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Eric Bogosian of ‘Uncut Gems’: ‘I’m in love with this movie’

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You have likely picked up on the buzz surrounding “Uncut Gems,” the new crime thriller directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, with Adam Sandler leading an inspired cast as Howard Ratner, a gem dealer chasing the score of a lifetime. Idina Menzel stars as his wife, NBA legend Kevin Garnett as himself and Eric Bogosian as Arno, the man Ratner is trying to outrun.

Bogosian tells The Maine Edge he’s so blown away by the movie, he’s seen it four times with a fifth viewing scheduled for next week.

“I do a lot of things that I never see because I couldn’t be bothered,” Bogosian admitted, adding “I’m in love with this movie, from the way it’s shot to how the whole thing is put together, and at the center, Adam’s performance is terrific.”

“Uncut Gems” is scheduled to open wide on Christmas Day, and has already been selected by the National Board of Review as one of the 10 best movies of 2019, with Sandler winning the Best Actor award from the organization.

Bogosian says he wasn’t sure he wanted to be part of “Uncut Gems” until he saw the earlier Safdie brothers’ films “Good Time” and “Daddy Longlegs.”

“I’m in awe of these directors because they have such command of their craft,” Bogosian said, while also praising the work of cinematographer Darius Khondji, who shot “Uncut Gems” on film.

“I don’t know if most people understand that most movies that you see are shot digitally,” Bogosian said of the unique visual tone of the film. “Digital is amazing at this point, but film has a certain vibe to it and that vibe is in this movie.”

Percolating with twists and turns, “Uncut Gems” is uniquely original but also not unlike some movies we’ve seen before, Bogosian says.

“He’s an inveterate gambler, he owes a lot of money and he’s being chased all over the place. You’ve seen movies like that before, but in other ways you’ve never seen a movie like this before, I guarantee it.”

We’ve seen the serious side of Sandler, with mixed results, in movies like “Punch Drunk Love” and “Reign Over Me.” Bogosian says “Uncut Gems” is a dramatic triumph for Sandler, citing a critical scene that has the audience rooting for the damaged dad on the run.

“He can take a dramatic story and keep it really entertaining for the entire movie,” he said. “There’s a scene in the middle where he’s talking to his daughter. He didn’t watch her school play or something, and that scene alone is just great, and it’s right in the middle of all this fracas. He has a great sense of how to keep the viewer locked on and happy. You’re laughing one minute and freaking the next minute.”

With the premium cable series “Billions” (Showtime) and “Succession” (HBO), we’ve seen more acting vehicles for Bogosian of late, and he says there’s a good reason why we didn’t see more following his 1988 career breakthrough role as contentious, acid-tongued radio host Barry Champlain in “Talk Radio,” adapted from his original play.

“It’s funny, sometimes I kind of get on my own case, like why didn’t I just grab the ring and make it all about acting and starring in movies? Those things were being offered to me after I made ‘Talk Radio.’ We had little kids at home and shooting all the time means being away all the time. I was given the opportunity to do a lot more acting after ‘Talk Radio’ but because I wrote it, I was also given the opportunity to do a lot of writing for Hollywood, which I did for the next 15 years.”

Those movies included 1996’s “subUrbia,” directed by Richard Linklater, and 1991’s “Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll,” based on Bogosian’s play.

He compares his position after the success of “Talk Radio” to that of the Chicago Bears, as outlined in the recent ESPN documentary “30 for 30.”

“All of a sudden, they were Super Bowl champions, and then they weren’t. This thing kind of comes along and there I was in the thick of it. I won the Berlin Film Festival, I was on the cover of a lot of newspapers and magazines and it kind of set me up for the rest of my life. I never thought about it that way. I didn’t think there would be a movie that a lot of people see and keep thinking about forever, but that’s kind of what happened.”

As “Uncut Gems” arrives in theaters on Christmas Day, Bogosian says he’ll celebrate with his family in northern New Jersey.

“I went out into the field and cut down a poor little old tree that kind of looks like the tree from the Charlie Brown special. My young-uns are here, even though they aren’t that young anymore, and we’ll be cooking. That’s what we do on Christmas, we cook.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 17 December 2019 08:24

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