So far the Summer Movie Season of 2001 has been abysmal. I mean truly awful. Putrid. Abhorrent. Wretched. Instead of the multiplex, I go to the zoo because the monkey shit there makes my eyes sting less than the crap Hollywood dumps on us each weekend. No, I didn’t see “Pearl Harbor.” I didn’t see “Tomb Raider” or “Swordfish.” (Editor’s Note: Sadly, I did see Swordfish. Pray that Dominic Sena is never allowed to expose another frame of celluloid again.) I didn’t because I am of the opinion that when one pays nine bucks to an exhibitor (pronounced: extortionist) one should get something in return. Something more interesting than a brief silhouette of one of Angie’s tats, or two seconds of Halle’s tats, or three goddamn hours of Josh Hartnett’s tats. Jesus Christ, when I want soft core I’ll go to victoriasecret.com. And when I want an engaging emotional experience I usually end in front of the monkey cage at the zoo. But I prefer going to the movies because the popcorn is better.
So my interest was piqued when I heard those mouth-breathing pansies on National Public Radio exclaiming the virtues of “Sexy Beast.” Ray Winstone is great, they said. Ben Kingsley is a revelation. The movie has a solid script backed up by witty directorial touches. Finally a movie that aims for all three organs: the brain, heart and dick. While “Sexy Beast” doesn’t score the hat trick, it does go two for three which isn’t just laudable in this day and age–it’s fucking miraculous. Kingsley plays a guy named Don Logan who I swore was based on my mother. He’s short, mean and says “cunt” a lot. But then I saw Benny do something not even dear old mom could do. He sits completely still, but appears to be in motion. How the hell does he do thatr Sitting in a chair, just looking at somebody and you’d swear he’s going a 100mph. That’s how much energy Kingsley brings to the role. He’ll never be thought of as just Gandhi again and if he doesn’t get a Best Supporting Actor nomination well, that should be the final straw to shut up those fuckwits who still think the Oscars mean anything. Did I say Best Supporting Actorr Oh, yeah, that’s because this movie is Ray Winstone’s. He plays a big, fat retired gangster named Gal who’s enjoying his Spanish villa and ex-porn star wife. He spends most of his days sunning himself near his beloved pool and icing down his balls. Gal’s life is disrupted when Don comes to town to recruit Gal to assist him a safe deposit heist. Gal insists that he is retired, but Don won’t take “no” for an answer. After this movie, Winstone will never be thought of as bastard patriarch from “The War Zone.” He’s like a teddy bear: cuddly, shy and decent. There is more passion and love in the relationship between him and his wife than in a career of J Lo movies and Winstone accomplishes this with one single line reading.
Now, “Sexy Beast” is gong to get compared to the work of Guy Ritchie because it has a bunch of colorful and occasionally funny British-speaking criminals doing colorful occasionally funny British crimes under colorful occasionally funny camera work. There’s one big, big difference, though. Jonathan Glaser, the director of “Sexy Beast,” plays for keeps. His characters aren’t cartoons. They have unfulfilled dreams, emotional wants. They go on journeys and by film’s end are different human beings. The violence in the movie matters. It has consequences. When someone gets shot with a shotgun you see it and it hurts. For these reasons alone “Sexy Beast” is superior to “Snatch” or “LS&2SB.”
Not to say “Sexy Beast” is perfect, however. It only runs 90 minutes, but it’s a long 90 minutes. Mostly because there’s a lot of screen time devoted to the actors looking out just off camera. The clever comedy and stylistic fireworks are few and far between and the last third of the movie (the heist and its aftermath) doesn’t hold very much suspense nor make a lot of sense. In the end “Sexy Beast” engages the soul and mind, but lacks the bells and whistles to service the cock. Maybe tats do count for something. But that’s okay. It was well worth the $5 I handed over to the extortionists. Only one movie in the last six months has been a ten-spot and that’s “Memento.” And if you haven’t seen that yet then, seriously, what the fuck are you doing reading thisrRating: B+