The Noirvember Files: Sexy Beast
An essential and overlooked piece of neo-noir, Jonathan Glazer's directorial debut Sexy Beast is one for the ages.
Featuring an ace cast that includes Ben Kingsley in an Oscar-nominated performance, everything from the visuals to the screenplay are impressive from start to finish. Playing out like an inverted version of Michael Mann's Thief, the story follows Gal (Ray Winstone), a retired safecracker living a comfortable life in Spain, who is forced to do one final heist by his former mentor, the completely insane and unhinged Don Logan (Ben Kingsley). Assembling a crack-team of operatives which includes mastermind Teddy Bass (Ian McShane, who steals the show more than once), the job entails robbing an underground vault in London by drilling through the wall of an adjacent Turkish bathhouse.
Despite only being his first film, Glazer manages to create something that's wholly unique from a visual and thematic standpoint. The inventiveness he displayed in his past music video work (such as UNKLE's Rabbit In Your Headlights and Radiohead's Street Spirit) is embraced to an even greater extent here; to say he knocked it out of the park would be an understatement. Glazer has only made two other features since; 2004's Birth starring Nicole Kidman and 2013's Under the Skin with Scarlett Johansson, but despite the substantial differences in genre and plot between each of his works, they retain that kinetic sensibility which makes his work stand out from the rest of his contemporaries.
Sexy Beast is a pure British gangster film, and one of the best I've seen since Guy Ritchie broke out with Snatch and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. With crackling dialogue with enough C-Bombs to make your head spin and enough plot twists to do the same, Sexy Beast is a stellar piece of filmmaking.