Daniel Lopatin: Uncut Gems Original Soundtrack review | Music

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Uncut Gems is one of the films of the year, cementing its directors, the Safdie brothers, as the masters of stressing you out by watching flawed people make even more flawed life decisions – here, Adam Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a gambling-addicted jeweller who is in love not so much with the winning as the survivors’ adrenalin of not losing. After scoring their previous film, Robert Pattinson heist movie Good Time, Daniel Lopatin – AKA electronic producer Oneohtrix Point Never, now composing under his own name – once again writes the music.

Daniel Lopatin: Uncut Gems OST album art work

As with Good Time, Lopatin creates strong passages seemingly beamed from the chase sequence of an 80s cyborg movie, all arpeggiating synth lines and toe-tapping pace. School Play features a gorgeous techno pattern writhing around wraiths of threatening noise, and The Blade has big, Vangelis-style fanfares over bright, scrolling synthwave. But Uncut Gems is an even richer, funnier, broader movie than Good Time, and Lopatin matches its ambition with new ideas of his own.

Ratner is in a kind of Ponzi scheme with himself, gambling and pawning to raise money to pay his creditors, which in turn creates another debt. But he appreciates beauty and is quick to love; he is the uncut gem of the title, a man taking a rough, colourful form under tons of pressure. Lopatin is so good at heightening his id-driven, nerve-jangled world. Lilting flutes and oboes, reminiscent of the recent wave of reissued Japanese ambient, evoke the daze between bouts of stress; soft-porn sax conjures the trashy glamour of the diamond district; wordless chants and choirs suggest a mind clawing at language and meaning. The boldest pieces are The Ballad of Howie Bling and Fuck You Howard: their glistening operatic kitsch is absolutely the “wrong” thing to soundtrack, as the latter does, a lovers’ tiff, and yet feels totally right for Ratner’s mad world. Lesser composers try to merely mirror the action on screen and intensify it, boringly magnifying your emotions – in his hopefully ongoing partnership with the Safdies, Lopatin is showing how contradictory, confusing and vital our dumb human impulses are.

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Source: The Guardian
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