Uncut Gems (2019)

pattycakes_

Well-known member
He made a couple of good but forgettable pieces. Nothing worth giving a shit about imo. It's like music that ticks all the status quo boxes. Lone guy in Brooklyn with Russian heritage playing minimal shit on vintage analogs. Add some simple but haunty harmonies and you have a sellable artist to millenials.
 
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Who loves ya, baby?
GOLDMAN v SILVERMAN

Rod Goldman and Al Silverman are street performers who work the tourist scene of Times Square. Goldman gets no respect and Silverman is the first one to make sure of that.

Directed By: Josh and Benny Safdie

Starring: Adam Sandler and Benny Safdie
 

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Who loves ya, baby?
This is interesting.

An Unserious Man

Uncut Gems, the Safdie brothers’ winter blockbuster starring Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner, a sleazy diamond dealer caught in an escalating series of debts, might be the most explicitly Jewish mainstream movie since the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man (2009). Its release prompted the following emergency meeting of the editorial staff of Jewish Currents to discuss what Uncut Gems says about contemporary Jewish identity. This conversation has been condensed and edited, and includes spoilers.

https://jewishcurrents.org/an-unserious-man/
 

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DK: I think we’re onto something with this idea of Ratner as Shylock archetype. Right in the title, and in everything that drives the action of the movie, is an economic sector that Jews have languished in for most of our history.

When we talk about capitalism now, we’re often asked to distinguish between, on the one hand, the real economy of manufacture and production, and on the other, a new economy of abstractions—financial products, derivatives, apps—which is where the real money is. What’s interesting about gems is that they exist somewhere in between. A gem is a physical thing that is mined and refined and processed and sold, but its value is entirely positional and social, a way to flaunt wealth and social status. On top of that, a kind of unfashionable way to do it. Ratner is both the old economy—the medieval merchant—and a modern exploiter of the Global South.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
OC wanted to call his sophomore album "Jew-ells" but presumably the record label talked him out of it
 

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[...] There’s the intimation of world politics at the beginning when it’s Chinese guys who own the mine. There’s a whole world out there happening, and then it’s happening inside of this gem and Ratner cannot see it. The movie is about a man who comes into possession of a piece of the universe and doesn’t know what it’s worth.

MB: Or only knows what it’s worth.

JP: And then he’s wrong. At the auction it’s worth way less than he thought!

NG: Are you sure he can’t see it? Ratner literally says, “You can see the whole universe in these things.”

JP: I think Ratner is a man without metaphysics. He’s incapable of metaphysics, or meaning, or any of these things. The question to me isn’t so much, does he have to be Jewish? Rather, it’s this: what does the fact that he’s Jewish mean? In this case, nothing. He’s festooned with Jewish symbols—the sign on his shop that’s a blessing for the store, the book Great Jewish Men—but when you ask what’s really Jewish about it, Jewish on a level deeper than a pastiche of symbols, it’s hard to answer the question.

There’s that Leonard Cohen quote where he says Judaism is “a secretion with which an eastern tribe surrounded a divine irritation—a direct confrontation with the Absolute. Today we covet the pearl, but we are unwilling to support the irritation.” Ratner doesn’t even come away with the pearl. He’s got nothing. He’s the non-Jewish Jew, in the opposite sense of Isaac Deutscher’s non-Jewish Jew. That to me was the central uncomfortable reality where this best reflects our lives—more than, say, the spiritually fraught main character of A Serious Man.

AA: In that sense, he’s American.

JP: Exactly. He has to be American.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
(GT = Good Time)

— Soundtrack was decent, but either not as good as GTs or the sound in the BFI wasn't up to snuff. (Might have been the latter, tbh.)
— The climax (last 20 minutes or so) was fantastic. Made me understand, as a non-gambler/non sports-fan, how exciting and tense those big games/bets can be.
— Very funny, funnier than GT. The whole thing seemed like a farce - complication after complication piling up. Like an episode of Fawlty Towers.
— As many have said, it's a very stressful experience watching it. But not in the same way as GT was, which was more about the tension of not knowing how they were going to get out of situations. This was more stressful cos everyone is constantly talking/shouting, the music never stops, the camera is right in their faces, etc. I think I might actually enjoy it on Netflix more cos I'll be able to pause it.

I think there was a bit more depth and subtlety to Good Time, and at the same time more stylistic flourishes. I watched GT at home on my TV with a spliff pause (and was stoned!) so that might explain my violent reaction to it. Still, very good and basically unlike anything else I've seen outside of GT.
 

other_life

bioconfused
He made a couple of good but forgettable pieces. Nothing worth giving a shit about imo. It's like music that ticks all the status quo boxes. Lone guy in Brooklyn with Russian heritage playing minimal shit on vintage analogs. Add some simple but haunty harmonies and you have a sellable artist to millenials.
let my microgeneration have its heroes, you dick. i've grown out of it/understood what i could from his back catalogue, but lopatin was huge for people currently in their early 20's, not even millennials. why do you expect us to give a shit about, sensations fix or fripp and eno, or whoever, if there isn't some kind of contemporary entry point into that world for us?
 

catalog

Well-known member
Re uncut gems and jewishness:

I think what safdies do with their jewishness is make it a part of things, as a storytelling advantage. But they dont lean on it too much or make it a ‘jewish story’ or similar. It is their reality and they know it well enough to own it, in a way that they cant really be challenged in. To me this is like a holy grail way to deal with issues of race, religion, identity. Its there, you acknowledge, but it slots in line with a load of other important things that make up lived reality eg job you do, your family dynamics, your other interests like basketball, whatever. Some of the best bits of UG for me are just when hes watching the games on telly, shouting at it and so on.

So to me this is a real achievement on their part, how they fold the jewishness into everything else, it makes it so much richer. Theres so few films, plays, books like this, which examine an identity and say a lot about it, whilst also not telegraphing or putting too much pressure on it. The only thing i can think of is the play ‘the arbor’ by andrea dunbar, where she goes out with a pakistani guy and her family are racially abusing him. She defends him as a human being, but he turns out to be abusive towards her. So it basically is real: the pakistani guy doesnt get a pass cos hes pakistani. But its so heavy, never really gets performed, not been made into a film. The film that did get made (‘rita, sue and bob too’) has race as a sort of side plot, which is another way to deal with these things. Anyway, well done these lads for what theyve done here.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
The climax (last 20 minutes or so) was fantastic. Made me understand, as a non-gambler/non sports-fan, how exciting and tense those big games/bets can be
Interesting... I guess gambling is one of those things where you either do it and understand the thrill of it - or else you don't and you don't. In one sense that's what films are supposed to do I suppose, show you an experience that you wouldn't normally have and make you feel it strongly enough that you can see why it's good and bad.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
I bet once, got excited and thought It Was Coming Home. I lost the bet, but right up to when I knew I'd lost I'd never been so into a football match in my life.

Quite jealous of adrenaline junkies in a way. I tend to conflate excitement and anxiety, and avoid both where I can. Which makes for a more boring life.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Real sports fans actually view these matches as (in a sense) a matter of life and death. I need artificial jeopardy (moolah) to get the same feeling.

Maybe I should start betting on aesthetic experiences?
 
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