Death & Life
For the most part, life is fair. It’s what one makes it. An unfortunate few are victimized by its vagaries, as actor Chadwick Boseman, 43, has been, losing his fight with cancer. He scored playing Jackie Robinson in 42, then took the world by storm as super-hero Black Panther (2018). Among the other 30+ credits under his name at IMDb are portrayals of Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall and James Brown. What a shame. RIP, sir.
I have mixed feelings about this week’s Friday night movie fix. Uncut Gems (2019) is loud, in your face cinema. It may be one of those films more appreciated on second viewing, after one is accustomed to the assault, something that occurs with me in much of Martin Scorsese’s work. The story is simple: a jewelry merchant with a penchant for gambling purchases a rock studded with various gems directly from impoverished Ethiopian miners. He believes it will lead to a million dollar payoff at auction. In debt to several people, including relatives, he is constantly dodging, playing for time. Adam Sandler is fine in the lead, which allows him to be manic but not in the comedic way that characterizes most of his work. I wasn’t surprised because he was good in the odd Punch-Drunk Love (2002). The character is at once annoying and somehow likable, perhaps because he is trying so hard. The film’s best aspect is the incorporation of real life figures into the narrative: John Amos, The Weekend and, especially, retired NBA superstar Kevin Garnett, who is smooth. Radio sports talk show blowhard Mike Francesa is solid as a bookie. Although I was not surprised by the ending, I was disappointed. There isn’t much violence compared to most modern fare, but there is tons of profanity and use of the N word, although not as a pejorative. Eric Bogosian, Idina Menzel, Julia Fox and Judd Hirsch lend their considerable talents in support. Benny and Josh Safdie, frequent collaborators, directed, their fourth full length project. They also have done many shorts. I’m not familiar with any of their other efforts. Ronald Bronstein, who also has worked frequently with the brothers, wrote the screenplay. Made on a budget of $19 million, it returned $50+ million worldwide and certainly a lot more in DVD sales and rentals and streaming, which should guarantee the three more work. 198,000+ users at IMDb have rated Uncut Gems, forging to a consensus of 7.4 on a scale of ten. It runs more than two hours. Here are Garnett, LaKeith Stanfield and Sandler in character:
From nypost.com, edited by yours truly: Satellite imagery shows that China has secretly built 260 high-security concentration camps to hold much of the Uighur Muslim population and other Turkic minorities.
Here’s a great Twitter post from Belgrade@Aeljik: “A rural Japanese town under siege by monkeys is defended by three elderly women armed with airguns who call themselves the ‘Monkey Busters’.” Who ya gonna call?
On my morning walk on Friday I encountered an odd bit of graffiti on the wall at the entrance of the Bally’s health club on Sheepshead Bay Road, which has been closed during the pandemic. “Cal Koonce New York Mets.” In his ten year career, he played for the Amazin’s from ‘67’-’69, and returned for the stretch run in 1970. The tag was posted by either a baseball fanatic or a joker. That’s no reflection on the pitcher, who was 47–49. A ten-year run in MLB is a great achievement, despite one’s stats. Koonce did not appear in the post season in 1969. Tragically, he succumbed to lymphoma at 52 in 1993.
How ‘bout this dude? A social worker in Minnesota, he set the record for the world’s tallest mohawk — 42.5 inches.
No luck selling books at the viaduct on Avenue Y. At least nothing got wet.
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