Uncut Gems, the fraught and visceral thriller about a jeweler making a whole bunch of bad decisions in quick succession, is one of the best movies of 2019. Its directors, the Safdie Brothers, are notorious for casting first-time actors in their movies. Uncut Gems is easily their biggest production yet, and it includes plenty of full-time actors: Adam Sandler, Idina Menzel, Lakeith Stanfield, Eric Bogosian. But they share the screen with a lot of people who have never been in movies before. Some of those people are famous: Kevin Garnett, the Weeknd, Mike Francesa. Most are not. The Uncut Gems cast is full of jewelers, gangsters, and various assorted New York eccentrics who the Safdies have encountered in their travels. And at least one of those eccentrics recorded an unsolicited soundtrack for the film.
A few times in the movie, Adam Sandler’s Howard Ratner encounters two shaggy brothers, some of the many people to whom he owes money. They always show up at the wrong moment, and they always make tense situations even worse. They’re not in the movie much, but their faces immediately sear themselves into the brains of everyone watching. Both of those brothers are first-time actors. One is Mitchell Wenig, a notorious autograph collector. The other is his brother Stewart, a singer-songwriter.
In an interview with Vulture earlier this month, Stewart mentioned that he’d written songs for the film:
I also write songs, so I started writing songs [for Uncut Gems]. Like I wrote about ten songs for the movie, and I gave [the Safdies] a CD of the songs. I wrote a song with the title “Uncut Gems.” And the Safdie Brothers liked the songs and they like, know how they go and stuff. But for some reason they didn’t put them in the movie.
In a recent appearance on the podcast Chapo Trap House the Safdie Brothers did, in fact, enthuse about the songs that Stewart had written for the movie, comparing them to the work of lo-fi outsider artist R. Stevie Moore. They also played a bit of the song “Uncut Gems” for the audience. Here’s how it sounded:
Here’s a tease of one of the songs from Stuart (and to [email protected] Mitch) Wenig’s UNCUT GEMS full 10 track album made for the film… spoiler: it’s amazing. R. Stevie Moore-esque pic.twitter.com/hpbfE9AR0g
— SAFDIE (@JOSH_BENNY) January 17, 2020
On Chapo, the Safdies tell the story of getting these songs they weren’t expecting, and they say that they want to put them out as a record, though I’d be pretty surprised if that actually happened. All the Safdies’ stories about making Uncut Gems are pretty great; you can hear their full Chapo episode here. It’s probably worth noting that Uncut Gems already had a pretty amazing score from Daniel Lopatin, better known as Oneohtrix Point Never.