Hypable TIFF Review: ‘The Sessions’

5:30 pm EDT, September 17, 2012

Few movies have the right ingredients to combine real-life events and genuine emotion without coming off like a sappy, made-for-TV movie. The recent Sundance hit The Sessions (formerly known as The Surrogate) has these skills firmly in place and a large part of that is due to its talented cast which includes John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy.

Hawkes in particular has been generating Oscar heat since the film’s debut in January at the Sundance Film Festival, and while Oscar talk back then may have seemed premature by some, a second look at the film proves that all accolades are completely justified. As an actor, Hawkes is primarily known for disappearing into complicated villains in movies like Winter’s Bone and Martha Marcy Mae Marlene, but his amazing range has resulted in an Oscar nomination that he hopes to double for this current performance.

In The Sessions he headlines as Mark O’Brien, a real-life polio patient living his life in the Bay Area under the constant help of an iron lung. His handicap is a hurdle in many obvious ways but Mark’s outlook is to stay positive despite life’s pitfalls. With this optimistic attitude he’s willed himself to do one seemingly impossible task: lose his virginity. After all, having sex under such unique conditions could prove tricky no matter how optimistic you are. But after Mark consults his priest for advice (played by a whimsical William H. Macy), the road to sexual enlightenment leads our curious lead to a sexual surrogate.

This woman is far from the lewd and overtly sexual image most men might think of when they hear the words “sexual surrogate,” in fact she’s the opposite. As played by Helen Hunt, this surrogate we come to know as Cheryl doesn’t do the clichéd things we expect from these types of situations. She doesn’t run away in horror at the sight of Mark in his iron lung and she is most of all, non-judgmental and sympathetic. That overt frankness cuts through the kind of lazy storytelling lesser films would’ve used to shamelessly butter up their audience.

The Sessions earns its emotional payoff in its direct and honest portrayal of two people experiencing life in a completely new way. For Mark, sex is everywhere, and the ability to finally rejoice in that experience despite his handicap is a risk worth taking. Cheryl on the other hand is open and liberated in her meetings with Mark. This isn’t just a job for her; she finds genuine comfort in helping this man and it shows in Hunt’s understated performance.

The Oscar talk for The Sessions and its three leads has been stirring since Sundance and shows no signs of slowing down. Hunt and Macy give warm and heartfelt performances but this is Hawkes’ movie. Everything from his voice to his body language gradually show an experienced actor disappearing into a role without it being deliberate. Expect to hear more about this film and its trio of actors as the film slowly begins to expand to theatres next month.

Grade: B

Rated: R (for strong sexuality including graphic nudity and frank dialogue)

The Sessions is scheduled for release October 19, 2023, and was screened at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.

Quiz: What is your pet’s Ilvermorny house?

Why should you be the only one who gets a second wizarding house?

1:00 pm EDT, July 29, 2016

Will your pet be sorted into the same Ilvermorny house as you, or will you have to disown them for joining your rival?

Step aside Hogwarts, there’s a new wizarding school in town (or rather, across the sea)! With a new school comes new houses, and a new sorting test. You might’ve gone through an identity crisis after taking the test for yourself, but you’re not the only one who needs sorting. That furry, scaly, or feathery friend needs to know where they belong too, and we’re here to do just that! Last time we helped you find out what Hogwarts house your pet would be sorted into, so now we’ll help you figure out what Ilvermorny house they belong in.

It’s typical for pets to have similar personalities to their owners, so maybe your pet will end up in the same house as you. But to those who have house rivalries, brace yourselves: It’s also possible your pet will end up in a different house than you, maybe even your rival house! Will you be saying ‘bye bye birdie,’ or do you thrive in competition? That probably depends on your Hogwarts and Ilvermorny house.

Whether you have a dog, cat, rabbit, bird, or reptile, all pets are welcome at Hypable’s Ilvermorny sorting ceremony! Take the quiz below and let us know where your pet’s loyalties lie, and be sure to take it for each of your pets (unless they’re a squib. Is there an American name for squib?). Don’t want any of them to feel left out!

Now that you know your pet’s Ilvermorny house, maybe you’ll want to decorate their bed with their house crest (shoutout to the Hufflepuffs)! Or maybe you’ll forbid them from entering your room if they’re in a different house (shoutout to the Slytherins)!

Did your pet get the same Ilvermorny house as you?

Forget seeing Luke Cage and Daisy Johnson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. According to Jeph Loeb, it’s simply too hard to plan.

Although the Marvel movies and TV series ostensibly exist in the same universe, and although Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does its best to include Avengers references whenever possible, TV show characters are unlikely to ever show up in the movies.

This despite Chloe Bennet’s continued efforts to remind people that she is, in fact, Marvel’s first on-screen female Asian superhero, and the awesome crossover possibilities the Marvel Netflix series have opened up.

Marvel fans have long been aware of the difficulties of bringing TV characters into the movie ‘verse, but at the 2016 TCAs, Jeph Loeb provided a few more reasons for why it’s practically impossible to coordinate.

“Part of the challenge of doing this sort of thing is that the movies are planned out years in advance of what it is that we are doing,” Loeb says, as quoted by SlashFilm. “Television moves at an incredible speed. The other part of the problem is that when you stop and think about it, if I’m shooting a television series and that’s going to go on over a six-month or eight-month period, how am I going to get Mike [Colter] to be able to go be in a movie? I need Mike to be in a television show.”

In terms of planning out the character arcs, this makes a lot of sense. A Marvel movie might be mapped out years in advance of production, for not to mention release, which means any character scheduled to appear would need to have their stories planned for many seasons in advance. The continuity would certainly be hard to keep track of.

Of course they could still throw in cameos, which fans would probably really appreciate — and crossovers from movies-TV are much more doable, as evidenced by Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander)’s multiple appearances on AoS.

But Marvel is wary of doing that too much, too, because “we never want to be known as an Easter egg farm. It has to work within the story. We never want to do Luke Cage gets into a cab as Foggy Nelson and Matt Murdock are getting out of the cab,” Loeb says, referencing The Man From U.N.C.L.E..

However, don’t lose hope yet. “Anything is possible,” says Loeb. “As I often get reported by you folks for saying #ItsAllConnected, our feeling is that the connection isn’t just whether or not somebody is walking into a movie or walking out of a television show. It’s connected in the way that the shows come from the same place, that they are real, that they are grounded.”

Would you like to see Marvel TV and movie characters cross over more?

If Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda weren’t enough to get you excited about Mary Poppins Returns, maybe Meryl Streep’s name on the roster will do the trick.

Mary Poppins Returns is not a remake of the original 1964 classic but rather a sequel to the Julie Andrews-led musical. As such, it stands to reason that we’ll be getting some new characters this time around. One of those characters will be Miranda’s Jack, who will be a street lamplighter.

And, according to Variety, another one of those new characters will also be portrayed by none other than Meryl Streep, who will be taking on the role of Mary Poppins’ cousin, Topsy. And, yes, the legendary actress will be taking on a singing role for the film.

This will also reunite Streep with her Into the Woods co-star Blunt, as well as Director Rob Marshall and Producer Marc Platt. Streep played the Witch in Into the Woods, while Blunt portrayed the Baker’s Wife opposite James Corden.

Disney’s official synopsis for Mary Poppins Returns reads:

Blunt has been cast as Mary Poppins and Miranda will play a new character, a street lamplighter named Jack. Drawing from the wealth of material in P.L. Travers’ seven additional novels, the story will take place in Depression-era London (when the books were originally written) and follows a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, who, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.

Mary Poppins Returns and will hit theaters December 25, 2018.

Are you on board with ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ now that Meryl Streep has joined the cast?