Archives for posts with tag: Dakota Johnson

Grade C+

Dakota Johnson stars in “How To Be Single,” playing a young woman on a break from her boyfriend as she starts a new life in NYC.  She’s on a quest to find herself, to have more adventures, to see what else is out there besides her ex and what he has to offer.  With the help of a wild co-worker played by Rebel Wilson, Johnson gets what she wished for, and all the bad things that go with being single (creepy guys, closed off guys, the lack of true intimacy and connection, etc.).

My most memorable, movie moment of “How To Be Single” is the scene when the new fiancée of one of the main characters is going psycho on the bartender character.  It’s one of the funniest scenes — and the most creepy — of the movie.

Had this movie focused on just Johnson’s and Wilson’s characters, I think it would have been a better movie; but three more characters are given a lot of screen time (a bartender; a nutty online dater; and a doctor).  Then there is the unnecessary scene at the end of the movie  involving a minor character and his daughter that derails the focus off Johnson even more!  With so many characters being juggled, it takes a laser focus and great talent of a screenwriter to make all this work…and it doesn’t, it doesn’t work.  Although there are some good laughs to be had throughout the movie, it’s not enough to save this movie from the realm of mediocrity.

— M

Grade C –

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan reprise their roles as Ms. Steele and Christian Grey, respectively, in “Fifty Shades Darker.”  After being freaked out by Dornan’s sadist ways in “Fifty Shades Of Grey,” Johnson quickly gets back together with Dornan after setting up a “no rules, no punishment” alteration to their original relationship.  Things seem to go well until a weird, disheveled chick starts appearing intermittently to freak out Johnson; sexual harasser/creepy boss named Jack Hyde (dude, seriously, this is a name that I would come up with back when I was 14-years-old writing short stories, so it kind of gives you a hint as to the writing talents of the screenwriter and/or author of the books) comes on strong to Johnson, which freaks her out; and “Mrs. Robinson” is revealed, giving Johnson advice about she’s not good enough for Dornan and she needs to leave him, which freaks out Johnson.

So with all this stuff going on — and handled badly by the screenwriter/director/editor — what is the spine, or theme of this movie?  If I had to guess, it’s Johnson and Dornan trying to change for each other, trying to find a compromise so that they can continue their relationship.  That’s all good and well; but “Fifty Shades Darker” is less focused and more comedic (not deliberately, I bet) than the first movie, and the first movie was no masterpiece.  I know that most sequels tend to be of a less quality than their predecessors, but in the case of “Fifty Shades Darker,” the difference in quality is really jarring.  It felt as if there were 10 drafts of the movie, and instead of the 10th, polished draft being produced, the 3rd draft got produced.  Moving on…

My most memorable, movie moment of “FSD” is the scene when **SPOILER ALERT** Dornan tells a creepy, former submissive who is flipping out to “kneel,” and she does so instantaneously.  This is probably the best written scene of the movie, as it shows Dornan’s immense power over his former subs; Dornan’s possible, continued need for that kind of pure obedience; and Johnson’s full realization that she can never give that to Dornan.

Bottom line, for those who didn’t understand nor liked the first movie, you’ll definitely hate this one.  But for those who were entertained by the first movie, as I was, you’ll probably want to see “FSD” because you want to see how things turn out, despite the cheesy, corny, ridiculous events and dialogue.  Look, it’s like a two hour soap opera, and if treated as such, and you are the type to get entertained by soap operas and soft core porn, then “Fifty Shades Darker” may be a decent piece of entertainment for a couple of hours.  Of course, if watched with a significant other, the entertainment value of this movie goes up significantly (insert winky face here).

— M

Dakota Johnson (playing Anastasia Steele) and Jamie Dornan (playing Christian Grey) star in a love story called “Fifty Shades of Grey.”  That’s right, it’s a love story, and it’s an entertaining one.

Johnson, a young, beautiful, romantic, sexually naive college student gets a chance meeting with young, handsome, intense, very rich Dornan, and the sparks start flying right from the start.  Dornan pursues Johnson, letting her know that he likes to be in control, doesn’t do the typical romance/dates, and his sexual taste is “singular.”  After a few dates, he trusts her enough to show her his “dungeon” of pleasure…he is heavily into BDSM (Bondage/Discipline, Dominant/submissive (or Dominance/submission), sadomasochism).    Her reaction is priceless!  This is one of my most memorable moments of this movie.

Dornan proceeds to educate Johnson about what he’s into.  He tells her that if she agrees to participate in his kinky world, her prize will be him.  He will be hers, he will be devoted to her and her only.  Oh, and there’s the contract to be read, negotiated over, and signed.  A contract that will state what can and cannot be done in this relationship, the “safe words,” etc.  The movie doesn’t mention this, but this is normal in the BDSM community.  Many will do with a verbal contract; but having a written one is better, so that everyone involved know exactly what the boundaries are.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Fifty Shades of Grey” is the scene involving the contract negotiations.  Johnson tells Dornan what to cross off, like clamps on her vagina, anal fisting and vaginal fisting.  Dornan asks if she’s sure she wants vaginal fisting crossed off!  Haha!  And yes, Johnson is sure she doesn’t want any part of that.  Then she asks what are butt plugs!  Johnson manages to also get 1 date night a week with Dornan, to a place of her choosing.  It was during this negotiation that Johnson made a crucial mistake of not demanding more from Dornan, such as maybe sleeping together a few times a week, which was important to her but not to him.  But hey, that’s what contract renegotiations are for, right?

Eventually, the movie shows Dornan and Johnson hard at play in the dungeon.  Depending on what you’re into, you’ll either be shocked, excited, disgusted, or bored.  Johnson is clearly excited, enjoying her adventures with a light version of S/M.  But…what troubles her is the lack of romance that she craves, the lack of sleeping together at night, and other things that the movie delves into later in the story (which you’ll have to see for yourself because I don’t want to spoil it all for you!).  Bottom line: she wants more, and he’s ok with the status quo, and will be happier if things could turn up a few notches.

As I said, it’s a love story.  Boy meets girl.  Things are a bit awkward at first; but once the couple are familiar with each other and trust is established, things get superheated fast.  Then the troubles start, and it’s usually what direction the relationship is or should be heading to…boy thinks it should be this way, girl thinks it should be that way.  If they can reconcile their differences, then the relationship continues; but if they can’t, then boy and girl break up.

Now let’s talk about a common misconception about the relationship Christian Grey has with Anastasia Steele.  Some people see it as domestic violence.   That Steele is a victim who is being used and abused by Grey.  That “Fifty Shades…” glorifies violence against women.   This is not so.

It was Dornan who came to Johnson’s workplace to flirt with her.  When they went out for coffee and he unwrapped a muffin (I think it was a muffin) for her and told her to eat, she didn’t eat it.  When she drunk dialed him to say goodbye, he was the one who ran to her “rescue.”  She never signed the contract, and at some point he stopped pressing her to sign it.  When Johnson had to take an out of state trip, and Dornan didn’t want her to go, she went; and it was he who ran after her again to spend time with her.  When things were heating up during contract negotiations, and Dornan was all fired up and set to play naughty, Johnson walked away.  She had him doing things he never did with any other woman: sleeping overnight in the same bed, going on dates, revealing bits of his childhood…do you see the pattern here?  He didn’t have control, she did.  Whatever control he had over her, she gave it to him; and she could easily take it away at any time.  The illusion of the Dominant/submissive relationship is that the Dom has the power and control.   The truth is the opposite.  This is what most people who aren’t familiar with BDSM don’t understand, and so they make hasty judgments and say that the sub (usually a woman) is being abused.  People who are into BDSM give explicit consent to what is being done.  They are consenting adults hard at play.  Anyone can walk away at anytime.

I can no longer walk away from this story because I’m hooked, I have to know what happens next!  So I hope the studios pay the principal actors what they want so they can make the second movie.

— M

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