The Sessions ★★★★
Rated R, 98 minutes
What It’s About: True story about the late California poet/journalist Mark O’Brien who decides at 38, by golly, it’s time to lose his virginity. The catch: A childhood bout with polio left him confined to an iron lung and an inability to move any of his extremities. But with the blessing of the coolest priest in the world (played by a wonderful William H. Macy), he hires an understanding sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to assist him in his quest.
What We Like: Oh, this movie is so sweet! You know how critics like to use cornball lines like “a testament to the human spirit?” This is the kind of movie they’re talking about. One thing that makes “The Sessions” such a joy is that—praise Gawwwwwwd!—it’s a movie that actually takes sexuality seriously (think about it—sex has all but disappeared from movie screens since the Bush years) and tastefully. This is a movie for thinking adults. And it’s wonderful.
Anna Karenina ★★★
Rated R, 130 min.
What It’s About: Oh, c’mon, if you took a college-level literature course, you invariably know the premise of Tolstoy’s novel— Anna is a married Russian aristocrat who has an affair with a count who really lights her fire. A big scandal erupts and, well, you get the idea.
What We Like: This needs to be said—No more adaptations of “Anna Karenina!” Seriously! Or at least give it a Baz Luhrmann-style makeover next time. OK, grumpiness aside, this is admittedly a great retelling of Tolstoy’s story. Tom Stoppard wrote the screenplay, Jude Law and Keira Knightley are excellent (although Keira, you’re now officially typecast for playing yet another woman in a bodice. Just saying.) and director Joe Wright has made this film look absolutely beautiful. But this really should be the final cinematic word on Tolstoy’s book. For real.
Opens Friday, November 30 at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor