How The Weekend Plays the Role in Safdie Brothers Berserk ‘Uncut Gems’


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Much was made of the fact that Abel Tecef’s name was featured on the cast list for “Uncut Gems”, the latest film from brother directors Team Josh and Benny Safdie. As it is now revealed, the crime drama premieres on the festival circuit and Vijay plays Tasfev the Weekend …” himself in “GEMS”. He only comes on screen for a few minutes out of a 130-minute film, so this is hardly a final test of his screen presence, should he keep in mind big cinematic plans – which, of course, he does. But as a cameo, his quick-acting debut is like a riot, like the rest of the films.


This riot by Safdie brothers is not quite in the sense of ‘laugh riot’ (although the role by him is undeniable funny) as much as the quality of tension and chaos, a condition that follows the anxious antihero of the movie. Adam Sandler, includes the nightclub where the weekend is performing. It suffices to say that these two icons conclude their short screen time together that caught up in dancefloor dispersing brawl.

“He’s a friend of ours, and he’s a real cinephile, Abel,” said Josh Safdie, speaking with Variety after the film’s premiere in Telluride. (“Uncut Gems” is also showing at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, well in advance of its December wide release.) “Real cinephile. Like, one of his favorite filmmakers is (David) Cronenberg, and that makes sense because he’s from Toronto. But he watches a lot of movies.”

So all of that was when the “Uncut Ratna” set in 2012 when Safidon asked her to play it herself. The film takes place inside and outside the Diamond District, as Sandler’s shadowy jeweler character deals with real people in the basketball and hip-hop worlds, with no small-scale scandal and increasingly high stakes. The script informs of The Weekend’s final arrival when a character discusses how the then-unknown singer is going to be a big deal – “even if he’s from Canada.” A cut from her first film of 2011, “House of Balloon”, was released a year before she put on a proper album.

Benny Sadie further adds, “He was very specific about the character he wanted to play”.  Josh adds “Because he said he was a relentless punk in 2012. And hence we were like oh okay, we will include it into the movie.

We also had to make his hair again, because he so ironically shaved his head. Well, not shaved it, but rather cut it all off for his huge mega-album.

Would the “big thing” they want to work with Tsefev include a very big acting role? Mum’s the word. “Still to be determined,” Safdies reiterates.

The actual score for “Uncut Gems” by Daniel Lopatin is also a noticeable one. Lipton, known in electronic circles as Oneohtrix Point Never, also scored for Safidon’s previous film, “Good Time“. “I was a fan of their music,” says Josh, who takes a special interest in the duet’s soundtrack. “His albums are very conceptual, and he was basically making scores for films that didn’t exist. So when we met on ‘Good Time’, he saw the way we do a lot of things on our film Before he was using Debut, he was like, ‘Oh let’s go deep together,’ and we became very close friends. “

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