Uncut Gems

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Wick's Review

Created Jan 11, 2020 09:29AM PST • Edited Jan 22, 2020 11:20PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    Uncut Gems could be titled Deadly Sins, with the wages of sin its inevitable conclusion. Populated by a rogues gallery of serious sinners and propelled by seriously sinful decisions, the Safdie Brothers once again wallow through the flamboyant dregs of New York. It’s a glorious car-crash experience, as is their métier.

    It’s also pretty depressing. Adam Sandler’s degenerate gambler gives as good as he gets in a Diamond District world of underhanded commerce, and on the home front, where he cheats everyone in his family.

    Oh yeah, Uncut Gems could also be titled Uncouth Jews, being full of New York schlemiels. They follow the Bizarro Ten Commandments. First, they have many gods, each one promising shallow status. Taking the Lord’s name in vain? Routine. Honoring family? Often the reverse. Adultry? Hell yeah. Stealing, bearing false witness, and coveting, coveting, coveting? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. Oy vey, it’s schlemiel central.

    Still, you gotta kinda admire the chutzpah of Benny & Josh Safdie, plus their cowriter Ronald Bronstein. This is the same demented crew who conceived and created the sickly funny Good Time back in 2017.

    Safdie movies aren’t for everyone, that’s for sure. Those with a sensitive gag reflex should stay far away. Their embrace of ugliness frequently overwhelms their brilliance. In a way, they’re uncut gems themselves.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Adam Sandler proves yet again that he can act, and yet again that he’s happy to play the anti-hero, a world class schlemiel. This is a different acting muscle than the one he used in Punch-Drunk Love, proving that not only can he act, he can act in different ways.

    • Julia Fox makes a helluva debut as his hottie employee/mistress.
    • Idina Menzel jumps offscreen as his status-craving yet cheated wife.
    • Lakeith Stanfield also jumps offscreen in his laconic way as his rainmaker.
    • Kevin Garnett dazzles as himself, the legendary KG of the champion Boston Celtics. The cone of celebrity worship around a superstar athlete of KG’s stature is something to see.
    • Eric Bogosian knows low down.
    • Keith Williams Richards makes a conniving debut as a loanshark’s henchman.
    • Judd Hirsch plays very ethnic as basketball loving father-in-law.
    • Mike Francesa cameos as a bookie.
  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Very Good 3.5

    Uncut Gems unexpectedly opens in an Ethiopian opal mine, run by Chinese overlords, a brilliant opening, well executed. The Safdie Brothers then transcendently plumb the depth of a black opal, which then morphs into a doctor’s view of a colon, thus juxtaposing a precious gem that comes from a tainted source with the shit tunnel that ensures precious life. Great filmmaking, this.

  9. Direction Great 4.0
  10. Play Good 3.0
  11. Music Good 3.0
  12. Visuals Great 4.0
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 3.4
  15. Sex Erotic 2.6
  16. Violence Brutal 3.5
  17. Rudeness Nasty 4.0
  18. Glib 1.4
  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.2
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0

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