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Drama

Uncut Gems – This Was Actually Worthy Of An Oscar Nomination

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That’s a million dollar opal you are holding.
Straight from the Ethiopian Jewish tribe.

 

Are you in the middle of a nasty divorce? Or are you at home on sick leave because of burnout due to your stressful job that demands too much from you? Or are those two revolting teenagers at home, who go through puberty right now, making you so much upset that you almost have no fingernails anymore? Good advice! Ignore this movie and look for another soothing movie. Because “Uncut Gems” will certainly not be ideal for your peace of mind. I’m afraid that after 20 minutes you’ll be throwing snacks at the screen out of frustration while pulling your hair out of sheer desperation. Because it’s the most stressful film ever. It drives up the tension throughout the whole movie in a merciless way to an extreme level. Believe me, at the end of the film my heart rhythm was proportional to that of the exhilarating rhythm of this tragicomic film.

 

 

Uncut Gems

 

Nerve-wracking at an absurd high pace.

Not only is it a nerve-wracking film. The pace of the film is also absurdly high. A movie like an out of control high-speed train. It seemed as if everyone is running from pillar to post at an inhuman pace. From the beginning of the film, it looks like you are being thrown into a centrifuge that’s spinning at a dizzying speed and where the speed never diminishes. Up to and including the denouement. Then the emergency brake is pulled swiftly and the tumultuous life of jeweler Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) abruptly comes to a halt. And if you are annoyed by the use of the “f” word, I warn you already. There are a few hidden in every dialogue.

 

 

Uncut Gems

 

Frankly, I’m not a Sandler fan.

I’m not at all an Adam Sandler fan. The few films I saw with him (“Click“, “Blended” and “The Cobbler“) were disappointing in my eyes. Maybe it’s the humor used by Sandler. Maybe it’s the person Sandler himself I have a problem with. And to be honest, I always avoid movies with his name on the film poster. It surprised me when I read somewhere that he’s the best-paid actor in Hollywood. But after seeing “Uncut Gems” I have to drastically adjust my opinion about the actor Sandler. It’s not a real comedy (in a reasonably morbid way you could see some kind of humor in it) although you could say that the character Sandler is playing here, is kind of a caricature. Howard, a Jewish jeweler in the metropolis of New York, tries to get his chaotic life back on track. An Ethiopian opal should take care of that. An uncut diamond that according to Howard could muster a fortune at an auction. A fortune with which he can pay off his debts to pawnbrokers and underworld figures. Debts incurred due to his uncontrollable gambling addiction. Until the famous basketball star Kevin Garnett (Kevin Garnett himself) steps in his diamond shop and asks if he could borrow the precious thing because he feels it exudes a primal power. A power that could bring his performance to an unprecedented height during the upcoming important match.

 

 

Uncut Gems

 

Oscar nomination worthy.

Well, and when KG doesn’t return the precious good to Howard at the agreed time, it’s the start of a nerve-racking race. A race in which Howard’s life is turned into a hell by nasty people, debt collectors, his wife (Idina Menzel who hates him wholeheartedly and calls him the most annoying person in the world) and his mistress Julia (Julia Fox). Even though Howard is indeed a highly annoying person without scruples or any kind of courtesy, you still feel sorry for this man whose life is collapsing like a house of cards. And even though I got nervous because of the Mr. Bean-like character of the film where Howard screws up every time he makes a decision over and over again, this film still managed to entertain me. I could never have imagined that I would ever say this, but Adam Sandler is simply playing his role in an exceptionally excellent way. This was actually worthy of an Oscar nomination. Hopefully, Sandler developed a taste for serious movies now and will make another attempt with a serious role (in a hopefully less hectic setting) in the future. However, I’m afraid that we’ll be seeing a load of comedies (filled with offbeat, childish humor) before that’ll happen.

 

 

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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Crime

The Untouchables – A Retrospective Look

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I watched this in honour of Sean Connery who sadly passed away the day before. It must be 10 years since I have watched this, and I had forgotten how brilliant it actually was.

What is often overlooked with ‘The Untouchables’ is just how emotional it is in parts, from Ness (Kevin Costner) meeting the mother of a girl blown up by a cafe bomb to the touching climax between Ness and Stone (Andy Garcia). It is a film that is genuinely upsetting to see the end, you would be quite happy to spend more time with these people.

It is also undoubtedly a film about friendship and that is where the late great Sean Connery stands out from the cast. As supposedly past it beat cop Malone, he strikes as a man of lonely isolation, just trying to get through every shift alive. He is at first suspicious of Ness but soon warms to what Ness is trying to achieve and there the bond between the two starts. Malone’s relationship with Stone gets off to a less auspicious start but by the end of the film, the relationship produces one final emotional wallop that we all deeply feel. Throw in accountant Oscar Wallace, played for the comic relief by Charles Martin Smith and we have four disparate men bonding over their end goal, to catch and see justice brought again crime lord Al Capone, (played with menace by Robert DeNiro).

There is so much to admire here, some of the setpieces are simply astonishing, the stakeout and subsequent battle on the Canadian border are sensationally choreographed, and a homage to the Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin is nerve shreddingly executed. The violence is brutal and shocking at times and as stated previously the deaths are graphic and in one particular case deeply moving.

Kevin Costner was a star on the rise at this point, with big hits like ‘Field of Dreams,’ ‘Dances With Wolves,’  ‘JFK’ and ‘Robin Hood’ to come, he is excellent as the clean-cut family man Ness. A young Andy Garcia is impressive as the sharpshooting Stone, but this is Connery’s film. It’s an exceptional performance filled with guile, wisdom and what is apparent from the get-go, anger. He would win an Academy Award for this film and few could argue against it.

Its an incredibly neat and tidy film, it never outstays its welcome or gets too bogged down in courtroom showdowns. It’s gritty and powerful and a reminder of just how good an actor and phenomenal screen presence Connery was. It doesn’t get much better than this.

This review is dedicated to the memory of Sir Sean Connery 25/8/1930 – 31/10/2020 – A true screen icon

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Comedy

On the Rocks (2020)

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You know what’s great about her?
She doesn’t talk. She just listens.
That sounds perfect for you.

 

Life is full of unexpected turns. As an 18-year-old, I rented the adult cartoon “Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle” just for fun. Probably because of the titillating vamp on the cover, lying naked on a huge platter and carried by figures that looked like penises. No one could suspect that a voice actor in this cartoon would become one of my most popular actors. If there’s one comedian who manages to make me chuckle without any problem, it’s Bill Murray. Like in “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters”. Or the incomparable film “Groundhog Day”. However small his role may be in a feature film, he always manages to create an unforgettable scene, such as in “Zombieland” for example. Put Murray in a horror, and his typical way of acting makes it a completely different experience. Just watch “The dead don’t die” and you’ll know what I mean. In short, a versatile actor who takes a film to a higher level with his contribution.

 

 

Lost in Translation.

This year I came to the conclusion that I had never seen the movie “Lost in translation”. A film directed by Sofia Coppola (daughter of) with Bill Murray and the very young Scarlett Johansson in the leading roles. Even though there was something slightly comical lurking beneath the surface of this film, the subject matter was far from comical. A film about two individuals who are right in the middle of an identity crisis. A film about love and loneliness. Loneliness not only because of the life situation they both find themselves in, but also because of the fact that they are in a country where they don’t understand the language, culture, and general way of life. Two lost souls who discover, sense, and encourage each other. I admit, I was moved after seeing this masterful film. Finally, after a long time a film that rocked my socks off. A thought-provoking film that’ll resonate for a pretty long time. Yes, some movies do that to me.

 

 

A wild search for the truth.

And then 17 years after the release of this magisterial film, we get a renewed collaboration between Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray. “On the Rocks” is not as magical as “Lost in Translation“. But somewhere deeply hidden it does have points of contact with the latter. Here, too, Laura (Rashida Jones) is in the middle of a crisis. Both in terms of her marriage and her writing career. The suspicion that her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) just pretends to have lots of work since starting his own company, just to cover up an affair, grows stronger. And writing a new book isn’t easy either. The day she tells her father Felix (Bill Murray), a charismatic wealthy art dealer with an untameable flirtation habit, about her suspicions, he throws himself wholeheartedly into the case with full dedication. Before Laura realizes it, she is embroiled in a wild search for the truth.

 

 

Murray nails it.

On the rocks” isn’t such a depressing and melancholic story as “Lost in translation“. There’s more humor in it. How another mother at school tells Laura every morning about her love life. The interesting facts about human behavior and the evolution of relationships between men and women Felix tells about every time unexpectedly. The wild chase in a “not so suspicious-looking” red, noisy convertible through the streets of New York. Perhaps it’s rather light, uncomplicated humor. Still, it’s subtle at the same time. The chemistry between Laura and her father feels unforced and authentic. And this won’t come as a surprise: Bill Murray nailed it once more. He demands full attention every time he comes into the picture. His characteristic acting and the way in which he can charm random people with his smooth talk is simply superb. And it’s not just the female population that falls for his smooth-talking. The way he manages to turn a police officer’s mood from being reprimanding to being helpful is just sublime.

 

One more time.

“On the rocks” is about marital troubles, a complicated father-daughter relationship, and also about how people get lost in the turbulent and chaotic society in which they live. It’s not another masterpiece of Coppola, but surely it’s another successful cooperation between Coppola and Murray. I quietly hope that they will work together again in the future.

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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Drama

The Craft: Legacy | Official Trailer – Sony Pictures

An eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.

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Genre:

Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Release Date:

October 27, 2020

Director:

Zoe Lister-Jones

Cast:

Michelle Monaghan, Cailee Spaeny, David Duchovny, Gideon Aldon, Lovie Simone, Hannah Gordon, Nicholas Galitzine

Plot Summary:

An eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.

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