Yes, Adam Sandler received zero Oscar nominations for Uncut Gems. Yes, Uncut Gems itself received zero Oscar nominations. And yes, Sandler had the perfect Twitter reaction to it all, and Kathy Bates had the perfect Twitter response. But you know what? None of this means Sandler, nor his directors Josh and Benny Safdie has lost. In fact, this is the exact kind of high-stress, closed-off situation that they, and their creation Howard Ratner, thrive in. So instead of packing up their diamond Furby and heading on their way, they’ve rocked our world with a follow-up short film. And you can watch it for free right the heck now. This… is how they win.
Goldman v Silverman feels like if John Cassavetes directed that SNL “Sad Mouse” sketch. It stars Sandler as a street performer spray painted entirely in gold, entertaining any Times Square passersby with silly physical performances and a kazoo. But then, co-director Benny Safdie shows up, painted entirely in silver, also with a kazoo. And any veneer of street performance professionalism is quickly wiped away. The two argue, fight, and get into a very funny physical altercation — all while the very real residents of NYC, unaware they’re in an indie short film with one of our biggest movie stars, gawk and giggle.
My guess would be that Sandler and the Safdies shot this short some time during Uncut Gems‘ production. It’s limited by design in scope, feeling more like an experimentation or tone poem than a traditional “beginning to end” narrative short — by the time it ended, I thought it was just getting started. But don’t write it off as a minor lark. The craft on this thing is impeccable, with the Safdies’ swirling camerawork continuing to dazzle with its grimy beauty. Plus, Sandler’s performance is, even in a smaller scale role, outstanding, his vocalizations feeling worlds away from Howard or any of his other characters — I have never felt more inherent rage in a Sandler character than from Goldman. And Benny’s performance feels unaffected, lived in, and even bemused — he’s the perfect “voice of reason,” even as his character is just as unusual. Sandler has made flights of fancies with his indie collaborators below (check out Couch, made by Punch-Drunk Love director Paul Thomas Anderson). But with this one, he proves just how much of a power trio he and the Safdies are.