Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast is a madcap mix of genres: a comedy and a drama, a caper film and a love story. Though it hits the mark with all of them on occasion, the sum of its efforts isn’t quite as effective as it might have been. More trenchant writing (especially in the caper part of the story) might have made the film a great deal more fun. Now, it’s a funny and disturbing movie with some scattered thrills to keep it interesting.
Distributed By: Twilight Time
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1, 2.35:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Run Time: 1 Hr. 29 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 08/13/2013
After nine years of criminal activity in London, Gary "Gal" Dove (Ray Winstone) has retired to a palatial home on the side of a mountain in Spain. He and his ex-porn star wife Deedee (Amanda Redman) have a lovely, almost idyllic life when someone from their past comes crashing in to disturb everything: psychopathic criminal Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) who’s come to Spain with an offer of work for Gal: a job breaking into the seemingly impregnable bank vault of a man (James Fox) despised by the gang’s head honcho Teddy Bass (Ian McShane). Gal tries every way he can think of to say no to Don, but Don is not someone who is used to taking no for an answer and goes out of his way to use every argument he can to blast Gal from his cushy life and get him back on the job in London.
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
Jonathan Glazer has filmed a wonderfully graphic movie: its images are startlingly beautiful and often shocking (a near-death experience with a boulder early on alerts the audience that this film is going to be one of a kind), and Glazer has a way of using montage in clever and seductive ways. The climactic counterpoint between the caper and an earlier murder is, of course, the work of a master, but so are several early scenes which mix points of view from objective to subjective in tantalizing ways. The symbolic “sexy beast” of the title woven through the screenplay by Louis Mellis and David Scinto seems a tad too precious and unnecessary in the couple of instances where it shows up and could have been dispensed with altogether while more scenes of the ruthless mastermind Teddy would have made his intriguingly evil character even more interesting and may have given the caper itself more of a prominent place in the story. As it is now, it's almost a throwaway.
Ben Kingsley walks away with the show as the dangerously unbalanced Don. Eternally menacing with that treacherous air that never discloses when he might lose his cool completely, Kingsley’s Don is a career high point. In contrast, Ray Winstone, who has played his own array of gangland psychotics, works against type here as the contented, genial Gal who resists to the last being impelled to do something he doesn’t want to do (his accent may require the use of the SDH subtitles until one adjusts to his slurred dialect). Even with his somewhat underwritten character, Ian McShane manages to ooze menace and his own brand of instability which gives the movie its second walking emotional time bomb. Neither of the film’s two women characters, Amanda Redman’s Deedee or Julianne White’s Jackie (who was the key to Don's finding Gal in his remote new living quarters), gets developed very much though each plays an important role in events as they unfold in the film. James Fox is the snobbish kind of Brit that McShane’s Teddy just naturally loathes.
The disc offers the film in both the theatrical 2.35:1 (the basis of this review) and a reformatted 1.78:1 aspect ratio, both in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness is outstanding throughout, and color is as well with seductive flesh tones that look natural (extremely tan for the Spanish dwellers, paler for the Londoners) and saturation levels that are rich and true. Black levels are outstanding as well. There are a couple of instances where dust specks distract the viewer, but the image is clean for a majority of the running time. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The disc offers DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (the basis of this review) and 2.0 surround tracks. The 5.1 sound mix is nicely realized with the unusual Roque Banos and Unkle with South score tracks getting a wonderful spread through the front and rear soundstages. Split sound effects also make effective use on occasion of the entire soundfield and provide outstanding immersive sound for the viewing and listening experience.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Audio Commentary: producer Jeremy Thomas and co-star Ben Kingsley offer a not particularly revealing commentary track. Filled with praise for all aspects of the movie and offering some anecdotal information on the production, it’s acceptable but not a must-listen.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Production Featurette (7:38, SD): EPK featurette offering brief sound bites from director Jonathan Glazer, producer Jeremy Thomas, and the major members of the cast.
Theatrical Trailer (1:51, SD)
Isolated Score Track: provided in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo.
Six-Page Booklet: contains many color stills of the production, poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s analytical overview of the movie.
Sexy Beast has laughs and thrills and offers an offbeat movie experience for adventurous viewers looking for something off the beaten path. There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if copies are still available. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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