Sunday, 30 November 2008

MEMENTO: BEN KINGSLEY. SEXY BEAST

You're on two per cent, two and a half, maybe even three. Depends on the usual bumflufferies. It's not about the money with you and me is it, Gal? It's the charge, it's the bolt, it's the buzz, it's the sheer fuck off-ness of it all. Am I right?



Ray Winstone has always struck me as a particularly hard bastard. Features chiseled out of granite, big imposing figure and that broad cockney accent all combining to fashion a man you most definitely do not want to piss off. Still, people can mellow over time... take a gander at his role in Jonathan Glazer's SEXY BEAST. Here, Raymondo plays Gal; a retired criminal who departed from rain-sodden England to enjoy the fruits of his labours in Spain with his 'old lady' Dee Dee (Amanda Redman) and two friends, Jackie and Aitch. For a while, things go swimmingly as lazy hot days melt into barbecue nights with nothing more serious than tackling the next rib eye. Such a drastic change in lifestyle invariably has a rather profound effect: people get complacent and weak. Surely not our Ray, though? Surely you'd be safe putting every penny of your wedge on him rising to the occasion and crushing anyone who threatened to cast a shadow over his life on easy street? Well, you ain't met Don Logan yet! One night over dinner, Aitch whispers this simple combination of forename and surname, and things go v-e-r-y quiet. Just one phone call from London ("It was Don Logan"), and this quartet act like the end of the world is about to take place, with Gal suddenly looking like a broken man. The Bogeyman? As a matter of fact, it is, so let's meet Don and see if he lives up to all the pre-match hype.



Our first view of him sees a man walking quickly and in time, eyes looking straight ahead as he marches towards a waiting car to take him to Gal's villa; a journey of deathly silence. Upon arrival, Don announces "I'll have to change my shirt. It's sticking to me. I'm sweating like a cant", and proceeds to engage Gal in the one-to-one chat he was dreading. Turns out Teddie Bess (a suitably menacing Ian McShane) needs 8 men to do a London bank, and DL has been dispatched to drag Gal out of retirement. As Logan sets about persuading Gal to "Do the job", some of the audience will doubtless recognise Don from their own experiences. Seen him at the football ground, bouncer at your local club and then moving on to organised crime with a CV that would doubtless make for terrifying reading. While his verbal assault on Gal switches from comical to downright scary, the envelope is well and truly pushed (more like screwed up and launched) during a brutal attack on Gal in his own bed. Next day, with his mission seemingly ended in failure, Don departs for a flight to London, only to reappear following an airport encounter involving a cigarette and an allegation of sexual assault. Now, we really see Logan go into overdrive, subjecting Gal to a truly vicious tirade of abuse. This really is one savage bastard of a performance from Kingsley, installing him as one of the scariest figures in British Cinema. While Raymondo and McShane are both on the top of their game, Kingsley takes the honours here by a country mile, getting all the best lines and running with them in an orgy of expletives mixed with some very funny dialogue.



"What you think this is the wheel of fortune? You think you can make your dough and fuck off? Leave the table? Thanks Don, see you Don, off to sunny Spain now Don, fuck off Don. Lying in your pool like a fat blob laughing at me, you think I'm gonna have that? You really think I'm gonna have that, ya ponce. All right, I'll make it easy for you. God knows you're fucking trying. Are you gonna do the job? It's not a difficult question, are you gonna do the job, yes or no?"



I won't give the game away for those of you yet to see this film, but you'll love the final shot which had me in stitches, accompanied by a slight shiver. I first caught SEXY BEAST at London's National Film Theatre during a hot July evening (remember those?), and was immediately blown away by Kingsley's psychotic performance (anyone else lose a few quid when he lost out at The Oscars?). Ah, a villain in the truest sense of the term and although his character has inspired drunken impersonations in pubs and clubs all over England, I have to say the blokes a cant. End of.

9 comments:

  1. I love this film. Ray and Ben were both excellent in it. Ben definitely scared the daylights out of me here. He was one creepy S.O.B. I always thought Ray was the type of guy that you didn't want to get on the bad side of.

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  2. Thanks, Keith. Good to encounter another fan of this cracking film. I guess DL is a legend, and I never tire of seeing him at work.

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  3. I love this film as well. The entire cast was dynamite but Kingsley certainly stole the show.

    Have you Glazer's follow-up, BIRTH? I thought that was an incredible film. Very under-appreciated but amazing nonetheless. I hope he hurries up and does something new soon.

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  4. I really enjoyed this film but haven't seen it since that first theatrical run. This post makes me want to revisit it soon...great stuff.

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  5. Thanks, JD. I have seen BIRTH. Glazer is a terrific director and I share your hope that we get a new offering from him very soon.
    Cheers, Jeremy. Glad you enjoyed SB. Hope you get chance for a second view soon. It really is a gem.

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  6. A great read Steve, makes me want to dig out the dvd yet again.
    like i need an excuse right?
    After reading these comments i might check out Birth as i wrote it off coz Kidman does my head in... She's a right C***.

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  7. Thanks, Kyuss. Birth is def well worth checking out if you get chance.

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  8. Great review Steve. I really can't think of any other character in any other film that is quite as menacing as Kingsley's Don Logan. Perhaps it is because, as you point out, that we all know someone a bit like this. I still have a hard time reconciling this character with the gently spoken actor. I can't think of a higher accolade than that.

    Put BK's performance to one side and the rest of the film is brilliant; great pace, neat plot and not one duff performance. I'll be digging out the DVD this evening II think...

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  9. Thanks, Dave. You're right. Every performance is spot on. Terrific film.

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