And the Band Played On (1993, PG-13, 2 hr 20 min)
This engrossing thriller chronicles the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and the political infighting among the scientific community that hampered early efforts to discover the virus. Based on Randy Shilts’ best-seller of the same name, it’s an engaging and informative history lesson from the 1980s.
Hope Springs (2012, PG-13, 1 hr 40 min)
This serious, frank drama sprinkled with lighthearted moments follows a couple (Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep) whose 30-year marriage has gone stale as they go through a week of intensive couples’ therapy with a renowned specialist (well played by Steve Carell in a rare straight role). This film should be required viewing for newlywed couples, as it highlights the symbiotic relationship between sex and intimacy in relationships, and shows how a devastating loss of connection can result from the avoidance of communicating about sex.
Hysteria (2011, R, 1 hr 39 min)
A British romantic comedy set in the Victorian era that shows how medical treatment for hysteria led to the invention of the vibrator (starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy). An entertaining history lesson wrapped in an endearing love story that comes off as more wholesome than would be expected, given the subject matter.
Kinsey (2004, R, 2 hrs)
A film about the life and work of Alfred Kinsey (played by Liam Neeson), the Indiana University entomologist who became a true pioneer in the scientific study of sexual behavior. This riveting biopic shows how an awkward but passionate man came to study sexual diversity in such an uninhibited way. Glimpses into his upbringing (including his relationship with his strict father), his relationship with his wife and students, and his meticulous methodology in conducting his interviews are fascinating and informative.
The Sessions (2012, R, 1 hr 38 min)
A journalist (John Hawkes) disabled by polio as a child decides to explore his own sexuality with a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) after writing a story about sexuality and disability. Based on a true story, this poignant tale about the importance of human touch and intimacy is funny, uplifting, and romantic.