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Ben Kingsley's portrayal of gangster Don Logan is destined to go down as one
of the most memorable mobsters in filmdom; up there with the best from
Robinson, Bogart, Cagney, Raft, deNiro, Pacino et al. Kingsley's all that
good and more. And the other actors, in their portrayals of fellow
gangsters and their lovers, are also excellent. The story is simple. Gal
(Ray Winstone) is a retired English gangster living a life of leisure at his
Spanish villa. Then one day his idyll is shattered by a visit from Don
Logan, an old protégé, and man to be feared. Logan's intent is to lure Gal
out of retirement for 'one last job'. Gal wants nothing to do with it, and
the first half of the movie is a battle of wits between the two men. The
second half of the film deals with the heist and its aftermath. The crime
is downplayed in the movie which is primarily a psychological exploration of
these gangsters; their personal demons, and the relationships amongst
themselves. They are indeed scary people, no sympathetic characters here.
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".
In `Sexy Beast,' Ben Kingsley delivers a bone-chilling performance as the
man everyone loves to hate, a role for which he earned not only universal
critical acclaim but a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination as well. Don
Logan is so evil that even his fellow mobster buddies fear and hate him.
From our very first glimpse of him high-strutting his way through an airport
terminal, Kingsley hits just the right note for his character. Cleverly,
writers Louis Mellis and David Scinto have paved the way for this entrance
by introducing Logan ahead of time in a series of conversations in which
just the mere mention of his name sets off portentous reverberations amongst
the people discussing him.
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.
Sexy Beast is a funny and highly enjoyable crime movie punctuated by some
blood curdling violence. The film was directed by Jonathen Glazer, who
responsible for most of the recent amazing Guinness beer
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.
To put it simply: I love this movie! I've really been looking forward to
this movie, mostly because of Kingsley's acclaimed performance. And he is
indeed brilliant in the role of the brash, uninhibited, shamelessly ruthless
Don Logan--a role that should go down in history. I haven't seen Jim
Broadbent's performance in "Iris," so I can't technically say if Kingsley
deserved the Oscar over him, but I'm glad he got nominated, because it would
be an abomination if he didn't. Kingsley is absolutely terrifying, not
showing a bit of remorse. And it's a real joy to see the man who's famous
for playing the well-known pacifist Gandhi take on a role which requires him
to spout the "f" word 500 times in one whole minute. OK, I may have been
exaggerating there, but believe me...there are scenes in this movie that
make "Pulp Fiction" look like a G-rated Disney feature. Let's just say I've
never heard the "f" word used so many times, at such a lightning-fast pace.
Kingsley has some memorable moments, including one where he gets in trouble
for smoking on a plane, and cops an alibi involving the male flight
attendants sexually abusing him. As cruel as he is, I found myself laughing
hysterically at Don. As Kingsley said himself, Don is the type of character
who says the kind of things that are on most people's minds, but they're too
afraid to let it out.
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)
..the Winner is...Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast, hands down (and panting on all
fours). Ben also wins the award for Best (and most frequent and creative)
Usage of the "c" word, which plays a major part in this outrageously
deranged and always thoroughly entertaining (even at its bloodiest)
full-frontal bombast of a film.
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.
At first, I thought this was just a poor man's "Snatch," with the wild
cinematography, dark humor, brutal characters and language....but not
as good as that more well-known film. Well, I have really begun to like
this film a lot, equally, if not more, than "Snatch."
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.
I thought the movie in total was reasonably good, but not particularly memorable. However, Kingsley's performance made this a MUST see... particularly for those only familiar with Kingsley's Ghandiesque roles. His character is great - a small, but veritable rabid dog of a man fully versed in the art of conversational terror and humiliation. Again, the film isn't great, but provides more than a reasonable backdrop for Kingley's timeless performance. There is a fair amount of gore, but not gratuitous in my opinion, and it could even be considered somewhat modest by gangster movie standards. However, the psychological terror generated by Kingsley's character is something I will take with me for a very, very long time - and will become, for me at least, the standard by which all similar characters are measured.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It seems too many people have missed the point of this movie. Someone did
notice that the Ben Kingsley character was unrelentingly unpleasant and
violent. Did anyone notice that the Ray Winstone character was pussy cat?
Yet at one time in his past life, he must also have also been a very
man, having moved in the circles he did.
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.
This is one fascinating dark little film. Supported by fierce cinematography, black humour, chilling characters and strong language, 'Sexy Beast' works on many levels. It can be viewed as a conversational film, a study of characters and a psychological thriller. The writing is brilliant as some of the dialogues induce both humour and chill. The screenplay is pretty tight, leaving no place for loose ends or irrelevant subplots. Glazer's direction is wonderful as he keeps the viewer engaged throughout the entire 90 minutes and effectively infuses wicked humour and suspense. The characters are so interesting, while we hate Logan, we sympathize with his counterfeit Gal who is a retired gangster trying to live a straight life with his family and loyal friends. Logan desperately wants him to do a job but Gal bravely yet hesitantly turns it down. Logan won't give up and even he notices that everybody hates him (which is beginning to make him feel powerless). The cast deliver solid performances. Ray Winstone is amazing. He easily conveys Gal's complexity and dilemma with pathos. Ben Kingsley as the hatefully irritating and intimidating Logan is superb. Ian McShane is scary. Amanda Redman is electrifying in a smaller role. 'Sexy Beast' is one slick wicked little film. Not a movie for everyone, but worth watching for those who enjoy black humour and dark cinema.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At first I was a bit disappointed after watching the film, due to the misleading trailer and the expectations I had. Sexy Beast is at it's core a romance, not a comedy and definitely not an action flick. It's all about Gal trying to protect his life and his marriage. After finishing a nine years stretch courtesy of Her Majesty's prison, Gal has had enough of a life of "Crime and Punishment" and settles down at the Spanish Riviera with his beloved ex-pornstar wife and another couple. Together with a local Spanish boy who helps Gal around the house they seems like a family, living a peaceful and happy life far from dreary England and their equally dreary past. Enter psychotic Don Logan, who tries to "persuade" Gal to do one last job. I think the plot can be interpreted symbolically: the boulder crashing into Gal's pool, missing him just by a few inches yet shattering the two hearts pattern on the pool's basin, symbolizes the arrival of Logan. Logan is just as menacing, deadly and uncontrollable as nature, endangering the love between Gal and his wife DeeDee. He's a part of Gal's criminal past coming to haunt him, the violent and antisocial part of himself he's been suppressing so long (notice how meek Gal is?), Gal's "Id". Logan taunts Gal what a wuss he has become, how fat and lazy he's become, how low he has sunk by marrying an ex-pornstar, that he deserted Logan (some of Gal's own thoughts deep down?). He's trying to snatch Gal away from DeeDee, he doesn't want him to be happy (Gal: "I'm happy now". Logan, shouting: "I won't let you be happy, why should I!"). Interestingly enough, as soon as Logan arrives at Gal's villa, the Spanish boy leaves; so the boy could be interpreted as Gal's innocent and peaceful side. SPOILER AHEAD! So when Logan beats down the kid (i.e. Gal's evil side is gaining upperhand over his good side) it's DeeDee that makes the final decision and saves their marriage by killing her rival for Gal's soul (in between Logan's vitriolic rants he tells Gal he loves him). Everyone partakes in Logan's murder except for Gal and the boy; meaning that all of Gal's friends want to get rid of that part of him? In essence it's all about Gal's psychomachia, i.e. having to take sides: either going back to a life of crime and violence, or saving his marriage and his happiness. On that level, it was quite enjoyable. Ben Kingsley portrays Logan disturbingly menacing (the mirror scene!), Ian McShane as kingpin Teddy Bass is just as believable (no Love nor Joy...) and Ray Winstone reminded me of an English-version of James Gandolfini.
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