on 24 January 2003
Probably the best gangster movie I've seen this year, although this is less about what gangster's do than what they are like... well, I wouldn't really know what they're like but if they're anything like Don Logan or Teddy Bess I hope I never meet one.
I really went into this film without reading any reviews and not knowing what it was about so it probably hit me doubly hard. The film starts off with a mild easy-watching pace until Don Logan (Ben Kingsley in probably his most un-Gandhi-like role) enters the scene and switches on the tension for the remainder of the movie. Of course, the movie throughout has and undercurrent of humour to it and altough there won't be really that many opportunities to laugh you may find yourself smiling on a few inappropriate occasions at the cruel extremeness of it all.
Must be watched.
on 22 January 2007
Ben kingsley and Ray Winstone play the opposite to their usual casting 'type' to great effect in this wonderfully shot and imaginatively written and directed gangster film with a twist.
I was recently asked to classify this film for a friend. Everyone who'd seen it said it was a gangster film. Everyone. But to me it was, quite clearly, primarily a love story. The gangster element injects a great deal of charisma, and familiar faces into the storyline, and gave it an extra depth, but the real basis of the story here is the relationship between DeeDee and her retired bank-robbing husband (Winstone).
A faultless supporting cast and a truly electrifying performance by Kingsley (Don Logan), make the best of what is a superb script and sound track. The cinematography is excellent and whilst quite artistic in parts it doesn't distract from the hard-line gangster story or the feel of the film. It just adds to the richness of the experience.
The director did a really great job. From the opening scene you know your watching quality film making.
If you have n't seen it, then your decision to watch it is a no brainer. Watch it now, preferably on a big screen. But better still buy it. Its a modern classic.
on 19 June 2009
Sexy Beast is one of my favourite films, and as soon as I heard this was coming out in the UK on Blu-ray I had high hopes that it would be done right, since it's a British film. Instead, Film Four have made a direct port of their defunct Sexy Beast [HD DVD]  which they put out in early 2008, with the only difference being that the Blu-ray is region-locked. This HD transfer is single-layered in 1080i and not full 1080p, with the film taking up only 18 GB of space, and is very likely in the wrong aspect ratio (I believe it should be seen in 2.35:1 as it is on DVD, but this Blu-ray is 1.85:1) which distorts the composition of the picture. The audio is DTS-HD High Resolution, meaning it is not lossless audio like DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD. The supplements duplicate the 2008 DVD edition Sexy Beast [DVD]  with only the Kingsley/producer commentary, the short (less than ten minutes) behind-the-scenes documentary, and some trailers. 4dvd is just entering the Blu-ray market and they need to realise that consumers don't want bare minimum efforts on their Blu-ray titles. Send Film Four a message that you want them to use the Blu-ray format to its full potential, with full 1080p transfers in proper aspect ratios onto dual-layered Blu-rays, complete with lossless audio and maybe even some new extras. For now, stick with the Sexy Beast [DVD]  or if you have an HD DVD player, go ahead and pick that up used. You can find each much cheaper than the price asked for this truly mediocre Blu-ray.
For the technically inclined, here are the specifications of this Blu-ray Disc:
Title: Sexy Beast [Blu-ray]
Feature size: 18,406,846,464 bytes
Disc size: 19,571,669,180 bytes
Video codec: 1080i VC-1 @ 23.64 Mbps
Audio codec: English: DTS-HR 5.1 (48 kHz/24-bit) @ 2046 Kbps
Subtitles: English, None
Region coding: Region B
Sexy Beast is directed by Jonathan Glazer and written by Louis Mellis and David Scinto. It stars Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman, Cavan Kendall, James Fox and Julianne White. Music is by Roque Baños and cinematography by Ivan Bird.
Retired to the Costa del Chill Out, retired thief Gary 'Gal' Dove (Winstone) finds his tranquil existence shattered when menacing gangster Don Logan (Kingsley) arrives on the scene demanding Gal goes back to London to do another job.
2000 saw a slew of British gangster films released. The success of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels opened the door for film makers keen to do their bit for Brit Grit. As is always the way, quality varies, but the class of 2000 had a healthy rate of good 'uns, of which Sexy Beast is a proud operator.
The story is very thin, very film noir, an ex bad boy doing one last job that risks everything he has settled down for, but there's a panache to how the makers construct the tale. It helps that it's boosted by a ferocious performance from Kingsley, who is given licence to unleash his dark half, as he swears, stares, gets violent and has a general disregard for anyone but himself.
Director Glazer, in what was his film after breaking out from advertisements and music videos, shows a keen eye for stylist visuals and attention grabbing scenes. He opens with an outrageous sequence of Gal sun bathing by his pool, the sun burning down, and then a giant boulder thunders into view and land in the pool! All set to the sound of The Stranglers single Peaches. Quite a way to announce yourself in film.
The first half of film is the best, set at Gal's Spanish villa, Glazer neatly frames the characters (Gal lives with his wife and his two friends from England live nearby) as they bicker and cower in the shadow of Logan, who wouldn't be beyond sending them all to hell if he doesn't get his way. It's sweaty and tense, a coiled spring like atmosphere tells us something is going to give - and it does. The second half of the piece is not so tense or thrilling, though the robbery has a whiff of genius about it, but the pay off works well because Gal has earned our respect, as has his fellow sun seekers. Sexy Beast is not just sexy (tongue in cheeks for the makers), it's beefy and brutal, but also strangely beautiful as well. Nice. 8/10
on 19 May 2014
The critically acclaimed Sexy Beast won the British Independent Film Award and was nominated for a Bafta, Oscar and a Golden Globe. Glazer's stylish thriller successfully denies conventional cinematic structure, and is now regarded as a modern day classic.
The truly brilliant, Oscar nominated performance of Ben Kingsley as the psychopathic maniac Don Logan steals the show. Not since Joe Pesci's acclaimed Academy Award winning performance in Scorsese's masterpiece Goodfellas, has an actor been so convincing that they're terrifying to watch.
Set in modern day Spain, life's good for ex-villain and safe-cracker Gary Dove (Ray Winston), as he basks by his pool in the boiling Costa Del Sol sun. King of his castle, he lives a leisurely life surrounded by friends, BBQ's and the woman he adores. That is until the arrival of underworld recruiter Don Logan, who shatters Gal's perfect world with an offer/order from mastermind London gangster Teddy Bass (Ian McShane). It's the ensuing psychological showdown between the two that shapes the plot, ending with explosive results, murders and a daring underwater water bank robbery back in London.
The protagonist Gal faces the internal conflict of being told to do something he doesn't want to do. The last job he did went wrong and he spent nine years behind bars, so he is more than reluctant to risk his freedom, or put his love on the line by complying with Don. However he is also equally hesitant about putting himself and his beloved Dee (Amanda Redman), in grave danger by declining the offer.
This situation directly clashes with his goal of leaving crime behind and living the good life abroad with Dee. We are able to empathise with Gal when we see his vulnerability in the faces of both Don and Teddy; this is an effective tool to keep the viewer on his side. When Gal is initially faced with this conflict, he lacks the self knowledge that he is capable of standing his ground. It is in this way, that as a character, he changes throughout the film. Unusually his circumstances don't alter; he goes full circle and ends up back where he started in the beginning. This is an unusual ending, as the protagonist generally triumphs in the face of adversity, with their life consequently changed forever.
Within Sexy Beast, Glazer has cleverly managed to give the audience what they want but not how they expected it, another example of the brilliance of this mould breaking film.
Jonathan Glazer's 2000 film Sexy Beast is, for me, one of the most stylish and compelling films (in the gangster, or any other, genre) to have been made in recent years. Featuring an authentically razor sharp, witty and acerbic script by Louis Mellis and David Scinto, this (admittedly rather unoriginal) tale of a gangster, Gary Dove (the always reliable Ray Winstone), being called back to Britain from his Spanish Villa for one last job, has had new life breathed into it courtesy of some brilliant cinematography (by Ivan Bird) and editing, giving rise to a dynamically cinematic feast, containing a plethora of outstanding set-piece sequences.
Indeed, the film kicks off with one such sequence, as the camera draws back to reveal the bronzed and sweating Dove (sunglasses, gold neck chain and all), lounging in the hot sun, all to the vibrant sounds of The Stranglers' 'beach classic' Peaches, as (extraordinarily) a rogue boulder comes crashing down the hillside, narrowly missing our hero before splashing into the pool. This opening sets the scene (and style) for Glazer's innovative take on the gangster (retirement) genre ('England? It's a dump'), in which Winstone's traditional role as Mr Big is reversed, as he plays second fiddle to the astonishing (against type) performance of Ben Kingsley as the psychotic and inarticulate Don Logan, who arrives at Dove's idyllic retreat determined to recruit the erstwhile retiree for one last job. Another standout scene marks Logan's arrival as, accompanied by Roque Banos' outstanding pulsating soundtrack, the camera first alights on the back of Kingsley's bald head, as he strides purposefully through the airport.
Glazer really has assembled a near perfect cast for his film. In addition to Winstone and Kingsley, Amanda Redman is suitably glamorous (and with a suitably 'dodgy' past in blue movies), and convincing, as Dove's wife, Deedee, whilst the couple's co-habitees at the villa, Gary's erstwhile partner-in-crime Aitch is portrayed with brilliantly gaunt bravado (at least until Logan arrives) by Cavan Kendall, whilst his wife Jackie (Julianne White) is particularly wary of Logan's impending arrival as she has 'a past' with him. Back in Blighty, Don's middle man is the brilliantly 'lived-in' Stan (played to perfection by ex-boxer John Smith), whilst the Mr Big of the planned operation is the menacing Teddy Bass - Ian McShane, in the type of role this hitherto much under-rated actor has pretty much made his own in recent years. But, perfect though all these casting choices are, it is Kingsley who delivers the showpiece turn of the film - his scenes opposite Winstone, as Dove tries to avoid telling Logan where he can stick his job, being some of most compelling (and, for the viewer, nerve-wracking) in years. Kingsley even has a chance to get slightly beneath the psychotic skin of Logan (showing a briefest glimpse of uncertainty) in the scene where Dove suggests to the travelling salesman (as it were) that the reason for his visit is as much about his past fling with Jackie, as about repatriating Gary.
Whilst the film's ending could be regarded as something of an anti-climax, it also can be read as a (certainly for the genre) rather poignant conclusion (or resignation). Whatever one thinks of the denouement, what precedes it has been (for me) some of the most innovative, vibrant and stylish British cinema of recent years (certainly ranking with films of similar genre such as The Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa, The Hit, In Bruges, etc).
on 2 March 2012
Forget The Godfather films, Goodfellas and Scarface. This is a totally different breed of gangster film. It is also British and shows up Guy Ritchie's takes on the genre no end.
Sexy Beast is a deeply serious yet highly hilarious movie that pulses with tremendous energy and style.
Gal (Ray Winstone) is a retired criminal living the high life in Costa Del Sol with his wife and two friends. The weather is splendid. His wife is gorgeous. His villa is beautiful; in fact it is almost paradise until the beastly Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) turns up. Don wants Gal to do one more job. Gal is not keen on the idea to say the least but Don is not someone you say no to. He is an evil beast of a man. A monster. He insults anyone and everyone and is prone to violent fits of rage. Tension mounts and things come to an ultra-violent head. Kingsley plays Don Logan superbly. The difference between his role in Sexy Beast and Gandhi is rather diverse. It might be fun to watch both films in a row, simply to contemplate acting and drama in its highest forms.
The first two thirds of the movie are pure excellence. There is nothing like it. The final third is very good but lacks much of the intensity of before. Overall, a potent acting showcase for Kingsley, that is a highly dangerous masterpiece.
Ray Winstone plays an ex-criminal, retired to the Costa del Crime with his beloved wife and a small fortune in ill gotten gains. One day he hears word from London that a once in a lifetime heist is being planned and he is expected to participate.
So far so ordinary Brit flick.
What sets Sexy Beast head and shoulders above all the countless other Lock, Stock wannabes is the towering performance from Ben Kingsley as the psychotic enforcer, sent to Spain to gain Winstones commitment to 'one last job'. He is absolutely terrifying in parts. His snarling, foul mouthed, violent animal of a man is a million miles from Ghandi. Poor Winstone has to take a rather more subdued role as Kingsley dominates every scene he is in. Sexy Beast is also very stylish visually and features a very cool underwater robbery masterminded by Ian McShanes gangland kingpin. At less than 90 minutes, this movie never gets boring for a second and I firmly believe it is probably one of the best British films ever.
Like this? Try: The Business (not as good)
on 29 July 2012
I am a fan of Ray Winstone. But in this film it is two things which snatch the prize and throttle the life out of this just being another Brit crim flick. It is the character of Don Logan played by Ben Kingsley and the script. I am prone to sometimes compare pieces of cinematic dialogue to being Shakespearean. A lot of Kurosawa for example. Well, this is worth the comparison. Why, because the film pottles round until slow burn Kingsley starts to take off. Then, it appears there is no word not needed. In comedy with sheer psychopathic horror, it matches anything in Othello (Iago on steroids) or Richard III combined with the Krays. Winstone's role seems to be that of anchor to the terrifying force unleashed around him. In unlocking what might be termed evil in a human being Kingsley's portrayal of Don Logan is close and uncomfortable. There are laughs in this film and I laughed at some of the dialogue and interactions, but at what and on reflection what does it tell me about myself and my reactions and responses to horror/inhumanity, someone who is loathsome? At the end it left me scoured and wanting to read a copy of the script. Silence of the Lambs it is not, more a journey into increasing darkness where the soul is left behind to howl.
on 8 September 2014
This review is for the UK Film 4 Blu-ray shown here. The correct aspect ratio for this film (as it was made) is 2.35:1 but this UK BD has it in 1.85:1! So a fair bit of the picture is lost due to being enlarged to fit LCD & Plasma tv's! The only truly perfect blu-ray is the U.S Twilight Time BD, limited edition to 3,000 units which is in the correct ratio and also has the option to view the film in 1.78:1 so that it fills the tv screen. Comparatively expensive but in true HD & correct ratio so well worth it! Avoid this UK BD.