The Sessions (2012) Film Review


Mark (John Hawkes) is an academic who spends much of his day in an Iron Lung helping him to breathe. His nurses are able to take him out for hours at a time, but he has very limited movement. After learning about sexual surrogates, people who work with the disable to allow them to have sex, he engages the services of Cheryl (Helen Hunt) and discusses the process with his priest, Father Brendan (William H Macy).

It’s a fairly gentle film, really. There is little drama or action – it almost feels as though the filmmakers decided that it was enough for people to learn that these services exist and can improve the lives of those involved. Having said that, I don’t think that the film would have been improved by adding unnecessary drama; as it was, it was interesting and beautiful and fascinating. And does raise the debate of disabled actors playing disabled roles – John Hawkes is wonderful in this, and is generally quite wonderful in most things that he does, but why not have a disabled person in this role? (Money, for one. John Hawkes is a respected actor who would be a draw to producers. But still…)

Helen Hunt was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a supporting Role in The Sessions .


As Good As It Gets (1997) Film Review


Melvin (Jack Nicholson) is an offensive, racist, misogynistic, misanthrope who also happens to have OCD. When his neighbour, Simon Bishop (Greg Kinnear) a gay artist, is beaten in his house, Melvin is forced by Simon’s agent, Frank Sachs (Cuba Gooding Jnr) to take the dog. Meantime, if he misses his meal at his local café served by the only waitress there who can deal with him, Carol (Helen Hunt), his life goes off track. So when her son, who suffers badly from Asthma, causes her to miss work, it sends his life totally off the rails.

Melvin is so totally offensive, but it’s so obviously a way to protect himself from the world and so you kind of deal with it. Especially because he does change as the film goes on. I expected to remember it as being overly cheesy, and I suspected that the depiction of OCD may have been somewhat simplified. However, it seems pretty reasonable – and while I think that it is believable that these changes can occur in Melvin’s life, it somewhat surprises me that changes haven’t happened prior to this late stage. But, the acting is fabulous, it really is an amazing cast and it is definitely worth watching.

As Good As It Gets won Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Jack Nicholson) and Best Actress in a Leading Role (Helen Hunt) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Greg Kinnear), Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Mark Andrus and James L. Brooks), Best Film Editing and Best Music, Original Music or Comedy Score.

Cast Away (2000) Film Review


Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is a FedEx executive whose plane comes down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but he survives the crash and winds up on a small island. For the next four years he manages to keep himself alive accompanied only by a volleyball he names Wilson until he is able to sail off and escape.

I’m pretty glad that I didn’t watch this in the cinema. It’s pretty good, tense at times, (stupid at times, too, but I still loved Wilson). Sometimes, I’m a bit over Tom Hanks. I think some films he has chosen have been really twee and quite average, but this is a good one. If you like this kind of thing – fairly schmaltzy, but with some strong, powerful moments. For me, there could have been a bit more focus on his return to civilization and his disorientation, but I guess that would have made for an extra long film.

Cast Away was nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Tom Hanks) and Best Sound.

Pay It Forward (2000) Film Review

Pay it forward

Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey) is a new teacher in a school, a terrifically facially scarred man. He sets his class the task of attempting to change the world, a task that gives young annoying child Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) the idea of paying it forward – you do a favour for someone, then they do three favours for other people, and so on. Meanwhile, he is also trying to encourage his alcoholic mother, Arlene (Helen Hunt) to change her ways. Then there is a journalist who has had someone introduce the concept of paying it forward to him and wants to discover the origin of this movement.

I avoided this film for so long. It just sounded so terrible; cheesy and awful. And it was. I really like the concept, but the script was so twee and terrible and the entire thing felt clichéd and repulsive. Just thinking about it now makes me cross. I need something good to rid my mind of this.