Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

A Bird in the Hand

Uncut Gems (2019) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Welo Mine, Ethiopia, 2010. The dirt poor natives sport opal jewels they've gathered from the mining operation. One day when a mining accident distracts every­one some enterprising blacka­moors prize a gem-laden rock from the ceiling of a vacated shaft.

New York City, spring, 2012. Dr. Blauman's colonoscopy of Jewish patient Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) mines deep but comes up clean. Howard is the proprietor of The KMH Shop selling jewelry and other fine items. He does a brisk business over the counter, with other trans­actions off to the side.

package deliveryOne day an expected delivery arrives. Howard spent two years and $100,000 (of some­one else's money) to acquire the rock he expects is worth millions. The auction house has it appraised at $155,000. Boston Celtics MVA Kevin Garnett (ditto) gets a gander of it and offers him $175,000 before the bidding starts—he believes it has magic powers. Howard tries to gin the bids up to $200,000. Failing that, he'll fall back on Garnett and use his inside knowledge to bet on the newly confident player.

Meanwhile, his marriage is on the rocks. Howard's no-good brother-in-law Arno (Eric Begosian) has employed muscle to recoup money owed and long overdue. Howard's squeeze on the side Julia (Julia Fox) is to place Howard's bet while he delays the guys sent to ice him.

Ideology

Star of DavidHoward an observant Jew celebrates a passover seder with his extended family. It is required that there be no leaven in the house; the children scour the place to see if any has been missed. It's traditional to hide a bit for the children to find. We see them being guided to the right spot (“Not there. Over here. Warmer.”)

Leaven represents sin, or at least a misstep. Howard has problems in his life (“Every­thing I do is not going right”) and one wonders if there is not some principle in the Jewish scripture (Tanakh) he's missing. Well, perhaps not so much in the Jewish canon itself—Christian Old Testament—but in the apocryphal writings. The Apocrypha is also part of the Catholic Bible, and the Wisdom books of the Apocrypha are accepted by the Protestants for edification purposes though they be not included in the canon. Among them is Eccles­ias­ticus, also known as The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach. Let's try looking there.

(Sirach 9:13) “Keep thee far from the man that hath power to kill; so shalt thou not doubt the fear of death: and if thou come unto him, make no fault, lest he take away thy life presently: remember that thou goest in the midst of snares, and that thou walkest upon the battle­ments of the city.” Howard needs to keep some distance from the enforcers and be on the look­out for them. If they do catch up with him, he should fork over what­ever he owes with­out complaint regardless of his loss. It would help if he remembers the time he was ensnared in a car with the brutes, and the time they dangled him out­side an upper story window. Hey, I'm all in favor of familiarity with the canon proper, but this apocryphal verse is germane to the plot.

Production Values

” (2019) was directed by the two brothers Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie. The Safdie brothers co-wrote the script with their editor Ronald Bron­stein. It stars Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, and Kevin Garnett. Through the miracle of makeup and costume, Sandler sporting a van­dyke beard, granny glasses, and diamond stud ear­rings, not to mention some weight loss and hair­style, cuts a fine figure of an actor this time. His brash character breaks the mold of his erstwhile blah roles. Good for him. Eric Bogosian, Lakeith Stan­field, Kevin Garnett (playing him­self) and the rest hold up their end quite well.

MPAA rated it R for pervasive strong language, violence, some sexual content and brief drug use. Cinema­tog­rapher Darius Khondji keeps his camera in constant flux, which emulates the frenetic action. Daniel Lopatin's creative score was a bit on the avant guard side for my con­ser­va­tive ear. The film was well drafted and well acted.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

Here's a movie not to let you settle in for a peaceful night's sleep. Even if you already feel you're living your life in a mad rush, this one can still leave you gasping for breath. It's well done if you can stand the assault on your senses. It takes all kinds.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Apocryphal scripture was taken from The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. U.S.A.: Hendrick­son Pub. Originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851. Print, WEB.