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Snippet Reviews: ‘Skyfall’ and ‘The Sessions’

skyfall
In Sam Mendes’ Skyfall, the 23rd installment in the James Bond franchise and the first since 2008, MI6 – and more notably M (Judi Dench) – is under attack by former operative Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), and it is up to James Bond (Daniel Craig) to once again thwart the evildoer’s plans before they come to fruition.

While Skyfall seems to do just about what every other movie in the Bond catalog has done before it (as it pertains to storyline), it still manages to do an excellent job paying homage to the history of the famous secret agent, while at the same time keeping the series fresh and relevant with rousing chase sequences, nifty gadgets, exotic locations, and dastardly villains. Silva is the best part of Skyfall, and is played with joyful flamboyance by Bardem, who delivers one of the most memorable Bond villains in a long, long while. Craig is back for a third turn as 007, in what might be his best performance as the British spy yet. And while there are many who are already calling this one of the best Bond films of all time, I wouldn’t put Skyfall in the same echelon as Casino Royale. However, it is certainly an upgrade from Quantum of Solace, and leaves the franchise on the right path for Bond 24. (***)

thesessions

Based on the true story of Mark O’Brien, a poet and polio survivor paralyzed from the neck down, Ben Lewin’s The Sessions tells the story of a man (John Hawkes) confined to an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity, and thus hires out the services of a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt). Things become complicated for the pair when their relationship begins to blossom into something more than either had expected, and O’Brien turns to his local priest (William H. Macy) for guidance and perspective. The Sessions is a tender, intimate, and alluring film, driven by the exceptional and courageous performances of Hawkes and Hunt. It manages to improve a story that could have easily taken a more dramatic approach by spinning it down a lighter and often hilarious avenue instead. The Sessions wins you over with its amiable and genuine characters without ever having to worry about being overly sentimental. (***)

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Written by Mark Johnson

Lover of all things film and Oscar. Fantasy sports’ equivalent of George Steinbrenner. Your very own Han Solo, making friends all over the movie-loving galaxy in spite of himself. When he’s not ranking just about everything or dominating boardgames, Mark is breaking down the Oscar race 24/7 with Rain Man-like stats and knowledge. In his downtime, you can find him commiserating with other Northeast Ohio sports fans because a hero isn’t complete without a little heartbreak. If Game of Thrones, Lost, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Survivor are your style, then congratulations, you have something in common with this inglourious basterd.

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Jamie

Looking forward to seeing Sessions. My stepsister contracted polio in the great 1952 epidemic and was paralyzed and in a body cast from the neck down. She eventually passed away six years later during spinal surgery. If this film does nothing but bring it home how important it is to keep this disease from ever returning, it will have served a good purpose. If it entertains while doing that so much the better.

Gary Swafford

I’m with you on Bond, though I think I liked it a bit better than you did, Mark. The Sessions just sounds like something I can barely keep my eyes open long enough to read about, but good review!!

Mikael

Very good article, Mark. I like your style. Nice to read something that goes right at the point – while still being well fundamented. So do you think Helen Hunt actually has a chance of winning an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role? That is, regardless of Anne Hathaway, Sally Field and Amy Adams, would she be worthy of a win?

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Price Check (***)

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