Glazer. Jonathan Glazer directed some of the absolute best music videos of the 1990’s including Karma Police for Radiohead and Virtual Insanity for Jamiroquai. He made his debut feature in 2000 (Sexy Beast)- certainly a fertile time for burgeoning auteurs. I think Ben Kinglsey’s flashy, spectacular performance largely stole though show though and Birth had mixed reviews in 2004 (took me years after to discover it). Then there were nine years between Birth and Under the Skin in 2013 and that is finally when the narrative shifted on Glazer. Looking back now, despite the infrequent output, Glazer is recognized as one of the most compelling auteurs to debut in the 21st century. I do, however, find myself somewhat angry with him and how long we have to wait for his next film- haha. I guess that’s a sign we have a great auteur on our hands if we’re complaining about the lack of output. For the purposes of this list, the one top 100 film of its respective decade is a bit misleading, both Sexy Beast and Birth would be fine alternatives to the last few slots on the top 100 of the 2000’s list.
Best film: Under the Skin. Equal parts hypnotic and perplexing. Like Birth, it is almost a silent (score + visuals) film. It seems clear now that Glazer will never equal Kubrick—but this modern sci-fi film has already been canonized and Cronenberg and Roeg (this is absolutely the spiritual successor to The Man Who Fell to Earth) are within reach. You cannot not mention Mica Levi’s score either.
total archiveable films: 3
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 0
top 100 films of the decade: 1 (Under the Skin)
most overrated: It is tempting to put Under the Skin– it currently sits as the #1 film from 2013– and I don’t have it there. But I had it at #32 of the 2010’s the last time I updated my list– still feels like splitting hairs to call it overrated.
most underrated : Birth. It had mixed reviews when it came out—but after Under the Skin in 2013 I thought everyone would have gone back and revisited and reassessed this one and recognized it as the incredible film that it is. Apparently not—at least yet—it currently sits at #42 for the year 2004 on the TSPDT consensus list for the 21st century.
gem I want to spotlight : Sexy Beast. The first time I saw it I only saw Kingsley’s (albeit masterful) performance. Closer inspection prove that Glazer’s calculated visual universes didn’t start with Birth or Under the Skin.
- The meticulous nature of his work, the preference (and skill) for visual storytelling, and the long gestation periods between films have to make you think of Kubrick
- A cold otherness to his world—an opaque alien nature to his films (even the two not directly about an alien).
- Not surprised to see both 2001 and Persona listed as Glazer’s favorite films
- Short films –In 20 years- from his debut in 2000 to 2020 we have just under 5 hours of running time between the 3 films
- gorgeous dissolve edits in Under the Skin
- Under the Skin
- Sexy Beast
By year and grades
|2000- Sexy Beast||HR|
|2013- Under the Skin||MS|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives