Uncut Gems (2019)
Dir. The Safdie Brothers
The maniacal insanity that can be compressed into a single 2:39:1 frame has been pushed to the brim over the past 100 years of filmmaking, some films continue to do this, with the recent sleeper hit “Thirteen Lives” and known hit “Nope” being golden examples of this. The tension, violence, and frenetic camerawork make up an experience that cannot be forgotten. Take Josh & Benny Safdie’s fourth feature, “Uncut Gems,” a film production shrouded in a great mystery, started the “one image marketing” craze, and relied on one trailer for nearly 3 months of the marketing campaign. There was an unknown quantity to it, just that Adam Sandler was doing a dramatic role almost 20 years after “Punch-Drunk Love”, and the Safdie’s were some of the strongest voices in independent cinema now, and that was enough to get this writer in a theatre on Christmas day. Cut to 135 minutes of yelling, an audio mix that would make this writer’s head implode, and so much tension that no knife would even dare cut it and the first emotion that hit me was frustration. Why, why would Adam Sandler make so many of these throwaway Netflix movies when he has a level of talent that has been employed seldom in his decades-long career? It makes no sense, but that makes the feeling of “Uncut Gems” all the more special. It’s a theatre experience that demands to be remembered because of the massive canvas that the performers and creatives are working on feels vast, and for once going big makes everything happening on screen more cohesive.