Op-Ed: Fans of the Fifty Shades of Grey may be excited to learn that the movie has over 20 minutes of full sex scenes but they may not.
In July 2012 as casting for this movie began we wrote "Reading a work of fiction, be it on a computer, kindle or hard copy, imagination is king. The characters and plot come to life through our imagination. The leading characters may be individual to each reader or so well described that each reader has a similar image, if only in their mind.
Mr D'Arcy in Pride and Prejudice is a prime example of how our ideas can vary. For many readers of the novel Colin Firth when he took on the role in a major TV series was D'Arcy down to his fingernails. Others, such as this blogger, had envisaged a totally different man.
One of the most popular modern reads Fifty Shades of Grey is the titillating, sensual, erotic or should that be downright dirty? The three books have a wide variety of female fans. Women fans are many but varied. The trilogy surrounds one Mr Grey, and his dominant liaison."
But will imagination translate well to the big screen?
If you enjoy porn it will but for many female fans the books are titillating and have a universal appeal that may not be true of the visual sex scenes.
If you want to watch porn there are probably enough films around already but most 50 Shades fans would shy away from plain pornography.
But if it floats your boat why not?
According to the Belfast Telegraph "The upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie looks set to be the raunchiest 18-rated film in more than a decade" that description will deter as female many viewers as it attracts.
It may be a smash hit when it comes to the home market but will it attract many women to movie theatres? Maybe and maybe some will there for a laugh.
50 Shades of Grey
In September 2012 I finally gave in and began reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I was going to call a review Fifty Shades of Filth but it is not that. Yes it is porn, an erotic novel or a sex book but nothing to write home about.
In the end I called the review Fifty Shades of Whatever.
Having been told by so many women at work that it was compelling reading, that I would not be able to put down, I wondered if the book would live up to the hype.
You know how they say that the journey is often the best part of a vacation? Maybe not.
How many times though do you watch a film that is reviewed as the best thing since sliced bread only to wonder what all the fuss was about? Again a bad comparison as sliced bread is often the pits, but you know what I mean.
All we knew of 50 Shades in 2012 was that it was written by a woman, EL James’, in Canada, is part of a trilogy, is basically pornography and is due to be made into a film.
This blogger was still toying with whether or not she could be bothered to read it when the three books were espied for £10. Yes £10 for three books at a local supermarket; cheaper than three magazines can cost.
But the books since purchase have been stuck on the bookshelf.
The first in the series is Fifty Shades of Grey. This is followed by Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. The proper book review is still on hold as unlike colleagues I can put the book down.
I fairly quickly read over half of the first book. It is readable but more so in parts; and that does not just mean the sex parts. So if you have no idea what the plot, and I use that term loosely, centres on, here goes.
Mr Christian Grey, billionaire playboy, is in his late twenties. Good looking and wealthy he is a young girl's dream, or should that be nightmare?
Grey is into kinky sex. It may not be kinky to you but it is to me. He likes to play the dominant and his sexual partner the submissive. After a brief encounter with Miss Anastasia Steele, Grey proposes a partnership based on his sexual preferences. Steele as the stereotypical innocent or dumb female however falls in love with him.
So enough of the "plot". If you read the story the above will not have spoiled the experience.
The jury is out unless I finish reading even one book. If and when that happens I will update this review.
Book One is disconcerting as although Ms Steele is a willing participant, mostly, prior meeting Mr Grey she is an innocent; a virgin. Her encounter with Grey has hints of sexual grooming and abuse. She falls in love with Grey but he appears incapable of anything more than lust.
The story may develop into a compelling read but I am not holding my breath.
Maybe it is my advancing years but for me the book is just an OK read and nothing really new. On the contrary its seems to have drawn bits and pieces from other books and movies.
Yes it is titillating in parts. Yes the characters are OK. Will the movie be more than just OK? If you like sex films I guess the answer may be yes.
50 shades of grey is in UK cinemas February 13, just in time for Valentine's Day!
It is rated 18 for adult viewing.
The National Theatre production of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' was at Hull New Theatre from Tuesday January 13 until Saturday 17. We were lucky enough to secure tickets for the Saturday matinee performance.
The play is written by Simon Stephens and is based on the novel by Mark Haddon.
The book is a huge success although some readers give up and find it ultimately baffling. It is not a long book and having seen the play I may check it out. There is already a copy in our home.
The stage setting was both simplistic and clever. The cast took the part of doors, fridges and even a bed at one time. A chequered board which made the three sides of the stage provided unexpected doors for cast members to use to access the stage and props.
The story revolves around Christopher a 15-year-old who has Asperger's Syndrome. The stage is set with a large prop dog which has a garden fork sticking out of it. The play begins when the dog's owner finds Christopher with her dead dog, Wellington.
Christopher has a very analytical mind and decides that he will play detective and find out just who killed Wellington, this neighbour's golden Labrador. His father warns him to 'keep his nose out' but Christopher is determined to get to the bottom of what happened.
There is comedy, some expletives, movement which is almost dance, a who-done-it atmosphere and some special effects. But all from the perspective of Tom.
There were children in the audience but not very young children. The swearing is not gratuitous but it does include the odd four-letter-word. The book is part of some school children's English studies and through the week school parties had been in the audience.
An interval broke the performance briefly.
The play ended with Christopher declaring he could do anything and yes that was believable now.
Don't be too quick leaving your sets though. 'Christopher' returns to explain, with help from some special effects, why he not only passed 'A' Level mathematics but was awarded a mark of 'A' star.
Yes I would recommend this play for many reasons.
'Kick the Bucket', which refers to a person dying, seems a very English, slang statement but as this is exactly what is referred to in the title of the American film, The Bucket List', it is a must be a more universal statement.
The film's plot revolves around meeting of two very different men in hospital who have a diagnosis in common.
The common ground, which they are both experiencing, is that they have a cancer which is aggressive and likely to be terminal.
Morgan Freeman plays an ordinary working guy, Carter, approaching his retirement, who is shocked to suddenly find out that he has such a life threatening illness. His hospital room co-patient Edward, played by Jack Nicholson, is similar in age and has more recently received his diagnosis. These two men have so little in common but are brought together in more ways than one, initially by cancer.
Morgan Freeman begins to write a Bucket List which consists of 'Things to do before I die'.
Little does he realise what impact this casually drawn up list will have on him, his family and his fellow patient, Edward. With Edward's wealth the two set out on the journey of a lifetime. At times this film is a little corn and I suppose predictable, but it is still a very moving story. The end does have a little twist to it.
The cast, especially the main players, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, all play their parts extremely well.
Just as in life this sad story is interspersed with humour. My favourite funny moments are a car race, when Carter really lets go, and, nasty as it sounds, Edward's foolish eating after his first chemotherapy treatment and his body's reaction.
I really enjoyed this film as an easy to watch movie that was true to life, in parts, although a little too unbelievable in others. However on the whole our human frailties are portrayed well. This film is true to life in that the unexpected always happens at the worst times of life and most ordinary people have dreams and ambitions, at all levels, which they never have a chance to experience and fulfil.
In 'The Bucket List' the two men manage to build an incongruous friendship and achieve their heart's desires before they die.
The end is a real tearjerker and I would imagine that most, if not all, viewers will feel moved to tears. It is rated a PG in the UK but there is little to offend. The subject matter may be a cause for concern to young viewers. I do think though that much of the story and humour would be wasted on the very young anyway.
The running time is 97 minutes.
Overall this film is heart-warming, funny, sad and entertaining. What more can you want?
I read comedienne Dawn French's first book "Dear Fatty" when Dawn was still with husband Lenny Henry. Two comedians in one household? Most people will envisage laughter morning, noon and night, but as their separation, after 25 years plus of marriage, proved tears are part of every person's life.
I have to say that I enjoyed this book despite the fact that it took ages for me to read. Part of the problem, apart from personal reasons, was that it is such an easy book to put down, leave for a while and pick up again.
Written as a series of letters to people who have been, and still are, important in Dawn's life Dear Fatty has a memoirs feel to it. As Dawn is well known for her rotund figure I presumed the title Dear Fatty referred to herself. However, it turns out it is directed at her long time stage partner and friend, Jennifer Saunders.
Since her marriage split Dawn has trimmed down to a shapelier woman. She cited health reasons and the fact that she wanted to be around for her daughter in years to come as her incentives.
Love her or loathe her there can be few people in the UK who have not heard of Dawn French. The Vicar of Dibley has probably resulted in Dawn becoming famous further afield. Me, I love Dawn French, and her hysterical humour. Of course there has been much more to Dawn's comedy career such as the Comic Strip, Murder Most Horrid, Jam and Jerusalem and Girls of Top but I have simply detailed what, for me, are Dawn's best bits.; that is, her funniest performances.
Reading her book made me realise that Dawn and I have more in common than our addiction for chocolate, a struggling weight problem and a huge sense of humour. Dawn's father committed suicide when she was 19 which is something my father attempted when I was aged 14. He then died by the time I was 17 and so we share a common loss, at a very vulnerable age. However each such loss is so personal it is only a shared loss in a vague sort of way.
Dawn is never or ever has been afraid of making herself look silly or even ridiculous in the name of comedy. Watching Dawn prance around in a ballerina outfit as the supposed mirror image of tall and slender professional ballerina Darcy Bussell, showed this admirably. However Dear Fatty showed what we already guessed, that Dawn has had some ballet training.
Unfortunately growing wider and not taller cut short Dawn's ballet career
I have always had a huge amount of respect for Dawn French and this report is in memory of her great comedy achievements, many of which have been put out to pasture recently.
A life in comedy and beyond
Dawn French was born in 1957, In October 2014 she will be 57 but her infectious personality and beautiful face make her seem much younger. Dawn is rather short and has always been on the plump side but she grew much rounder before taking drastic action and dropping the pounds.
French and Saunders
Dawn has been entertaining British audiences for years as part of female, comedy duo French and Saunders. Jennifer Saunders is the perfect working partner for Dawn. Their comedy partnership stems from their time playing the comedy circuit and they fall into that genre of alternative comedy. However, at times they are anything but alternative, as they can appear as good old-fashioned slapstick.
There was a time when French and Saunders were regularly seen on British Television and there was also the occasional TV special. However, French and Saunders have finally hung up their funny faces and retired from this act. No falling out just simply that it was time for them to move on.
Among their hilarious acts they would often parody well known films such as Titanic and performers of the past and present. Seeing these two impersonate people such as Slash and Axel Rose, Dawn playing Slash, is just so funny. I do not know what it is but despite their lack of physical resemblance these two always managed to imitate to perfection.
In 2009 they completed their final tour before throwing in the towel. However I was lucky enough to see them a fair few years ago.
French and Saunders live
We booked tickets for the French and Saunders show at our local City Hall. By this time these two were pretty famous in the UK. Hubby and I were accompanied by his sister and her husband.
French and Saunders were supported by Raw Sex which was male comedy duo, Simon Brint and Rowland Rivron. The guys in our group preferred the act Raw Sex, which was very funny, but we girls absolutely loved French and Saunders.
From the moment Dawn stepped onto the stage I laughed. The laughter grew and I continued laughing more and more. My sister-in law laughed and eventually we became almost hysterical. I guess to enjoy some of the humour of French and Saunders you needed to be female. I say this as our partners kept looking at us as if we were insane.
Finally I thought I might die from lack of air. I could not catch my breath between laughing and my sides ached so much. Much of French and Sunders act had already been seen by us on TV but in the flesh these ladies were just so much funnier. A glance, a movement is all it takes for Dawn to reduce her female fans to giggling wrecks.
The Vicar of Dibley
For quite a few years now Dawn and Jen have been involved in separate projects. Jennifer Saunders has had the highly successful Absolutely Fabulous or as it is also known Ab Fab and Dawn as had The Vicar of Dibley.
The Vicar of Dibley is a half hour comedy TV series which features a village coming to terms with its new vicar, the larger than life Geraldine, played by Dawn French. As a rather old fashioned parish, a female vicar is hard for them to accept. From its humble start The Vicar Of Dibley became a runaway success on British TV and is now regularly shown as a re-run.
So back to the start of this report and Dawn's book. It is full of personal information regarding Dawn, all written in the form of letters. Of course, not everything about Dawn will be in the book, but there is enough to get a feel for the girl, the woman, the mother, the daughter, the wife and the comedienne.
Dear Fatty is interspersed with a wide range of photographs from Dawn's personal and public life.
When Dawn was writing her memoirs she told press that she was moving to Cornwall in order to die. Dawn said that she felt she would not make old bones but now the slimmed down Dawn has a good chance at longevity in life.
Among her many projects Dawn has an online store selling stylish affordable clothes for ladies size 16 and above.
We hope that we have not seen the last of Dawn, as far as comedy goes; well in fact as far as anything goes. Some of her best funny moments are available on DVD and she pops up in an occasional appearance on British television. Come back though Dawn, we want more!