I was gratified to see that Terry has revised and downgraded his opinion of the clownish mob film Sexy Beast. I caught this on dvd a year or so after everybody else swooned over it at the theater. Neither I nor my friend could understand what the fuss was about, or even stay awake, really. Sexy Beast is notable, though, for containing perhaps the most precipitous drop from brilliance to banality in recent cinema history. This thanks to its opening scene, a monster of a set-up and a visual joke for the ages. All by itself this scene is almost worth the long slog that follows. The rest of the first half of the movie is then diverting enough, but only thanks to an outstanding Ben Kingsley, as Terry notes. The second half, following his character’s departure, I just can’t recall. Sexy Beast ranks up there with Memento as one of the movies whose enthusiastic following among the apparently like-minded most baffles me.
More recently I watched the haunted house flick and Nicole Kidman vehicle The Others on cable. (If you don’t want to know how it ends, now is the time for you to stop reading and turn back.) I liked this movie much better when it was called The Sixth Sense. Also when it was a book called “The Turn of the Screw.” And that pretty much covers its sources. My disappointment at the derivative ending was closely followed by the even more deflating realization that this movie will probably be only the first of many inferior permutations/rip-offs of M. Night Shyamalan’s movie, which will then be blamed for what it spawned, like Mies van der Rohe. Sigh.
Speaking of The Sixth Sense, it’s still amazing to remember what a great year for U.S. films 1999 was. I can rattle off a top ten that shames any year since:
The Sixth Sense
The Winslow Boy
Being John Malkovich
Okay, so maybe a couple of these haven’t worn so spectacularly well. I’m thinking mainly of Being John Malkovich, but even that I’d still watch for Catherine Keener’s acute angles and cutting edges.