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Image credit Secretary, 2002

Image credit Secretary, 2002

While the nation enters its second week of 50 Shades of Grey fever, I’m revisiting a movie similar in theme, though far better in execution. Secretary (DVD/Download) has been mentioned in a lot of articles recently, and while I can’t exactly call 50 Shades great cinema, I’m glad that this sub-par movie has brought a really great one back into the spotlight.

After seeing both films, the similarities are striking. Both feature male lead characters with the last name of Grey, and both are essentially about a shy, average girl discovering her true self after meeting a man who introduces her to some pretty kinky sex. The difference between the two films is that while 50 Shades of Grey takes itself SO SERIOUSLY, Secretary is more of a dark comedy. Yes, the sex scenes can be graphic and serious in tone, but the supporting elements are quite funny (Maggie Gyllenhaal on all fours with a saddle and a carrot in her mouth spring to mind). James Spader plays lawyer E. Edward Grey, an oddball employer who has a penchant for S&M in the office, and Maggie Gyllenhaal plays his new secretary Lee Holloway. What I love (and found so romantic that I actually saw this film twice in the theater when it was released) is the way these two damaged people formed an unusual but powerful bond. Mr. Grey understands Lee in a way that nobody else does, and vice versa. He saves her from a life of boredom and mediocrity, and she in return gives him the love he never knew he needed.

My drink this week is an homage to Lee Holloway, who is maybe the hardest working secretary on the planet.  Who else would dive into a dumpster in search of a lost file, coming out covered in dirt and old coffee grounds?  Ms. Holloway, that’s who. While watching Secretary, I recommend drinking a Dirty Martini.

Dirty Martini

2.5 oz vodka

1/8 oz dry vermouth

½ oz olive brine (from the jar of olives)

1 olive for garnish

Shake liquid ingredients together in a cocktail shaker filled with ice until chilled. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with an olive.

Dirty Martini

I love that Secretary started a career renaissance for James Spader, and just plain started a career in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s case. It’s such a quirky, odd movie, and I can’t explain why I love it so much, but I do. Sometimes movies are like that. Maybe I just like the idea of someone telling me that I can eat 4 peas and then as much ice cream as I want. Or perhaps I like a man with a keen eye for grammar and spelling mistakes. That must be it. Cheers!