The SEXtember Film List

With films ranging from the modern gay experience to the discussion of disabled sex, this year’s SEXtember film list takes a more serious approach to the ‘birds and the bees’. Here’s Phoebe Yuen with more. 

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While sex has often been used to motivate and inform many comedies over the years, the topic and its varying branches aren’t too be taken too lightly. Our curated list of SEXtember films this year reflects this and observes some areas of sex and sexuality that aren’t looked upon as much.

Weekend (2011)

On a Friday night, Russell (Tom Cullen) goes to a gay club alone after a house party with his straight mates. He meets and picks up Glen (Chris New), but what was supposed to be a one-night stand becomes something much more involving. They spend the weekend honestly opening up about the modern gay experience, their perceptions of love and emotional intimacy of sex.

Often compared to director Richard Linklater’s 1994 romantic film Before Sunrise, the conversations that Russell and Glen have in the film encapsulate the modern gay experience but extends far beyond that as the two candidly muse about the struggles that everyone encounters with love.

Weekend‘s writer/director Andrew Haigh has said that the film shouldn’t necessarily be confined to gay culture.

“I hope that rather than narrowing the resonance of the story, the gay context helps to amplify the themes felt at the heart of Weekend – those struggles we all face regardless of sexuality.”

The Sessions (2012)

Based on the article “On Seeing a Sex Surrogate“, The Sessions recounts the true life story of polio-stricken American poet/journalist, Mark O’Brien, as he seeks to lose his virginity.

Having suffered from from polio at a very young age and needing to rely on an iron lung to keep him alive, the film could have taken a woefully tragic depiction of O’Brien’s life but instead is thoughtfully well-told, brimming with light-hearted humour and features an emotionally resonant performance by John Hawkes as the jovial Mark O’Brien.

Directed by Australian Ben Lewin – who also suffered from polio during his childhood – this feature film garnered critical acclaim for its honestly bold insight into sex for the disabled and handicapped.

The Sessions reminds audiences of how special your first time can be and how sex can still be special enough to really connect two individuals.

Shame (2011)

Brandon (Michael Fassbender) seemingly leads a rather picture-perfect, successful life in New York City but underneath his charming veneer is a man consumed by sex to the point of addiction. Whether it’s compulsive masturbation at his office’s bathroom, watching pornography on his laptop or hiring prostitutes, Brandon’s need for sexual-related escapades is like a drug for him. But when his sister unexpectedly arrives, Brandon becomes to unravel as the burden of his sister starts to affect his addiction.

Sexual addiction has become more common in today’s society and as this this multi-award winning movie demonstrates, the desperation and desire to engage in sexual activity can prove to be harmful to the self, as well as people around you.

For a more in-depth look at the film and how sex addiction has affected Australians, check out Jessica Anne-Lyons’ report.

Kinsey (2004)

Alfred Kinsey is regarded as a pioneer in the subject of sexology. His 1948 publication “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” was one of the first recorded researches that addressed sexual behaviour in a scientific way.

Kinsey is an autobiographical film that stars Liam Neeson as the titular professor. The film goes through Kinsey’s research into sexual behaviour that set into motion the sexual revolution. His investigation and research into the field was not without controversey however as the film also showcases ups and downs of Kinsey’s personal and academic lives.

In the film, a lot of different habits and opinions about sex are discussed. One of the film’s best scenes sees Kinsey lecturing a class on human sexuality which overwhelms and totally shocks the class given Kinsey’s brazen assertions.

Kinsey is educational in that it introduces audiences to the origins of sexual science and the study of sex. More importantly, it shows how far we have come, in terms of perceptions behind sexual beliefs and sexual orientation.

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