UNCUT GEMS – Mini Review

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UNCUT GEMS  stars-7.5

Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie. Stars: Adam SandlerMesfin Lamengo, Suin Zhi Hua-Hilton, Liang Wei-Hei Duncan, Keith Williams Richards, Idina Menzel.

Just a bit of advise, don’t watch “Uncut Gems” before going to bed because it may take you a while to unwind from all the stress accumulated during the film and fall asleep. 

This is an electrifying, stressful, tense, frantic, exhausting film, where everything seems to be turned up to 11, where every single line of dialogue is shouted and where nobody ever seems to sit still as it all leads to a nail-biting finale. It’s all very entertaining, even if you not very relaxing. 

Adam Sandler proves once again that he has the real acting chops when he’s given the right material; in fact this may be his best performance as the jewellery dealer/compulsive gambler/cheater who has the ability to always make the wrong decision at the wrong time and never seems to finish a phone call. 

It’s all relentless for both the audience and his character on screen

This film is out in the cinema right now, but it also comes up on Netflix on the 31st of January. or so and if you like the fast, crime-type of films that Martin Scorsese used to make (this is actually produced by him), you’ll need to see.


FOR SAMA- Mini Review

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Directors: Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts. Cast:Waad Al-Kateab, Hamza Al-Khateab, Sama Al-Khateab

To review “For Sama” as if it was like any other film or documentary feels wrong. For a start it’s distasteful and disrespectful for the thousands of people who have suffered and are still suffering as a result of what’s happening in Syria (or many other places savaged by war), but also this is not like a normal documentary (even though there are skilful makers behind the scenes doing their best work: some beautiful shots, some perfectly judged music, some skilful decisions in the editing and so on).

Waad al-Kateab’s devastating personal account of the last few years in Aleppo set against the backdrop of a crumbling city, countless death and unimaginable horrors, had me completely floored like nothing before.
I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much during a film in my entire life.
In fact I have to confess I had to pause the film a few times and take a break from it (a luxury that its protagonists never had). This is as close to impossible to watch as it gets, and yet at the same time I am really happy I got to the end (I particularly love her take at the very end). This film should probably be compulsory viewing to everyone, especially those who complain about immigrants from Syria “stealing our jobs”.
These are people living a life where air strikes, mass funerals, people dying in front of your eyes, crumbling buildings and the soundtrack of gunfire right behind your wall are part of a daily routine.
But what makes “For Sama” a unique masterpiece are the moments of pure love, laughs and smiles in among the unspeakable sadness.
A scene in particular relating to a C-Section on a still born baby had me sobbing in convulsions, not for the reason you might expect, and it will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Al-Kateab films everything with both the unflinching eye of a journalist (in one heartbreaking scene she even gets confronted by a screaming mother who’s just lost her child: “why are you filming?!”) and at the same time with the heart, care and love of a mother who one day will have to explain all this to her daughter Sama… and of course to us.
The result is one not just the best documentaries of the year, but one of the most heartbreaking pieces of work I’ve ever seen (just watching the trailer below makes me weep again).




Directors: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert.

There’s a lot to learn and a lot to think about in this BAFTA-nominated documentary on Netflix. “I don’t know if I’m a contributor or a sinner” says the Chinese CAO of a factory in America which employs over 2000 American workers (most of which had been laid off by the closure of a previous GM factory) with complete disregards of health & safety, working hours and keeping them all on minimum wage (and dismissing them at the first chance).
But not all it as it seems. This is a complex, thought-provoking and utterly fascinating study about the clash between China and America and they way the two countries are miles apart not just geographically, but also in the way they approach work and life in general. The film tries to look at it from both sides, without any agenda and just when you think the Chinese are the “baddies”, then your preconceptions are completely subverted: the world is a much more complex place that it first appears and this is definitely a different type of documentary and a very interesting one too.


ROCKETMAN – Mini Review


Director Dexter Fletcher: Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones

rating: 6/10

Your enjoyment of films like these usually goes together with how much you like the music of the artist subjected to the bio-treatment.
Last year I ended up liking Bohemian Rhapsody, not because it was a good film (which clearly it wasn’t), but because the music by the Queen was so infectious and permeated every single frame of that film, elevating it from “average” to “a lot of fun”
In the case of Rocketman, the pitch was obviously quite an easy sell. I mean, who doesn’t like Elton after all? As the film played I found myself saying “Oh… I had forgotten about this one too… “ about 20 times!
On top of all that, the visual dazzleness (is there such a word?), the inventiveness of director Dexter Fletcher (who rightly decided to go for a musical as opposed to just a plain bio) and obviously the sheer brilliance of Egerton who inhabits Elton to perfection, make this a much more enjoyable experience and a better film than it had any right to be.
Yes of course, the framing device (those AA meeting scenes) is clunky as hell, the wigs are terrible, it’s all pretty disposable, ridiculous and filled with all the usual cliché of this kind of films, but what else were you expecting? Just sit back and enjoy it and stop picking on it: I had fun with it.

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