented parental guidance site, providing only the objective data - how many curses words, intimate scenes, instances of violence, substances, and a few other categories.
Meanwhile, I noticed that I liked the first hour of the two-hour event and felt it was a very good comedy. In fact, I want to see these two actors, Dakota Johnson and the grey-clad Jaimie Dornan, in a different type of film in the future. Their timing in the comedic parts in 50 was very good.
The second hour was not as detailed as the book trilogy (of which I have read long excerpts in reviews and script analyses). I choose not to read the books, for lack of interest.
On screen, the interaction in the Red Room/Play Room is watered down from the reality of such dungeons and their masters and mistresses, but still somewhat disturbing.
As some writers have noted, art is made to disturb viewers - into thinking.
Much more than the second hour of the film, I found a small sector of the audience disturbing during and after the movie.
Four small groups of ladies in their 30s and 40s, not all of them drinking from concoctions from the tavern on site, hooted and screamed with laughter at the physically harsh scenes and sat quietly during the comedic scenes. After the film showing, one group hooted and laughed in the lobby, also acting out a few parts that had been physically harsh. Perhaps they considered the second hour ludicrously incorrect when compared with reality. I don't know.
Red RoomsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Two Alternative Romances
The character Christian Grey says, "I don't do romance." However, it looks like he does do romance, at least a little. Regardless, two additional films released in early 2015 strongly include romance and love and may be more to your liking.
A Romance in Prague, Then and NowClick thumbnail to view full-size
Kris Wu is Peng Zeyang, a twentysomething musician in Prague who meets summer student Jin Tian (Wang Likun). Xu Jinglei plays Chen Lanxin. Jin Tians's grandmother (great aunt) and Gordon Alexander plays Josef Novak, the doctor and concentration camp survivor in Prague.
Somewhere Only We Know
This first alternative romance is from China Lion and filmed in Prague in Chinese with English subtitles.
The plot weaves together the love stories of a Chinese woman who escapes the embattlement of WWII in her own country by moving to Prague and working for a physician with a modern romance -- The other story is her granddaughter's. Studying abroad in Prague for a summer, the student traces her Grandmother Chen's life history in that city. After an inauspicious meeting with a young Chinese man, she gets to know him and his family as he helps her track down her grandmother's old fiancé from the war.
Set to return to China together during the war, Chen and the doctor must leave their train tickets unused.
Having himself survived a concentration camp, the doctor's wife and young daughter did not, and he spends tearful hours staring at their pictures in his clinic. However, we hear many true stories today of the war dead suddenly appearing after long stays in foreign hospitals and this includes those of WWII and Vietnam. Spouses often feel they cannot abandon these suddenly reappeared yet invalided partners, and hearts are broken.
Decades forward to the future and missing the never-married Chen among the living by just weeks, the doctor meets the granddaughter and is delighted. He had sat by his and Chen's favorite statue for a time each day for 45 years, hoping for a glimpse of his true love.
Josef recognizes Chen's granddaughter immediately and imagines he is seeing Chen one last time in a lovely montage on screen.
Meanwhile, Chen's male friend decides that he cannot raise his small daughter in Prague and ask Jin Tian to stay there with him. He breaks off their relationship, but there is a chance that he might see her again. Perhaps he can try the statue in Prague.
Somewhere Only We Know
My rating for the two alternative romances.
I find it impossible to not believe that, deep down, we don't want to celebrate something more than Fifty Shades.— Rik Swartzwelder, in the Hollywood Reporter, 11/13/14
Old Fashioned Cast
Elizabeth Roberts is Amber, a woman that moves every time her money jar is full. Rik Swartzwelder is Clay, a man who gave up fraternity life and racy film making when his girlfriend married someone else. Rik also wrote and directed the two-hour film. It is never boring and offers real conflicts.
You will also enjoy the energy of LeJon Woods as David, Joseph Bonamico as George, and Dorothy Silver as Aunt Zella.
This film had the biggest opening weekend ever for any faith-based film: $1.3 million.
Men and Women Stand Against Abuse in "Old Fashioned"
Lucky Chucky, the radio talk show host and shock jock, broadcasts, "Women are just like men" - all that either gender thinks of is impressing his or her dates with conquest after conquest and the stories to follow.
Upon Chucky's (played by Tyler Hollinger) statement, several women call into the station and scream at him, but he enjoys it. From 50 Shades' opening weekend domestic box office take of $81.7 million, a record for President's Day Weekend, we might agree with Chucky.
Unfortunately, one conquest in this story led to a woman's broken arm. The message is that abuse should not be accepted from anyone.
Chucky broadcasts his misogynistic shtick for provocation and money in this film called Old Fashioned. You might think the name advocates for a style of ancient and restrained romance, but Old Fashioned is also the name of an antique shop in Tuscarawus County, Ohio, in and near New Philadelphia.
Clay, owner does, believed in courting instead of dating, because of his years of wild relations with the opposite sex ending in tears and disaster for several people. He felt he had to start over.
Clay picked up a Bible and decided for himself what was right and wrong about modern dating, causing townspeople to call him "hermit." He did not attend church, however, because he felt it was full of hypocrites.
Fifty Shades is short-term titillation and Old Fashioned offers a long-term alternative. Audiences want to hear that the best of the past is still possible—that a relationship can be the safe room.— Producer Nathan Nazario in the Hollywood Reporter, 11/13/14
Leather Whip or Broken Arm
Meanwhile, Amber, a woman of several failed relationships and a broken arm drives into town and rents the apartment over the shop. Soon, she demands to know why Clay does not believe in dating.
This movie offers conflict, but not the kind at the end of a heavy leather whip or a mahogany spanking board.
Clay has locked himself away in his shop for years, while Amber has moved from town to town whenever her gallon sized money jar is filled. It seems that both are running from past heartache and new commitment.
Worth the price of admission are two scenes in the town's grocery store. They are priceless. One is a faux date that Clay tries to escape and the second is candlelit and preceded by a ride in a restored classic limousine. You will not believe your eyes when you see the interior of the grocery store -- It is as lavish as Christian Grey's apartment.
Old fashioned looks at other relationships as well: a long marriage because a teen boy at homecoming could not break up with a girl, a live-in arrangement with a child, and a widow who talks to the picture of her deceased husband.
Both of these films, Somewhere Only We Know and Old Fashioned are uplifting, resolve conflicts, and are good choices for positive emotional outlet in lieu of bondage, broken hearts, and empty martini glasses at the theater.
Both of these films are uplifting, resolve conflicts, and are good choices for positive emotional outlet in lieu of bondage, broken hearts, and empty martini glasses at the theater.
© 2015 Patty Inglish