- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 11, 2002

Ben Kingsley may not have copped a gold statue for his ultimate anti-Gandhi turn as sociopathic thug Don Logan in Sexy Beast, but it's a performance you'll likely never forget, in a film that's equally indelible. It's our

Video pick of the week
Jonathan Glazer's intense crime drama (available now from 20th Century Fox, priced for rental VHS, also available on DVD) opens in a remote, sun-splashed section of southern Spain, where retired thief and ex-con Gal (a brilliant Ray Winstone) reclines at poolside soaking up the rays and contentedly counting his blessings: loving, loyal wife Deedee (Amanda Redman), expat best friends Aitch (Cavan Kendall) and Jackie (Julianne White), a lovely hillside villa to call home and, best of all, a danger-free lifestyle.
That nirvana is shattered in a skipped heartbeat with the arrival of Mr. Kingsley's Logan, dispatched by menacing British criminal mastermind Teddy Bass (Ian McShane) to drag Gal kicking and screaming out of paradise to participate in one last London job. Actually, it's Logan who does most of the kicking and screaming here as he goes from cajoling to belittling to berating to beating our hero black-and-blue in a bid to complete his single-minded mission.
"Sexy Beast" is an ingenious, darkly witty, wholly satisfying film that, at a streamlined 89 minutes, emerges as a model of artistic economy. While a heist (and a novel one at that) does eventually unfold, director Glazer and screenwriters Louis Mellis and David Scinto wisely devote most of their time to dramatizing the escalating battle of wits and wills between Don and Gal, with the celluloid stakes riding on which man reaches the breaking point first.
The widescreen DVD edition of this lean, mean gem includes audio commentary by Mr. Kingsley and producer Jeremy Thomas, a featurette and original theatrical trailers. Don't let this "Beast" escape your notice.

Horror horizon
Among those recent theatrical terror flicks heading for home video over the next few weeks, Johnny Depp searches for Jack the Ripper in the Hughes Brothers' From Hell (20th Century Fox), Richard Gere and Laura Linney encounter the supernatural in The Mothman Prophecies (Columbia/TriStar) and Nicole Kidman and family come to grips with restless spirits in Alejandro Amenabar's The Others (Dimension). Warner unleashes the 2001 remake of the 1960 William Castle 'spooktacular' Thirteen Ghosts.
Elsewhere, Columbia/TriStar contributes a brace of recent American International Pictures remakes Dan Aykroyd in Earth vs. the Spider and Rufus Sewell in The She Creature.
Also, director Stephen Furst helms the Western horror Stage Ghost. Spectrum Entertainment proffers the low-budgeters Biker Zombies from Detroit and Knight Chills. Rudolph Martin portrays Vlad the Impaler in the British import Dracula: The Dark Prince (Artisan Entertainment), co-starring Jane March, Roger Daltrey and Peter Weller. All of the above will be priced for rental VHS and also available on DVD.

Video verite
In new documentary developments, Docurama debuts Kevin Rafferty, Jayne Loader and Pierce Rafferty's alternately campy and chilling exploration of vintage government nuclear propaganda The Atomic Cafe: 20th Anniversary Edition, along with Todd McFarlane: The Devil You Know, a feature-length profile of the prolific cartoonist and "Spawn" creator ($19.95 each VHS/$24.95 DVD each).
Also in the verite arena, First Run Features takes us into the exotic, inspirational world of a traveling Norwegian male choir in Cool & Crazy ($29.95 VHS/DVD). Zeitgeist Video offers Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media ($29.99 DVD, $30.99 VHS). New Yorker Video issues Paragraph 175 (priced for rental VHS, $29.95 DVD), an examination of Nazi Germany's persecution of homosexuals, narrated by Rupert Everett.

Action update
In action news, look for Gene Hackman and Owen Wilson in the high-profile combat pic Behind Enemy Lines (20th Century Fox). Keep an eye peeled too for the border-set actioner The Dope Game (MTI) and the critically acclaimed Shiri (Columbia/TriStar), a Japanese variation on "La Femme Nikita."

Phan mail
Dear Phantom: As a child, one of my all-time television favorites was "The Adventures of Robin Hood," starring Richard Greene. A few years ago, two color-imaged compilation movies: "Robin Hood's Greatest Adventure" and "Robin Hood: Quest for the Crown" aired on television. Were these ever released on videocassette?
Tom Crawford, via e-mail

One color compilation film assembled from that swashbuckling '50s show, Robin Hood: The Movie, was briefly available but is no longer in circulation. Movies Unlimited (www.moviesunlimited.com) carries 11 videos from the original series, with two episodes per tape ($14.99 each).

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002 or e-mail us at: [email protected] Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com



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