An Adam Sandler movie connotes bad acting and a stupid plot. Not ‘Uncut Gems’ – it’s fast, furious, heart pounding and brilliant.
Shockingly and shamelessly ‘Uncut Gems’ has been ignored by the people who give out film awards – its Sandlers’ best film ever as well as one of the years top movies. The action and plot in ‘Uncut Gems’ builds and accelerates into hyperdrive – a feeling probably akin to being on meth with the high becoming more and more intense until an explosive ending.
Sandler plays Manhattan gem dealer Harold Ratner, a man known to place a few bets in his time. He comes across a rare black opal which he wants to sell for a big score. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Other people (criminals) also want their hands on the opal, meanwhile Ratner owes money to loan sharks, he’s been cheating on his wife (Idina Menzel) with his sexy and saucy mistress who is his assistant in the jewellery shop (Julia Fox). Also involved is a professional basketball player dangling lots of money in his face to spend on jewellery. Combining all this and what you have is a man whose life is spiralling out of control to a point where it’s do or die for Ratner.
To say Sandler is brilliant is an understatement. I saw this film last year at the BFI London Film Festival and didn’t know what to expect going in. When I left the cinema 135 minutes later, my head was spinning and my mind took hours to process what I had just seen. The ending is such a crescendo it’s so unlike anything you’d expect from a Sandler movie.
Directors (and brothers) Benny and Josh Safdie (who did the award-winning 2017 film ‘Good Time’ starring Robert Pattison), with a script by both of them (and Ronald Bronstein), bring us a superb film that’s thrilling, intense, and will have you on the edge of your seat. And while all the cast is brilliant, ‘Uncut Gems’ is Sandlers’ movie. Go see it just for him, and expect the ending to just blow your mind.
‘Uncut Gems’ is on Netflix but is also currently playing in local cinemas.
Other films opening this weekend include:
89-year old Director Clint Eastwood shows he’s still got it. In ‘Richard Jewell’, he tells the story of the man who was initially blamed for the bomb that exploded in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Summer Olympics. Paul Walter Hauser is fine as Jewell, an overweight security’s guard who still lives with his mother (Kathy Bates in overacting mode). A back story of a reporter (Olivia Wilde) who will do anything to get her story (including sleeping with FBI agent Jon Hamm) did not happen so take this film with a grain of salt. Sam Rockwell is very good as usual as the man who never doubted Jewell’s innocence.
Powerful acting by both Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, and superb cinematography by Oscar nominee Jarin Blaschke, are the highlights of this film about two men sent to a remote location to take care of a lighthouse in the middle of nowhere. As boredom, heavy and continuous rain, and monstrous waves take their toll on both men, they start grating on each other after too many meals and too much time together, and it all comes to a head as Pattinson’s Ephraim Winslow starts getting annoyed as Dafoe’s bossman character Tom Wake barks one order too many. A bit on the homoerotic side, ‘The Lighthouse’ is visually so unlike any film you’ll see this year, or even this decade.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Going into this film I expected a story of the lovable Mister Rogers – the man who, for decades hosted the U.S. childrens’ television show ‘ Mister Rogers Neighborhood’, but it’s not a story about him. It’s the story of writer Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) doing a magazine article about Mister Rogers. Of course, Mister Rogers hypothetically stands in for Vogel’s father, a man he never got a long with and was never able to please (played a bit over the top by Chris Cooper). Hanks is superb as Rogers but after leaving the cinema I felt a bit ripped off as I didn’t get the film that was advertised.
Queen & Slim
A Tinder date turns into a nightmare for Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya). Director Melina Matsoukas and writer Lena Waithe have taken their lead for this film from America’s racial problems by placing the titular black couple in a situation where they are, on their first date, pulled over by a white cop. It is just the beginning of their road trip that turns their relationship from strangers into lovers and partners in crime. A bit ’Thelma & Louise,’ ‘Queen & Slim’ will bowl you over by the very fine performances from the leads as well as the political message it sends about race, and the very dramatic ending.
Reviews by Tim Baros