How Far Would You Go to Protect a Secret?

The Reader, I haven’t seen The Reader… until just now. 2008 was a big year for Kate Winslet. She was critically acclaimed in both Revolutionary Road and The Reader. Winning 2 Golden Globes for Best Actress – Drama and Best Supporting Actress for each respective film. Unfortunately, the Academy Awards only recognized her for Best Actress in The Reader. I haven’t seen Revolutionary Road, but The Reader was a very deserving win. Her performance was the most acclaimed part of the movie, since the controversial subject matter was polarizing. Oscar nominated director Stephen Daldry is no stranger to it.

Though The Reader was still nominated for Best Picture with producers Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack both tragically receiving posthumous nominations. The Reader is based on German novel Der Vorleser by Bernhard Schlink. Like The Graduate or Harold and Maude, Michael Berg is a 15 year old teenager who enters a passionate love affair with the much older Hanna Schmitz. The Reader is very erotic in the first half as the R rating is exclusively for nudity and sexuality. Winslet is no stranger to nudity, but it’s surprising how much of it she commits to. Their relationship is wrong, but the young David Kross is equally worthy of praise as the confused youngster.

Michael reads to Hanna and it’s only years later that we discover the shocking reason behind it. Hanna is revealed to be a former SS guard for the Nazi Party in a trial for war crimes. A sympathetic portrayal of someone involved in the Holocaust is tricky to say the least. Lena Olin has a dual performance as two of the concentration camp survivors. Adolf Hitler actor Bruno Ganz plays a Jewish professor who leads the law program that Michael attends. Though the cast is mostly German, Winslet is convincing as the older German woman keeping a secret. Ralph Fiennes is dependable as an older Michael, but it’s still Kross who gives the more conflicted performance of the two. The Reader is an engaging character study about the power of reading.

The Reader

Michael reads to Hanna

Reunited and it Feels So Good

American Reunion finally reunites the original American Pie cast (for better or worse). During the 9 year gap between American Wedding, the franchise settled into a rut of disposable direct-to-video movies. None of which I’ve seen, but I will review them some day. American Reunion manages to bring back everyone. Probably not difficult considering the actors haven’t been big since the late 90’s to early 2000’s. The only actor to consistently appear in all 8 films is Eugene Levy. Who’s given a bit more serious character development. Getting in on the action and surprisingly ending up with Stifler’s mom.

American Reunion isn’t the funniest sexual adventure the guys have been on. Everybody’s an adult stuck in the 90’s. As is tradition, Jim is first seen doing something inappropriate before getting caught. Only he’s the father this time. Jim and Michelle are dealing with intimacy issues, Kevin is happily married to someone who isn’t Vicky, Oz returns as a sportscaster dating a model, and Finch has become well traveled. Meanwhile Stifler is just as raunchy as ever stuck in a dead end job. They reunite for a 13 year class reunion. Where they realize they’ve become the lame adults that all the teens mock. Although Jim attracts his former babysat neighbor turned hot 18 year old who has the honor of receiving the films only nude scene.

Meanwhile Kevin’s feelings for Vicky resurface when they reconnect. Oz also reunites with his former love Heather and it’s obvious they’re meant for each other. Finch finally moves on from Stifler’s mom by connecting with former band geek Selena. And let’s just say Stifler gets revenge on Finch. Of course Jessica, Nadia, and the Shermanator pop up as well. Even John Cho gets a bigger role considering how much of a star he became. American Reunion is just as awkward and somewhat satisfying as any class reunion.


The guys stare at Oz’s girlfriend

Preceded by: American Wedding

Nice Day for a White Wedding?

American Wedding honors and obeys the rules of the previous movies, but it was pretty forgotten. Mostly because the title dropped the “Pie.” The rest of the wedding themed sequel is both familiar and different. American Wedding once again opens on Jim doing something embarrassing with his dad walking in (Eugene Levy is funny as always). Only this time it’s followed by Jim proposing to former band geek Michelle. You’d be surprised how little story there is. It’s basically Jim and his friends doing a bunch of mundane semi-sexual wedding planning.

Jim and Michelle are a cute couple, Finch tries to find the perfect woman, and Kevin has nothing to do, but at least he’s not completely omitted like Oz is. Even if he and Heather’s storyline was practically over since American Pie 2. Vicky and Jessica don’t show up either. Despite the fact that a wedding should’ve at least brought them in as cameos. Only Nadia gets a mention. Between uncomfortable meetings with the in-laws, dress hunting, and vow writing is Steve Stifler. Stifler practically hijacks the franchise with all his profane immature antics. He’s the comic relief, so it only works so well.

The Stifmeister mainly teaches Jim to dance and competes with rival Finch over who ends up with Michelle’s hot sister Candace. Played by Love Actually era January Jones. The extended nude scene belongs to a couple of strippers in a bachelor party turned funny hiding sequence. Stifler accidentally ending up in a gay bar and eating poop is too raunchy though. In the end, Stifler saves the wedding, while Finch sleeps with Stifler’s mom yet again. American Wedding embraces its guilty pleasure status to modest results.


Jim and Michelle’s wedding

Preceded by: American Pie 2 & Followed by: American Reunion

This One Time, at Band Camp…

American Pie 2 is basically stuck in the same position as the first movie. Unlike American Pie (which I saw twice), I didn’t immediately watch any of the raunchier and more icky sequels. American Pie 2 takes place 2 years later and everything plays out in the exact same order as before. With the same cast now in college. Jim once again has an embarrassing incident involving his parents. This time it’s him getting caught with a girl. Which is a bit funnier than before, but not every recycled joke is. Expect for Eugene Levy, who is still the funniest character.

Since school is out for the summer, the guys reunite for more sexual shenanigans. In order to keep them close, Kevin organizes a trip to a beach house. Being a scene stealer, Stifler is given an even bigger role. Although he doesn’t really contribute much other than getting turned down and then coaching his younger brother in the art of picking up babes. All the hotties from the first movie return with varying amounts of screen time. Although the nude scene this time belongs to a couple of girls that the guys mistake for lesbians. In a scene that mimics the webcam scene, only with walkie talkies. Which gets really cringy when Jim and Stifler are forced to make out. Equally cringy is Stifler being peed on at a party.

On the trip, Jim tries to improve his game before Nadia returns. It leads to an adorkable romance with band geek Michelle. Who gives him sex tips at band camp. Kevin is still hung up on Vicky after she returns with Jessica. Oz and Heather’s relationship is basically done, so they have nothing to do other than attempt phone sex. Meanwhile a more enlightened Finch still wants Stifler’s mom. Literally every story ends the same as before, to mixed results. Apart from unexpected justice for geek the Sherminator. So American Pie 2 is only for fans who don’t mind the same old same old.


Jim, Stifler, and Finch get seduced

Preceded by: American Pie & Followed by: American Wedding

As American as Apple Pie

American Pie brought back the R rated teen sex comedy. Even though 1999 was loaded with teen movies, American Pie was a suggestive standout. American Pie is the tale of four guys on a quest to lose their virginity. Jason Biggs is awkward teen Jim. He’s friends with the slightly cooler Kevin, popular jock friend Oz, and the nerdy sophisticated Finch. I’m not sure how they’re all friends, but they are all virgins. All except their obnoxious sort of friend Stifler. Played with hard R finesse by breakout star Seann William Scott. Rather than the Don McLean song, the title refers to third base being like “warm apple pie.” Which leads to the grossist, most memorable moment. Each friend goes about losing their virginity in vastly different ways.

American Pie has four hotties. Shannon Elizabeth stands out with the movie’s one nude scene, but Tara Reid, Alyson Hannigan, and the All-American Mena Suvari stand out too. I say All-American because this is strangely one of many movies/shows she’s appeared in with “American” in the title (American Beauty for example). Eugene Levy steals every scene giving hilariously awkward sex advice to Jim. Jim almost sleeps with sexy foreign exchange student Nadia when they catch her topless on a webcam, but he settles for band geek Michelle. “This one time, at band camp…” Kevin uses a secret sex book to better please his girlfriend Vicky, but they struggle to go all the way. Oz tries to become more sensitive by joining choir and he ends up falling in love with Heather in the process. Finch gets Vicky’s hip friend Jessica to give him an irresistible reputation, until it’s all flushed away.

Despite a few hiccups everyone honors the pact. Kevin awkwardly sleeps with Vicky, Oz romanticly sleeps with Heather, Jim has a one night stand with the surprisingly experienced Michelle, and Finch gets revenge on Stifler by seducing Stifler’s mom. I’m not a huge fan of raunchy, sort of disgusting humor, but there was no way I wouldn’t see American Pie. Despite all the sex talk, there are still several good lessons to be learned. I can’t relate to all of it, but I came to the conclusion that American Pie is a 90’s teen classic.


Nadia plays music for Jim

Followed by: American Pie 2

The Birth of Viagra

Love & Other Drugs traces the origin of popular sex drug Viagra. Told through the lense of a love story. After sharing a steamy scene together in Brokeback Mountain, Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal bring the same chemistry to Love & Other Drugs. Only with a lot more steamy scenes. In fact, this is easily the most sexual role of Anne Hathaway’s career. Her Disney image has definitely been shed by this point. As both she and Gyllenhaal have several nude scenes together. Although Hathaway was in the movie a lot less than I thought she would be. Most of the focus is actually on Jamie. A smooth talking pharmaceutical salesman who’s seduced many women.

Until he meets the woman who might be the one. Maggie is a young woman with early onset Parkinson’s. She doesn’t want to get close because of her condition, but being a romantic comedy, you know things will have to work out. One thing I wasn’t expecting was just how strong of a performance Anne Hathaway would give. The Viagra part of the movie is actually not the driving factor. Although it does lead to many funny scenes. Josh Gad being the funniest character. Love & Other Drugs takes advantage of its adult themes, but it doesn’t always know what to focus on.

sexiest women alive on sexiest movie scenes anne hathaway 1

Jamie and Maggie get intimate


[WARNING! EXPLICIT CONTENT] Eyes Wide Shut is the final film by legendary director Stanley Kubrick. Due to his death 5 months before its release. Some would even call it his “unfinished masterpiece,” but it was definitely finished by that point. For the longest time, my only knowledge of the film was that it was Kubrick’s last picture. How much nudity was in it, that it starred real life married couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and that there were (fittingly enough) warning signs from outside sources. All I can say is, it’s important to know what kind of movie you’re getting into. A nearly 3 hour long erotic thriller with Kubrick complexity. The first nude scene is a mere 22 seconds into the movie. As Nicole Kidman disrobes in her first of several nude scenes. Her performance is very raw, but her character is mostly seen in the first act. Tom Cruise plays a doctor and her husband who goes on a night long (Christmas set?) journey after she admits to almost cheating on him. He gets hit on several times, almost sleeps with a hooker, but most importantly, discovers a secret society. This is when things get really weird. The society consists of people in robes and scary masks participating in orgies. Part of it had to be recut just to insure an R rating. However, Eyes Wide Shut doesn’t really get confusing until after that night. Like every other Stanley Kubrick movie I’ve seen up to this point, I was left with mixed emotions and a headache. Until I took a deeper look into the movie. Discovering just how much time (400 consecutive days of shooting!) and meticulous detail was put into it. Eyes Wide Shut is definitely not for everyone, but it is perhaps the best send off for such an iconic director.


Bill explores a secret society

Boobs in Boobland

Fifty Shades Freed was definitely the final straw. When I first discovered the premise for this book/movie, I knew it had to be a joke. That there was no way a couple that has their entire relationship centered around BDSM would end up happily married. Well that’s exactly how Fifty Shades Darker ended, with a proposal. Fifty Shades Freed focuses on Mr. and Mrs. Grey as a married couple. Still having sex, but in a variety of unsexy ways. Like with ice cream, in a car, or while getting a haircut. In regards to nudity, it’s now almost exclusively bare breast shots. Making the movie barely earn its erotic status. Since a movie about a recently married couple is boring, there way of making it interesting is by filling it with out of place action. Now there’s car chases and hostage negotiations. Leading to perhaps the most unrealistic ending I’ve seen in a long time. Where it flashes forward to Ana and Christian as a happy couple with kids. At this point in the franchise I really took time to reflect on how bad this trilogy is. How unmemorable the supporting characters are. Well at least Rita Ora was finally able to sing in Fifty Shades Freed. With the song “For You” by her and Liam Payne. It also brought up unexplained questions like, what the hell does Christian’s company actually do? Or why can’t the trilogy decide on a tone? Fifty Shades Freed finally freed us from this unsexy sex franchise (if only movies like Book Club would stop making it relevant again).


Ana and Christian get married

Preceded by: Fifty Shades Darker

Kinky F***ery

Fifty Shades Darker is the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey that nobody asked for. Well the first movie made money. So I guess somebody was asking for it. Even though I was completely unaware of the book’s sequels or if they were even popular. Of course in this day in age, if a book adaptation is even a little successful, the rest of the series is almost guaranteed to get adapted as well. Unlike most franchises at the time, Fifty Shades Darker was released 2 years after the first movie. Leaving room for parodies like Fifty Shades of Black. Although there’s a reason why romances don’t get sequels. It’s because most romances end with the couple getting together by the end. Making a follow up seem kinda pointless. Fifty Shades of Grey ended with Ana leaving Christian after asking to be punished. Leaving the abusive relationship was clearly the best ending, but they kept it going in the most unnatural way possible. Fifty Shades Darker sees Ana return to Christian after they run into each other in another stalkerish way. They resume their relationship and Ana is suddenly fine with all the BDSM stuff again. As if nothing was wrong to begin with. They also explore the even more messed up reason why Christian is the way he is. By roping in respected actress Kim Basinger. As far as sex or nudity is concerned, they scaled it back for some reason. Making for an incredibly forgettable experience. Of course just like before, the song “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” by ZAYN & Taylor Swift was the only good thing about it. Fifty Shades Darker is definitely the darkest period in this already unnecessary trilogy.


Ana and Christian attend a costume party

Preceded by: Fifty Shades of Grey & Followed by: Fifty Shades Freed

Fifty Shades of F***ed Up

Fifty Shades of Grey is the phenomenon that took the whole world by storm (whether we wanted it to or not). Unlike most book adaptations, I knew about Fifty Shades of Grey long before a movie was even announced. Back in 2012 when the book was at its peak of popularity. All I knew was that the book was written by a female author (E. L. James) and very popular with older women who saw it as some kind of sexual fantasy. It was also popular for how ridiculous the dialogue and internal monologues are. From the excerpts I read (or celebrity readings I’ve heard), I had no idea how a movie that isn’t NC-17 or higher would even be possible. Since the book is practically porn. Well they somehow found a way and that’s how we ended up with the crappy Fifty Shades trilogy. As it turns out, Fifty Shades of Grey is also the most successful fan fiction ever written. Fan fiction being something fans and/or weirdos use to write their own original stories involving characters in pop culture. Under the username Snowqueen’s Icedragon, E. L. James originally wrote “Master of the Universe” as Twilight fan fiction…


Ana and Christian kiss in an elevator

Fifty Shades of Grey actually shares many similarities with Twilight. Both in quality and characters. Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey are a lot like Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. Only without the vampires. Like Bella, Ana is a meek everywoman and like Edward, Christian is powerful and mysterious. Fifty Shades of Grey starts with English major Ana Steele interviewing billionaire Christian Grey for her college newspaper. What some people might call sparks fly between the two. Leading Christian to stalk Ana until they eventually end up together. Going on trips to fancy places and riding in his private helicopter. You’re probably wondering, what about the sex? Well Fifty Shades of Grey certainly has some of that. With Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan both being naked for a majority of the film. However, despite being R rated, I felt like they might have been holding back. Half the time, the movie is more concerned with boring contract discussions about Ana’s sexual preferences. Which brings up my biggest problem with Fifty Shades of Grey as a whole. I hate anything involving BDSM or bondage. Mixing pain with pleasure is just uncomfortable to watch. Even though the movie doesn’t go nearly as far as it could have. Christian’s interest in nothing more than a dominant/submissive sex relationship with Ana takes up most of the movie. Leaving plenty of room for cheesy dialogue and emotionless performances from both leads. Leads that most fans felt were miscast. Like the book’s author, Fifty Shades of Grey is directed by a woman. Based on the underline abuse of the relationship, I’m still not sure why anyone (especially women) would find this sexy. The only positive thing I can say about the movie is its music. “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding is an awesome award worthy song (even though “Earned it” by The Weeknd is the one with the Oscar nomination). Aside from that, the movie was a huge critical failure and even won the Razzie award for Worst Picture (tied with Fant4stic). Fifty Shades of Grey should have remained a guilty pleasure book, instead of a thrill-less movie.

Red Room

Ana and Christian in the Red Room

Followed by: Fifty Shades Darker