Tag Archives: Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades Darker Premiere Event Recap & Movie Review!

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In celebration of the release of the highly anticipated Fifty Shades Darker, I’m posting pictures of the premiere event that I attended with my best friend, Janice!  I feel I should tell the story of what led up to this dream-come-true opportunity:  I follow a few social media accounts featuring Fifty Shades, including all of the official ones.  Those fan based social media accounts and blogs who have supported the books and movies since the beginning are a part of a select group called the “Official Fifty”.  I had read in one of the accounts that there would be a premiere party and masquerade ball where fans and those involved with the Fifty Shades franchise would be able to celebrate together then watch the actual movie.  The Official Fifty then started to let other fans know that we could also sign up to receive a special invite to join them at the event.  I took a risk and signed up, and then let my friend, Zach , know that I would take him if I were to be invited (I watched the original Fifty Shades of Grey movie with him in 2015).

As the time for the release of Darker drew closer, I started to see more and more of the Official Fifty post pictures of their invites, so I felt I was out of luck.  To my surprise, I received an email last Monday entitled “Your Invitation to Fifty Shades Darker Premiere”.  I opened the email and read the following:

Dear Cyrillynn Chen,

You and a guest are invited to the Fifty Shades Darker Premiere Event, and your RSVP IS REQUIRED to confirm your attendance.

Please RSVP no later than Wednesday, February 1st

Sincerely,

Universal Pictures

Stunned, I read the email over and over and just couldn’t believe my eyes.  I replied to ensure I would get into the event no matter what, then contacted Zach to let him know I received the tickets to the event!  Due to work and health reasons, Zach couldn’t make it, but Janice was more than happy to step in!  I made arrangements with my new job to leave early that day, and off we went to take part in an event to remember!

Janice and I made the trek from San Diego to Los Angeles and arrived just in time to get a quick bite to eat and change.  Thankfully, valet parking was provided for all guests free of charge!  The party itself started at 5:00 pm and was held at Vibiana, a wedding, events and performing arts venue.  The event was a beautiful masquerade ball made to emulate the one in the movie.  We were treated to delicious food, entertainment and lots of activities to participate in where we could take home souvenirs to prove it wasn’t all just a dream.  To our surprise, Eric Johnson (“Jack Hyde”) and Dana Brunetti (producer) made their way through the crowd and caused quite the stir.  I got the chance to say to Dana Brunetti how excited we were to see the movie, to which he replied “You will love it!”  Jose James, who appears in the movie in the masquerade ball scene, also entertained us for the evening.  The highlight was obviously when director James Foley and author EL James were joined on stage by the main stars Jamie Dornan (“Christian Grey”) and Dakota Johnson (“Anastasia Steele”).  They briefly thanked everyone for being there and headed to the theater to greet everyone and introduce the movie.  Right around 7:30 pm, fans were transported by shuttle bus to the gorgeous Theatre at Ace Hotel.


My Review of Fifty Shades Darker

(WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD, AND REMEMBER TO STAY THROUGH THE CREDITS!)

What can I say about the movie other than Oh. My. God!  In hindsight, I see the initial movie of Fifty Shades of Grey was definitely a teaser or maybe a really well executed college project.  I have seen the first movie more times than I care to count, and I now see a bit of awkwardness between Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson that I had not noticed before, or maybe denied to myself because I wanted to defend my precious Fifty Shades.  But I attribute the awkwardness to being put in a situation where so much was asked of them physically as actors, before they really got to know each other as people.  I initially reviewed the intimate scenes as simply stylized to avoid being graphic, but I clearly was being too kind.  The more I think about it, the more I think the envelope could have been pushed in the first movie.  But again, being that Jamie and Dakota were “thrust” together and didn’t quite fully trust each other as actors and friends, they clearly made up for that fact in Darker.

James Foley is known for movies like At Close Range, Fear and the series House of Cards.  He definitely brought forth a different style and directorial maturity than Sam Taylor-Johnson, the director of the first movie.  I felt this was more of a suspenseful movie with a plot that revealed Christian Grey’s complicated life behind his alternative lifestyle.  I could feel the desire and love between Christian and Anastasia, despite having to navigate through all of the craziness in his life.  With Niall Leonard, EL James’ husband, as screen writer, James’ vision was more clear in Darker, and this movie catered to what the fans wanted, which was lacking a bit in Fifty Shades.  At the premiere, I could tell that there was more of a partnership and trust between James and Foley, which ultimately made this sequel far better than the first.

When I compare Darker to Fifty Shades, Darker is paced more quickly, which allows time for more of the scenes we as fans wanted to see from the book.  Fifty Shades had longer scenes, but not necessarily of the ones I wanted to see.  For instance, quite a bit of time was spent on the interview scene, but not enough time in Georgia.  Christian seemed to be more aloof in the Fifty Shades movie than in the book, which is where I think Jamie was criticized for being a bit stiff in his initial portrayal.  Again, I think the chemistry is a bit off in the first movie because Jamie and Dakota did not know each other well enough to be as comfortable with the more intimate scenes.  In Fifty Shades, Jamie skimmed Dakota’s body rather than ravage it as Christian does in the books.  In Darker, all that has gone away and I do recall Jamie saying in an interview that he and Dakota decided to just go for it, since they had time to build up a true friendship which created the trust needed to go as far as they did.  To me, that’s what shows in this movie, a definite closeness between the two main characters, which makes for hotter scenes that pleasantly shocked me.

I also noticed gaps in Fifty Shades that I filled in myself because I know the books so well.  For instance, Christian says in the elevator right after their first kiss, “What is it about elevators?”  Although that’s a line straight out of the book, what’s missing is seeing a couple who was giggling in an elevator after also getting caught kissing prior to them going in.  Later, when Christian and Ana are getting ready to go to dinner at his parents, he asks Ana “Do you got everything you need?”  She remarks knowingly “Yeah”.  Well, what movie-goers don’t know that fans do, is that Ana’s panties are missing, which means she is going to meet his parents sans underwear, which drives him crazy throughout the evening.  Darker is more of a complete movie that can actually stand alone if needed.  Christian’s horrifying childhood is more fleshed out with flashbacks and they refer back to the original movie by mentioning why Christian was so eager to get out of Georgia (Leila), why he can’t bear to be touched, and the actual introduction of Elena.

I also found more humor and lightness amid the drama in Christian’s life.  Jamie mentioned in another interview that the funnier moments are now evenly dispersed between the two, and I find myself so drawn to their cuteness as a couple.  In one scene, Anastasia wanders into The Red Room and Christian catches her there.  He said that Ms. Jones must have left the door unlocked and Anastasia says something to the effect of “What does she do in here…dust?”  In another funny scene where a certain piece of sexual paraphernalia is finally introduced (true fans will know what I’m talking about), Christian gives Anastasia the “second chance” Cartier earrings he meant to give to her previously, prior to the masquerade ball.  Christian then says “Don’t worry, these are for your ears,” much to Ana’s relief!

Still apparent in Darker is Anastasia’s strength.  Despite all that happens with her boss Jack Hyde, meeting Elena Lincoln and her run-in with Christian’s ex-sub Leila Williams, Anastasia provides the emotional stability Christian needs and desires.  Most of the scenes that we love from the book showing their developing emotional intimacy come alive on film: the “road-map” scenes, Christian as submissive, their confrontation with Elena and the proposal scenes are all present and accounted for.  In all of those instances, it is Ana who is the most honest because this is her first real relationship, where Christian’s relationships were always premeditated and outlined in contracts that eventually terminated.  Ana knows that does not a relationship make, and Christian eventually comes to that realization as well.  What Foley does well in this film is marry all of Christian’s past with their sexual and emotional discovery, creating a nicely packaged erotic thriller.

Some wants that didn’t come to life on-screen:  They didn’t use the “Put the chicken in the fridge” line prior to their first sexual encounter in Anastasia’s apartment; the pool table scene, which was filmed and cut from this version (I hope and pray there will be another “extended cut” with that scene added); and Hugh Dancy does not make any appearance, nor is there any mention of Dr. Flynn.  Despite those missing parts, Darker was more exciting, thrilling, sensual and emotional than Fifty Shades of Grey.  Foley’s tenure in film far exceeds Taylor-Johnson’s and although she gave it the good old college try, it just doesn’t stack up to Fifty Shades Darker.  I cannot wait to see it again tonight (with Zach)!


Photos from the Masquerade Ball Premiere Party

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Our bracelets for the event, as taken by Janice.

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Our first selfie inside the ball.  Doesn’t it look like Christian Grey is walking behind us?

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We received free masks, along with our ticket for the movie premiere.

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Earl Grey Tea and Macarons

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We had plenty of food and drinks, some of it served by mysterious gentlemen in masks!

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Lovely “Shades of Red” lipsticks provided by Sisley.

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From the top left: Myself with producer Dana Brunetti; Eric Johnson making his way through the uber-excited crowd; Jose James performing.

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I had to include this picture as taken by Instagram user @fiftydornan because that’s me behind Eric Johnson…looking shocked that he just walked through the crowd!

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EL James, Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson and James Foley.  What a treat for them to be there!

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Fun souvenirs from the magical evening!

I really loved the 360 camera.  We were in quite a line, but it was so worth the wait!

Pardon the Interruption: Did It Just Get “Darker”?

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I wish I could put  *winky smiley face* in the title, but alas, I can’t!  Sorry I haven’t been posting lately.  I just started a new job, which is nearly 45 minutes away from home, so I’m trying to figure out a good time-table to do my outfit posts and other posts that I have to schedule throughout the week.  I will most definitely post about something that I did attend recently, and I promise to do a full review:

I attended the Fifty Shades Darker movie premiere and masquerade ball in Los Angeles!  

I am a long time fan of the franchise (some posts here, here, here and here), so I decided to enter a Fifty Shades Darker listing for the possibility to attend the premiere…just in case.  Well, I received my invite earlier this week, made arrangements with my new job to leave for a half day and attended the event with my best friend, Janice!  It was everything I hoped it would be, including an appearance by Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson.  Also, the movie is far better and more intense than I could have imagined.  If anyone was doubtful of the chemistry between the main characters, this sequel will dispel all of that.  It definitely goes where the original movie did not.  Here’s a hint for those watching the movie next week (which includes myself, because I’ll be seeing it again, with my friend Zach):  STAY THROUGH THE CREDITS, it will be SO worth it.

So again, pardon the interruption and I’ll be posting regularly again next week!

Stop the Presses: "Grey" Will Be Released 6/18/15!

greyfullYou truly have to be living under the proverbial rock not to know about the phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey.  If you are a devotee as I am (just type in “Fifty” into the search engine on my blog to see for yourself), then you’ve heard the wonderful news today that EL James has decided to release Grey, which is Fifty Shades of Grey as told from Christian Grey’s point of view (blog post of the press release here).

Fans all know that Erika gave us a tease of Christian’s POV at the end of Fifty Shades Freed, which left us all bereft and needing more (typical Christian).  So now here’s our chance to put down all of the fan fiction and read the real thing.

I’m beyond excited!  Thank you Erika for listening to the fans and giving us this wonderful present…on Christian Grey’s birthday!

(Photo courtesy of EL James Official Site)

We Aim To Please: My Review of the "Fifty Shades of Grey" Movie

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While it’s fresh on my mind, I would like to get my thoughts about the Fifty Shades of Grey movie out there in the open, since I’ve spoken about it so much on all of my social media and even this blog.  I want to start by posting links to two reviews I completely agree with.  While neither of them are completely favorable, they do explain why the movie works and why it’s such a phenomenon.

Bondage stakes its claim on the multiplex as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele transition steamily from best-seller to the big screen. – “Fifty Shades of Grey”: Film Review from The Hollywood Reporter

Why “Fifty Shades” is breaking records, despite the haters – The New York Post

I will say here and now that I really enjoyed the movie, and I had a great time going with my friend Zach, especially being amongst a sold out crowd of people who love the books as much as we do.  I have not been one to claim these books are a literary triumph, but I have stated in my original review of the Fifty Shades trilogy that this is pure escapism for me because I am able to become lost in the relationship between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.

And contrary to the many condescending reviews, women aren’t watching “Fifty Shades” for life lessons on healthy dating. They aren’t under the impression that it’s a documentary. And they aren’t overly concerned that its story line is flimsy; they’re watching “Fifty Shades” for plot subtlety just like men in the ’60s bought Playboy “for the articles.”

It’s called fantasy, and if you’re going to argue it’s the wrong kind, I’d like to see some equivalent write-ups on the appropriateness of the majority of the adult films guys watch online every day. – Sarah Stewart, The New York Post

Those paragraphs so aptly summarize why I went to see Fifty Shades Of Grey.  Critics and “haters” must really think so poorly of those of us who are reading these books (I hate the moniker “mommy porn”).  They can’t all possibly believe that myself and millions of others are reading these books because we actually look at these as guides to a certain kind of lifestyle or relationship.  I’m well aware of how Christian Grey appears in the book, and for the most part, I felt he was stalking Ana in the beginning.  What endears me to this trilogy is Ana’s ability to still be herself and that she “hangs on to her free will” throughout.  She beguiled this man who is as tragically handsome as he is damaged.  Maybe there is no possible way that someone like Ana could change someone like Christian in “real life”, but I love that someone has made up the fantasy that it could.

IMG_4716So many reviews state that Jaime Dornan doesn’t posses the chops that it takes to portray the marred man behind the billionaire that is Christian Grey.  But I disagree and I believe that Dornan plays him just as he should be: aloof, dark and brooding until he is lust-struck by Anastasia.  No one can explain chemistry between two people, but it happens.  This is fantasy at it’s most appropriate definition:  Powerful billionaire falls for the unsuspecting everyday girl.  Outside of the sometimes hokey catch-phrases (“Welcome to my world” or “I’m fifty shades of f-ed up”), Dornan does do what he’s supposed to do, and that’s to portray Christian Grey’s struggle of why this sweet college girl has him all up in knots.

In that glass box, Dornan seems lacking as the stormy-eyed Grey, displaying little of the animal magnetism of the serial killer he plays on BBC series The Fall (indirectly referenced in an exchange of in-joke dialogue). But his performance quickly grows fascinating in its containment, revealing a disturbingly more animated side of Grey when he next encounters Ana. With a suddenness that wouldn’t be out-of-place in a horror thriller, he shows up in the aisles of the hardware store where she works and leaves her deeply flustered as she helps him with a shopping list of items — rope and cable ties among them — whose true purpose she’ll soon understand.

Except for his prowess at pleasuring women, everything is slightly off in Grey, from the not-quite-swagger of entitlement to the not-quite-revealed memories of a wounded childhood. In his first major big-screen performance, Dornan creates a remarkable range within Grey’s tightly wound intensity. When he takes Ana up in a magnificent glider, both characters let go, and the two leads wordlessly evince very different forms of unhinged joy, equally affecting. – Sheri Linden – The Hollywood Reporter

What has me wanting to see this movie again is the portrayal of Dakota Johnson as Anastasia.  Johnson portrays the best part of Ana and infuses strength into her innocence, yet provides her with a spunkiness that would absolutely draw someone like Christian Grey to her.  She seems a bit shy and a bit awkward at first in the interview scene at Grey’s office, but little bits of her gumption start to peak through.  One of my favorite parts is when Ana drunk-dials Christian while at a night club and does a funny bit where she asks about why Christian sent her the expensive books then proceeds to tell him how he pushes her away, then pulls her in, only to push her away again.  The other scene that I love is when they are discussing the contract and what she will and won’t do, and how she is completely disarming him with her ability to discuss hard limits, although he knows she doesn’t have any true perspective of what she’s getting into.  I absolutely felt Christian’s heat during this sexy exchange of words, which causes him to undo his tie slightly.

First seen looking in a mirror, Anastasia is a figure defined by self-discovery. She’s embarking on postcollege life at the same time that she experiences a physical awakening that she never would have imagined. Although the character’s literary leanings are as flatly drawn as Grey’s vague philanthropic undertakings and high-powered tech-biz talk, Johnson is captivating. Her facial features recall both her parents (Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson), but she’s very much her own actor.

With a loose-limbed naturalness, she conveys naiveté, intellectual curiosity and romantic yearning, and shows the unassuming Ana’s newfound thrill at being seen, however complicated the man holding her in his admiring gaze. She’s open and vulnerable but no fool. Best of all, Johnson and her director embrace Ana’s paradox: She snickers at Christian’s predilections, but they also turn her on. – Sheri Linden – The Hollywood Reporter

Finally, I like that the sex scenes and the playroom are stylized.  This is BDSM that is “safe” for consumption and isn’t meant to be hardcore.  I read a review that it’s a shame we never see Anastasia truly climax.  The intimate scenes are meant to show Ana’s sexual self-discovery and since I’ve read the books, I know how to fill in the gaps of what happens next without needing them to be gratuitous.  I watched the movie to see Christian and Anastasia’s romantic tension personified, which then allows me to re-read the next installment with them in mind, anticipating what director Sam Taylor-Johnson has planned next for Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed (now that there is confirmation that the trilogy will all come to life).

I would highly suggest that if you are going to see the movie and have not read the books, to go read the books first:  All. Of. Them.  Not only will it fill in some gaps regarding Christian’s company and Ana’s relationships with her roommate and other minor characters, but you’ll get a bit more perspective on Christian Grey in a few chapters that EL James provides at the end of Fifty Shades Freed.  While reading the trilogy, keep this at the forefront always:  This isn’t supposed to be Pride & Prejudice.  This is Fifty Shades of Grey, and I’m so glad it’s now on celluloid because not only am I going to watch it again on the big screen, but I’ll be purchasing the deluxe set once it comes out on DVD so that I can relive the experience again and again, just for my inner goddess.

IMG_4713FYI:  The soundtrack is fantastic!  I love listening to it while re-reading the series…

Mr. Grey Will See You Now…

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Can you believe it’s FINALLY that time for the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie?  I first posted my review of trilogy back in 2012 (original post here), and after much anticipation, my friend Zach and I are going to see it tonight.  We have been planning this for the better part of a year, and I bought our tickets over a month ago for the preview because we just couldn’t wait.  Are you going to see the movie?  Please leave it in the comments below. Laters, baby!

(My #fangirl memorabilia pictured from top left, clockwise:  Original movie soundtrack; ticket confirmation for the movie preview; buttons from Comic Con given to me by my sister; special Newsweek edition purchased last week; my original soft cover book prior to the new one updated for the movie.)

Nails Did & Done

Dominatrix (brand unknown); Ring set, a gift from my niece

There are times where I go through long dry spells where I’m just too lazy to get a manicure, either at home or at the salon.  Since my last mani-pedi with my niece for Mother’s Day (first picture above), I’ve overcome my manicure embargo after I purchased an adorable travel manicure set I found at CVS.  Coincidentally, I also discovered they had a great beauty sale, showcasing a selection of polishes by Sally Hansen and Wet N Wild on the cheap, with prices ranging from $.99 to $2.99.  I stocked up on quite a few colors (not all are pictured here), which means I can get my nails “did” more often!

Co-Bolt Blue by Sally Hansen & Trust Fund Baby by Spoiled/Wet N Wild

Gone Grey by Sally Hansen & Explosions After Dark by Spoiled/Wet N Wild; “F” ring by Wendy Brandes (from her swear ring set seen here); Color combination & ring inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey

The Parking Meteor Has Expired & Trust Fund Baby by Spoiled/Wet N Wild (the darker polish is black with an amazing green glitter tint)

F#@! The Paperwork: Why I Loved The "Fifty Shades" Trilogy

Picture previously posted: My Acer Iconia with the third book of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy, Wendy Brandes swear rings & Dominatrix nail polish

I was home for the past two weeks, caring for my mom post-op (a simple gall bladder procedure).  In addition to doing all of the things I needed to for my mom like driving her to follow-up appointments, cooking and cleaning, taking my son out so my mom could get some sleep, I did quite a bit of reading.

I’m a fairly avid reader.  My books of choice lately are purely for escapism:  The Bridget Jones’ series by Helen Fielding; the “Shopaholic” series by Sophie Kinsella; the “Sookie Stackhouse” series by Charlaine Harris and Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell (sometimes I get in the occasional biography).  I know they are not Pulitzer Prize winners, but they provide me with great sources of enjoyment.  These books are meant to be fun and one would have to just dive into each of the fictitious worlds and allow the waves of your imagination take you where you want it to go under the guidance of the author’s words.

I apply this same thought process to the uber-popular “Fifty Shades” trilogy by EL James.  I nearly passed up reading Fifty Shades of Grey, the first book of the series, because I had read that the author originally wrote it as fan fiction based on the “Twilight” books, which I cannot bring myself to read, although I watched the first movie twice because I needed to give it a chance (I just can’t get past the shimmering vampires who are saccharine versions of the day-walkers from “Blade”).   What piqued my curiosity of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy is that it is a love story laced with BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism, masochism).  Called “Mommy Porn”, the trilogy has been dismissed as poorly written & repetitive, and more importantly, unbelievable.   Some libraries have banned it due to the erotic nature of the books.

If you haven’t started reading the books yet, they center around the love affair between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.  Anastasia is a painfully innocent & beautiful 22 year-old recent college graduate (and virgin), who “accidentally” falls into the charms of 27 year-old Mr. Grey, a stunningly handsome yet psychologically damaged self-made billionaire.  I’m no book critic, so I’m not sure what I can offer in terms of style, dialogue, or literary reference, but I can say that these books kept me wanting more.  It appeals to everything that I love in any kind of romantic book: a woman who is determined to stay true to herself and is loved and cherished for all that she is by a man who would move heaven and earth to prove it to her.  I also feel a kinship with Anastasia, who, like me, loves Twinings English Breakfast Tea and who’s favorite city is London.

As expected from the reviews I’ve read, there are some very descriptive sexual situations all throughout the books, chronicling Anastasia’s sexual discovery through the guidance of Christian, but the BDSM scenes are far from graphic, and I’m sure most would say they are tame.  Many phrases used to describe certain sexual acts tend to be a bit repetitive, but the romantic tensions that lead up to them are sweet and funny (“Oh, f@#! the paperwork…” is one that comes to mind and you have to read the first book to get the reference).  There are some action scenes that had me anxiously turning the pages, eager to find out what happens next to this alluring couple, and the first two books have cliff hangers that cause you to hold your breath.  In the words of Christian Grey “don’t overthink” and just suspend your belief for a few moments to live in this crazy-sexy world.  Laters, baby!

(Note:  I’m re-reading the books because I’ve heard that Alexander Skarsgard is interested in the part of Christian Grey.  Oh would that it were true!)