The Criterion Voyages (Spine #1101): UNCUT GEMS -- The Safdies' Vision That Transcends Filmmaking
By Dan Skip Allen
Uncut Gems was like a whirlwind when it came out in 2019. It showed people Adam Sandler was more than the SNL goofy comedy guy. He was now considered a serious actor in a lot of people's minds, enough so that he was being tapped as an Oscar contender. This is with great respect. He wasn't nominated, but the role of Howard Ratner is such a realistic portrayal it's scary.
Adam Sandler plays the owner of a jewelry shop that deals in rare gems, watches, and other rare antiquities. He gets in over his head with a loan shark and it causes him problems with his family, mainly his wife (Idina Menzel), and his other business associates. A long-term deal that he had been working on could be the answer to all his problems.
Adam Sandler has a skittish nature to his character. The slick nature of Howard Ratner plays into Sandler's sensibilities as an actor. Sandler is used to playing the everyman that people can relate to or quirky oddballs in his film career. This is totally different for him in his career. He played into the script perfectly. His style melded with the script like they were meant to be together.
The Saftie Brothers (Good Time) have the reputation of guerilla filmmaking and quick cuts and fast-paced storytelling. This film has that. The story moves very fast and it's hard to keep up with at times. This world of these shady people keeps the film moving and it's not clear where or when it'll end. It is like a merry go round and they create a film like nothing I've seen in my entire life. This is a seminal film.
The cast in this film is amazing besides Sandler and Menzel. Lakeith Stanfield, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Judas and the Black Messiah last year, plays a hustler and business associate of Sandler's character. Boston Celtics champion NBA legend Kevin Garnett plays himself and he is great in the film as an athlete acting even if he's playing himself. The revelation in the film is Julia Fox. She is incredible as a gumar of Sandler's character.
This transfer by Criterion is incredible. The colors pop so well in this version. Various shirts and items in the film shine and jump out in 4K. The framing sequences are gorgeous. Along with that goes the grain of the film. It has a gritty look to it that reminds me of '70s films. The cinematography by Darius Khondji is some of the best of 2019. I can't say enough how incredible this transfer is.
The film has some good music choices as well, from the Weeknd playing himself singing a song to some techno music and various other forms of music from Daniel Lopatin. It has a sound that jumps out while watching the film. The score and music both play into the uneasy nature of the film's storyline and plot. At times it's very frantic, and other times it's very soothing and relaxing, all depending on what's going on in the film.
Sanders's character is his own worst enemy. He does everything wrong until he finally does something right. This film shows how people can be a detriment to society. This entire world of jewelry and rare gems is explored very thoroughly by the Safdie Brothers. The look and feel of the film are so beautiful. This 4K Criterion is a nice addition to anybody's collection for sure.
1/17/2022 12:10:07 pm
Thanks Skip. I liked this movie. I though Adam Sandler was great.
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