'Uncut Gems' Is a Two-Hour Heart Attack About Bad People And Capitalism

If there's one thing the internet at large has said about Uncut Gems, it's that it's extremely anxiety inducing. People have posted heart rates from FitBits showing wild spikes, and needing something to calm them down to get through it. Like much of the internet, it's easy to think this is mostly hyperbole, but after experiencing it first hand, we at Waypoint Radio can confirm they weren't joking. What really makes Uncut Gems special isn't just its expertly crafted, frenetic, and at times claustrophobic movie making, but the critique of capitalism and its influence on the people stuck within it. Join the Waypoint Radio crew as they discuss different readings of its message, the meta-textual casting, and which scenes made them the most anxious.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/n7j77q/uncut-gems-is-a-two-hour-heart-attack-about-bad-people-and-capitalism
1 Like

I started feeling genuinely sick at the point right after the auction scene, and had to step out of the theater for a good 5 minutes. There’s a point where the human brain can’t handle seeing someone make every bad decision possible.

The movie (especially the opening and ending scenes) has a strong “who wants coffee but it keeps getting louder” energy.

1 Like

I am eager to see this, but after watching Good Time, I am absolutely SCARED.


I feel like the crew, smartly, hasn’t watched a Sandler movie since the 90’s. That dude hasn’t played a likable character or well meaning duffus since.

Punch Drunk Love is definitely worth a watch, even if Barry Egan isn’t really a likeable character

1 Like

One of my parents had a gambling addiction growing up (not sports betting and much smaller amounts lol) and I feel like this movie does a brilliant job of showing the destructive nature of constant lies, excuses, and taking other peoples things to pawn them.

There’s part of me that hopes this could be used as a cautionary tale to ward people off of sports gambling, which is a thing I despise because it’s so widespread, the business practices around it are incredibly predatory (for eg, a sports betting company in Australia referred to winners as “Problem customers” which is language typically used for people with addictions), and it’s becoming increasingly normalised for children to associate sports with gambling. .


I’ve heard/read some takes that the rise of e-sports was if not caused by, then at least correlated disturbingly close with gambling on said e-sports.

Watched this a few weeks ago. Didn’t realise it would be releasing on Netflix a couple of weeks later until seeing the design during the opening credits. I really liked it overall and I really enjoyed watching it with an audience. Wouldn’t have got the same experience watching it at home. I’m not sure whether Adam Sandler is naturally a prick or playing a prick just comes naturally to him. I always heard he makes these big dumb movies primarily to keep his friends in work. So I want to believe he is good even if he is making the lowest common denominator trash most of the time.

The film still made me root for him despite everything. I’m trying to unpack it. I think it’s because he does have an addiction to gambling and you see how it is wrecking everything in his life. He seems to have some kind of optimism that things are going to work out for him at least at the start. That may be some of the old Adam Sandler charisma there mixed in with this desperate character. I guess it is kind of meta in that Sandler keeps on making the bad descisions/movies but is genuinely capable of so much more - but he’ll always go back.

I think he and the film was unfairly snubbed at all the awards.

I feel like you guys are severely discounting Punch-Drunk Love. It’s a fucking Paul Thomas Anderson movie! It def does have its twee moments but it’s much more than that, it is soooo not just a boilerplate twee 2000s indie movie (even if some of those I do like a lot, all disrespect to Garden State, however). It’s both a throwback to the Fred Astaire-era romantic comedies and a character study of a man with crippling social anxiety. There’s definitely parallels with Uncut Gems - they both put you in the headspace of the Sandler protagonist, and even if they’re different characters, they are rooted in the Sandler persona. The anxiety both movies evoke are different but they both have the moments of elation e.g. Howie riding high on his bets and Barry finding true love. It’s a really beautiful movie!
Also worth listening to the A24 podcast w/ PTA and the Safdies, they mostly talk about Gems but they do touch on PDL a little bit, and you can tell there’s a massive mutual appreciation going on.

1 Like

Two points here:

  1. Sandler did great work in Baumbach’s movie, The Meyerwitz Stories. It’s another very New York Jewish movie about a dysfunctional family and how they mostly talk right past each other. Sandler hates his father but is basically him in every way. Really solid, often funny, often sad, highly recommend it. On Netflix.

  2. They forgot the funniest line in the movie, which is when Howard sees the ass tattoo his reaction is “Now we can’t get buried together!! D:D:”


There’s part of me that thinks if this movie was bigger and more well known, it’d be the new Scarface. Lots of people would completely miss the point and think that Tony Montana is something to emulate. Only gambling is much easier to emulate than cocaine emperor.

As for the movie itself, I’ve never felt so anxious watching a movie in my life. I had to stop twice to take a breather and relax. Everyone in it is incredible and now I’m off to check out the creators other movies.

Speaking anecdotally, this is exactly what happened when me and my roommates went to see it. We all walked out with pretty much the same impression of “gambling is deeply unhealthy and unsustainable, but damn if those highs weren’t high!” One of them actually started putting money on games afterwards; he stopped when he started losing, but it’s so easy to see how the hooks get in deep.

I know everyone’s in agreement that Sandler got robbed, but can we just take a sec to acknowledge that the costume designer, Miyako Bellizi, also got shamelessly robbed?!

Every look in this movie is just SO MUCH

1 Like

As much as I liked Uncut Gems - it was probably my MOTY for 2019 - I couldn’t help but feel it is, as my people say, “bad for the Jews.”

A sleazy, money-grubbing New York jewel peddler is the kind of fantasy someone who has Stormfront bookmarked on their browser would invent. Any other folks here feel this way?

Finally listened to this episode since the movie just came out on netflix in the US.

it was a great conversation. but gosh hearing the crew joke about the iowa caucus just made me so sad. knowing what i know now and how hopefully they sound.

not to mention the impending pandemic that is going to change all of their lives. it’s a really weird feeling listening to content from before covid really hit in america.

1 Like

I worked in a bookies for five years and man although the stakes in this movie are larger than life and wild there’s still a core thread running that I saw every shift that I worked. I get the fun of gambling and thankfully my brain has to see something tangible for any significant amount that I spend so I don’t really throw a lot at betting but I get it. It’s good that society, at least here in the UK, is finally coming to terms with how damaging it is.

1 Like