THE SESSIONS (★★★) - Starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, W. Earl Brown, Rhea Perlman, Robin Weigart and Adam Arkin. Directed by Ben Lewin.
Very well-made dramedy based on the true story of a man rendered virtually quadriplegic by polio who sets out to lose his virginity at age 38. John Hawkes (Winter's Bone) has to do all of his acting with his face and voice, and he's great. Helen Hunt gives her best performance in years as his "surrogate" who works with him for six sessions to get him to the point where he can achieve sex. Tons of casual nudity in this movie though. There were times it might have been more polite for the movie to just film the bedroom door and give them their privacy.
SINISTER (★★★) - Starring Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson and Vincent D'Onofrio. Directed by Scott Derrickson.
Here comes a movie with some genuine spooky moments. It stars Ethan Hawke and his sweater as two beings hearing things go bump in the night. Okay, the sweater has no sentience, but it became about as much of a character as Johnny Depp's ratty robe from Secret Window.
Hawke's a true-crime author studying some horrific murders that happened in the backyard of his new house. Of course, he doesn't tell his wife and kids that they're living in the very house where people were killed. That might alarm them. One day he investigates in the attic and finds some Super 8 film reels and a camera, and lo and behold he finds a recording of that very murder, as well as some others.
A malevolent, supernatural force is behind the murders, and for some reason every time Hawke hears something go bump in the night, he doesn't turn the lights on. He might grab a flashlight occasionally, but is it so hard to just flip the switch right next to the door...?
This built nicely, like The Ring where you just know there's something big and scary waiting for you at the end of this movie. It didn't quite have that final punch I was hoping for, and maybe that's because I had the ending guessed too early. But it's a good script from C. Robert Margill (aka Massawyrm) and if they greenlight a sequel (and the door's left wide open for one), I'd be interested in seeing where it goes.
THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (★★) - Starring Russell Crowe, RZA, Lucy Liu, Rick Yune, Jamie Chung, Daniel Wu, Dave Bautista, Byron Mann, Cung Le and Pam Grier. Directed by RZA.
"Quentin Tarantino Presents" is the first credit in this movie, and you know, I like the stuff he directs, but the stuff he "presents" can be quite questionable.
This is a martial-arts mish-mash that plays like a cross between Iron Monkey and Mortal Kombat 4: The Sequel You Never Asked For. Having Lucy Liu show up as one of the main fighters just reminded me that oh yeah, she was in Kill Bill, and oh yeah, that was a much better movie.
You have WWE/MMA physican specimen Dave Bautista show up as a guy who can turn his skin gold and therefore be impervious to pain or damage. Pretty neat power-up if you can get it. It's like Colossus never found the X-Men and decided to try a life of Chaotic Evil for a while.
You have RZA as the man who eventually gets Iron Fists. You have Russell Crowe wander in from another movie as a British scallywag who's pretty bloody deadly in his own right. These two are the good guys and they team up with Rick Yune, who's pretty much playing Ryu from Street Fighter, to fight the baddies. Hi-YAA!
The action's not that well choreographed and I couldn't get into the silliness of the story. It's junk food action with different moving parts that have all been executed better in other movies. But at least kudos to Crowe for energizing any scene he's in.