Still a Sexy Beast

October 13, 2013 | By

Don't anger the Warrior Bunny.

The most indelible memory from Sexy Beast [M] (2000) is Ben Kingsley’s over-the-top performance, but it’s actually a warped memory because there are only a handful of moments when as Don Logan he becomes a human bulldog, lurching and barking at poor Ray Winstone, with the latter giving what’s probably his finest understated performance as a lovable safe-cracker who just wants to be left the fuck alone in his Spanish villa, enjoying his little pocket of peaceful paradise.

Gal is perfectly content roasting his pale British complexion under the Spanish sun, turning beet red and packing ice-chilled washcloths on his ‘front bottom’ to protect the crown jewels.

Even after Don arrives, there’s no shouting. Plenty of C-words, but no need for early lambasting because the scenes preceding Don’s arrival make up a series of darkening contrasts as Gal’s paradise is punctured first by notice of Don’s arrival, and then the utter fear that takes over the two best-buddy couples, and what should’ve been another fun dinner in town.

The best examples of Kingley’s forgotten modulated performance – it is in fact very modulated – include a scene where he sits like an angry punk Buddha while the quartet sip their raw booze in silence; and his quiet statement to Gal ‘Why are you swearing? You don’t hear me swearing.’ Don’s a monster, but also a fascinating study of a bully whose ruinous path ends only when there’s a group action that’s appropriately cathartic (if not a little evocative of The Hills Have Eyes).

I still think the late Cavan Kendall, playing Gal’s twitchy yet funny friend Aich steals the film, as do actresses Amanda Redman and Julianne White who thankfully are not bimbos. As Julie Kirgo observes in her essay that accompanies Twilight Time’s Blu-ray edition, Sexy Beast is unusual for celebrating the romances of the two couples – both groups are mature characters enjoying their slice of paradise with kid-like glee.

The best scene in the film – and this is wholly biased on my part – is Gal relaxing in a chair, puffing a cigar, watching wife Dede approach, and there’s nothing but devotion between the pair – underscored by a perfect use of Henry Mancini’s “Lujon,” a cue from the 1959 LP Mr. Lucky Goes Latin. It’s vintage exotica, but it captures that fantasy everyone wants – a good life, with good friends, good food, and good times – and by establishing Gal’s idyllic life so well in the first 10 minutes, you the viewer are as shattered as the characters when Don and his bullet head take over.

My review of Twilight Time’s BR is up, and the label just announced another batch of releases for January / February of 2014:


Jan. 21:


ZULU (1963)




Jan. 22nd:



Feb. 11th:

THE FRONT (1975)





Man in the Dark is reportedly the first 3D feature released by a major studio (Columbia). Interesting Sony went so far to make a 3D transfer on Blu but hold back from their own BR release. I wonder what they’re up to, since Sony does make their own 3D TVs.

Perhaps their decision to license the title to TT is a sign of the studio-protracted 3D craze is finally descending to a more realistic level (not everyone likes it, nor wants to pay more for it in cinemas), or the studio is going ahead with the restoration of its 3D catalogue, but releasing just its top titles on its own label.

The appearance of Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors and The Front will be a welcome to the director’s fans, but I hope TT is ready for the message board cries of ‘Why isn’t Sony releasing Allen’s films themselves?’ ‘Why are there only going to be 3000 copies?’ ‘Fox has no interest in touching Titus and yet Warner Home Video had full confidence in Branagh’s 4 hour Hamlet? What the Hell?’

It’s gonna happen… I hope the TT folks have quality earplugs….

Coming next: World War Z stuff, and a review of the Danish film A Hijacking which is now out in the U.K. on Blu, and makes its North American debut on disc in two weeks.





Mark R. Hasan, Editor ( Main Site / Mobile Site )

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