This past week I watched a few things streaming (either Crave or Netflix). First up was watching Fifty Shades Darker and then Fifty Shades Freed. These are the sequels to Fifty Shades of Grey which I saw years ago, and just as quickly forgot. This was the book sensation and there was a funny lampoon of it on Saturday Night Live.
But never mind. The movies were critically panned and I won’t spend too much time piling on as it were. I saw Jamie Dornan, the Irish actor, in The Fall with Gillian Anderson, and I thought he, and the show were both quite good. In this instance, it’s he material to work with that is so bad. The lines to be delivered, and the plot that keeps it moving ahead, one tortuous step after another. How so much can be written about so little is an ongoing question. I had plenty of questions about the book, like why does he have to have all this bling-bling? Why the glider, and yacht, the houses, and this completely strange affinity for Audi products – while she was almost never described in the stories. But anyway, the sex scenes and BDSM is mild by any standard and but for Dakota Johnson’s willingness to go topless would be pretty much PG fare. No need to watch. If you read all the books I will recommend you find other ways to spend your time.
The Wizard of Lies is a 2017 movie about Bernie Madoff and his fraudulent Ponzi scheme, the largest in history perpetrated over 20 years. Madoff is portrayed by Robert DeNiro, and his Wife played by Michelle Pfieffer. It is directed by Barry Levinson, he of Rain Man, Diner, Good Morning Vietnam, The Natural fame. He can be good. Madoff was arrested in December 2008 after he confessed to his two sons, who worked at his firm in Manhattan (although in a different unrelated business) that he was in charge of an illegal investment scheme. The two sons called the authorities. He turned himself in the next day. The movie tries to show the life that was being led, and how Madoff kept his business to himself. The two adult boys were kept to the side, as was his wife of 50+ years. Others refuse to believe that they didn’t and couldn’t know, especially sons with extensive trading experience. It is an interesting story and stays with me. He is a man who preyed on others and seemingly didn’t have a problem with it. The victims were many, like corporations and charities but also individuals. Mostly Jewish within his own community but many as his notoriety grew from all over. He was the man who guaranteed results, in an ever shifting economy with unpredictable shifts. He looked upon as not stealing from orphans and single Moms, but rather wealthy people trying to get wealthier. What’s the harm in that? There are other things at work too, with the SEC playing a rather prominent role in their inactivity and even when told of the fraud years before how it was ignored. Can their be self-regulation on Wall Street? But when you see how his family is directly torn apart by his actions it really makes you wonder if there is a beating heart in that chest. I won’t give away much more. If you follow the news you know more about the history than I did when I watched. I will leave you to find out some more of the facts as they reveal themselves. Worth a watch if you can find it.
Mary Shelley was the author of one of the best monster stories ever told. It has been retold countless times from early film with Boris Karloff playing the beast to more recently when a younger Robert DeNiro played him. Mary, the author, had an interesting tale in her own right. She a female writer in an age when women weren’t allowed nor thought to be capable of being or thinking independently. Born in 1797, she wrote the story when she was a teenager. It took a Preface by her male lover to get it published. She was born Mary Godwin. The man was Percy Shelley. The movie stars Elle Fanning in the primary role. Those with Game of Thrones backgrounds will recognize many players in the cast including Arya Stark (Maissie Williams) and Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). However much she led a tragic life, and an interesting one I just couldn’t gain any momentum in the telling of it. I didn’t find the chemistry with Percy was all that palpable, and would have liked to have thought that her treatment by her father would have been better. Maybe that is looking upon early 1800s actions with the eyes of someone in 2019? Unsure. Family reputation would mean much, and having a scandal with a child with a married man isn’t what would have helped anyone’s business nor reputation. In the end, it was gloomy and not overly positive which is kind of the point. Frankenstein was a lonely being looking for love and acceptance. Maybe Elle Fanning has a great role in her somewhere rather than pretty young women who are the princesses to be saved. But this was not a great role. She seemingly continues to get work so we will see more of her. I cannot recommend this one.