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Sexy Beast

Besides the indie circuit, the only training ground available for developing filmmakers is the music video. Sexy Beast director Jonathan Glazer was previously known as the talent behind Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity" video, as well as Radiohead's stylish "Karma Police," and the eye for striking visuals that made his previous work so successful can be found in his first feature film, Sexy Beast. Ray Winstone stars as Gal Dove, a hulking brute of an ex-gangster who's living a quiet life, enjoying his ill-gotten gains in a villa in Spain with his wife, Deedee (Amanda Redman) and their friends Jackie and Aitch (Julianne White and Cavan Kendall). His idyllic post-retirement life seems to revolve around marathon tanning sessions, until chaos arrives in the form of a phone call of Gal's old associate Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), who wants him to come out of retirement to do a job for mob boss Teddy Bass (Ian McShane). Even before he appears on screen, Don's presence is palpable in the way he strikes terror into the foursome as soon as he's mentioned. And when he does arrive at the villa, a battle of wills begins between the two men, with Gal trying desperately to hold his ground against the increasingly insistent, and psychotic, Don. From the moment we first see Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast as Don Logan, we understand why he strikes such fear in the hearts of men. He's like a bantam-weight prizefighter crossed with the Prince of Darkness, and though not the main character of the piece, Kingsley owns the film. Thankfully, Winstone holds his own against this virtuoso performance. Slow-moving and thick-waisted, he's thoroughly believable as a retired gangster, deeply in love with his wife and unwilling to give up the plush life he's built. Sexy Beast is a noteworthy film, but what sets it apart from the zillion other gangster movies out there is the crackling screenplay and director Glazer's visual sensibilities, which occasionally venture into the surreal but never enough to become truly obscure. Fox's Sexy Beast DVD features a sharp, pristine anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with solid Dolby Digital 5.1 and English and Spanish subtitles (North American viewers should opt for the English subtitles the first time around). Features include a 10-minute "making-of" featurette and trailers, while the commentary track with Kingsley and producer Jeremy Thomas is occasionally interesting, but hard to stick with — there are long periods of silence, and much of what the men discuss is exceedingly trivial. But Thomas does share some interesting details regarding the minutiae of filmmaking, and Kingsley offers fascinating insights into his creative process. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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