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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”