This is one of the best movies of 2000, and is highly recommended. I don't understand how IMDb reviewers can rate this movie so low. In my book it definitely rates an "A".
Sexy Beast (2000)
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This is one of the best movies of 2000, and is highly recommended. I don't understand how IMDb reviewers can rate this movie so low. In my book it definitely rates an "A".
Chief among those people is the film's protagonist, Gal, Logan's `retired' ex-partner in crime, who wants nothing more than to be allowed to enjoy life undisturbed in his seaside Spanish villa with his swimming pool and the wife he loves so dearly. But Gal soon discovers that a person cannot escape his past forever, when Logan suddenly shows up at his doorstep demanding that Gal join his own personally hand-picked gang of seasoned criminals whom Logan has brought together to pull off a major heist back in Merry Olde England. Gal would like nothing better than to send Logan home packing empty handed, but he also knows that defying Logan can be the fastest route to an early demise. It is this atmosphere of fear and dread that director Jonathon Glazer uses to make `Sexy Beast' such an engrossing and off beat little crime drama.
In fact it is the THREAT of violence, far more than the violence itself, which distinguishes this tale. Without the use of weapons of any kind, Logan is able to cow and terrorize a roomful of reasonably fearless adults simply by his steely-eyed demeanor and the unpredictable nature of his temperament. Seemingly controlled and rational one moment, he can suddenly erupt into a volcano of exploding anger the next. One of the most chilling moments in the film occurs aboard a departing airplane in which Logan refuses to douse his cigarette, thereby precipitating a confrontation with the flight crew. Logan has that quality that distinguishes all great villains: he throws us back on our heels by his refusal to conform to the social amenities that the rest of us simply take for granted and which put us at a decided disadvantage when faced with the evil characters of the world who know no rules and flagrantly disregard the ones we follow. He reminds us of how weak and vulnerable the rest of us really are.
Logan, for all the intensity generated by his character, is not, however, the focal point of the film. Gal, brilliantly played by Ray Winstone, who provides a fascinating counterpoint to Logan's no-holds-barred villainy, occupies that position. Despite his criminal background, Gal wins us over by his openhearted frankness, his sincere devotion to his wife, friends and neighbors, and his obvious desire to lead a straight life from hereon out. Winstone underplays his scenes superbly, yet he never allows himself to be acted off the screen by the fiery Kingsley. (One should mention that the heavy cockney accents of the characters make what they are saying a bit incomprehensible at times).
As is not uncommon in gangster movies these days, Glazer manages to inject an element of black humor into the proceedings. The comedy often takes the form of twisted surrealism, such as when a giant boulder rolls down a nearby hillside and lands plop in Gal's beloved pool, barely missing taking Gal to the bottom with it. The filmmakers also have an effective way of heightening the tension through indirection, particularly in the early scenes which prime us to dread Logan's entrance as much as the characters who don't want to see him and we haven't even met him yet. This technique of telegraphing information ahead of time contributes immensely to heightening the suspenseful quality of the film.
`Sexy Beast' provides superb performances, a nasty sense of humor and a fascinating glimpse into the dark side of human nature.
The plot couldn't be any simpler: retired gangster Gal (yes, that's his name) is happy lounging around the pool at his Spanish villa with the woman of his dreams and a drink in his hand. But the big bad brutal bulldog Don (Kingsley) has been sent to convince him to do One Last Job. Gal says no. Donnie doesn't like this answer. Violence ensues.
To say any more would be a disservice; this movie has to be experienced, not explained. Suffice to say, the brilliant performances (Ray Winstone and Ian McShane in particular) and the amazingly slick editing make every second of Sexy Beast a kinetic foray into surrealism and a tour de force of epic proportions for Kingsley. So why are you still bloody sitting there, you steaming c***?!!! Go rent it now.
The more I see "Sexy Beast," the more fascinating it gets, and it was pretty interesting the first time! And, at less than an hour-and-a-half it's even more watchable. It also is a good idea to play this with the English subtitles on, unless you can understand the strong British accents, and can interpret the slang words.
Ben Kingsley, as sociopath "Don Logan," is unbelievably intense and almost has my jaw dropping when watching him in here. "Intense" doesn't even begin describing this guy. Ian McShane is another creepy guy in here as "Teddy." These two guys make the lead characters, two couples, look normal. Those four are retired crooks and their wives, now living the easy life in Spain. Easy, that is, until Logan arrives and wants one of them for another job. The retiree wants to stay that way but Logan is not a man who takes "no" for an answer.
This is one movie you will not forget. Warning: it's rough, crude and strange. Expect a lot of "f" words and "c" words. Also expect an interesting 89 minutes.
Though Kinglsey steals the film, Ray Winstone is the star and he's also great. I haven't seen a great many English films, so I don't remember seeing him before, but now I hope to see him in more films. And I was impressed to find out the movie was made by a first-time director. Jonathan Glazer did a terrific job, creating a gloriously frenetic pace. The running time is a succinct 85 minutes, and the film never takes a breath. It always captures you with in-your-face images. Glazer's sense of style is amazing. Not to mention the soundtrack is excellent. It's a nice irony: how this dark comedy ends to the tune of Dean Martin's "Sway."
On my first viewing, it took time for me to get accustomed to the cockney accents, but after approximately 30 minutes I was able to decipher most of the dialogue--and the film has some great, memorable dialogue! It's not like with "Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels" where I can watch it 100 times and still need subtitles. Not to mention "Sexy Beast" is a much more entertaining film.
All I can say is don't expect an intricate plot, with many twists and turns. The plot is all pretty simple: Retired gangster lounges around his beautiful house in Spain, then gets persuaded into doing one last heist. I'm sure that sounds very familiar. But the beauty is in its simplicity. And the film isn't in any way pretentious. It is what it is--and what it is is a smart, energetic, entertaining, hilarious, extremely well-acted dark comedy.
My score: 8 (out of 10)
Ray Winstone is Gal, a retired criminal enjoying retirement in Spain with friends and the woman he loves. But this is shattered by the arrival of a menacing figure from his past in the shape of pyschotic Don Logan (played with evil intensity by Ben Kingsley). Don wants Gal for one last spectacular job and will do just about anything to get him, including threatening Gal's beloved wife.
The story is told at a fast pace, with several surreal interludes but never loses momentum. Ray Winstone puts in another loveable badboy performance that he does so well, but the film is dominated by Kingsley who steals every scene he is in and creates one of the most menacing screen villains in recent memory. The brilliance of the film is that it manages to combine so many disparate elements (thriller, comedy, and a touching love story to say the least) into a cohesive and highly entertaining whole. A real pleasure to watch and a striking, brilliant debut.
In my mind this was a tale of two sides of the same coin. An inner struggle between the old Gal and the new kinder gentler man that just wanted a peaceful life. It was no slight thing that it was his wife who killed Don, thereby destroying the male beast within him (Gal).
There was also the old Faustian thing with the Ian MacShane character as the devil, allowing Gal to retain his soul.
Why am I rambling on about this esoteric stuff? Just to point out that, underlying the simple story, is a very powerful sub-plot that drives the whole thing along. If it didn't do it for you, then either you just haven't come accross some of life's unpleasant lessons yet, or maybe you don't like to be reminded of them.
Kingsley's scenes set the movie alight (like the stunning airport sequence, and of course the return to the villa) and it would be interesting to know just how much of the dialogue comes from the excellent script and how much (if any) was improvised. These more aggressive sections are beautifully contrasted by the 'slower' character building sections, which allow Winstone to display his charm to full affect. A superb movie, well worth repeat viewing...
After a criminal career that ended with a prison sentence, ex-safe-cracker Gal Dove (Ray Winstone) has retired to a comfortable lifestyle in Spain's Costa del Sol where he enjoys living with his ex-porn star wife Deedee (Amanda Redman) and sunning himself by his villa's swimming pool. One day, his tranquillity is interrupted when a boulder unexpectedly tumbles down the steep hill just behind where he'd been sun bathing and after missing him by the narrowest of margins, comes to rest at the bottom of his pool. This scary incident turns out to be something of an omen, as shortly after, one of his old criminal associates arrives from London to try to persuade him to take part in a planned bank heist.
The idyllic existence that Gal, Deedee and their best friends Aitch (Cavan Kendall) and Jackie (Julianne White) had shared up until that point ends abruptly with the arrival of Don Logan (Ben Kingsley). They're all terrified of this unhinged sociopath who they know, from previous experience, has an explosive temper and is capable of extreme violence. Gal doesn't want to get involved in any form of criminal activity again, especially as he'd promised Deedee that he wouldn't. She's the love of his life and he's desperate not to break his promise to her but also fully realises the threat that he's under if he doesn't do what Logan wants. The exchanges that take place when they all meet are characterised by extreme fear on the parts of the four local residents and a whole welter of diabolical threats made by the foul-mouthed Logan.
A little while after the meeting at the villa, Gal arrives in London where he meets crime boss Teddy Bass (Ian McShane). He's the mastermind behind the plan to break into a safe-deposit vault from the Turkish bath establishment next door and as Logan works for him, he questions Gal about his recruiter's whereabouts. Gal tells him that the two men travelled back to London separately and claims that they'd spoken to each other by phone after Logan's arrival at Heathrow. Bass looks more than a little sceptical about this information but nevertheless, the heist goes ahead as planned and after it's completed successfully, Gal's anxiety remains at an almost unbearably high level until he gets back home with the intention of making a quick return to the life of leisure that he loves so much.
"Sexy Beast" provides a very authentic-looking picture of the London gangster fraternity and conveys just how threatening people like Logan and Bass are. Ben Kingsley makes a huge impact as Logan whose raging and determination not to take "no" for an answer, is incredibly unrelenting and makes any attempt at negotiation or reasoning totally impossible. Teddy Bass is more cultivated, soft-spoken and suave but also carries an enormous threat as is clearly shown in some of the action that follows the heist. Ian McShane makes his character's viciousness absolutely convincing and Ray Winstone, in a wonderfully sensitive performance, does a great job of making his flabby, gone-to-seed, ex-con into a really sympathetic character who's impossible to dislike. The quality of the supporting performances is also consistently top class.
Amusingly, the boulder incident that came so close to killing Gal at the beginning of the story also provides him with an important solution to his life-threatening problem by the end of the story.
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
However, that is not the case for UK scenester Jonathan Glazer when he begins to work on his feature film debut SEXY BEAST, who does the obverse, fingers Mr. Winstone for the hapless Gal and Mr. Kingsley for the rivetingly menacing Don Logan, a delectable volte-face rewardingly earns him an Oscar nomination, meantime, Winstone also magnificently brings about an incarnation very different from his usual image, a rough diamond type, graced by the lovey-dovey intimacy between him and his wife DeeDee Dove (Redman), an erstwhile porn star.
It is a taut iteration in the UK gangster genre, the story is nothing too sparkling, it is Glazer's swift and impressive execution takes the full credit. The harbinger arrives in its opening, a boulder falls right in into the swimming pool of Gal's villa (which betrays a sloppy CGI burnished effort), while he is sunbathing under the blistering heat, this portends an impending threat which will disrupt the placidity and imperil those who cannot get away, Don Logan is coming to visit, and he will not be in a pleasant mood if he knows that Gal determines to decline his very generous offer. So sparks fly, but not without a droll war of (swearing) words and things will inevitably get physical, Kingsley's intimidating presence deviously pays off the looming dread simply elicited by the mention of his name, and after an ironical turn of events, he does manage to press-gang Gal into partaking in the action however reluctant he is, to break into a bank vault via water pressure, The suspense isn't swelling during the action, but after, when the head of the criminals, Teddy Bass (McShane, another great villain, less showy but infallibly lethal), a character turns out to be far more ruthless than Don Logan, bluffly tells Gal that "he knows what they did in Spain" and promises he will come to visit in the due future. Well, why there isn't a sequel to this?
Parlaying his reputation as an eclectic music video director into this breakout debut, Glazer has concocted up a stunning-looking fare seeped with robust characterization, pulsating rhythm of montage, scintillating chromatic disposition and optimal pop taste, ultimately transmogrified it into a beguiling conglomerate of romanticism, perversity absurdity and bloody gallows humor like an arch cautionary tale: there is no easy way of going straight, so think twice before you get your feet wet!
Ben Kingsley portrayal of a nasty bastard is amazing his delivery is to the point and scary, His character has a slight smile and staring eyes that drill into you and talking himself into a frenzy makes him even more horrible to cope with.
What is shown in this film is very quick editing combined with sound continuity so the cuts are invisible and unintrusive, strong use of colour, using a low key to make even the sun of Spain seem dark and a style unseen before, the lack of cliché ridden cockney slang makes this film even more credible.
When the film first starts we get a dream like underwater shot which you are not expecting, a metaphor for 'living the dream' possibly, but throughout the film the increasing amount of surrealism adds another layer to this almost perfect British gangster film.
Surprisingly, for much of its running time, the film is an intense character study, one that relies on talk over action; well over half the film passes without a gunshot fired or punch thrown, but it is riveting stuff nonetheless. This is largely thanks to flawless performances by its superb cast (not least from Ben Kingsley as psychopath Don Logan, who steals virtually every scene he is in with his utterly menacing manner and ripe discourse), although the film also benefits immensely from director Jonathan Glazer's bold aesthetic, his imagery as colourful as his characters' language and as striking as Deedee's eyes.