6 items from 2015
It is ironic that people want to escape risk all the time but at the same time a large part of the populace is fascinated with gambling. The foremost example of this fascination is the spate of gambling movies which hit the screen every year. Some become part of pop culture, some win critical acclaim, and some set the box office on fire. But one thing is for sure: gambling aficionados watch them with great eagerness, sometimes in the hopes of catching a trick or two. Rain Man is one movie which comes to mind where the autistic lead character counts cards at a casino, but that one is not a gambling movie.
Now, there are different kinds of gambling. Some of them involve gambling as the main plot point while others have gambling going on in the background while the story takes its course. Casino is one example of »
- Gary Collinson
From anime to pitch-black thrillers, here's our pick of the underappreciated movies of 1987...
Sometimes, the challenge with these lists isn't just what to put in, but what to leave out. We loved Princess Bride, but with a decent showing at the box office and a huge cult following, isn't it a bit too popular to be described as underappreciated? Likewise Joe Dante's Innerspace, a fabulously geeky, comic reworking of the 60s sci-fi flick, Fantastic Voyage.
What we've gone for instead is a mix of genre fare, dramas and animated films that may have garnered a cult following since, but didn't do well either critically or financially at the time of release. Some of the movies on our list just about made their money back, but none made anything close to the sort of returns enjoyed by the likes of 1987's biggest films - Three Men And A Baby, Fatal Attraction »
In the midst of veteran con man Nicky’s latest scheme, a woman from his past – now an accomplished femme fatale – shows up and throws his plans for a loop.
The fundamental problem with films like Focus lays in how many similar films like Focus you may have seen. You know exactly what you’re in for (namely, a con) but the fun is always in how the con is pulled off and how the film can gain the confidence of the audience only to trick us at the end. Unfortunately, even if you’ve seen just one similar film chances are it’s far better than this.
When I think of all the best con artist movies I »
- Gary Collinson
There is no trace of the old Will Smith charm in this glossily mediocre con caper that is almost entirely free of anything or anyone to care about
What on earth happened to Will Smith? He could until recently trade on a certain amount of charm: I have a soft spot for his sentimental drama The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) and he did a good job in the almost impossible role of Muhammad Ali for Michael Mann in 2001. But Smith is just insufferable in this fantastically boring caper about high-class con-trick artists: supercilious and smug, gliding through a glossily mediocre film on cruise control. It is written and directed by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (who made Crazy, Stupid, Love and I Love You Phillip Morris), but without the flair or fun of those pictures. Smith is super-cool con artist Nicky, and Margot Robbie is Jess, the hot would-be grifter that »
- Peter Bradshaw
Thanks to video-on-demand, films never go away any more – so when I tell you to watch a weird Austrian cowboy movie, I expect you do it. This week
Netflix and video-on-demand and Hulu have created immense new pressures on hardcore movie lovers. In the olden days you could tell a friend, “You just have to see House of Games; it’s the best scam movie of the year!” or “I will not stop badgering you until you see Nine Queens! It’s the best South American scam movie of the year!”
And back in the olden days people would reply: “Yeah, sure, I’ll get to it when I get to it.” But then the film would end its theatrical run, so your friends had a legitimate excuse to ignore you. They would assure you that they would get around to seeing that Argentine movie about the bank robber with »
- Joe Queenan
A romantic caper stocked with con artists, good looks but little sizzle, Focus is no Trouble in Paradise, House of Games or The Grifters. This ultra-slick, fantasy-inducing visit to an international wonder world of wealth and deception plays more like an inventory of thieving and gambling techniques than a captivating diversion, even if it's hard not to be voyeuristically pulled in by some of its ruses. Will Smith and the film's sexy vibe will likely spur moderately good initial box office, although the vague, undescriptive title won't help. A prominent, specially invented screen credit goes to one Apollo
- Todd McCarthy
6 items from 2015
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