Uncut Gems ★★★★★

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100

Jesus fucking christ, what a picture. Goddamn. Major in every aspect, and an effortless evolution from Good Time's parasitic acid-trip of grime and privilege, especially as this strips away much of Good Time's chase-movie energy for something far more fruitless and sad. Uncut Gems plays to the tune of an exasperated study in commodity, running around until it passes out on the concrete, its specificity in the early-2010s giving way to a cosmic pain, a neon-glow of worthless lives and unending transactions. Yes, it's a very funny work, given substantial gravitas by Adam Sandler's god-tier performance, but only to heighten how sickly each frame and movement is, like a rabid dog on its last day, crawling under the porch with a snarl. The interior locations are often separated, buzzers and closed-circuit security and locked doors keeping characters whirling, dancing within the energy of their lives, in every direction, the camera barely keeping up. It's only when the film slows down, sometimes merely to catch a breath, that it's clear that our environment allows for no self-reflection or understanding of ourselves. "All I am, is what I'm going after" and all that jazz. The rest of the time, it's too busy to think of anything other than the flow of experience, big scores, the tension of language and deals. I don't think I've ever seen a film as well-paced and as strategic in its rhythms as this one. The banger OPN soundtrack helps, once again with a rabid, fiending mind of its own, flowing like an angelic stream and imbuing a few moments with a feeling of a higher power. For a social thriller to be as clammy, as edge-of-the-world as Uncut Gems feels, it still dreams of a place away from capital, and distanced from the fiery conniptions of these characters. Alas, I'm having too good of a time.

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