TV Party Tonight! #83

TV Party Tonight! #83

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Uncut Gems

Movies like Uncut Gems make me happy that the Oscars don’t get it. Sure, it’s rough around the edges (pun intended), the characters are largely unlikeable, and the setting is strangely specific, but there is no doubt that Uncut Gems is highly original, has a gripping story, and is full of great performances. I mean, who knew we’d be praising an Adam Sandler movie. Look, of course he doesn’t deserve an Oscar for this, because that’s a meaningless gesture. Sandler doesn’t make this movie. It’s how the whole thing comes together that makes Uncut Gems shine (once again, pun intended).

It’s the hype around this movie that made me pay attention. I had never heard of the Safdie bothers before, but you bet I was watching them closely after seeing this movie. I went into Uncut Gems knowing nothing about it, and I’m willing to bet I had a better experience because of it than those who did their research. Not that the plot is describable or predictable because no one can guess where this movie is going. And yet, it’s so highly specific that you can’t help but be intrigued. Why should anyone care about a movie about a Jewish jeweler in New York who loves professional basketball and has a gambling problem? Because the story of Uncut Gems could happen to anyone. That’s the message here. Howard stands in for the everyman, who’s made mistakes, can’t catch a break, feels like they’re on the brink of a breakthrough, but keeps digging themselves deeper in order to stay afloat. It’s like a Red Queen situation where you have to keep running just to stay where you are.

And it’s clear that Uncut Gems is driven by its characters. If they didn’t arrive so fully formed, with their flaws and charm, endearing with their warts and all, we wouldn’t buy it. Whether it’s Howard himself, his colorful family, Kevin Garnett, the dangerous hitmen, Julia the salesgirl, or even the stone polisher working for Howard, each character is someone we recognize from our daily lives.

Owning movies is more important now than ever, and I’m just glad this indie gem got a physical release. Sure I’d like more as far as special features are concerned, like some deleted scenes and a commentary track, but there is a pretty thorough hour-long behind-the-scenes featurette with the entire cast and crew where they discuss the genesis of the film, how they went about casting it, shooting it, and editing it. It’s surprisingly informative and will satisfy fans of the film.

Uncut Gems is a suspenseful thriller that builds into an ending much bigger than any of us would expect. It’s the kind of movie where you enjoy both the ride and where it takes you.

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