“Uncut Gems” is a crime thriller directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Ronald Bronstein. The movie is well done, kudos to Josh and Benny for working with Adam Sandler in this serious drama, which Adam is not known for. “Uncut Gems” is a fantastic film!
In 2010, an earthquake-like eruption occurs at a mine operated by Ethiopian Jewish workers. During the commotion, two miners retrieve a rare and valuable, black opal embedded in a large piece of rock. Two years later, Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) who runs a jewelry store in New York’s Diamond District, finally receives a package containing the opal, which he plans to auction off at an estimated $1M. Howard is struggling to pay back gambling debts, particularly $100K to his brother-in-law, Arno (Eric Bogosian), who is also a loan shark. His private life is split between his employee and mistress Julia (Julia Fox), and his estranged wife Dinah Ratner (Idina Menzel), who has agreed to give Howard a divorce right after Passover. One day, Howard gets a visit to his shop from Basketball player Kevin Garnett. Kevin becomes obsessed with the opal and insists on holding on to it for good luck at his game that night. Howard reluctantly agrees but requests that Kevin loan him his 2008 Championship Celtics ring as collateral. Kevin agrees, and shortly after Howard pawns the ring and places a bet on Garnett’s game that night.
“Uncut Gems” is Adam Sandler at his best. His character and brilliant performance parallel that of Gary Oldman in “The Professional”, fast-talking and fast wheeling and dealing. His mood-swing was no swing because he was consistently in crazy mode throughout the entire movie. It was refreshing to see a real change of pace film that you might even believe. You will be astonished by the shenanigans that go on in the life of this highly addicted con artist, which leads me to why I am so upset with the Academy for not giving Adam an Oscar nod. Maybe the movie wasn’t traditional Oscar material but Adam’s performance was certainly worth a nod for Best Actor. Additionally, the film received critical acclaim, for its screenplay, direction, Adam Sandler’s performance and Darius Khondji’s cinematography, receiving much of the praise. “Uncut Gems” was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2019 as Sandler also won for Best Actor. He also won Best Actor from the St. Louis Film Critics Association. “Uncut Gems” has become one of A24’s highest-grossing releases, having made $44 million. On the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 91% based on 270 reviews, with an average rating of 8.4/10. BTW: Kevin Garnett played himself, his performance was outstanding. I encourage all adults to see this movie. Check It Out!
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS, STREAMING
Tagged aaron, adam sandler, Arno, Beni Ratner, Benjy Kleiner, Demany, Dinah Ratner, Eddie Ratner, Elline Goldfarb, Eric Bogosian, gary, Gooey, Howard Ratner, Ida, Idina Menzel, Jacob Igielski, John Amos, Jonathan Aranbayev, Josh Ostrovsky, judd hirsch, Julia, Julia Fox, Keith Williams Richards, Keren Shemel, Kevin Garnett, Lakeith Stanfield, Lana Levitin, Lexus, Marcel Ratner, Mike Francesa, Nico, Noa Fisher, noah, phil, pom klementieff, Ruth, Sahar Bibiyan, Tommy Kominik, UNCUT GEMS, Wayne, Wayne Diamond
An unlikely plot when 2 high ranking women decide to plot murder on the terrorist responsible for the death of their son/fiance. In other words, revenge. Alfre Woodard and Katherine Heigl are CIA and President of the United States, respectively. Katherine Heigl plays Charleston Tucker, the CIA Official who was engaged to Aaron Payton, the President’s son, played by Mark Tallman. Alfre Woodard plays President Constance Payton, a former war veteran and Courtney B. Vance plays the President’s husband, Marshall Payton. For some reason, they were all together in Kabul, Afghanistan where they were attacked by a terrorist group lead by Omar Abdul Fatah. Aaron was killed but the women were not. It appears that their mission, going forward, is to kill any and everyone responsible for Aaron’s death. There are many secrets yet to unfold. While I love a good drama, I’m not sure this one is going to make it. There’s nothing wrong with the acting or the characters, except I’d hate to think that the President’s main agenda is revenge, yet I was happy when we took down Osama Bin Laden.
The pilot features Dr. Benjamin Butler who is working in Africa and who resembles the President’s dead son, Aaron. While in Kenya, the doctor and his colleagues were kidnapped and threatened with decapatation by a newly formed terrorist group. In the meanwhile, the mission to take down the much sorted after Omar Abdul Fatah, already targeted and in clear site of a US ground military strike team (MI6) was called off by CIA Official, Charleston, in favor of rescuing Dr. Butler instead. It wasn’t quite clear if the mission was redirected in favor of saving the doctor over killing Fatah because of the doctor’s resemblence to Aaron or Charlie’s explanation “waiting 6 months would allow us to get Fatah and his entire network instead of just Fatah”. A lot of risky business here. It’s worth waiting to see what happens in the next few weeks. One thing is clear, there is more going on than meets the eye. A relationship was introduced between Charlie and Nick Vera (Chris McKenna) a CIA asset who worked for Charlie and is keeping a secret regarding Fatah. There seems to be an obvious resentment between the two despite their romantic involvement. Nick has been “dark” for over a year. Secret photos that suggest Charlie and Nick are semi quasi partners in crime are repeatedly sent to Charlie’s cell phone. Charlie does not remember all that happened the day Aaron was killed. Her therapist is suggesting that Charlie is blocking out something she doesn’t want to remember.
I find this series a little ambiguous and I don’t think it’s very authentic. The busyness of the Presidential Staff and the ambiance of the White House is missing. Scenes like the President walking away from her son’s grave site, after speaking at a memorial, without visual body guards or Charlie being the President’s Daily Briefer which in real life is done by the Director of Intelligence, which is totally separate from the CIA and the fact that we don’t really ever see any of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gives support to the unofficial look and feel of this White House. Also, there are a lot of black women e.g., Angela Bassett, Viola Davis, Kimberly Elise, Thandie Newton or Jenifer Lewis, I feel would have made a more believable US President — it’s not an acting thing, it’s the unnaturalness and the energy I find lacking. State of Affairs airs on NBC. I still think it has potential.
Posted in Action, Dramas, LOCAL TV & CABLE CRITIQUES, Thriller/Mystery
Tagged aaron, alfee woodard, alfre woodard, charleston tucker, charlie, cia, courtney b vance, fatah, katerine hyakel, katherine heigl, mark tallman, marshall, nick, president payton, secret, state of affairs