Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Life & Culture

Movie Planner: '50 Shades Darker' and the sexy movies that went before it


There's a reason why Marlon Brando's tango in Paris was his last, why Kim Basinger put up with Mickey Rourke for 9 ½ Weeks, no longer.

Seriously sexy movies don't get sequels. Hit it and quit it, as the kids say.

Sure, we get the occasional same title with a "2" added, differently cast, direct-to-video cash grab. Cruel Intentions, indeed.

Which brings us to Fifty Shades Darker (R), the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey that its author E.L. James didn't plan but, hey, Vintage Books wrote the check. Here's a sexy-dumb idea coming back for what is expected to be sloppier seconds; no title numeral, same cast, dropping in theaters worldwide.

That could be Fifty Shades Darker's boldest maneuver.

The first movie ended with Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) saying no spanks to her masochism mentor Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Pressed for a followup, James chose to explore Christian's cultivation of kinky demons, including his own lessons from an older woman (Kim Basinger). Mother (Marcia Gay Harden) doesn't like that.

Anastasia is emboldened in spirit yet still hankering for some nasty. She reconnects with Christian, leading to a stalker (Bella Heathcote), one of Christian's former submissive lovers. If only those Red Room walls could talk since Fifty Shades of Grey was such a tease.

Naughty but nice

In the meantime, consider the smart-sexy cinema that didn't need sequels to get their points across. Add these to your queue for the next request to Netflix and chill:

Bound (1996): Gina Gershon seduces Jennifer Tilly into stealing mob money. "What did she do to you?" a boyfriend asks. "Everything you couldn't."

Y Tu Mamá Tambien (2001): Teenage boys (Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna) road trip with a sexually wise, older woman (Ana López Mercado): "Life is like the surf, so give yourself away."

Out of Sight (1998): Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney share a car trunk sexier than most people share beds. "You wanted to tussle," she says. "We tussled."

Unfaithful (2002): My fantasy is sitting on a train next to Diane Lane's straying wife while she fantasizes about her lover (Olivier Martinez).

Secretary (2002): Another Mr. Grey (James Spader) with a BDSM background hires a willing assistant (Maggie Gyllenhaal). "Look, we can't do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week." "Why not?"


Whoa, can you believe Keanu Reeves is back as a bona fide movie star? He has an action franchise going, a Bill & Ted reunion in the works, even a cat named after him in a Key & Peele comedy. It's good to be Keanu again.

John Wick: Chapter 2 ( R) continues the bloody saga of a hit man who can't stay retired. In 2014's first chapter, John went ballistic after goons killed his dog. Revenge was so expertly carried out that a underworld bounty is now on his head. Time to reload.

Reeves is joined in battle by Laurence Fishburne, his Matrix trilogy co-star, their first teaming since that franchise evaporated into nonsense. Hopefully the same fate isn't in the cards here.

John Wick: Chapter 2 wasn't screened in time for Weekend.

in theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 The LEGO Batman Movie: Taking apart the Caped Crusader's legacy interlocking piece by piece. (Review, Page 16)

2 Hidden Figures: True story of African-American women making NASA go 'round. Three Oscar nominations.

3 Fences: The role that deservedly won Oscar nominations for Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.

4 Split: M. Night Shyamalan returns from the dead with a wicked thriller.

5 Julieta: Pedro Almodóvar observes another woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.


(Dates subject to change)

Feb. 17: The Great Wall; Fist Fight; A Cure for Wellness

Feb. 24: Get Out; Rock Dog

Mar. 3: Logan; The Shack; Before I Fall; Table 19; The Last Word

Mar. 10: Kong: Skull Island

Mar. 17: Beauty and the Beast; T2 Trainspotting; Dean

Mar. 24: Power Rangers; CHiPs; Life