UNCUT GEMS — Harrowing to say the least. Since this movie’s release, there have been plaudits for it and for Adam Sandler’s really, tremendous performance. I’m a Sandler fan and he’s done terrific dramatic work before; Punch Drunk Love and Spanglish being my two favorites. Love him or hate him, he’s a true, true talent for sure.
Uncut Gems starts off with Sandler’s character getting a colonoscopy … and, goes awry from there. He plays a jewelry dealer who’s up to his ears in mischief and mayhem. Borrowing money from some of the most nefarious characters I’ve ever seen portrayed on screen (that’s you Eric Bogosian!)
His marriage is a bust (Idina Menzel essays his wife) and his kids an even bigger hurdle. He hatches plan to retrieve a stone with glowing gems from Africa. This he feels will be his answer to everything wrong in his life. The stone arrives as he entertains a famous athlete and suddenly, the player wants the stone.
From there, the story unfolds with more twists and turns than you can imagine. It’s actually a sensational performance as Sandler’s in almost every scene and carries the movie on his shoulders. Great performance, yes, but totally confusing as there’s sometimes five or six conversations going on at one time.
As I said, harrowing.
ECHO IN THE CANYON — We finally caught up with the much-hyped film Echo in the Canyon, from industry-wiz Andrew Slater and Jacob Dylan and certainly enjoyed moments of it; but, how can you do a movie about the Laurel Canyon/LA-sound and not mention either The Monkees; Paul Revere & The Raiders or The Wrecking Crew? Hell, The Monkees were the only group that I know of out there, that simultaneously had a TV show while cranking out hit after hit; and, the Wrecking Crew played on almost everyone’s records.
Huge omissions for sure in my book. And, don’t get me started on photographer Henry Diltz … who practical documented the entire era photographically … no mention of him at all. And, no Joni Mitchell!
David Crosby, Graham Nash, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty and Stephen Stills are interviewed extensively, but where were the interviews with the record execs that certainly helped make that sound happen. Lou Adler (Dunhill Records) was the only one. Yes, hearing “California Dreamin’’” which started my own personal love affair with the West Coast was great, but there was so much missed. Jacob Dylan, Beck, Cat Power and Regina Spektor sitting around discussing the sound was great (amid a pile of vinyl …and on top, an album from The Monkees!), but I wished there was more factual info there.
Variety’s Steve Hochman hit the nail on the head with his comment: “Dylan, Regina Spektor, Beck and Cat Power, all whom were part of the 2015 film and/or recording projects, all artists of great merit with legitimate claims on influence from the 60’s Laurel Canyon world. But their contributions to the discussion are notable for their near-complete lack of meaningful insights, sans anything on how it all impacted them — no fond memories of hearing these songs for the first time, or of playing them when they were starting out, or looks at how they influenced their own writing. And, again, there was so much about the Beach Boys and Beatles, particularly how they influenced each other — fascinating, but not exactly revelatory, and only tangential to the real topic at hand.”
There’s also repeated references to a 1969 movie called Model Shop by French-filmmaker Jacques Demy set around Laurel Canyon and features an appearance and soundtrack from the band Spirit. Why are we seeing this? Slater and Dylan somehow think this foreign-film caught the essence of Laurel Canyon … huh?
Good intentions certainly, but, a tremendous disappointment. The DVD on The Wrecking Crew (by Danny Tedesco) is recommended much more.
SHORT TAKES —After moving back to my gut-renovated apartment, I finally hooked up my Sonos … and, the sound is even better than I remember. My first two tracks played Chicago’s “25 Or 6 To 4” and Roxette’s “You Got The Look.” Both just simply outstanding … Publishing-wizard Jim Fitzgerald RIP …
Celebrity-author Mark Bego released his Rocket Man last Friday; his take on the whole Elton-phenomena. We’ve read it and it’s just a terrific take on Elton. Inspiring; revealing; heartfelt and fun … a terrific read … Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam has two shows on January 11: the first a showcase at the New York Hilton for the industry APAP show and later, 7:30 PM, at their standby The Groove in Greenwich Village … Micky Dolenz (who just welcomed grandson Finn) will be at NYC’s Iridium on March 20 and 21 …
Right before the holidays, Wendy Stuart Kaplan, performed in a reading of Glamour Glory and Gold at The Gene Frankel Theatre; reviving the works of Andy Warhol superstar Jackie Curtis, which is an integral part of NYC theater history. Produced and curated by Eileen Dover and Gail Thacker. Wendy’s seen here with Joe Preston. Meanwhile plans are afoot for Kaplan’s Bday-event at Bedlam (40 Avenue C) in NYC on January 24. Stay tuned … The last Tad’s Steakhouse closed this weekend; after 60 years in business. For any New Yorker, it’s been a staple for sure. Not exactly Katz’s, but a landmark for sure. Check out this story from the New York Post:https://nypost.com/2019/10/09/tads-steaks-finally-closing-its-last-nyc-outpost/… SIGHTING: PR-pasha David Salidor at Fig & Olive on NY’s Upper East Side … Last night we caught Just Mercy with Michael B. Jordan and Jaimie Foxx. Based on a true story, this was just a terrific one all around. Jordan, who produced it, and Foxx, are just n fire. More on this one next column …As we go to press, the Golden Globes are looming. My prediction: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In America will be a big winner. More Wednesday.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Jacqueline Boyd; Buddy Blanch; Romeo Delight; Jane Blunkell; Randy Alexander; Harrison Jordan; Mark Bego; Clive Young; John Storyk; Robert Funaro; Gordon Silva; Jodi Ritzen; Richard Branciforte; Armen Garo; Julian Groove; David Charles LaRue; Randy Jones; Dave Marken; and RIP Cleo.