*Movie Recap: Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems is such a rush of a movie. It is a non-stop anxiety-driven crime thriller directed by Josh and Benny Safdie and Written by Ronald Bronstein. This movie is pretty intense, and an all-around well made film. Adam Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a jewelry dealer working out of a showroom in Manhattan’s diamond district. Adam Sandler is excellent here, in a career-best performance. We get to follow Howard around as he hustles his way through life, and how his gambling addiction keeps him going. It is all about the hustle here. Every moment of his day is about hustling and gambling, while his personal and family life is in chaos. At the same time, Howard is undergoing a separation from his wife and kids. Idina Menzel plays Howard’s wife, she has a great scene towards the middle of the movie where she snaps and goes off on Howard.

Adam sandler and Julia Fox

But for me, the character that stood out the most and stole the movie was Julia, Howard’s showroom employee, and girlfriend, played by newcomer Julia Fox. I feel like she was the scene-stealer of this movie. She delivers an incredible and outstanding performance. In most scenes where she is in the background with no dialogue, you still feel compelled to keep an eye on what she is doing and how her character is reacting to the scene. The screen presence and facial gestures of Eric Bogosian’s character (Arno) as he is trying to collect on Howard’s debts are remarkable. Arno is married into Howard’s family, and seems to be mixed up with Armenian mobsters. The goons working for Arno trying to collect on Howard’s debt are intense. Even Kevin Garnett is pretty good playing himself here. The overall casting of this movie was perfect. 

The claustrophobic vibe of Howard’s showroom is an essential fixture of this film, and all the wheeling and dealing going on there. You get to see Howard dig himself deeper and deeper with every decision he makes. It’s a scheme on top of scheme; you feel the anxiety of every scheme because every decision Howard makes doubles down on the previous gamble and makes things worse. The Safdie Brothers seem to be on the cutting edge of cinema, and I can’t wait to see more from them in the years to come. This is a highly entertaining movie.

Four out of Five popcorn Bags. 🍿🍿🍿🍿


*Movie Recap: The Two Popes

The Two Popes (2019). Anthony Hopkins (Pope Benedict XVI), and Jonathan Pryce (Pope Francis).

Directed by Fernando Meirelles (“City of God,” “The Constant Gardener”) and written by Anthony McCarten (“Theory of Everything,” “Darkest Hour”). Anthony Hopkins plays Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), and Jonathan Pryce plays Pope Francis (Jorge Bergoglio). These two actors are just incredible together. It’s all about the acting here. Powerful, big-time acting to be precise. Cardinal Bergoglio writes to Pope Benedict requesting to be allowed to retire. Then he receives a letter summoning him to meet with Benedict in his summer residence at Castle Gandolfo. Here is where the creative license takes over, especially with the particulars on the topics being discussed by the Two Popes.

However, the dialogue between Benedict and Francis is exceptional; McCarten’s writing shines here. We get to see their two opposing viewpoints on life and theology. Their different approach to Catholic doctrine is very evident, nevertheless, they both seem to agree that the church must evolve in order to survive. But Benedict seems incapable of taking the next steps into reforming the church and addressing the issues that have plagued the Vatican for decades. The flashback scenes of young Bergoglio before he joined the priesthood are well executed and elegantly portrayed by Juan Minujin. Here is where the film turns its focus into Pope Francis and how his early years shaped him into the man of faith he eventually became. The controversial period of Bergoglio’s involvement during Argentina’s Dirty war is also presented to show a conflicted priest who will carry the burden of those years into his papacy. The Two Popes is one of the best movies I saw in 2019. Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce are formidable.

Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

THE TWO POPES (2019, Streaming on Netflix)

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