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Given the mixed reviews this movie received, I went in with low expectations.  I wasn’t expected to enjoy it as much as I ultimately  did.  Yes, it’s a cacophonous frenzy from start to finish but as someone who was once immersed in the world of sports betting, I could empathize with our protagonist even though I didn’t much like him.  The exhilarating highs and crushing lows.  The lies and deceptions, perilous wagers and outrageous justifications.  It was all spot on.  Disquietingly so.

Adam Sandler delivers a career performance as Howie Ratner, a degenerate gambler in deep (to a relative no less!) who struggles through his addiction in a bid to right all the wrongs in his life by hitting big, indifferent to the people he hurts and the relationships he destroys along the way.  As great as Sandler was in the role, unlike most reviewers I never mustered much sympathy for Howie, even after all was said and done.  Instead, my allegiances lay with his victims – his ex-wife, his girlfriend, and the people he owed money.  Every one of them was more likable than Howie and yet, despite that, I found the movie very compelling.

There was an intimacy to the film, in part the shooting style, in part the decision to use a number of non-actors in roles, that grounded its gritty, adrenaline-fueled world, really setting it apart from its more polished Hollywood counterparts.

If there was one element I didn’t love, it was the music.  While admittedly a perfect acoustic reflection of the movie’s tonal chaos, I found it annoying and distracting.  I think a little could have gone a few long way here.

So, what did you all think?

Well, not the greatest day in terms of progress.  Just got word that one of my favorite projects – that comic book adaptation – won’t be moving forward.  Kind of heartbroken as it was a lot of fun and very different from most of the superhero-themed shows out there.  On the bright side, it will allow me to refocus on the other five projects in play.

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A reminder to circle Monday, October 5th on your calendars!  I’ll be joining Orville Nation‘s video live-stream post-episode discussion of Dark Matter Episode 1.  Rewatch and join us.  And tell your friends!  Introduce someone new to our most under-appreciated sci-fi series.

5 thoughts on “October 2, 2020: The Crime Club reconvenes to discuss Uncut Gems!

  1. Hmm. This movie. I admit being a bit surprised at your positive review, as I thought it was pretty dreadful. Perhaps it’s just because of my rather negative mood today (quite possible), but I found that there wasn’t so much of a story as just a bunch of stuff that happened. With yelling. It didn’t seem until the latter half that things started happening as a consequence of things that had already happened. Characters came in and out the “story” that we really didn’t get to know, or really care about. And what about the goons that as punishment wind up putting the naked Howie in the trunk of his OWN car but graciously allowed him to keep his cell phone to call for help for when the emergency trunk release (in)conveniently did not work. I hate when improbable stuff happens just to set things up for a scene later. In this case, just so his wife would have to come out to put up a brief scene about how, once again, he was so disappointing. I mean, goons are not necessarily hired for their smarts, but really. Her opinion of him and his problems with the goons were already clearly established, so that whole scene and set up seemed completely redundant.

    And then at the end the (same?) goons are trapped but when released then dispatch Howie and rob the store. Even though Howie had just pulled a Kipling-esque “heaped all his winnings and risked it on one turn of pitch-and-toss” and come into a shit-ton of money that they could have threatened him into taking the better part of. Just did not make sense. Goons gotta goon, I suppose. I do admit to a sense of relief when Howie suddenly met his end and thought finally – someone got him to shut up.

    I felt the entire movie could be summed up thus:

    “Fck you!”
    “No, f
    ck YOU!”
    [numerous scenes of people yelling/screaming at each other]
    “Give me my fcking money!”
    “I don’t HAVE your f
    cking money!”
    “Oh, wait! I have your f*…”

    ~ FIN ~

    That sucks about the comic adaptation, but as you’ve said lots, that’s why it’s important to keep a bunch of projects on the go so that maybe one may finally go ahead.

    Definitely up for the DM rewatch, but what time is that happening?

  2. I couldn’t bring myself to finish watching “Uncut Gems”. I ended up watching “Ghostbusters” instead.

    I really struggle to engage with movies and shows with unlikable leads. I hate “Fawlty Towers” and “The Office” for exactly that reason. The lead characters are so despicable I can’t find any redeeming features in them. To a certain extent, I had similar problems with Rush and Young in “Stargate Universe”.

    I found the dialogue in “Uncut Gems” so fast I could hardly understand what was going on. Maybe I’m getting old? It felt like a lot was ad libbed. Thus, I only gave Howie 40 minutes of my time and found him so unpleasant I couldn’t keep watching. I hope it all worked out for him but I suspect that wasn’t the case.

    I have not watched “Dark Matter” since the original airing. I will cue it up before Monday!

  3. Sorry about the comic book adaptation, Joe. I don’t know how you juggle so many projects. I could only do one at a time, maybe two at a stretch.

    Cheers, Chev

  4. I really liked Uncut Gems. However, it was hard to get thru the movie because of how dark and gritty the story is. The ending is so dark you can’t help leaving the film feeling down. I saw it in theaters on a late Sunday showing and boy that made for a depressing end to my weekend. Lol. Easily Sandler’s best performance.

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