So there you have it: Three films that are very good, none of which exactly fit the bill as “the next Uncut Gems.” In fact, while I could imagine all of them fitting nicely on a double bill alongside the Safdies’ film, there’s another movie that premiered at Cannes this week, in the Directors Fortnight sidebar, that I think would make for even more spiky fun. And while Howard was very much the architect of his own destiny, Farhadi makes a point to note how Rahim becomes a puppet for larger forces — from the prison, which needs a PR boost after a recent scandal, to a charity, which knows that his feel-good story is better for fundraising than the depressing tales it usually deals with. (In this case, a high schooler he attempts to groom into the next Sasha Grey.) The cinematography often shares a similar look as well: gritty, cool, and shaky. Both are cinematic roller coasters — films that make you laugh for reasons that are less to do with comedy and more in line with pure adrenaline. This movie doesn’t have too many similarities with the world of Howard Ratner, either — it’s a genderqueer cyberpunk musical — but watching it, I couldn’t help thinking of Uncut Gems. The film takes place with the 2016 election playing out in the background, and it’s clear Baker wants us to see in Mikey shades of a different New York businessman. It’s called Neptune Frost, and it’s the story of a miner in Rwanda who digs for coltan, the ore that provides a key ingredient for the semiconductors that power phones and computers. But as he’s trying to cash in on his newfound fame, social-media scrutiny threatens to upend his life. And on a meta level, Red Rocket and Uncut Gems are both A24 auteur projects that allow a preciously underrated comedic actor to show he’s got real chops. Why It’s Not Like Uncut Gems

Farhadi and the Safdie brothers are not exactly artistic fellow travelers. Finally, those miners from the opening scene get some justice. My God, the stress. He, too, is juggling two relationships: one with his high-school girlfriend, the other with a younger woman caught up in the dream. By the end, Rahim hasn’t jumped toward ruin as much as he’s been pushed, and part of the tragedy comes from seeing those who eagerly exploited him cut ties once the backlash sets in. It’s an astute diagnosis of a recent trend in film coverage: Any time a festival title stars a charismatic scumbag, has a plot about escalating get-rich-quick schemes, or features frenetic editing, those of us lucky enough to be in attendance can hardly let the credits start to roll before we fire off remarks comparing the movie in question to the Safdie brothers’ 2019 masterpiece. A new film-festival tradition: crowning the heir to Howard Ratner. And just like in Uncut Gems, when bad luck strikes, he’s forced into a series of increasingly reckless moves, all to access the new life that feels tantalizingly within reach. He can’t get out of jail unless he pays the debt, but with his record, he can’t find a job that will advance him the money. Why It’s Like Uncut Gems

The scumbag factor. Like Howie, Rahim’s also in massive debt to an in-law, and he’s stuck in an even tighter bind. Like the Safdies, Ducournau is an expert at ratcheting up the tension until you need to either cover your face or curl up in a ball, and then releasing it with a perfect punch line. Rahim considers selling them, but decides instead to return the purse to its owner. A Hero’s morality play works at a more deliberate pace, with none of the rat-a-tat kinetic energy of Gems. But which of them is the true heir to Howard Ratner? And visually, the film doesn’t stay in Gems mode: Whenever Mikey’s with the girl he thinks is his meal ticket, the cinematography switches to the creamy, colorful look of Baker’s last film, The Florida Project. As King indicates, the second week of Cannes 2021 has seen a trio of competition premieres that all fit the bill for one reason or another. It’s a dead-end town, and Baker’s film shares the sweaty, languid vibe of an AC-less summer in the South. More From France

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Tags: He receives a vision from his late brother, which causes him to flee to a techno-utopian collective aimed at breaking down barriers between male and female, human and machine, with the ultimate goal of taking down the exploitative global economy. Red Rocket


Sean Baker’s latest is a star turn for Simon Rex, in which the VJ/rapper/Scary Movie actor plays Mikey Saber, a down-and-out porn star who returns to his Texas hometown in search of a fresh start. Not since Gems has a festival movie increased my heart rate by so much. Salvation appears, not in the form of a rare opal, but as a lost purse full of gold coins. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Memento, Quinzaine and A24

“Today I have seen three separate Cannes titles compared to Uncut Gems,” film writer and Vulture contributor Jack King tweeted on Wednesday. Why It’s Not Like Uncut Gems

If “grooming a high schooler” didn’t tip you off, it turns out that Mikey lacks even Howard’s single iota of decency: The film is a slow burn from “this guy’s pretty annoying” to “he might actually be the worst person alive.” Or maybe the second worst. When news gets out, he’s hailed as, well, a hero. Titane


It’s nearly impossible to sum up Julia Ducournau’s body-horror epic — and any attempt would probably ruin it — so I’ll just say that this is a movie in which the main character fucks her car, and things only get weirder from there. Why It’s Like Uncut Gems

The stress. The only problem: He’s told one little white lie. Plus the setting, on Texas’s Gulf Coast, is a million miles from Uncut Gems’ frantic 42nd Street. In fact, as an extremely fucked-up buddy comedy, it’s got way more in common with another A24 movie from 2019, The Lighthouse. Let’s run down the options:

A Hero (Ghahreman)


The latest film from Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, A Hero follows Rahim (Amir Jadidi), an unemployed man in prison for debt. Besides the general concept that the main character is a bad person who does bad things and then tries to escape the consequences, Titane doesn’t share much with Gems on a plot level. Why It’s Like Uncut Gems

The desperation. Why It’s Not Like Uncut Gems

Um, everything else? While out on leave, he performs a good deed that turns him into a viral sensation. Mikey is a charming asshole in the Howard Ratner vein, sucking up all the oxygen in the room, always convinced that the universe is about to reward him with the comeback he knows he deserves.