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Glazer, Jonathan (1965-)

Director, Writer, Producer

Main image of Glazer, Jonathan (1965-)

Jonathan Glazer was born in March 1965 and raised in north London. He studied theatre design and direction at Nottingham Trent Polytechnic before joining the production company Academy in 1993. His commercials - particularly for Guinness and Stella Artois - and his highly inventive pop videos - particularly of Jamiroquai's 'Virtual Insanity' and U.N.K.L.E's 'Rabbit in Your Headlights' (1998) - marked him out as an outstanding director who would inevitably move on to feature films.

Glazer collaborated with Louis Mellis and David Scinto on a screenplay based on their play Gangster No 1 (UK/Germany/Eire, 2000), but disagreements with the producer led the trio to abandon the project and work on a script about a British gangster forced out of happy retirement in Spain for a last big job. Ironically, Sexy Beast (UK/Spain/US, 2000) proved to be a much more commercially attractive proposition than Gangster No 1; a witty script, impressive performances (particularly from Ben Kingsley as the psychopath who comes to bring Ray Winstone's genial ex-crook home), and Glazer's acute, stylish, direction made it one of the very few British gangster films to attract American as well as British audiences.

Now a partner at Academy, Glazer was able to draw in American financial support for Birth (US, 2004), a metaphysical thriller he had had written with Jean-Claude Carrière and Milo Addica. The resulting film, set among well-to-do New Yorkers, is as convoluted and intriguing as Hitchcock's Vertigo (US, 1958) and Brian de Palma's Obsession (US, 1976). Glazer is softer on his characters' self-deceptions, and visual flamboyance sometimes comes at the expense of character development, but he is unique among those British directors who made their debut during the crime cycle in following up with a film of enduring international significance.

Clarke, Roger, 'Grief Encounter', Sight and Sound, Nov. 2004, pp. 22-4
James, Nick, 'Thieves on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown', Sight and Sound, Jan. 2001, pp. 19-20
Olsen, Mark, 'Discovery. Jonathan Glazer', Film Comment, March/April 2001, pp. 16-17

Alan Burton and Robert Murphy, Directors in British and Irish Cinema

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Thumbnail image of Sexy Beast (2000)Sexy Beast (2000)

Unusually inventive addition to the late 1990s gangster cycle

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