Director: Benny & Josh Safdie

Starring: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, LaKeith Stanfield

Year: 2019

The Safdie Bros. follow up Good Time with Uncut Gems?  Is that even legal?  These young directors are producing content right now that rivals the greats of the industry, and they’re just getting started.  Their films pulse with energy, violence and comedy and drama pump through each vein, and, what’s more, the endings are actually good, which we all know is something rare.  How are they able to do this with such seeming ease while scores around them struggle with the simplest of stories?  Who the hell knows, but that’s a question worth exploring, and audiences reap the benefits just sitting back in our chairs, we don’t have to do anything other than enjoy.  And that’s what I plan on doing for every Safdie flick from here on out; enjoying talent that seems heaven-sent, and counting myself lucky to be on the viewing end.

Howard isn’t really a jeweler, he’s more a juggler, keeping a hundred running chainsaws in the air at one time, hoping to God none of them chop off an appendage.  He’s pawning necklaces to get cash to place bets.  He’s placing bets to make enough money to pay back bookies.  He’s paying bookies with promises, making swaps he can’t authorize, hocking everything he owns, always hoping that the next big score will pay out.  His latest hustle is a giant opal worth around a million dollars, which he lends to Kevin Garnett the NBA baller, of all people.  Garnett plans to buy the rock at auction anyway, but meanwhile he feels like he’s got a lucky charm, so Howard bets everything on KG having a great playoff game.  If he doesn’t, Howie might lose more than some money, and he’s currently losing his wife to boot, because she knows about his girlfriend, who is also his employee.  Chainsaws, chainsaws everywhere, and ne’er a breath to take.

Good Time was brain-pounding pace, stellar acting, and constant awesome music, which I thought couldn’t be repeated.  You wonder why more directors don’t do the same thing and simply make another good movie like the other one that did so well; I guess people are just stupid.  The Safdie Bros. didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, they just made another fast, supported, beat-driven crime marathon, with a story that was fresh but with a feel that was extremely comfortable.  Bravo for being smart, we don’t see that enough, and keep up the good work, my friends.  They even elevated things a bit, especially with the cast: Sandler was magnificent, Fox was inarticulately hot, Stanfield was so cool, plus KG, The Weeknd, Idina Menzel, Judd Hirsh.  I’m not sure there’s a single piece of the film I didn’t like, it all worked, from the blood to the bombast, from the bling to the beatings.  Uncut Gems is an unusual but definite choice for a Best Picture nominee, and I think it has enough support to make the list, if not enough traction to win.  Sandler too could be in for awards, and he would deserve them entirely; don’t count this film out in any area, it’s strong from any angle.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆