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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Uncut Gems 2019 * * * 1/2 Stars

Uncut GemsDirectors: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
Year: 2019
Rated R
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel

Howard Ratner (played by improv over-loader and live-in caricature Adam Sandler) is a bungling jeweler, a trying BS-er, and an addictive gambler. He gets in way over his head making risky bets in order to finally get that big score. That's the gist of the inflamed and black-eyed Uncut Gems. It's my latest review.

Image result for uncut gems movie scenesYup, I am announcing "Gems" as one of 2019's best and most exhaustive films. After seeing it on Xmas day, I am sure I will never view anything quite like it again. Remember Mark Wahlberg's Jim Bennett from The Gambler or Matthew McConaughey's Brandon Lang from Two for the Money? Well Sandler's Howard makes these dudes look like Romper Room in comparison.

Directed by two thirty-year-old brothers (Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie), filmed chiefly in close-ups, featuring some weird colonoscopy imagery, and co-starring former NBA great Kevin Garnett (that's some brilliant casting there), Uncut Gems is the cinematic equivalent of pure cocaine mixed with high-grade angel dust.

Josh and Benny Safdie fashion "Gems" as a sloppy character study and New York minute minutia that still seems to work. The dialogue is raw and massively ad-libitum, there are enough F-words to make Tarantino blush, the camerawork is whizzing, and Sandler lets you know that he's light years away from his blundering, Bobby Boucher shtick.

Image result for uncut gems movie scenesSo yeah, Sandler's Ratner is an unlikable and turgidly reckless persona. And yes, "Gems" is so mean-spirited, so 80's synth happy, and so insouciant it dares you to despise it. Still, Uncut Gems enthralls you provided you dig a little Martin Scorsese or Oliver Stone on steroids. This thing is a live by the bet, die by the bet train wreck of a movie. All aboard but if you're gonna throw up, be sure to roll down a window. Rating: 3 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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