MOVIE BUFF-ET: Sandler gives career performance in crime film ‘Uncut Gems’


Unrelenting, loud, and in your face are just some of the ways to describe “Uncut Gems,” the latest film from the writing and directing duo the Josh and Benny Safdie.

It could also be described as one of the best films of the year with an outstanding lead performance by none other than Adam Sandler as a misanthropic yet charismatic jeweler named Howard Ratner, who juggles life on the edge because of his gambling addiction.

Sandler gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the film’s hard-luck anti-hero, who never understands when to leave well enough alone. Up to his ears in debt, Ratner pawns other people’s valuables for money to bet in hopes of hitting it big enough to pay off everyone he owes.

As you might guess, things don’t go as planned, but until the film’s stunning twist, the movie keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat.

The Safdie brothers pump up the tension and anxiety with their choices of tight shots and extreme closeups accentuating their hand-held shooting style. Their camera work makes you feel like you are along for the ride, but unlike most roller coasters, you’ve got no real chance of guessing exactly where and when this juiced-up movie will end.

Sandler is a scumbag in the movie, but his performance buys empathy for the character despite the fact he wrecks everyone’s life in his circle, particularly his own. The movie is messy and uncomfortable, and all the more tantalizing because of it.

The film isn’t an action movie, but the pacing derived from the anger and arguments and double crosses make the film as lively and electric as any film of the year.

Sandler is supported by the surprising turn by former NBA star Kevin Garnett, who is basically the second lead in the film playing himself. Garnett carries his own weight and then some, just like he did when he starred for the Boston Celtics.

Newcomer Julia Fox is strong as Ratner’s employee and mistress Julia, and Idina Menzel likewise shines and Ratner’s estranged wife Dinah. Eric Bogosian is completely menacing as Ratner’s loan shark brother-in-law Arno.

If you like crime and gangster-type films, “Uncut Gems” should wind your watch just right.

New In Local Movie Theaters

  • Uncut Gems(R) 2 hr. 14 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle
  • Spies in Disguise(PG) 1 hr. 42 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle
  • Little Women(PG) 2 hr. 15 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Rogers Towne, Bentonville Skylight

Classic Corner – About Time

Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson in About Time

With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, “About Time” is a film that has not reached classic status yet, and it might never truly be considered a classic, but it’s one I’ve enjoyed more and more in repeat viewings.

It’s ever so slightly a sci-fi movie on the outside with a rom-com heart beating on the inside. The 2013 movie reminds me of “Groundhog Day,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” or even “A Christmas Carol” in several ways. Like the aforementioned movies, “About Time” is a cautionary tale about how you can use or even abuse your life and others.

The movie falls in the realm of science fiction not because it contains hostile aliens or even tame ones, but rather its the story of a man who belongs to a family whose male members can time travel by secluding themselves into a dark place, holding their fists tight, shutting their eyes and imagining a memory from the past.

When they losen their fists and open their eyes, they travel back to that time and place where they then can make corrections to their lives. However, those corrections sometimes create unexpected and unintended results.

The film stars Domhnall Gleeson as Tim Lake, our ginger-haired hero who travels back in time to insure that he wed his dream girl Mary (Rachel McAdams). The movie delves into the various ups and downs course-correcting one’s life through time travel might create.

The movie also features Bill Nighy as Bill, Tim’s father, who discloses the family secret to him, but allows his son to discover the curse in the gift and the gift in the curse.

The sci-fi trappings aren’t perfect. At points in the movie, the rules of time travel as laid out to Bill to his son are violated, but like all sci-fi, the story is just better if you buy in and don’t ask too many pesky questions.

Again if you think about the way Tim manipulates his relationships with his power, it can seem a little creepy, but again, the movie is a light parable that isn’t supposed to be devled into too deeply.

The message Tim finely gains from his time travels is that its best to be present in the here and the now. To me that’s a pretty good message to be reminded of most any day but especially on New Year’s Eve.