Howard Ratner is fueled by a combination of adrenaline, gambling addiction, caffeine, and sheer chutzpah. He’s an inveterate hustler, with one eye on his next quick payday and the other on the debt collectors cracking their knuckles in his general direction. And eventually, sooner or later, he’s going to have to run out of mulligans.
Today brings the first trailer for Uncut Gems — the latest feature from New York madmen Josh and Benny Safdie, one of the most glowingly praised films out of the Toronto International Film Festival, and perhaps the most hotly anticipated release (not directed by Martin Scorsese, that is) on this year’s movie calendar. And in keeping with the sense of propulsion that informs Howard Ratner as well as the film that contains him, this trailer may very well leave you out of breath and panting.
Adam Sandler devours the screen in the lead role, recognizable and alien all at once with his sleazeball goatee and nouveau-riche spectacles and ostentation jewelry. Howard has just landed the score of a lifetime, an ultra-rare black opal from the mines of Ethiopia, and he has a plan to convert it into cash. But his sketchy scheme has a lot of moving parts: rings must be pawned and un-pawned, improbable basketball bets must be won, and Kevin Garnett (the Celtics legend plays himself) must be tracked down.
Revolving around the Diamond District stretching from Fifth to Sixth Avenue across Manhattan’s 47th Street, but expanding its scope to the outerborough casinos and the McMansions of Long Island, it’s another true New York story from the Safdie brothers. Their films have a claustrophobia to them, even when they’re about haggard men on a frantic all-night dash for their lives, as if there’s no real escape in the city. The trailer captures the manic energy that courses through the film, Oneohtrix Point Never’s electronic soundtrack reinforcing the feverish atmosphere.
Between the cameos from sports shouter Mike Francesa and R&B crooner The Weeknd, the black comedy about pool resurfacing, and the sidewinding city-street cinematography from Darius Khondji, this is surely one to watch out for. But of course all eyes are on the Sandman, returning to the Good Acting mode he last activated for Noah Baumbach‘s The Meyerowitz Stories. Welcome back.
Uncut Gems comes to theaters in the US on 25 December. A date for the UK has yet to be set.
Published 24 Sep 2019
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