'Fifty Shades of Grey': Who should direct?
E.L. James, the author of the erotic e-book “Fifty Shades of Grey,” created a stir when Universal Pictures and Focus Features acquired the film rights to her trilogy of explicit books earlier this week. The series tells of a chaste college graduate named Anastasia Steele and the S&M-inflected romance she finds herself in with dashing billionaire Christian Grey.
“Shades” was a hot property in more ways than one, having already sold gazillions of copies to discreet, Kindle-carrying women all over the English-speaking world.
But now begins a more arduous process: attaching a filmmaker. Given the provocative nature of the subject matter, finding the right helmer won’t be easy. Allow us to offer a few suggestions:
Michael Bay. Sure, James’ book had plenty of raunchy sex. But where were the things moviegoers really care about, like secret government-created alien-fighting machines? “Grey” will be jazzed up considerably with the addition of Autobots and Decepticons, a true story of opposites. There is, after all, no tale of becoming quite like the tale of a car becoming a robot. Grey inflicts hurt on his partner using 30-ton robots, which brings nearly as much pain as watching a Michael Bay movie.
Nicolas Refn. Christian Grey wears a scorpion jacket and eats toothpicks. He and his lover take long drives to nowhere over '80s electropop. Forks are jammed into various body parts. The movie reaches a crescendo in its piece de resistance love scene, which takes place backward.
Marc Webb. Young Christian Grey works at a greeting card company and, when he’s not getting advice from his impossibly precocious sister or angsting about the state of his romantic life, kicks back with a little office karaoke. Anastasia Steele is an ethereal presence who doesn’t believe in love. They enter a complex relationship in which he decides to cause her pain, largely by playing her Morrissey songs over and over.
Judd Apatow. Every hot romance needs a little bromance. Apatow's "Fifty Shades" has Anastasia feeling neglected -- all Christian wants to do is smoke pot and talk about comic-book superheroes with his buddies. Challenges further ensue when Anastasia begins to question why anyone would want to be in an S&M relationship with Seth Rogen. All is resolved, however, when Christian and his friends take a break from trash-talking each other long enough for a tearful airport scene. The movie is notable for being the first Apatow film he doesn't want his wife to star in.
Sofia Coppola. Focus could reach into its own vaults and pull out “Somewhere” helmer Sofia Coppola. Grey and Steele live in a hotel. Sometimes they order room service. A car goes endlessly around a track. Someone cooks breakfast. The movie ends.
Martin Scorsese. Christian Grey begins the film by ordering mob hits on various members of Steele’s family, because she double-crossed the people who double-crossed her double-crossers. In fact, the hero is about to order a hit on Steele when he realizes that she owns an early 20th century print of Julien Duvivier's “La Belle Equipe,” which, Grey tells her, no human being should ever be without. He then gives her a three-hour lecture on the importance of preserving early cinema. She finds it a peculiar form of torture.
Photo: "Fifty Shades of Grey." Credit: Vintage Books