FILM: BEAUTIFUL CREATURES
Oscar nominee Richard LaGravenese (‘The Fisher King’,’P.S. I Love You’) directs the supernatural love story ‘Beautiful Creatures’ from his adaptation of the first novel in the best-selling series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich), 17, has had the same recurring dream for months. A mysterious young girl is waiting for him on a Civil War battlefield. Ethan desperately wants to be with her, but there is an unknown danger — and each time a lightning bolt cracks like a gunshot, killing Ethan before he ever reaches the girl.The danger of this strange dream world, however, is preferable to Ethan’s waking existence in Gatlin, South Carolina, a small, conservative Southern town that hasn’t caught up to the 21st century, where nothing ever changes and nothing ever happens. Trapped at home with a father who has completely withdrawn since the sudden death of Ethan’s mother, Ethan yearns for a life he can only read about in books.
But Ethan’s mundane world is shaken up with the arrival of Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), the beautiful and enigmatic niece of Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), the reclusive owner of gothic Ravenwood Manor.
Ethan finds himself immediately drawn to Lena, even though destruction seems to inexplicably follow her and it becomes apparent that she is a Caster, with powers beyond her control.
The town, led by conservative Mrs. Lincoln (Emma Thompson), wants her banished. Even Gatlin’s all-knowing librarian, Amma (Viola Davis), is afraid history may repeat itself—a history of family secrets and a curse that looms for Lena as she approaches her 16th birthday. It is that time when a Caster is chosen by the forces of either the Light or the Dark. But Lena’s fate may already be sealed by the curse that draws both her and Ethan into a tangled web of spells and peril from which there may be
CAST: ALDEN EHRENREICH, ALICE ENGLERT, JEREMY IRONS, VIOLA DAVIS, EMMY ROSSUM, THOMAS MANN, EMMA THOMPSON
DIRECTOR: RICHARD LaGRAVENESE
‘The Sessions’ is the true story of poet and journalist Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes) who, at the unlikely age of 38, sets out to lose his virginity – under rather challenging circumstances.
Having survived a bout of childhood polio, O’Brien spends a significant part of his time in an iron lung for all but a few hours each week. Most would have difficulty imagining that he could lead an ordinary love life — but not being ordinary did not stop Mark. Ferreting out the humor, optimism and even faith from his tricky situation, Mark is determined to taste all he possibly can of life, including the emotional and physical pleasures that had eluded him. So, he makes the bold decision to stop dreaming of love and hire a pro: a sex surrogate who can give him a chance at experiencing intimacy in his own inimitable way.
The funny, moving and life-changing set of lessons that ensues in these surrogate sessions became the topic of O’Brien’s 1990 article “On Seeing a Sex Surrogate,” which he published in the literary magazine The Sun. The article broke wide open the taboo of talking publicly about sex and disability, but did it in such an honest, witty and warm way that it seemed anyone, no matter who they were, could relate.
One person who related to O’Brien’s story on an especially personal level was filmmaker Ben Lewin.
Like O’Brien, Lewin had contracted polio as a child. Like O’Brien, it didn’t keep him from a successful career. When Lewin stumbled upon O’Brien’s sex surrogate article on the internet, he felt it could be the basis of a film. Was it possible to make a dynamic, relatable and even deeply moving film about a man with a significant disability? Taking his cue from O’Brien’s writing, Lewin envisioned something humor-filled and unsentimentally true to life. He saw the script as not just about a guy’s middle-aged quest to end his virginity but about how a man comes to terms with his body, his manhood and the full measure of what makes a life worth living.
CAST: JOHN HAWKES, HELEN HUNT, WILLIAM H. MACY, MOON BLOODGOOD, ANNIKA MARKS, RHEA PERLMAN, W. EARL BROWN, ROBIN WEIGERT, BLAKE LINDSLEY, MING LO, JENNIFER KUMIYAMA, RUSTY SCHWIMMER, JAMES MARTINEZ, ADAM ARKIN
DIRECTOR: BEN LEWIN