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.

Fox has moved the third and final Maze Runner movie to 2018.

The cast and crew were only a few days into filming The Death Cure in March when Dylan O’Brien suffered serious injuries on set, prompting the production to be put on a break so he could recover. When his recovery ended up taking longer than expected, the production was put on an indefinite hold.

Now, a plan to resume the shoot seems to be in place. Fox announced Friday The Death Cure will be hitting theaters January 12, 2018, which is nearly a year later than the original February 2017 date. The last Maze Runner movie, The Scorch Trials, opened last September.

Production on The Maze Runner: The Death Cure likely won’t resume until late this year or early next. Dylan O’Brien has already committed to another movie which is expected to shoot this summer.

Getting the rest of the cast and crew back together to shoot The Maze Runner finale may be a bit of a challenge since they may’ve committed to other projects that were supposed to be shooting after they finished The Maze Runner. However, the new Death Cure release date suggests Fox has found a time that’ll work for everyone.

Tom Cavanagh will return to The Flash in season 3 as a series regular, though which character he’ll be playing remains to be seen.

Cavanagh has had a unique acting challenge on The Flash, playing a different version of his character in each of the first two seasons — and now it looks like he’ll be doing it for a third season in a row, as EW confirms that he will be a series regular in season 3.

In season 1, Cavanagh played Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash, in Harrison Wells’ body. Thawne, after traveling back in time, killed the original Wells and took his form to expedite the development of the particle accelerator so he could return to his own time. Thawne was written out of existence in the season 1 finale, though, leaving fans curious about who Cavanagh would be playing in season 2.

This past season, Cavanagh played the Earth-2 version of Harrison Wells, nicknamed Harry, who was a significantly different character from the man we thought was Wells in season 1. However, in the season 2 finale, Harry and his daughter, Jesse, returned to Earth-2.

The Flash season 2, episode 6 recap Wells

So, who does that leave for Cavanagh to play in the third season?

My guess would be the Earth-1 version of Harrison Wells, who we only briefly met in a flashback in season 1. Why the original Wells? Because in the final moments of the season 2 finale, Barry traveled back in time and stopped Thawne from killing his mother. This means the timeline in which Thawne killed Wells and took his form no longer exists, so Earth-1 Wells would be the version left alive.

Assuming he does play the original version of the character, the one who was killed and had his identity stolen, it will be interesting to see Cavanagh inhabit yet another version of the character. While we already met Wells briefly in the flashback to his death, that was a small sample size. I look forward to seeing him differentiate another Wells from those he’s already played for entire seasons.

Are you excited to see more Tom Cavanagh on ‘The Flash’?

‘Glee’ alum Mark Salling indicted on child pornography charges

The actor is facing a lot of jail time.

4:55 pm EDT, May 27, 2016

Following an arrest in December, Glee star Mark Salling (who played Puck on the Fox series) is now facing child pornography charges.

A federal grand jury has charged the 33-year-old actor with two counts of child pornography after a search of his home turned up “thousands” of images and videos involving children, TMZ reports. He will be arraigned in early June.

Salling’s charges potentially come with big sentences: 5 to 20 years in prison for receiving child porn, and another 20 years for possessing it.

After Glee went off air last year, Salling has worked on only one project: The action movie Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets which is slated to hit theaters later this year.

The actor has been in trouble with the law before — he was sued for sexual battery in 2013.