Director: Josh and Benny Safdie
Year Released: 2019
Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a jeweler out of New York, leads the most frantic and stress-inducing life imaginable: he's in debt and has to keep dodging people who want to collect (and break his legs), he's acquired a rare opal from Ethiopia (that Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics "borrows" from him), he's addicted to gambling and he's juggling a wife (Idina Menzel) and a girlfriend (Julia Fox). Previous Safdie Brothers movies have left me cold, but with Sandler as their Tour Guide through Damnation, they finally made a dynamic and riveting film: the movie is one huge rush of shouting and darting back and forth and somehow staying afloat (Sandler is stripped of his clothing and locked in a trunk and a few minutes later is back watching his daughter's play) and somehow amps it up even further in the last act, which involves placing a huge wager on Game 7 of the NBA Finals. It would not have worked without Sandler: the Safdies are largely interested in amorality, and there's a glimmer in his eye (along with schmoozing) that suggests he's not totally inhuman, just deeply and tragically flawed. Gamble too much with life and see what happens.