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The Sessions

Mark O’Brien (played by John Hawkes) is a 36 year old journalist and poet living in California. Since the age of six, when he contracted polio, his world is totally physically restrictive as he has lost the use of his muscles from the neck down. He can’t breathe or move without assistance – he sleeps in an iron lung and several carers tend to his every daily need.  After an emotional relationship, he is confused about his feelings and so his carer, Vera, (by Moon Bloodgood) suggests he sees a sex therapist. Deeply Catholic and unsure, he seeks approval from his priest, Father Brendan (by William H. Macy) and tentatively begins a series of sessions with Cheryl Cohen-Greene (by Helen Hunt).  Mark has long talks with his priest about the sessions with Cheryl and embarks on a remarkable journey of physical and emotional discovery.

This is a beautifully told story – it is honest, direct and unapologetic in its exploration of these sensitive issues. In real life, Mark O’Brien is an advocate for the disabled but this is a fictional account of his introduction to sex. The performances are remarkable – John Hawkes’s portrayal of O’Brien is brave and impressive. William H Macy is wonderful – he presents the endearing Father Brendan in a modern and non-judgemental way that makes you wish there was more of him here. By far the best performance is by Helen Hunt – this is the best I have ever seen her. The scenes involving Mark and Cheryl are beautifully done, sensitive and Helen Hunt has done a marvellous job to educate the audience about the important work of these therapists. There is a very nice thread of comedy throughout the movie, which is welcome in one or two places where scenes have the potential to get dry. I think we will see Moon Bloodgood in more movies in future too – I hope so. Take a bow, Ben Lewin, this is an amazing work. Well done.

Made in 2012. Directed by Ben Lewin.

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Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Movies

 

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The Perfect Storm

It’s 1991, Captain Billy Tyne (played by George Clooney) is the skipper of the Andrea Gail, working out of the tough port of Gloucester, Massachusetts where commercial deep sea fishing is a highly competitive industry. Billy and his crew have worked these waters for several years, but his operation has had a few rough months recently and Billy really needs to bring in a good catch soon. Although it’s getting very late in the year (October – and the weather can get pretty ugly), he hears that the fish are running and decides the potential harvest offers enough incentive to go out and bring it in. His five loyal crew would much rather stay on shore with their loved ones than venture back into the cold unfriendly Atlantic, but they each decide to join him on this potentially lucrative mission. On board with Billy are young Bobby Shatford (by Mark Wahlberg) who is keen and is in the first exciting flush of new love; Dale ‘Murph’ Murphy (by John C. Reilly) recently divorced and a devoted father; David ‘Sully’ Sullivan (by William Fichtner) a good crewman but hated by Murph; Mike ‘Bugsy’ Moran (by John Hawkes) who is reluctant to leave shore because he’s finally found a woman who likes him; and Alfred Pierre (by Allen Payne) the quietest of them all. As they depart from port, storm warnings start to come through, but they press on to their anticipated catch. Meanwhile, three weather systems collide off the coast of Nova Scotia that create a furious storm with hundred foot waves and fierce winds. It is the “storm of the century” and it strikes with virtually no warning. Out to sea, Billy and his crew have mechanical problems on board and they must change course quickly, which means they are stuck out there with this “perfect storm” between them and safety. They must face the treacherous stormy high-seas and try to make it home, at the same time they pray for rescue …
 
This movie is great – it is a true story. The tough life of working a fishing trawler, the difficulty of intermittent on-shore relationships and the emotional investment in dealing with such dangerous work in the unpredictable sea and forces nature is depicted superbly. Those “left on shore” are played very well by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Diane Lane, Bob Gunton, and Karen Allen – we really feel the anxiety and uncertainty in these people’s lives. I had little knowledge of this true-life event, so the story doesn’t go where I thought it would, but that made it better. It’s a very good movie – I wouldn’t venture onto the high seas again for a while after I saw it. The men in the Andrea Gail are courageous beyond belief.
 
This great drama is based on the best-selling book by Sebastian Junger,

Made in 2000. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Movies

 

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