If ever there was a movie directly pitched to be part of the Solute Canon, it’s Uncut Gems. Taking the already Solute-friendly formula of “hopelessly flawed guy makes bad decisions under pressure” from the preceding Good Time as a starting point, the Safdie brothers create a parable about the perils of assimilation that puts your teeth on edge from minute one to the very end. Fans of sweaty thrillers couldn’t possibly ask for more from this. But even as it’s one of the most effective tension-builders in recent cinematic history, it’s so much more than stressful. It’s an incredibly loving movie, viewing each character, many of whom most movies wouldn’t deem worthy of keeping in focus, as someone worthy of appreciation and closer attention. It’s a gorgeously-made movie, from Daniel Lopatin’s rich electronic score to Darius Khondji’s roughed-up but still beautiful cinematography. And it’s one of the best-acted movies in years, highlighted not just by a career-defining Adam Sandler performance but by an array of memorable turns from character actors, sports stars, radio personalities, rappers, and people picked off the street alike (my MVP might be Eric Bogosian, with the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen on film). I’ll put it this way; there’s 20th Century Women, there’s this, and then there’s everything else from the last decade.
There are other things out this week too, I guess. Gems is the obvious winner in a selection of new titles which includes the beyond-cursed idea of a Jay Roach “sexual harassment at Fox News” movie and the Charlie’s Angels reboot where the strongest response was appreciation that Kristen Stewart got paid for it. Catalog titles offer Criterion’s reissue of the Maysles’ Salesman, now packaged with the Documentary Now! spoof of it, and the Bob Dylan-scripted oddity Masked and Anonymous.
Beauty and the Beast 4K (Disney)
Charlie’s Angels (Sony)
Little Joe (Magnolia)
Masked and Anonymous (Shout Factory)
Night Passage (Kino)
Spies in Disguise (Fox)
Uncut Gems (Lionsgate)
Whisky Galore! / The Maggie (Film Movement)