Ladies and gentlemen, everyone is talking about it so I can resist no longer. Let's discuss 50 Shades Of Grey - as a novel, as a potential film franchise, as a phenomenon. What is it, how bad is it, who cares, and what sort of film is it going to make. Spoilers for all three books will follow, to the extent that you can spoil something with this little plot.
First of all, a quick reminder. What we're talking about is a trilogy by a writer known as E L James, the story of a graduate called Anastasia who begins an affair with Christian Grey, a handsome 28 year-old billionaire who has a penchant for BDSM (bondage, domination, sado-masochism). For the inexperienced Ana, this is something of a culture shock, and much of the plot of the three books concerns the pair negotiating one another's boundaries and establishing an emotional and sexual rapport, while Christian overcomes his need for absolute control of those around him and learns to treat Ana as her own person. Sort of. There's a bit of thriller business in the latter two books, but it barely matters. The whole thing began as Twilight alternate universe fan fiction, and particularly in the first book, those roots show through, but it's now sold 31 million copies worldwide so we have to officially consider it its own phenomenon.
The books are not as bad as you've heard. They're not high art, sure, but neither are they significantly worse than any number of airport thrillers or other bonkbusters. With respect to Andrew O'Hagan here, I think he's remembering bonkbusters of yore with a hint of nostalgia: I've read some Judith Krantz and the like, and this is not significantly worse. It may even, given its tighter focus, comparatively lean size and lack of characters with improbable foreign names, be rather better. In any case, the quality of prose is hardly the point. That doesn't seem to matter when we're adapting Michael Crichton or Lee Child (much as we adore them); it doesn't seem that Tom Clancy's subjected to ridicule for his endless military acronyms. Most mass-market bestsellers are varying degrees of terrible if we're looking at them from a literary standpoint (honourable exceptions: Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, a few others). And in any case, what do you expect? These 50 Shades books are essentially porn. There's a sex scene every 20 pages or so, and while that doesn't necessarily rule out great writing, it doesn't encourage it either. If the focus is getting the couple into bed, of course you're going to skip quickly past the big argument or soft-pedal the dinner with friends.
"I thought women don't like porn," was the reaction of one guy I heard talking about the book this weekend. That, obviously, depends. Speaking in massive generalities, the perceived wisdom is that men respond more strongly to visual porn and women more to fantasy scenarios. So men want to see it going in; women want to fantasise about being kissed by McDreamy or whoever. As I said, that's a huge generalisation. There are men who are romantics and who find too much gynaecological detail rather off-putting; there are women who can't get enough dirrrty videos. Each to their own. But in broad, social terms, there's a reason that men watch porn movies and women buy Mills & Boon novels - and, indeed, this fantasy, because make no mistake about it: there may not be sparkly vampires but this is definitely a fantasy.
I challenge you to name me anyone ever who has matched Christian Grey in terms of wealth, looks and emotional vulnerability hidden behind mad sexing and helicopter piloting skills. And for those who roll their eyes (rightly) at the fact that this hero is a billionaire, it all seems weirdly unnecessary. His wealth doesn't feel central to the fantasy. The main reason it's there appears to be to enhance the power differential between Christian and Ana, rather than because she dreams of being taken care of. The sheer scale of Christian's supposed value is, I think, a distraction from the story, a fount of implausibility and a case of the author overplaying her hand. He could be a mere millionaire, or even slightly lower on the rung than that, and it wouldn't change anything in any significant way. Being a billionaire probably reflects the book's origins in Twilight fan-fic as a way of marking Christian out as a member of another species entirely.
Much of the discussion of the series in the media has concerned the contract that Christian asks Ana to sign, as his "submissive", which involves clauses restricting what she can eat and drink, how much she should exercise, which sexual practices she agrees to participate in and what precautions and "hard limits" and "soft limits" will demarcate said practices. There has been condemnation of this from those who think it's anti-feminist, which is fair as far as it goes. Certainly Ana isn't going to be editing Jezebel any time soon. She's obsessed with Christian both physically and mentally, and while the trilogy as a whole goes to some lengths to establish that she still wants to carve out her own life separate from her husband, to show that he also depends on her and gives way to her demands too, the first book does see a rather less equal power balance. There's probably a group who argue it's misandrist too, on the basis that Christian tames his preferences (ultimately) for Ana, but frankly I don't even want to look those people up because they shouldn't be encouraged. In any case, it's worth noting that she never actually signs the damn sex contract, something that many commentators have failed to make clear, and that Christian keeps emphasising the importance of her informed consent and agreement at every stage. Also, the contract is more about being a submissive and not about being a woman; the story makes clear that Christian himself has in the past spent time as a submissive.
And in any case, is this obsession worth bothering about? Probably not: the romance genre is full of such characters, people so swept up by desire for one another that it becomes their defining and only characteristic, and for what it's worth he's at least as obsessed as she is here (again, 50 Shades of Twilight). It's hardly worth getting stressed out about the political correctness of such shallow characters. It's like worrying about the cast of Made In Chelsea's take on the LIBOR scandal.
What's really interesting about the whole contract controversy is that the book has been decried as both promoting perversion and unfairly demonising the BDSM lifestyle. Over the three books there's a fair amount of sex, some of it involving a degree of bondage or the use of various sex toys. Said encounters always seem to result in multiple / simultaneous orgasms for both parties, hence (one assumes) the charge that it's promoting this sort of sex. Then again, the books portray Christian's lifestyle as something he needs to be saved from, and a result of psychological damage suffered as a child, hence the charge that it's anti-BDSM. Arguably, as long as the book's being attacked by both sides it's probably not actually guilty of either crime. The end sees the couple free of contracts, still having mind-blowing sex and still playing with toys, blindfolds and binding, so let them get on with it, I say. It's unlikely that anyone horrified at the idea of BDSM is going to read it, nor is it seriously likely to put people off these practices if they're already trying them out.
The main problems when reading the book are certain tics that the author uses over and over again. Anastasia keeps talking about her "inner goddess", who's pro-sex and exciteable ("My inner goddess did a triple-salchow" or words to that effect, every time that Christian takes his shirt off), and her "subconscious", who wears tweed and tends to be disapproving ("My subconscious peered over her reading glasses and tutted at me" sort of thing, every time Christian takes his trousers off). This is not cute. It's a repeated device that makes a reader want to throw things. A drinking game based on Christian smirking or Ana biting her lip would also result in almost immediate drunkeness, and there is of course a lot of shaking and gasping and the word "sex" used as a noun (yuck). Also of interest, they have a really weird attitude to technology, as discussed rather brilliantly by Dorkadore here.
So how about the film adaptation? We know that the rights were sold in March and that The Social Network's Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti are planning to produce. Everything else is just rumour right now. A few actors and actresses have linked themselves to the roles; more have carefully distanced themselves (and some of the same people appear in both groups). But the big question on my mind is how on Earth you make this into a film and make it successful? There are a series of obstacles to overcome, and none of them are going to be easy.
First of all, you have to make a cinematic story out of a series that's almost plotless. God help us if they split the third book (Fifty Shades Freed) into two, following the examples of Twilight, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, because that won't leave anything to work with. Anyway, if you're going to get to the latter two books with their glimmerings of a thriller device, you have to get past the first story, wherein almost all the plot and most of the character development comes about through sex scenes. It's the timing, type and manner of these sex scenes that traces the relationship between Ana and Christian; it's through these scenes that matters progress. And that's a lot of sex for a (presumably) mainstream, (presumably) American film.
The US has always been more puritanical about sex than violence in its movies; you can get away with gore but not bush. While you obviously don't have to be hardcore in what you show, the book as written would struggle to get an R-rating and there's a very real risk it would land an NC-17 - which would spell commercial disaster, leading many cinema chains in the US not to show the film and newspapers not to advertise it. So you have to keep it to an R at most, and that means keeping the sex to levels below the average HBO show. That could be a challenge.
Second sex problem: in the book, Anastasia is barely described to begin with, and it only slowly becomes clear that she's very slim, brunette and probably pretty (because she just doesn't see herself that way, you guys!). In other words, the reader has quite a bit of time to imagine herself as Ana before she discovers otherwise. When there's an actress playing the character onscreen who isn't, you know, the reader's dream self, the result can be a fan backlash. That's not an insurmountable problem - see Stewart, Kristen or Leigh, Vivien for examples of romantic heroines successfully translated - but it is a potential stumbling ground and it's particularly dangerous where the book is essentially an erotic as well as a romantic fantasy. One way to deal with it is to cast an actress who is very good looking (this is cinema, after all) but maybe not insanely beautiful; it'll help women identify with her just as they do with her literary counterpart. I've never understood why Hollywood has never twigged to what the continuing appeal of Dirty Dancing demonstrates: women don't need a beauty queen as the central character in order to enjoy a love story. Sometimes it's a positive roadblock (films that try to tell me Jessica Biel has trouble getting a date are usually on to a loser).
There's another issue with sex, which will either exacerbate the situation further or, possibly, provide the solution. That vast generalisation above about women preferring non-visual porn? It might mean that it's in the filmmakers' interest to keep the sex non-explicit and the nudity to an R-friendly minimum, because while the audience might want to read it, they don't necessarily want to see it on a 30ft screen. So the filmmakers could stick to lots of Christian shirtlessness, a bit of Ana in pants-and-a-bra; lots of shots of people clearly having sex but visible only from the neck up or along a limb; perhaps a few lingering shots on a cuffed wrist or someone brandishing a flogger, but no actual rude bits and essentially very little full-frontal. Heck, you might even get a PG-13 and bring in the Twilight crowd (Note: unlikely).
Whether you go for lots of sex or not, if the film's going to work at all you're going to need a hell of a screenwriter and a heck of a smart director. Brett Easton Ellis has repeatedly put himself forward for the former role, and while he appears sincere it's hard to imagine that he wouldn't turn out something sarky and insincere (which, heck, might be the way to go). For the latter, the producers might be wise to take (another) leaf from the Twilight playbook and hire a woman for that difficult first film, the better to fight off accusations of sexism. There's no reason that a naff chick-lit novel can't make a good film - they often make better movies than books in cases like The Devil Wears Prada and In Her Shoes - but it takes really smart adaptation and really careful direction, especially in this case.
What about the casting? The book's sheer success means that the gossip blogs have been breathlessly hyping up fairly big names for Christian Grey, but most of those who expressed an interest later confessed that they had next to no idea what the heck it was and many backtracked as soon as they did. Robert Pattinson famously found a way to play Edward-in-Twilight that was based on self-loathing rather being, like, totally dreamy; certainly whoever played Christian would have to similarly undermine his own attractiveness. Otherwise he'll come across as plain creepy, controlling and more than a little unpleasant (that's a risk in any case). At the risk of thoroughly putting the cat among the pigeons, and given that 56,000 people have voted for him on this list, Tom Hiddleston, with his faint air of melancholy and hint of self-deprecation, might be a better choice than most of his US contemporaries. But I'm not sure why he'd want the job. He's got another franchise on the go that's just fine, thanks.
Whoever they get to play Anastasia has an even tougher job. Actresses who take sexually explicit roles - or even roles that just involve a lot of sexual posturing - tend not to benefit from that career choice; it's a high-risk strategy that can backfire and consign you to a lifetime of borderline porn and low-level thrillers. There are a few exceptions (maybe Julie Christie, Sharon Stone, Kim Basinger, arguably Kim Catrall) but no mainstream actresses in recent years have come out of a sexual role and gone on to major stardom as a result. Call it hypocrisy (because it is) but even female filmgoers tend to judge them bimbos and turn a rather cold shoulder. Even in R-rated sex-comedies you'll usually see respectable actresses keeping their tops on (Bridesmaids, the recent instalments of American Pie) because they know that getting past bikini levels of clothing has no big upside. Even Angelina Jolie's career started going really stratospheric when she stopped stripping for the camera; she became a superstar in spite of sex rather than because of it.
In the case of whoever plays Anastasia, you'd need someone likeable, someone simultaneously non-threatening and sexy, someone sufficiently blank so that the audience can project themselves into her shoes but sufficiently memorable to make the audience care at all. Amanda Seyfried's name has been bandied about - she might be a good choice if she had any interest in it (and I'm not saying she necessarily should) - but even she should think very carefully about a role that would involve this much sex. Some wits have suggested that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart should go for it, which would be a fascinating and meta-satisfying choice - but to call that unlikely is an understatement.
Of course, that lack of female breakouts may be partly because there haven't really been any mainstream films about sex in recent years, and certainly none with true female leads (as opposed to women with their tits out). It's good, in a way, that Hollywood is having the 50 Shades discussion at all: after a succession of female-led hits, studios are finally trying to figure out what women want and give it to them (steady). But it's not as simple as taking the latest head of the bestseller lists and putting it onscreen, or Jilly Cooper would own a studio by now. And it's a risky business when you add sex to the equation and tackle the thorny question of how much women want to see onscreen. Call me a shrinking violet if you will, but I even covered my eyes for bits of Magic Mike because I really don't need to see that much posing and thrusting. I don't think I'm massively atypical in that - so how are we all going to handle endless sex scenes with Christian Grey (no innuendo intended)?
Maybe the sheer novelty value of this one will help it along; maybe the book's popularity will translate after all; maybe there's a way to avoid the cringe factor of seeing this much sex onscreen and a way to communicate erotic love in a way that's appealing to women. But I have to say that, despite all the reasons people love it, it's risky business.
chris wootton Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 12:14
"I challenge you to name me anyone ever who has matched Christian Grey in terms of wealth, looks and emotional vulnerability hidden behind mad sexing and helicopter piloting skills." ....... Bruce Wayne?
Popcorn Required Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 12:17
If it does get made will the audience be given the means to fast forward to the sex scenes like skipping ahead to those bits in the book. I can just imagine the confusion as female cinema goers wonder "Why have they added all this talking to it, it wasn't in the book. No, wait, they're the bits I didn't bother reading because they were dull".
If they must make this movie can they at least schedule it against the next World Cup like they did with Sex and the City 2 and then have the action blockbusters ready to go for when the football finishes
paperclipgirl Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 12:25
Why can't people just watch porn?
Whistler Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 12:26
They're going to split the last one into two parts aren't they?
sinaplenty Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 12:37
The sheer volume of book sales seems to have broken through the stigma of selling/buying bonkbusters, and presumably made publishers and book sellers more likely to invest in them in the future. Maybe they could try something similar with the NC-17 rating and see if they can force prudish cinema chains to show a movie with that rating just by the level of interest from the millions who have read the books. It would be risky, but it seems odd to suggest that however non-visual you may think women are, they're happy to read what I gather is a fairly explicit book but not to watch an NC-17 rating movie that would still be well short of being porn.
Helen OHara Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 12:43
Chris Wooton, we have no idea if Batman's any good in bed. :)
nadatada Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 12:49
If Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart go anywhere near this adaptation, I'll stake them myself.
draney Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 12:52
There will have to be a balance between the on screen sex and the sexiness, a film doesnt have to be explicit in order to be sexy, the best example (in my opinion) is Danger: Diabolik by Mario Bava. The film has little sex but still has an effortless sexiness to it. I think getting the balance right would appeal to to the studio, the censor and the audience, but would take a frigging miracle.
sowasred2012 Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 13:26
Right - I haven't read/watched any of Twilight, and have read Zero Shades of Grey, so pardon my ignorance, but how does a book about a BDSM relationship and no vampires or werewolves begin life as Twilight fanfic?
Did the author just replace any instance of the word 'vampire' with 'really pale, indoorsy kinda guy'?
Cynric Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 13:38
I had absolutley no interest in this book until the genius suggestion of a drinking game (drinking games are always genius suggestions)! Everyone sat around reading quietly, then suddenly someone does a shot. You don't know whether they're ahead or if you missed something, so you drink a shot just to be sure. You end up so wrecked that you get stuck repeatedly reading the same page, drinking for the same forfeit over and over again. Awesome!
mokey Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 13:40
"The US has always been more puritanical about sex than violence in its movies; you can get away with gore but not bush."
Gore! Bush! Brilliant writing Ms O'Hara.
chris wootton Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 13:40
Hahaha, he certainly has a thing for ladies who like leather :)
Helen OHara Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 13:42
sowasred2012, there is something called "alternate universe" fan fiction - so you take the same characters and change them in terms of gender or genre or whatever. So, I dunno, Mulder and Scully as fantasy world knights, or Holmes and Watson as vampires, or Harry Potter in space or whatever.
chris wootton Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 13:49
And Whistler... that's what she said in chapter 9
britesparc Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 13:50
Helen, his girlfriends include a dominatrix cat-burglar and the leader of an international army of assassins, both of whom keep wanting to come back for more. Bruce Wayne is totally good in bed. And I can't believe I just wrote that...
As for 50 Shades, not read it - think I'd be a bit embarrassed reading it in public. But as for a film adap, I can't see Hollywood going the full Lust, Caution, and surely everyone's going to be really disappointed if it's as porny as the typical episode of 90210?
jenp65 Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 13:56
The sex scenes were handles quite well in the recent Friends with Benefits - although having said that the tone of that subject matter is much more frivolous. It would still make the point that American filmmakers can find a solution to filming sex in a generally palitable format for themselves. The other option of course is to hand it over to the French or us Brits even who are not scared of the sex act.
Helen OHara Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 14:02
I can't believe this has turned into a discussion of Batman's sexual prowess (it's now sparked a twitter game on the subject of Bat-porn too). Now I'm wondering if this is a good time to tell you all that Batman's not real.
chris wootton Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 14:06
It's all the Dark Knight hype.. we can't get away from it!
Whistler Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 14:11
So she did. I didn't read the whole thing, skimmed some of it.
britesparc Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 14:22
That's a good point: which version of Batman are we talking about? I imagine Frank Miller's Batman is possibly asexual. Joel Schumacher's Batman is possibly gay. Tim Burton's is a kink, animated Batman too repressed... so who's best? Adam West? Or the hairy-chested love-god popularised by the likes of Denny O'Neil and Grant Morrison?
It may be that I've thought too much about this.
chris wootton Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 15:00
What about Tony Stark? He bangs anyone!
Helen OHara Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 15:05
a) Doesn't mean he's good at it; b) No obvious sign that he's a helicopter pilot; c) Also not a real person so... :)
Mijacogeo Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 15:23
Another problem that could arise is that will this be anywhere near as popular by the time the film comes out? This is surely going to be a year to two years away, will this book be as huge then as it is now. God, simply the thought is horrifying... But seriously, I don't doubt that the sales have been so huge because of the hype NOT because it's good. The amount of people I know that bought it just because everyone was talking about it and then proceeded to rip it to shreds (possibly literally in some cases!) far outweighs those that genuinely enjoyed it. So surely these people will not pay the extortionate cinema prices. Or am I just really underestimating the audience for this phenomena?
chris wootton Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 15:24
Yeah I seemed to have mixed up real life with fiction again.. Donald Trump?...actually, I don't want to think about that one
cerebusboy Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 15:49
Batman's good at everything! Kevin Smith did a story where it was revealed that his (Batman's) girlfriend came 11 times the first time they had sex. And obviously - given the Batcopter - Batman can pilot a helicopter! ;)
Ambition Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 16:08
Do we not think they'll adapt the entire trilogy into one movie to solve the plot scarcity?
Helen OHara Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 16:54
Ambition, but then you haven't launched a franchise, the aim of EVERY film these days (it seems).
drunken_ninja Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 17:10
Maybe this is the best way to reboot Batman after The Dark Knight rises! It certainly would bring in a mixed audience.
Juliette Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 18:24
'you can get away with gore but not bush' just made my day. Teehee.
birdy79 Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 19:58
50 shades darker than the (k)night? :-)
On your remark:
"It's hardly worth getting stressed out about the political correctness of such shallow characters."
I think would you miss here is, that people who like the story also like the main charakters very much. They don´t think that they are shallow at all. They feel with them, laugh with them and cry with them. The supporting characters are practically none existent, but hey, who cares for them. (pun intended ;) ...) It is not just the sex...it IS a huge part of the appeal for sure, but not the only one.... People want more love and romance in their lifes. They wanna be loved like crazy and want somebody to love like crazy. And the result in that case is very good sex.... hell, why not?
UTB Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 21:11
I, for one, miss the 'erotic thrillers' that used to appear on Sky Movies late at night (classified as '11') that gave a teenage boy like me the opportunity to see Madonna getting her Madge munched on by Willem Dafoe on a car bonnet.
As for how 50 Shades would be done, 'Secretary' would be a good start, surely?
kisswithatear Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 21:49
If the producers of The Social Network are on it I wonder how Aaron Sorkin would approach it... I mean in the TSN way. There would be next to no sex for one (ok maybe a little bit, but nothing too special), instead they would sit and talk about how totally ironic and weird it would be if they were having sex right now. "Like if I handcuffed you to the bed, wouldn't that be so sexy?..." I think I'd really like that film... Taking out all the explicit stuff too. Bam! Problem solved! Or maybe just a closed door with all that panting. Boom!
Let's not forget this is cinema. Hitchcock got away with being explicit without being explicit at all. Let's not forget his wonderfully long but passionate kiss in Notorious. Or the infamous train through the tunnel in North By Northwest. Neither are remotely explicit but the message is broadcast loud and clear. Message received in a classy but completely entertaining way... So instead of a train, how about a Helicopter. Sticking the landing. Or this crackling crescendo in one of Bach's concertos then she walks out the bedroom wrapped in a sheet ... No? I don't know.
Oh. And if Christian Grey says "Baby" in that film once I'm walking out. Like. Instantly.
Evil_Bob Posted on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 23:47
The porn industry is probably rubbing their.....hands with glee. The inevitable XXX-Parody can be a straight-up (oh behave) adaptation.
BatSpider Posted on Wednesday July 18, 2012, 00:56
I ain't never gonna read a chic lit (sounds even worse than crap like Da Vinci Code), but it's been too long since a proper hyped spooge movie from Hollywood. Lust Caution was good tho. I nominate an actress with fully nude shagging sadly missing from her movie CV so far - would be awesome if Emily Blunt does a Basic Instinct.
HighwayJoe Posted on Wednesday July 18, 2012, 02:25
I try to picture a movie based on these books, and not only do I run into Mijacogeo's scenario [the hype wears out, and the studios are left with a movie considerably fewer people care about], all I can see coming out of Hollywood is an 'Eyes Wide Shut' or a 'Body of Evidence.' Basically, "sexy" movies that just became laughable.
Then again, let's say they make the film. It plays in cinemas. It gets horrible reviews and as big a backlash as the books have. It makes whatever money it makes, and heads into DVD Land. At which point, having become something which can be viewed in private, fast-forwarded, etc, it may just become a soft-porn cult hit, and thus make back its production costs -and- find its audience. Makes me wonder if the people interested in making a movie shouldn't just skip the cinema and head to HBO/Showtime/Cinemax, etc to begin with. Less hassle, and [apparently] less worries about all the sex/BDSM.
britesparc Posted on Wednesday July 18, 2012, 09:24
Still a bit confused as to the "Batman is a fictional character" argument. So is Christian Grey! If we can't compare the sexual prowess of two fictional characters, what are we even doing on the internet?!
Anyway, I need advice: if I was caught reading this on the bus, would I look like a grotty perv? Ta.
hglazier Posted on Wednesday July 18, 2012, 15:35
Couldnt agree more Helen! and those stupid 'inner godess' thoughts drove me mad when reading.
hell no to amanda seyfried. wrong on all levels. r-patz and k-stew would just be twilight all over again…this is an adult book for crying out loud.
I vote Ryan Gosling the best choice, though its unlikely he'd take it im sure.
V V difficult book to translate onto the screen. I watch this space with caution.
oenonejones Posted on Wednesday July 18, 2012, 15:49
Helen O'Hara you mentioned two things that I completely agree with, and one of those is the criminally underrated 'In Her Shoes'. I always give Curtis Hanson films a look, as he directed the almost perfect 'L A Confidential' ,and I didn't regret it in the case of 'In Her Shoes'. A genuinely surprising film that harked back to the Women's Films of Hollywood's golden years in its focus on women and family. Toni Collete is always brilliant of course but I've never seen Cameron Diaz better. And the other thing is 'Magic Mike'; I couldn't even watch the trailer without cringing with embarrassment. I had been swayed by some recent reviews to maybe try it but after your comments I think I'll save it for home-viewing where I can get up and make a cup of tea when things get too thrusty. So thanks.
Morteus Posted on Wednesday July 18, 2012, 21:13
britesparc: "Anyway, I need advice: if I was caught reading this on the bus, would I look like a grotty perv? Ta."
Possibly, but I'd be more worried about the loss of intellectual self esteem...
My wife (a card carrying twi-hard) has been obsessed with these books and is currently huddling with other members of her 'coven'. Nevermind sports widows - what about us poor mommy porn widowers?
K Grandaddy Posted on Thursday July 19, 2012, 09:27
After reading the line over my wife's shoulder "I felt him touch me, THERE" the only person who could play the role of Christian Grey is clearly rat haired, pointy schnozzed 80's crooner Michael Bolton*
And that line won't translate to the screen with the hilarity it conveys on the page so they should scrap this before they get any further.
*because of his song "can i touch you, there" for those too young to remember
Helen OHara Posted on Thursday July 19, 2012, 09:30
britesparc, my original point was that no REAL person has ever remotely resembled Christian Grey. Batman was offered as a possible match. I rejected him on grounds of fictionality.
Oneonejones, even given the cringing I utterly loved Magic Mike, it's terrific. Go see it! Just cover your eyes as needed.
birdy, the people who feel that way aren't worried about the characters' political correctness though, so again, it shouldn't matter to them either.
britesparc Posted on Thursday July 19, 2012, 14:13
Helen: ah, gotcha. I can't think of anyone they could cast; I've not read it, which obviously isn't a big help, but I think it doesn't sound serious enough to attract a heavyweight (McAvoy, Gosling, Fassbender) but on the other hand is maybe too porny for a young heartthrob with teen appeal (Pattinson, Efron).
AxlReznor Posted on Friday July 20, 2012, 15:38
I don't believe I'm even contributing to a conversation about this trash, but here goes... what about Maggie Gyllenhaal? She's done this kind of role before in Secretary, and she's got a lot of respect as an actress (not to mention a starring role in one of the most successful movies ever).
And people might be onto something talking about Bruce Wayne. Christian Bale likes to go to extremes, so I'm sure a movie about BDSM wouldn't be out of the question for him. And we'll finally get to see Bruce bang Rachel... retroactive happy ending!
sheila1958 Posted on Friday July 20, 2012, 17:18
As a voracious reader who'll read just about anything I'm finding it very hard going and boring and that's just the first one. I can't see me reading the other two. It's very badly written and you can tell where the plot is going after the first cople of pages. It's been overhyped. Take away the sex, BDSM and what's left??
Traveller Posted on Saturday July 21, 2012, 06:50
most people I know are reading this!! iv heard its exceptionally poorly written so have avoided it at all costs I did however find a book spoiler site so know what happens in all 3 books baring most of there sexual exploits cannot say ive never read erotica I have mostly the free ones from amazon on my kindle!!
spark1 Posted on Saturday July 21, 2012, 13:49
looks like a job for phillip kaufman, who might improve the books in a screenplay, or adrian lyne.
bnicholson50 Posted on Saturday July 21, 2012, 14:37
9 and a half weeks. A movie following a controlling wealthy wall street type (CALLED GRAY!) and an art gallery employee as they push the boundaries of their kinky sex life.
It's been done and there is a lesson to be learned from it. "Weeks" was made for 17M but only took 7M domestic. It flopped at the box office. However, "Weeks" did strong business in the home video market.
Why? Because people, generally, enjoy books like "Shades" and movies like "Weeks" as private guilty pleasures. Most people don't want to share this kind of erotic fantasy/voyeurism with a theatre full of strangers in the dark. They will, however, enjoy it at home.
They should forget the cinema and go direct to DVD or make it a TV mini series. Surely HBO could produce the latter. They have previous for literary adaptations and sexploitation.
I don't really care about shades, I just wanted to point out the "Weeks" revenue stream anomaly.
Mr. Anderson Posted on Sunday July 22, 2012, 00:39
Well thanks a lot Helen, after reading this article, which is bloody good by the way, made me chuckle (especially the gore and bush joke) quality writing! But you've now put me off one of my favourite shows of the year. THE APPRENTICE..... All I see now is a sleazy Alan Sugar! What exactly does he get up to through those glass doors before pampering himself and making an entrance? And the Batman/Grey comparison is totally spot on. Billionaires, helicopter pilots, both like to dress up and have day and night alter egos and personalities/desires, and Jack Nicholson once even uttered the line in Tim Burton's Batman movie, "Where does he get those wonderful toys?" I was looking forward to the new Batman film and now you've soured it. I won't be able to look at this Superhero the same way again, and the name of the new film, 'The Dark Knight Rises!' Ha-ha........
Jenzy Posted on Monday July 23, 2012, 10:41
We've been discussing it in our office and there just isn't enough in the first book to justify one film on its own. I think they'd need to put all of them together or in the very least, split 3 books into 2 films.
Also, probably not the best time to bring it up but....*ahem* Matt Bomer for CG *ahem*
Matt Durstan Posted on Tuesday July 24, 2012, 10:15
Now correct me if I'm wrong but has there not already been several films which negate the need for this to be made into a movie? Surely all you need to do is watch either The Secretary, Emanuelle or The Story of O (and to some extent Salo) and you basically have the books already. Personally I'll be happy when this "craze" goes away and we can get back to times a little more romantic.
moviegeek21 Posted on Thursday August 30, 2012, 00:09
Yes making the film would be the money making pot of the year all the women around the world will be flocking to see this film dragging their boyfriends along. But lets think about this the actors who want to be in the film are jumping on the band wagon and come on all that sex am sure their careers would benefit from this what so ever. All they need is two unknown actors make them 'act' and let the money roll on in. If am honest it will just be the twilight for the over 30's and who wants to be looking at them tattoos?
Cookiedough Posted on Wednesday February 18, 2015, 23:15
Just thought I'd return to this as FSOG is now out at cinemas. I haven't read the books or seen the film, but I have read the reviews and it seems that you were right on the money, Helen O'Hara. (Insert "money shot" jokes here. Or not.)