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Nov 27, 2012

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One memorably awkward scene in writer/director Ben Lewin’s acclaimed Oscar-ready drama The Sessions depicts a full-body-naked Helen Hunt, who plays a “sex therapist”, perched with her genital area positioned directly above the mouth of John Hawkes, who plays a paralytic polio-afflicted poet incapable of moving his arms or legs or spending more than four hours away from a gigantic metal box that helps him breathe.

Muffled sounds emerge from Hawkes’ mouth. Hunt, who was once paid a million dollars per episode of Mad About You and is now clearly under the sheets of an “artistic” film with a “vision,” asks “are you OK down there?”

“You’re choking me,” he responds, and with that line whatever vague traces of romance the scene had disappear faster than Hawke’s character climaxes, which is about the same time it takes to snap your fingers.

Despite its heart-on-sleeve sentimentality The Sessions handles its subject with restraint and a lightness of touch, but this is nevertheless an indisputably strange sequence, a rare moment of kooky Hollywood kink. Particularly for a film so widely associated with “Oscar bait.”

It’s not the only time this year American movies got freaky in the bedroom; not by a long shot. Representations of carnal encounters are a dime in a dozen in an industry populated by people who have long understood the holy significance of the mantra “sex sells” but 2012 has been different. Memorable. A special splotch on the bedsheets of American filmmaking. Continue reading “Lights, camera, smut: the year Hollywood got its rocks off”

Wes AndersonThis week the National Board of Review gave Wes Anderson (left, click to enlarge) a Special Filmmaking Achievement Award in recognition of the fabulous stop motion artistry exhibited in the quirk-laden director’s new flick Fantastic Mr Fox. Check out Anderson’s rather fantastic acceptance speech below, in which he decided to “express my gratitude through the same medium as our film, which is in stop motion, which is like what I am right now.”

Read my review of the film here.

Mr. Fox - best dressed!In a delectable display of fine taste the trendy folk over at GQ magazine have ranked Fantastic Mr. Fox (left, click to enlarge) number four in their annual best-dressed list.

Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) was labelled a “shock vulpine entry!” and joined the likes of Daniel Craig, Alex Turner, David Furnish and Robert Pattison in the year’s most spiffily dressed male, um, heart throbs. GQ’s big sin was plonking Fox at number four while awarding Pattison the top gong. I don’t care how well dressed Pattison was – anybody associated with The Twilight Saga: New Moon should be rewarded only with ice and toothpick.

Throughout writer/director Wes Anderson’s fabulous stop motion feature Mr. Fox wears an array of fetching corduroy and tweed suits, which, according to some interviews were based on Anderson’s own wardrobe. Sophie Dahl, credited as a model/author/love goddess, wiped the salivation from her lips and described Fox as “Paul Newman on four legs. Fantastic Mr. Fox has an old-school flair, dances like a dream, with a voracious appetite for life. He’s an animal.”

Indeed. And you, Ms. Dahl, sound like some sort of, well, there’s no easy way to say this. You sound like some of sort of…bestiality sympathiser. But we can excuse you because Mr. Fox does indeed look so cussing good.

My review of Fantastic Mr. Fox can be found over at Spook Magazine.

Fantastic Mr Fox posterIt’s been a while since the last Poster Watch so dig this sweet new one-sheet (left, click to enlarge) for Wes Anderson’s upcoming stop-motion animated Fantastic Mr Fox, which looks pretty adorable: funky, kitsch, cute.

George Clooney and Meryl Streep (who voice Mr and Mrs Fox) share vocal strings with an A-list supporting cast including Willem Dafoe, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Michael Gambon, Adrien Brody, Anjelica Huston and, intriguingly, Jarvis Cocker. Such a star-studded line-up hardly seems necessary – I’ve often wondered why high profile animated features tend to go so overboard in celebrity recruitment, as if a couple of big names isn’t enough – but hey, you can’t blame ’em for clamouring onboard.

The tagline reads “dig the life fantastic” (geddit,  cuz the farmers above ground have spades – haw!) and the author whose name doesn’t appear down the bottom has clearly been scrolled by those timeless marketing words “based on the book by…” He is of course Roald Dahl, otherwise known as That Guy Who Wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

If you haven’t watch the trailer, check it out below.

Fantastic Mr FoxThe first still (left, click to enlarge) has surfaced from the set of director Wes Anderson’s stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel Fantastic Mr. Fox. It depicts PJ-clad Mr and Mrs Fox (voice of George Clooney and Meryl Streep), a young child fox and Badger (voice of Bill Murray). While the image itself isn’t particularly inspiring, news of the production will be pleasing for Anderson fans not in the know and it’ll be fascinating to see how the director’s quirk-laden style (massaged in left of centre hits like Rushmore, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited) translates in the realms of stop-motion animation and the oeuvre of Roald Dahl movie adaptations. First published in 1970, the novel follows the eponymously fantastic Mr. Fox as he provides for his family by stealing chickens, turkeys and ducks from the property of three mean farmers, who launch a remorseless attack to find and kill him. Seems a little harsh but then again much of Dahl’s writing is steeped in menace, especially his kids books. Word has been circulating for years, BTW, about a John Cleese-scripted adaptation of The Twits, though I’m yet to see evidence of anything that’s come to fruition.