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GRUDGE MATCH REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Old Fashioned

July 2, 2015 1 comment
Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Old FashionedFIFTY SHADES OF GREY (Unrated)
Directed by: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Produced by: Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, E.L. James
Screenplay by: Kelly Marcel
Edited by: Anne V. Coates, Lisa Gunning, Debra Neil-Fisher
Cinematography by: Seamus McGarvey
Music by: Danny Elfman
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eloise Mumford, Jennifer Ehle, Marcia Gay Harden, Victor Rasuk, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Max Martini, Callum Keith Rennie, Andrew Airlie, Dylan Neal, Anthony Konechny, Emily Fonda, Rachel Skarsten
Based on the book Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Year: 2015

 

OLD FASHIONED
Directed by: Rik Swartzwelder
Produced by: Nathan Nazario, Dave DeBorde, Nini Hadjis, Rik Swartzwelder
Written by: Rik Swartzwelder
Edited by: Jonathan Olive, Phillips Sherwood, Robin Katz
Cinematography by: David George
Music by: Kazimir Boyle
Starring: Elizabeth Ann Roberts, Rik Swartzwelder, LeJon Woods, Tyler Hollinger, Nini Hadjis, Maryann Nagel, Lindsay Heath, Joseph Bonamico, Dorothy Silver, Ange’le Perez, Anne Marie Nestor
Year: 2015

 

This review contains spoilers, including the movies’ endings.

 

Alright, everyone, listen up! Things are about to get ugly in here! I’m going to be fanning the flames of a culture war, and it’s bound to make some people kind of angry!

In one corner, we have the inexplicably popular, smutty to a fault movie adaptation of a book that was itself originally an online Twilight fan fiction, written by someone who didn’t seem to catch on to that franchise’s coded abstinence message: Fifty Shades of Grey! In the other corner, we have that film’s chaste, Christian-targeting, message-laden morality tale counterpart, meant to provide a more wholesome alternative for anyone who proudly proclaims that they’ve kissed dating goodbye: Old Fashioned!

… Okay, I can’t keep up that boxing announcer façade. …

Anyway, I’m reviving a very old (and once-used) feature on this blog that I really didn’t enjoy doing the first time around but recently figured would be kind of interesting to try again. (It’s something I’d been meaning to try for a while, anyway, back when I thought about doing it for the original King Kong and its remakes.) The concept behind this grudge match review works pretty much like you’d expect. There will be a series of rounds in which I compare the two movies to one another, and there will be a winner for each round based on which movie succeeds more in that area. What will make this a bit more interesting, however, is the fact these two films aren’t remakes or adaptations of the same source material, but rather polar opposites! The marketing for Old Fashioned proclaimed “Chivalry makes a comeback,” while the BDSM-themed, sex-and-nudity laden Fifty Shades demanded audiences “Lose Control.” As if its obvious opposition weren’t enough, the films were only released one week apart, with Old Fashioned beating Fifty Shades to the punch in an effort to overtake it and likely to encourage people to not give in to the smut.

I’m of the opinion, however, that too often Christian films try to take on too much of a counterculture stance, to the point where they’re not even willing to study the very thing they’re opposed to or portray it in a fair light. As I’ve pointed out countless times before, I am a Christian, and yet I am more often than not finding myself at odds with the image the Christian pop culture industry and the people who consume it propagate for themselves, and flaunting it in non-Christians’ faces (and even the faces of Christians they disagree with), prideful in their willful ignorance. So, I am trying to do something different and see it from all sides in comparing the two movies. It’s actually kind of funny how they actually have some things in common! To be quite honest, though, I’m also trying to have a bit of fun at their expense, too. I mean… neither one of these movies is really any good, so I’m really not going to take this too seriously. I’m also just here to let you know which one is better than the other, too – or, in this case, which one is the least bad.

Read more…

REVIEW: Johnny (2010)

September 16, 2013 10 comments
Johnny (2010)Directed by: D. David Morin
Produced by: Byron Jones, Tom Saab, Michael Scott, David A.R. White, Russell Wolfe
Written by: David Michael Anthony; D. David Morin, Alan Smithee (screenplay)
Edited by: D. David Morin
Cinematography by: Todd Barron
Music by: David Miner
Starring: Jerry Phillips, Mel Fair, Musetta Vander, Aubyn Cole, Lee Majors, Lonnie Colón, Leslie L. Miller, Brandon Klopot
Year: 2010

 

A couple weekends ago, I had spent a great deal of time watching gritty, dark sci-fi/action movies – Event Horizon, Dredd, the new Riddick – and so, searching for a change of tone, I went searching through my Netflix suggestions and came across the “Sentimental Tearjerker” section. Figuring that was completely opposite of what I had been watching, I decided to peruse the selection and came across this movie called Johnny, which had the goofiest looking artwork, which just screamed “low budget Christian cinema.” The synopsis was even worse: “Still reeling from his 10-year-old son’s tragic accidental death, Dr. Drew Carter attempts to assuage his family’s grief by adopting Johnny Bell, a terminally ill foster child suffering from leukemia.” So, basically, the kid’s being treated like a therapy dog? Read more…

Spoilers: The New “Just Say No” Campaign

November 18, 2011 2 comments
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Click to see more Anti-Spoiler Campaign posters. Spoiler Alert: Possibly "offensive" language?

I know the world supposedly has a severe attention span problem, but seriously, why would you want to know the ending of something before you even bother diving in or before you’re even halfway through the movie?

Whenever I’m discussing a movie I’d like for someone to see, it’s almost inevitable that somebody is going to ask, in some shape or form or manner, “What happens at the end?” Why is that? Why would you want to know?

The movie, TV show, whatever you’re discussing, has been laid out for you already. If you don’t care enough about it, then fine, I get it. I reluctantly will stoop to spoiling it for you then, if you really don’t have an interest in seeing the film, though I’ll likely feel dirty doing it. But if you’ve already committed yourself to seeing it, even going as far as to sitting down and starting the movie, why would you then ask, “So why did that just happen?”

YOU WILL FIND OUT IF YOU JUST PAY ATTENTION.

When I go into the theatre or pull up a movie I have never seen, I want to know only one thing: the basic concept of the film. That’s it. That’s what informs me what a movie is about and whether it is worth my attention. Whether the film turns out good or bad, I have already decided to let the filmmakers tell me the story, not my friends, not my family, not someone on the Internet.

This goes along with my idea of art being a testimony. A film is more than just its plot — it is also the assemblage of its plot, the delivery of its plot, perspective of the plotters, etc. Context is everything. Consuming art from its intended context is how we get a full view, or at least begin to get a full view, of what the artist intended for us to take from it as an audience, and also what we as an audience actually do take from the film from our own perspective. Discussion of a plot before you know the outcome just ruins the experience of gaining that first impression from the artist themselves, rather than your friend’s rough summary of the experience. (On a related note, this is related to why it’s generally pretty rude to talk or make obnoxious noises during movies if someone hasn’t seen it yet, too.)

Even if you haven't seen this film, you probably know what happens in the end. Kinda sucks for you, doesn't it?

Once you have both seen the film, then by all means, discuss it and get someone else’s full perspective on it. That’s how we learn from art, and that’s how we get smarter, but we should always be mindful of the fact that there are others out there who have yet to be given the chance to experience some films, both awesome and bad, on a firsthand basis. And why would you want to rob them of that?

So I encourage you, if you spot someone about to spoil a movie for someone who hasn’t yet had a chance to experience it, stick up for the victim. Grab a sock and shove it in the spoiler’s mouth! And if the person you just stuck up for tells you they wanted to know the spoilers, give them a dirty look and say to them, “What’s wrong with you? You… you’re stupid, is what you are!” That’ll show ’em.

(Sidenote: Now I admit, I often do want to know whether the movie is good or bad, as well. I get the whole issue of having limited time, and I do not think reading a thoughtful review – one that is mindful of not discussing the plot in full detail, that is – is contrary to having a movie spoiled. We are limited in our time, and our time is often best served elsewhere. I also understand that my reviews are often filled with spoilers. I try to notify you of this when I can, and if I don’t, then I really do apologize. I tend to review older films, and so these reviews are often intended to be at least an attempt at going deeper into my opinions and thoughts on the film as a whole and encouraging discussion, rather than just telling you a plot summary and what my rating is, but this site is essentially intended to encourage the post-viewing discussion more than it is just a reporter of quality. … At least that is my intent!)

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