The final chapter in the big screen adaptation of E.L. James’ kinky S&M bestseller “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy finally hits theaters this week. Like its predecessors, “Fifty Shades Freed” isn’t bad enough to be campy fun and is about as erotic as a cold shower. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are back in this absurd wish-fulfillment fantasy that’s just a gaudy soap opera dressed up with snappy production values. The best thing to say about “Fifty Shades Freed” is that this is actually the last installment.
The 90th annual Academy Awards take place the first weekend of March. “The 2018 Oscar Short Film Programs” celebrate this year’s nominees that represent best the genre has to offer. There are three separate showcases, “The Animated Program,” the “Live Action Program” and the “Documentaries Program.” As always these compilations are a mixed bag, but there’s plenty of creativity and artistry on display.
And speaking of Oscars, the latest film from Oscar-winning Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke is “Happy End.” In this French language offering, Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant play members of a self-absorbed French bourgeois family. “Happy End” is a dark social critique about the indifference of the elite towards the masses. It’s smart, but also slow and gloomy and as self-absorbed as the classes it’s trying to skewer.
Also opening this week, “The 15:17 to Paris” is director Clint Eastwood’s drama about the three American tourists who took down a terrorist on a French train in 2015. The actual heroes play themselves. “Peter Rabbit” uses a mix of live action and computer animation to bring to life Beatrix Potter’s famous characters. James Cordon and Margot Robbie provide voices. “Still/Born” is a horror film about a supernatural entity trying to take the one surviving twin baby from its mother.