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Benny & Josh Safdie
Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Idina Menzel
Writing Credits:
Benny & Josh Safdie, Ronald Bronstein

With his debts mounting and angry collectors closing in, a fast-talking New York City jeweler risks everything in hope of staying afloat and alive.

Rated R.

Box Office:
$19 million.
Opening Weekend
$9,576,879 on 2348 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 135 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 3/10/2020

• “Money on the Street” Documentary
• Previews


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Uncut Gems [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 21, 2020)

Ever since he hit the national scene in the early 1990s, we know Adam Sandler primarily for his personal brand of lowbrow humor. Every once in a while, though, he goes dramatic, and he follows that trend with 2019’s Uncut Gems.

Howard Ratner (Sandler) runs a gem dealership in New York but he runs up massive debts due to his gambling addiction. When he obtains a rare Ethiopian black opal, Howard thinks he can turn a tidy profit and pay off all the money he owes.

NBA star Kevin Garnett (Kevin Garnett) spies the opal and becomes convinced it will give him good luck. After Garnett goes on a hot streak, Howard thinks that he can use this opportunity to recoup major bucks via bets on NBA games. This leads Howard on a slew of risky endeavors as he attempts to stay on the right side of the lowlifes who threaten him.

Through the years, I’ve defended Sandler – to a degree. One of the most frustrating comedians in Hollywood, at his best he creates clever, witty movies, but far too often, Sandler makes lazy crap.

I maintain a soft spot for the guy, however, as I think he sometimes gets a raw deal. Too many dismiss his talents, though as I implied, he brings a lot of this on himself due to his more than occasional refusal to take anything other than the path of least resistance.

I certainly can’t criticize Sandler for that here, as Gems represents a pretty serious departure from his usual MO. Not only does Howard represent a non-comedic choice, but also the role forces Sandler to ignore his usual desire for the audience to love him.

Howard offers a wholly unpleasant character, one who makes it next to impossible for the viewer to like him. And that’s fine, as not every movie needs sympathetic protagonists.

That said, Gems goes too far in the other direction, as it offers an unpleasant assault on the senses. An aggressive attack, this becomes the cinematic equivalent of being beaten with a baseball bat for 135 minutes.

We find little more than unpleasant people who yell at each other nonstop, with occasional stabs at social commentary ala Blood Diamond. It also throws in weird attempts to provide cosmological pretensions that make the movie look like it borrowed outtakes from the end of 2001.

The characters seem unilaterally awful and the film reveals nothing about them. They're just miserable people who scream at each other a lot.

I really wanted to like the film and I'm not averse to "ugly" movies, but this one just brings few redeeming factors. I'm fine with the lack of sympathetic/likable characters, but the absence of depth or insight turns this into a dreadful experience.

I don't think the film explores the characters as well as it should - not even Howard despite the fact he appears onscreen virtually the whole time. We never get much of a sense of what makes Howard tick, and without this depth, we find ourselves stuck with 135 minutes of anger and aggressiveness.

At no point does Gems threaten to redeem himself. A long, unpleasant journey, it becomes an off-putting trek with little merit involved.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

Uncut Gems appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with an erratic presentation – though admittedly, it brought an intentionally erratic presentation.

I guess, as some aspects of the image looked “off” for no especially logical reason. That primarily impacted sharpness, as some oddly soft spots materialized.

Still, I suspect the cinematography went this way on purpose, even if it didn’t make much sense. Overall delineation felt pretty good, even with the rough moments, though no one should expect a razor-sharp presentation.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also failed to appear, and the film came with a fairly heavy layer of intentional grain.

Colors leaned toward blue/teal and amber/orange much of the time, though occasional spurts of other hues emerged. These tended to feel a bit thick but they seemed to match the production design.

Blacks seemed fairly dense, while shadows offered largely positive delineation, though the low-light shots could come across as a little thick. This was a less than attractive image, though likely by design.

In addition, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack could seem erratic, largely due to off-putting choices. In particular, the mix opted for a lot of localized speech, and the placement of the lines could feel iffy.

This meant dialogue from all around the room, but not in an especially logical manner. While some of the material seemed appropriately placed, more than a few moments created unnecessary distractions.

Otherwise, the soundfield mostly worked fine. Music spread around the room in an appropriate manner, while effects showed good breadth and involvement. Those elements tended toward environmental information, but they opened up the room in a positive manner when necessary.

Audio quality worked well, with music that appeared vivid and full. Effects also boasted nice accuracy and range.

Despite the awkward placement, dialogue remained fairly natural and concise. Though the localization choices created distractions, this became a pretty good mix most of the time.

Only one extra appears here: a 30-minute, 30-second documentary called Money on the Street. It includes comments from writers/directors Benny and Josh Safdie, and actors Idina Menzel, Adam Sandler, Kevin Garnett and Julia Fox.

“Money” looks at the project’s roots and development, story and characters, cast and performances, research and realism, the work of the Safdie brothers on the set, and editing.

“Money” offers a tight 30-minute look at the movie. I’d prefer something longer – or a commentary – but at least “Money” becomes a fairly substantial and informative overview of the production.

The disc opens with ads for The Lighthouse, Waves and Good Time. No trailer for Gems appears here.

I appreciate Adam Sandler’s desire to try something outside of his usual comedic comfort zone, and his lead performance in Uncut Gems demonstrates his willingness to challenge himself. Unfortunately, the movie becomes such an unpleasant assault on the senses that it fails to find much redeeming value. The Blu-ray comes with decent picture and audio as well as a good documentary. I wanted to like Gems but found nothing to enjoy here.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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