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"Sexy Beast"

Directed by Jonathan Glazer.
Written by Louis Mellis and David Scinto. 
Starring Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  6/24/01 


"Tomb Raider" didn't deliver the goods for me, but "Sexy Beast" was just the opposite.

This one is not exactly mass market; it is only showing at two theaters in DC, but if you live here or any other big city, check this one out ASAP.  Not quite as good as "Memento", but it comes pretty close and is another one of those sleepers that might win big come awards time at the end of the year.

Ray Winstone stars as a former criminal that is living on his stolen riches in Spain with his wife (Amanda Redman).  Gal (Winstone) is pretty happy with his social situation...until a former crime associate named Logan (Ben Kingsley) comes to town to try and convince Gal to perform one last job.

To tell you more will give away details of the film, but this one is great.  It mixes some humor into its extremely tense sequences, and a couple of violent scenes make for a decidedly adult film experience.  The best part about it, though, is Kingsley.  If you saw "Gandhi" and then saw this film right after it, you would see the great range that Kingsley possesses, and he is brilliant in this film.  Although I wasn't sure exactly what the word "cunt" was before seeing "Sexy Beast", I have a better feel for it now, since he utters the word almost 50 times during the course of the film.  His language is atrocious, but his control of it--the rapid-fire delivery of his thoughts in general--is excellent.  His lean appearance and the fear he invokes in other characters make his character truly scary and I will be shocked if his name isn't mentioned around Oscar time.  Really the best part of a great movie, but his performance lifts the entire film.

And, a surprising turn of events mid-film keeps things interesting and I was impressed that it was not very predictable.  The dialogue is near impossible to understand early on for us gringos (think "Trainspotting", but five times worse), but that didn't even matter for me.  A great film in an otherwise poor summer so far.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09