Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems ★½

Yea shouldn't have doubted myself first time around...

I understand there to be a contingent of people (whose taste I trust and value, don't mean this combatively) that find Good Time's handling of race to be less than ideal, offensive even, and yet they think the Safdies redeemed themselves here. I still think highly of Good Time, but can understand why some would find the way in which they draw the throughline between appropriation and privelege and actual racist violence to be clumsy and inconsistent. Yet, with Good Time I can at least see the attempt, and while their critique may not be quite as well thought through as one would hope it would be, it still does always feel like a critique ultimately.

With Uncut Gems the Safdies slip away from critique and slide into a territory that resembles a gentler brand of the appropriation perpetrated by Robert Pattinson in Good Time. Not to say that there isn't an awareness of the way they position Sandler in this film (and by extension themselves), but much of the film is these brothers having it both ways, aligining themselves with blackness in a manner that feels cringe at best and inappropriate at worst, all the while winking at the audience as if to be like "Yup, we know..." Part of this is born from the manner in which they shepherd the audience into this "world", maneuvering themselves into a specialized position where they get to grant access to black musicians and athletes (thanks guys). One can see the general shape of some sort of "crabs in the bucket" narrative that could justify this posturing more so, but its never actually developed, just sort of gestured towards. The presence of this subtext gets even more uncomfortable when you take the brothers vampiric casting tendencies into account.

Otherwise all the other complaints folks have already laid out remain true. The movie is a constant stream of noise and nonsense alternatively used to disguise the fact that this is often just an exposition machine; a tiresome gauntlet that's often reminiscent of unfortunate video game structuring (i.e. keep piling on conflicts and hurdles as a means of maintaining intensity even when contrived or unnecessary). The ending is the only time this approach feels justified, where the frantic edits and the shrillness of the performances manage the impressive feat of almost making one forget the predetermined conclusion this film otherwise bumbles towards, but otherwise its hard to justify this approach when the film runs over 2 hours.

(Also Blade didn't exist in 2012, but ok, sorry i wont be cinemasins)

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