By STEVE PERSALL
© St. Petersburg Times, published July 5, 2001
Movies in limited release:
Sexy Beast (R) (88 min.) -- Ben Kingsley's ferocious portrayal of a psycho who won't take no for an answer is the main reason to see Jonathan Glazer's crime comedy. You'll never again think of Kingsley as the guy who played Gandhi.
Viewers know Don Logan is a nasty piece of work before they even see him. Just mentioning his name causes gangster Gal Dove (Ray Winstone) -- a tough bloke himself -- to turn to jelly. Then we see Logan, even from behind, and know why. Kingsley's shaved head accents vaguely demonic ears as the camera tracks his assertive strut through an airport, daring anyone to get in his way. They'll get a dose of his tinderbox temper if they do.
Logan is in Spain to shove Dove out of retirement. There's a bank to rob, although that late caper seems insignificant by then. Logan will say anything, kill anyone, to force Dove into the job. He has dirt on everyone and remorse for nothing, a sociopath who can be stopped only with a bullet, if then.
Kingsley is a jaw-dropper in this role. He's an actor relishing every moment of shattering his screen image, not relinquishing an ounce of the humanity normally invested in his roles. Logan isn't human. He's a monster as deadly and unstoppable as the boulder that almost conks Dove during Glazer's memorable opening scene. A screaming ball of hate wrapped much too tight.
Glazer and screenwriters Louis Mellis and David Scinto surround Logan with interesting targets, especially Winstone's role as an unwilling accomplice. Winstone has the paunchy, prosperous look of a man taking it easy and tanning deep. His wife, Dee Dee (Amanda Redman), a former porn star, is his most mobile status symbol. Their closest friends, another ex-mobster and his moll, have connections to Logan that should remain secret but don't.
Sexy Beast transports film noir conventions into broad Mediterranean sunlight, with the cheeky cynicism of modern crime dramas. Everyone is interesting, partly because of what the script doesn't tell us about them. What caused those ugly scars on Dee Dee? What kind of duties does that young pool boy really perform for Dove? Above all, how has a rabid animal like Logan managed to live so long? I don't know what's sexy about all this, but Kingsley makes a memorable beast.
Opens Friday at Tampa Theatre.A-
Cyberworld (G) (45 min.) -- Channelside Cinemas' 3-D IMAX screen gets a workout with this hallucinatory jumble of grand animated fantasies. There's no story, just unrelated segments that send twirling, spinning shapes and odd creatures lunging toward the audience in excellent optical illusions.
Set in a futuristic computer chip -- the movie is sponsored by Intel -- Cyberworld has no intention except to dazzle. A shapely cyber babe named Phig (voice of Jenna Elfman) takes viewers on a tour of Galleria Animatica, a museum of sorts for state-of-the-art computer designs.
Early episodes resemble Fantasia 2000 in aimless, poetic tone: monorails zipping over a next-century metropolis, mutant manatees dodging toothy sea monsters, and a fluid doodad titled Monkey Brain Sushi.
Impressive, but then the filmmakers start hedging their bets. IMAX proportions don't add anything to a scene from Antz with the voices of Woody Allen, Sharon Stone and Sylvester Stallone. A silly bit about real bugs in the computer program leads to misadventures with Homer and Bart Simpson, reinvented through computer-driven plastic models. No big laughs, just some tech-heads flexing their keyboard fingers to make pretty pictures.
Cyberworld is trippy enough to remind viewers of Yellow Submarine, and the 3-D gimmick is often breathtaking. Taking a few more risks would have helped.
Now playing at Channelside Cinemas. B+
Come Undone (Not rated, probably R) (100 min.) -- Channelside Cinemas' dedication to gay cinema continues with this French romance between teenage boys during summer vacation.
Mathieu (Jeremie Elkhaim) has the run of his mother's beach house for the season. He meets Cedric (Stephane Rideau), and the pair begin dating. At first, the relationship is testy, almost violent. Then, passion takes over until one of the boys shows signs of depression that threaten the love affair.
Come Undone is slowly making the art house rounds after a mixed response at the San Francisco International Film Festival in April. In the past, such delicate themes were primarily the domain of Tampa Bay's annual gay and lesbian film festival. Channelside's interest in alternative cinema, even films without any buzz, such as Come Undone, keeps on impressing.
Opens Friday at Channelside Cinemas.
- STEVE PERSALL, Times film critic