Uncut Gems ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
Somebody needs to get Shaquille O’Neil to riff off Kevin Garnett’s acting chops.
From previews didn’t expect much from Kevin Garnett (KG). Play a little basketball, maybe a cameo or two.
Not the case at all. He’s in several non-basketball scenes — and does very well.
All eyes have been on Adam Sandler, and he had a standout performance, but surprisingly, so did KG.
Before going further into this post, there will be SPOILERS in this critique and the linked reviews. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, then you may want to bookmark and come back after seeing.
… you have been warned SPOILERS ahead …
The most riveting scene KG is in, however, is on the court, He has a few other meaty scenes where he is at Howard’s jewelry store, another at an auction.
Like Sandler, who plays a very different version of his typical quirky, goofy self, KG plays an NBA star possessed with the properties of a gem in Sandler’s possession. He want, no, he needs that rock with the multi-colored gems.
It was clear to the Safdies that Garnett was a gifted performer even off the court. “When we met him in person it was just like, ‘His personality comes out of every part of his body,’” Josh says. “He’s incredible. He tells stories in a way that’s so engaging. And it’s so three-dimensional in a weird way. He’ll set up where everybody was sitting, what was happening. Then he shifts the stories based on who’s paying attention. He’ll give it a shape. It’s like, ‘OK, this guy can act. That’s acting.’”How Kevin Garnett Landed in ‘Uncut Gems’ – The Ringer
He was not some walk-on NBA player who tries to act, he seems like another actor in the movie. Good for KG.
SPOILERS ahead, yes, of course.
Sandler Sure Walks A LOT in This Movie
The camermen sure got their cardio in following Sandler walking seemingly everywhere in this movie. Toward the end, I thought it was a little much. I mean, we get it, he’s walking, so follow with the camera. Too much of anything risks making it a gimmick. The overwalking scenes by the ending were feeling a little gimmicky.
The pros of them, however, is that they do ratchet up the intensity of Howard’s frenzied run. Where he’s trying to fix one problem by creating two others … and yet at the core of it is a deeply flawed sports gambling problem.
Ending is Raw, Unbridled Fury
Loved the last 20 minutes of this movie. We need to know whether or not Howard is going to win the big payoff. Despite him being fiercely unlikable, the viewer is compelled to root for him to win the bet, versus rooting against him.
Turns out it’s what happens after the bet outcome is most shocking. It’s the perfect cinematic magic act. Make us care for something to happen, then twist it. The twist is great and, no, I didn’t see it coming. If you did, good for you.
Despite some flaws, I enjoyed this movie. I can’t see giving any Oscar to Sandler over that other Adam, Mr. Driver, who was better in Marriage Story. Do I think Sandler should be nominated? Yes. It shows he has range. I don’t know if they’ll give any Oscar love to him.
Reviews by Others
What do other moviegoers think of Uncut Gems?
- AIPT: “…a flawed movie that is very enjoyable. It is anchored by strong performances and a very interesting story. The opening draws the audience in and keeps them on the edge of their seats. The frenzied storytelling and direction will be a turn off for some, but those who are willing to watch the film should like what they see.”
- Andy Wolverton: “…a film that’s not refined, nor, I suppose, is it meant to be. It’s raw, it goads you to yearn for the unrealized potential in human flourishing, and it makes us very anxious and uncomfortable. Maybe that’s the point. It succeeds on many levels, yet it is a film I appreciate and admire more than a film I actually like.”
- BandamReviews (Grade: A+): “The whole thing plays like a cautionary tale of inescapable addiction and dreams of unfathomable affluence courtesy of capitalism. Uncut Gems is a modern day American classic in every sense of the word and it is going to put the Safdie Brothers on the map.”
- Cinema Spotlight / Jason: “…is engaging and relatively unique for today’s audience, and certainly like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s just an all-around fun film that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire way as it explores one man’s chaotic and self-destructive actions that take us on a wild ride through the effects of gambling addiction and the fast paced life that its main character choses to embrace.”
- CJ / Film Mafia (4.5/5): “One of 2019’s best. It will make you grateful you don’t want any of the things the people in the film want, unless you do, in which case it may just get you to re-evaluate your life.”
- EYG / Embrace Your Geekness (4/5): “There is a gritty feel to the film and you are constantly filled with anxiety about what is going to happen next. Howard is on his toes, just barely getting through to the next situation that you never have the chance to take a deep breath.”
- Feld Thoughts: “If you’ve ever been out of control going downhill on skis or a bike, that’s what the movie felt like. For over two hours.”
- FILM FRENZY / Matt Brunson (3/4): ” Since the bulk of Uncut Gems involves people constantly screaming at each other, jittery moviegoers might want to seek entertainment elsewhere — honestly, the characters’ hostility, accentuated by the up-close-and-personal camerawork by Darius Khondji and the rapid-fire editing by Benny Safdie and Bronstein, works on the nerves as effectively as the shock sequences from any superior horror film.”
- FlixChatter Film Blog: “…is one of best films I’ve seen this year, in what has been an overall fantastic year for cinema and original storytelling. This Safdie Brothers crime thriller is definitely in my top-ten list”
- Griff’s Picks (Grade: A): “A fairy tale coated in acid and financial insecurity, Uncut Gems‘ bruising, anxiety-driven journey finds a live-wire Adam Sandler leading the way as the Safdies cement themselves as maestros of jittery, high-wire narratives.”
- Grim D. Reaper (3/4): ” The genius herein is all the ways viewers might feel about the ending… and none of them wrong. It isn’t unusual for award-contending films to have ambiguous endings leaving too much to the imagination, but this one curiously ends exactly where it needs to, and that too is a unique thing unto itself.”
- Hannah N’ Atlanta: “…an excellent tale of what happens when we allow our vices to win out.”
- Humanizing The Vacuum (Grade: B+): “Adam Sandler never stops acting in Uncut Gems; if he did, the film would collapse from angina.”
- Jonathan Rivera: “Go watch. The cast is incredible with Adam Sandler doing what I think is the best work he has ever done. I will say though, the movie is long, just about over two hours and for those two hours you will be stressed and will feel emotionally attacked and battered”
- Jordan Woodson’s Reviews: “…can drag at points, but it is still another really great piece of art from the Safdie Bros. While I do feel “Good Time” is still their best movie, there is no doubt that this is Sandler’s best performance and one of the best performances of the year.”
- let the movie move us (5/5): “…this film is like one of the most exciting train trips you can ever take. Just do not miss it. Because by missing it, you miss an opportunity to become a part of the history created by two talented directors and Adam Sandler that cannot be missed at any cost.”
- Liamm Gaughan (Grade: A-): “There are points in which Uncut Gems can feel exhausting, and it’s easy to get lost in the minutia of who owes what to who and what the implications of certain action are, but thanks to the surprising nature of the story and the creative problem solving, there’s never a point where the stakes don’t feel real or the dramatic ramifications are lost. “
- Logan Coleman Film Reviews (8.5/10): “I am hopeful that Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Eric Bogosian will be nominated for Oscars for their roles in the film. This film does have a large amount of profanity so this might not be for all people.”
- Matinee Chat with Kathy Kaiser: “The Safdie brothers have created a role for Sandler this time around, that takes him 180 degrees from his comedic roots, and then some, proving that he really is an incredible actor, regardless of the material. And this movie as a whole…WOW! It is so chaotic throughout, that my anxiety was on overdrive! I even had to take a step back to take in the experience of what all just happened on screen, before I could respond to the Studio rep of what I had just experienced.”
- Movies with Tarek (4/5): “…is a knockout performance that is also intense. However, the directing is astonishing, the screenplay is structured and luminous, and the suspense does not end.”
- Movie Warrior: “…very entertaining, heart-warming, comical and a bit sad. This is definitely a great movie to see during this Holiday time. The cast is great. The cinematography and costumes are awesome!”
- Platinum Studios: “…if your cake is a film with ever-increasing pacing, beat to beat tension (from the moment it starts to the minute it ends) then Uncut Gems is the thriller for you. That to me: is a TRUE thriller!”
- Patrick/PJ (5/5): “A complex and beautiful, but intense cinematic experience that is not for everyone. I believe if you love and respect film, you will find that Uncut Gems adds to the ever evolving art of film and storytelling. I highly recommend it.”
- Reel Movies Matter (8/10): “…is fun, explosive, sexy and unique.”
- Scott Likes Movies: “I left this movie feeling mentally and physically drained. Can you enjoy a movie artistically while it simultaneously makes you think you might have an aneurysm from stress? That’s what I got out of this. Whether or not you decide to watch this, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
- Unknown Reel (4.5/5): “…a movie that gives you a full adrenaline rush. every scene there’s something crazy going on and it doesn’t let you breathe until the end of the film. It’s chaotic, nerve-racking and tragic.”
- Yosh Bansal Reviews (4/5): “…when this movie gets going, particularly in its final act, it is relentless and absorbing. The movie also feels very grounded in reality and that makes the tension levels rise even more.”
- Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: “I love, love, love, love this movie. And after this and Good Time, I cannot WAIT to see The Safdie Brothers next film”
- Zaq Rants About Movies (9/10): “Adam Sandler is brilliant in Uncut Gems. Seriously. If there’s anyone left who doesn’t think he can give a great performance, then tie them to a chair and make them watch Sandler tell Kevin Garnett exactly how he wins.”
Not Recommended (or on the fence)
- Bill Newcott: “With no reward at the end, we’re left only to marvel at Sandler’s bravura performance — and that’s not quite enough to make the whole ordeal worthwhile.”
- Breegull Beak Reviews: “Uncut Gems is good. Adam Sandler is great, but this feels like a pretty basic story. It’s the kind that generally get buzz come award season, but while I enjoyed watching it, I can’t see myself doing so again.”
- Chicken of Tomorrow: “…the underlying stock story is as common as glass and ultimately has nothing particularly profound to offer a modern audience. With all its flash and sparkle, Uncut Gems is as gaudy and cheap as a counterfeit watch.”
- Dylan O’Grady:(6/10) “…the constant bickering & arguing throughout the first 2 acts. I know that there’s stressful situations the characters go through in the film, but it got to a point where it was repetitive & exhausting. The third act is really where it picks up though & I felt the most invested and wanted to know what was going to happen next until the very end.”
- Fadi Hearts Films (Grade: B-): “Over all, I can’t say that I RECOMMEND this movie. It certainly accomplishes what it set out to do, which is to shred your nerves. But at nearly two and a half hours long, I found it to be a bit repetitive.”
- Film Vetter: “…the film is so histrionic, it’s hard to find people you can actually identify with. You root for Sandler primarily because you want a particularly tense situation to resolve. And the soundtrack – a blend of Vangelis and the hum of an 80’s video game arcade – is distracting, discordant, and near-unforgivable.”
- I Am Your Target Demographic: “Sandler’s Howard is an irredeemable guy, throwing his life away and making mistake after mistake. He then gets punished for it, emotionally and physically. This is two hours of stressful torture of this guy who clearly deserves it. Now yes, Sandler sells it, so his performance is top notch, but I still ask Who wants to see this? The movie is incredibly anxiety-inducing, my heart racing from start to finish. I didn’t enjoy the experience”
- Movie Warrior (2.5/5): “I personally did not like the movie, not because of what the movie contained, but because of the illustrations of some of the scenes and the boldness of it all.”
- Norbert Haupt (2/4): “The plot was impossible to follow. But I assume that was by the design of the music and the camera work, accompanied by the constant yelling of the people. Confusion abounded.”
- Ry Guy’s Reviews: “The cinematography and structure of the film is done well, certainly not amateur. There are good elements throughout and by the end, you’re rooting for Howard at the end, just a little bit. The Safdie Brothers are probably going to be big names after this film. I just hope they can tighten things up and improve on their craft. Two and a half stars.”
- The Obsessive Viewer: “How much you enjoy Uncut Gems will probably depend on your tolerance for not only Adam Sandler, but the Safdie brothers’ relentless pacing. But, like a car crash in slow motion, you’ll find it hard to look away.”
- The Other Ebert: “…this film is loud, annoying, and there’s nobody to root for. The complicated plot is opaque and frankly I didn’t care enough about the main character to put much effort into trying to figure it out. By the end I just wanted it to be over.”
- Writergurlny: “I don’t know about this film. Howard is not an unlikeable character, but he is highly flawed and makes questionable decisions. Though it is obvious that Sandler is stretching himself as an actor, I still kind of prefer the man-child of the past.”
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