Sandler
Credit: VIFF

Before I get into it, you should know something. This is not a sponsored article. I have absolutely no vested interest in the Vancity Theatre seeing foot traffic (other than the fact that it often has kickass films you can’t see in other places, and that’s a very good thing). I just want you, dear reader, to partake in one of the better cinema experiences that the city has to offer. 

Okay, with that out of the way, here’s the traditional intro you were probably expecting.

With the wide release of the much-ballyhooed Golden Globes darling 1917 this weekend, Vancouverites will have a had a chance to view almost every serious Academy Award contender before the nominees are released on Monday morning.

I said almost because there’s one highly anticipated film that hasn’t screened in Vancouver yet. It’s called Uncut Gems and it’s going to get Adam Sandler a nomination in the Best Actor category. Seriously.

When I was in the U.S. (where Uncut Gems has been in limited release for quite some time), I had a chance to stroll into the theatre and catch the film. I had seen the previous effort from Benny and Josh Safdie, two young indie directors based in New York. That movie was called Good Time and it was a ferocious hour-and-a-half that followed a small-time crook played by Robert Pattinson through New York on a crusade to get his brother out of jail. It marked the rejuvenation of Pattinson’s career and put the Safdies on the map.

But if Good Time was a steady murmur, Uncut Gems is a full on, call-the-fucking-ambulance, jammer.

The film follows around Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a jewellery shop owner and gambling addict in New York’s Diamond District who is obsessed with hitting it big and thinks he’s found a way to do just with a rare black opal he’s received from an African mine. Things get complicated when Boston Celtics player Kevin Garnett (playing himself! And doing it well!) rolls into the store and becomes transfixed by the diamond.

It’s an absolutely astonishing film that puts you on the edge of your seat the entire time and really affirms the Safdies as complete masters of their craft. Sure, it’s not for everyone. It has an audience score of 51 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, ostensibly because dumb Adam Sandler fans were expecting Grownups 3: Crown Jewels or some shit.

The people I watched it with agreed that it plants itself right into your coronary artery and doesn’t let go for over two hours. Some of my friends were glad it was over, even though they enjoyed it. Me, I could have stayed another couple hours in the Diamond District.

I’ve seen a good portion of 2019’s best films and, other than the exceptional Parasite, nothing has topped Uncut Gems. Please catch it at the Vancity Theatre (it's not screening anywhere else in the city) next week so I have more people to rave about it with. But buy tickets soon, they're selling out quick.

Those who have already seen it—if Sandler isn’t nominated for an Oscar on Monday, we ride at dawn.

Uncut Gems
Vancity Theatre, January 17 - 30