Uncut Gems Review: Wait, Adam Sandler is Actually Fantastic Here?

4 and a half stars
“God damn it, Howard!”
I lost count of how many times I screamed this at my laptop screen as I watched the character of Howard Ratner, who is played brilliantly by Adam Sandler, screw himself over time and time again in the Safdie brothers’ film, Uncut Gems.
What’s that, you ask?
“Adam Sandler actually delivers a brilliant performance in this film?”
Why yes, he does.
I know it sounds hard to believe; after all Sandler’s performances and movies mostly earn collective eye rolls these days but not in this movie.
Uncut Gems follows Howard, jewelry store owner and problem gambler, whose addiction to making bets and making them big causes his life to spiral out of control.
If I could describe the film in two words it would be an adrenaline rush because that both perfectly encapsulates the ride Uncut Gems takes you on and also how the movie firmly puts you in the mindset of Sandler’s character.
Sandler lifts this movie up to another level with his performance, making you understand and even sympathize with Howard, even though in hindsight he is not a very likeable person.

Sandler got snubbed
Sandler definitely got snubbed at the Oscars. His performance is one of the best of the year, alongside Joaquin Phoenix in Joker and Adam Driver in Marriage Story.

He is not the only one giving a great performance, though, as Julia Fox, Lakeith Stanfield, Eric Bogosian, Keith Williams Richards, and even Kevin Garnett all do amazing jobs.
The film is also very well shot and conversations feel natural and hectic, applying to the adrenaline rush of the film.
A rush that culminates in an ending that literally made me shout out in shock.
This ending was perfect for the film and it also blew me away with how realistic it all felt.
Uncut Gems is another fantastic movie from 2019 that will hopefully begin a return to quality with the films Adam Sandler is in.

Knives Out Review: Take a Trip Down the Donut Hole.

5 stars
“A whodunnit like no one has ever done it” is the phrase that has been used so prominently in marketing Rian Johnson’s latest film.
Coming off the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which was… let’s say controversial, Johnson returns with the completely different Knives Out, a film that follows the investigation into the death of millionaire, crime writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer).

Harlan.jpg
Thrombey’s death drives the story with an interesting take on the murder mystery.

What follows is a constantly intriguing, suspenseful and humorous murder mystery with a star studded cast including Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield and many more.
The standouts of this cast are, without a doubt, Craig, de Armas, and Evans who all turn in fantastic performances.
Craig is brilliant as the wonderfully over the top detective Benoit Blanc, who has been mysteriously hired to investigate the also mysterious death of Thrombey.
Despite this pivotal role, I think the part of main character actually belongs to de Armas’ Marta Cabrera who has the most screen time, takes the most action out of any character, and plays into the themes of the film.

blanc and marta
De Armas and Craig both lead the film with great performances.

Then there is Evans, who plays the spoiled grandson of Thrombey, Hugh Ransom Drysdale, in a welcome deviation from the roles he usually takes.
Along with these three, the other actors of the film do a great job as well; supported by a witty script with plenty of suspenseful and humorous moments.
These two tonnes blend together so well that it feels like Johnson is  taking the murder mystery genre seriously while satirizing it simultaneously, to gleeful results.
There are also so many well placed small details for viewers to notice as well, demanding a second viewing.

birthday death.jpg
Amazing subtle details, like how flashbacks change depending on who is telling their side of the story, appear throughout the film.

Knives Out certainly lives up to its phrase of “A whodunnit like no one has ever done it,” as it left me hoping for another adventure down the donut hole with Benoit Blanc.

 

BoJack Horseman Season Six, Part One Review: A Surpisingly Happy First Half… Until The End.

4 and a half stars
At the end of BoJack Horseman‘s fifth season many of the characters looked like they were in happier places.
BoJack (Will Arnett) was finally going to rehab to get the help he needed, Mr Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) proposed to his girlfriend Pickles (Julia Chan), and Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) had adopted a child.
However, based on what I knew about these characters, I highly doubted these instances would make the characters happy in season six.
This was because after all BoJack had been through and done I was unsure if he ever could change, and both Mr Peanutbutter and Princess Carolyn appeared to be ignoring their own problems by taking on their new responsibilities.
So, imagine my surprise when all three characters did end up happy in this season.

Surprise.png
Despite characters like Mr Peanutbutter looking like they were heading in an unhappy direction at the end of season five, they are happy in season six.

Granted, this was probably because Netflix had decided that this sixth season would be the final one but creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and the other writers really wrote these characters emerging happiness right for the most part.
The one exception to this is definitely Mr Peanutbutter because the story they seemed to be building up for him in season five is pretty much ignored in favor of improving his relationship with Pickles, which I am not sure was the right decision.
However, this is only the first half of the final season so I cannot judge Mr Peanutbutter’s storyline too harshly because it has yet to be completed.
And, other than him, I loved the direction the sixth season took, especially with BoJack as by the end of the season it is clear that he is a changed horse.
This resulted in many heartwarming scenes like the final interaction between BoJack and Mr Peanutbutter.

crossover!.jpg
BoJack’s scene with Mr Peanutbutter pays off a scene that I never thought would be and I love it.

Then there is Diane’s (Alison Brie) sweet, growing relationship with the buffalo Guy (Lakeith Standfield) and Todd’s (Aaron Paul) relationship with his stepfather and mother, which looks set to be expanded upon in the final half.
All of this builds to put all the characters in happy positions at the end of the fist half, most of all BoJack… only for the final episode just tears that all down.
“A Quick One, While He’s Away” has to be one of the most gut wrenching episodes of the entire series.
Just as BoJack is redeeming himself and becoming a better person his past truly comes back to haunt him, with many of his darkest secrets looking to be exposed in the second half.
And, as someone who considers the final scene of season four to be the most heartwarming moment of BoJack Horseman, the last scene of the final episode made me feel like I had been sucker punched.

season 4 ending.jpg
I loved the season four finale so much that it made me cried so to see that happy ending threatened by the the last episode of the first half really worries me.

I am now genuinely scared about what is going to happen to BoJack in the final season.
One thing is for sure, though, and that is that the first half of season six has built up to whatever this finale will be nicely.
It started by building up a feeling of hope before pulling the rug out from under us with a crushing final episode that has me eagerly anticipating the final half.
I know it will crush me emotionally but I have to see it through.