The great actor Ben Kingsley is 71 today. He is probably best known for his Academy Award winning role in Gandhi. But that just shows what a crock the Academy awards are. They just love giving out awards to films that are about “important” subject. Leave it to Hollywood to make an important movie not just decades after Gandhi’s death, but also after Martin Luther King’s death. Kingsley was great in the film, but then he always is.
Most recently, he was absolutely great in Iron Man 3 — a film that literally had nothing else to recommend it. In it, he plays the Mandarin — a supposed terrorist who is, in fact, just a down on his luck actor with a weakness for drugs and women. You know: my hero! But don’t watch the film. It’s tiring. But Kingsley is great.
There are so many films where Kingsley shines that it is hard to list them all. I will just mention a few that you really must see. Obviously, Schindler’s List should be seen for a number of reasons, but his role as Itzhak Stern is the heart of the film. Another is Sexy Beast. And for a sweet one, there is Hugo.
One film that I love but bombed (probably because it is great) is War, Inc. Here is a scene, but John Cusack gets the best line, “I signed up to kill the bad ones! Health clinics, trade unionists, journalists, agricultural co-ops, Catholic liberation theologians, impoverished Colombian coffee farmers, these are the barbarians that are brave opponents of civilization. We turned Central America into a f**king graveyard. Whoever momentarily interrupts the accumulation of our wealth, we pulverize. I’m just not feeling good about that anymore, sir.”
But for a limited time only, two of my favorite Ben Kingsley films are complete and on YouTube. The first is Turtle Diary with Glenda Jackson. It’s one of those little gems that the studio can’t even be bothered to release on DVD. (It is available on VHS.) So you can be sure that that before too long, the studio will notice that it’s online and say, “We don’t care enough to sell this title, but we’ll be damned if we’ll let anyone watch it for free!” While it lasts my friends:
The second film is available on DVD (sadly not letterboxed), Without a Clue — I own it and watch it quite a lot. It is a reversal where it is really Watson who is brilliant and he’s hired an actor to play the part of Holmes. It isn’t great, but it’s sweet and very funny. Sadly, I can’t embed it, but you can watch it over on YouTube (but at least it is letterboxed).
Happy birthday Ben Kingsley!