15 items from 2015
There are two ways of seeing "Focus": as a slick, derivative con man movie starring a typically debonair Will Smith that channels the labyrinthine schemes and accompanying jubilance found in everything from "Ocean's Eleven" to "Out of Sight" — or as the worst movie yet from Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the writer-director pair behind "I Love You Philip Morris" and "Crazy, Stupid, Love." It's the latter perspective that makes "Focus" such a letdown for anyone intrigued by the pair's other work. Despite its stylish execution, the movie sags into formula and shows little of the vulgar, edgy sensibilities that made this filmmaking pair worth following in the first place. Ficarra and Requa first gained attention as the screenwriters behind "Bad Santa," which, like "Focus," revolves around the plight of a criminal defined by his routine. In their directorial debut "I Love You Philip Morris," Jim »
- Eric Kohn
The Grift of Love: Ficarra & Requa’s Perfunctory Take on the Art of the Con
Those hoping for a scintillating update on the con-artist sub-genre will most likely be sorely disappointed with the latest film from directing team Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Focus (not to be confused with the Arthur Miller novel that was made into a chilling film version with Laura Dern and William H. Macy, 2001), with displays artistry that feels more akin to watching a children’s magic show with all those standardly familiar tricks. There may not be a rabbit pulled out of a hat, but its romantic inclination seems uprooted from a similar realm. There is a certain degree of pizzazz, however, thanks mostly to rare glimpses of playful, organically achieved chemistry courtesy of its charming leading lady, but as much as the film can be lauded for nimbly avoiding mention of its interracial romance (still rare in studio fare, »
- Nicholas Bell
Unpleasant, humor free, and contrary to accepted codes of movie morality. And that’s before it shows its hand as a pile of implausible sentimental mush. I’m “biast” (pro): love a good con movie
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
How did the filmmaking team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa — responsible for the brilliant nastiness of Bad Santa (as writers) and charming sweetness of I Love You Phillip Morris (as writers and directors) — come to this? Focus is unpleasant, humor free, and contrary to accepted codes of movie (and nonmovie) morality. Con artists Nicky (Will Smith: Winter’s Tale), a seasoned expert, and Jess (Margot Robbie: The Wolf of Wall Street), a naive upstart, meet-criminal-cute in New York and move on to work an elaborate pickpocketing operation at the “Associated Football Franchise of America”’s not-Superbowl in New Orleans, »
- MaryAnn Johanson
"Wait, what is 'Focus' again?" This is a question that is usually fired back at me, over the past few weeks, when people ask me what I've seen recently and really liked.
Lately, when I run down the movies I've seen recently, "Focus" is always one of those movies I mention, because I really, really liked it. But then, without fail, the person I am talking to asks what "Focus" is. And then I have to explain it to them. This probably has to do with the film's nebulous title and equally nebulous ad campaign, which isn't exactly explanatory (or particularly evocative or moody). So let me tell you just what "Focus" is, exactly. And when I explain what it is, you'll probably be shocked you haven't heard more about it.
- Drew Taylor
It's a con man movie, so you know up front that there are going to be cons played on the characters and the audience alike, and sure enough, "Focus" plays out like you'd expect a con man movie to play out. It is slick and it is well-made, and there is little or nothing about it that I'd call surprising. If you know what kind of genre you're getting into and you're going to see the good-looking movie stars do exactly what you expect them to do, "Focus" will go down easy this weekend. Will Smith is in his comfort zone here as Nick, a big league con man who runs a sizable crew. When he spots Jess (Margot Robbie) one night at a bar, he knows she's got larceny in her blood right away. She's green, though, and she sees Nick as a possible mentor, someone who can teach »
- Drew McWeeny
Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa; Screenwriters: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa; Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro, Gerald McRaney, Adrian Martinez, Running time: 104 mins; Certificate: 15
Few films are more annoying than a con caper that has nothing up its sleeve except cool, designer style and Focus falls squarely into that category. Will Smith epitomises the too-smooth approach as career grifter Nicky and though he has some fizzing chemistry with leading lady Margot Robbie, the love story at the heart of the plot just doesn't pay off.
Expectations might be high for some quirkily comic to-and-fro, considering this one comes from the people who brought you Bad Santa, I Love You Phillip Morris and Crazy, Stupid, Love. (writer/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa), but straight away, the self-consciously self-aware banter between Nicky and Jess (Robbie of The Wolf of Wall Street) rings untrue.
After she bungles a honey trap to »
This review contains spoilers.
So my prediction last week panned out. Castle has been invited back to work with Beckett at the precinct, his career as a Pi outlasting hers as an FBI(?) agent by one episode. But to be fair, the whole thing was a bit of a gimme. I mean, we knew from the beginning that the status quo would eventually be re-established, if only because Castle’s producers/writers would never run the risk of playing with the formula that has paid them such dividends. I just wish that they had done it in a way that did not strain credulity quite so much.
I mean, Castle is guilty of attempted murder. Neither we nor the NYPD doubt that. But rather than file charges, »
After years of solid work as a background player, Peter Dinklage finally broke into the mainstream with his terrific performance as conniving, charismatic Tyrion Lannister on HBO’s Game of Thrones, and as the fifth season of that series approaches, it appears that Hollywood is finally seeing the actor as leading man material.
Paramount Pictures has recruited prolific helmer Adam Shankman to direct Dinklage in O’Lucky Day, an R-rated comedy in the vein of Bad Santa about a con man who poses as a real, live leprechaun. The project, which has been in the works for sometime, is described as being “deep in R-rated territory but wrapped around an emotional heart.”
O’Lucky Day certainly sounds like it could yield a fair share of laughs, though Shankman’s involvement isn’t exactly thrilling news. »
- Isaac Feldberg
Deadline is reporting Adam Shankman (Rock Of Ages, Hairspray) is in talks to direct O'Lucky Day, a comedy about "a con man who may or may not be a real Leprechaun, but who certainly passes himself off as one" starring star Peter Dinklage. The tone of the film has been described as similar to Bad Santa, so hopefully that means the film will be getting an R-rating. We first learned about the movie back in October of 2013 when Dinklage joined the project, and the »
- Jesse Giroux
We're standing in a hotel in Innsbruck, Austria, and it is just over 24 hours until the very first live show of The Jump. Pleasingly, Dom Parker has lived up to his Gogglebox persona by wandering in with a glass of red wine, but we don't blame him for having a drink - he's been through the wars.
Dom was sent to hospital earlier in the week after he was suspected of having a concussion, but he's on the mend now - although his shoulder's still dodgy (as is Jb Gill's, who admitted he's frustrated he can't give 100% at the moment - though he did joke that none of the other Jls boys would have dared to do the show, with poor Marvin being dubbed the least likely to follow in Jb's footsteps).
But they're not the only contestants feeling the pain. "I fall over about 15 times a day," Phil Tufnell winced. »
Our crew is hard at work covering the Sundance Film Festival. Here is the first batch of review with more to come.
‘The D Train’ promises a fun, twisty ride Sundance 2015: ‘A Walk in the Woods’ will have you running for the exits Sundance 2015: ‘Slow West’ is a tense and thoughtful revisionist western Sundance 2015: ‘Princess’ is one of Sundance’s best Sundance 2015: Maybe the dingos should eat ‘Strangerland’ Sundance 2015: Ben Mendelsohn is the jackpot in otherwise middling ‘Mississippi Grind’ Sundance 2015: ‘Me & Earl & the Dying Girl’ an emotional, honest and hilarious experience Sundance 2015: ‘The End of the Tour’ a quiet, affecting primer on the life of David Foster Wallace Sundance 2015: ‘Cop Car’ is an instant Americana genre film classic Sundance 2015: ‘Girlhood’ rivals Linklater’s opus Sundance 2015: ‘Knock Knock’ sees Eli Roth and Keanu Reeves offer camp glory Sundance 2015: ‘Eden »
Castle shaking up the status quo appears to be paying off, judging by its recent fun and entertaining episodes...
This review contains spoilers.
7.11 Castle, P.I. & 7.12 Private Eye Caramba!
When last we left Kate and Rick, before the mid-winter hiatus, Castle had taken one of the more adventurous turns imaginable on the show. It had undermined its entire premise.
From the beginning, one of the more outrageous aspects of the series is the idea that, in the lawsuit-happy world of law enforcement and public safety, a writer would be given not just permission to do a long-term ride-along with the NYPD, but access to Leo databases, crime scene reports, personal information on private citizens—basically all the tools that allow what former NY mayor Bloomberg once called the “seventh biggest army in the world” to do its job.
Okay, it’s not like television audiences haven’t been asked to swallow more preposterous concepts. »
Quick…name a favorable film where the landscape is run by (or at least partially include) the demographic of little people as part of the instrumental storyline? C’mon…it should not be that difficult, okay? If you want to mention say Darby O’Gill and the Little People then that would fine. How about Bad Santa or Poltergeist for that matter?
In That’s Good Enough, Short Stuff: Top Ten Films Featuring Little People we will take a look at some of the mini megastars that inhabited these movies and contributed their fair share of entertainment value to the on-screen proceedings. The debate as to whether some of these selected films featuring these pint-sized performers are considered positive, exploitative or dismissive are not up for discussion (although one of these considerations could apply in the minds of a few folks). Instead, we want to celebrate the inclusion of »
- Frank Ochieng
Directed by Bryan Buckley
The Bronze is a wickedly funny comedy that re-affirms the value of R-rated movies. With a voice like sandpaper across your eardrums, Melissa Rauch delivers an unrelentingly vulgar performance that will have the “adults” rolling their eyes and the “immature” rolling with laughter. You know which camp you occupy, so there’s no excuse for misjudging this modest comedy that aims squarely below the belt and hits its mark with impressive regularity.
Permanently clad in her Olympic warm-up suit, Hope Annabelle Greggory (Rauch) took the Bronze medal by completing her gymnastics routine on a mangled Achilles heel. She’s like Kerri Strug, only with more obscenities and promiscuous sex. When Hope returned home to Smalltown, USA, she was hailed as a conquering hero, with a lifetime supply of free ice cream floats and primo marijuana at her disposal. »
- J.R. Kinnard
Tina Fey stars in the dark comedy which deals with Barker’s adventures as a war journalist traveling between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Glen Ficarra and John Requa (Bad Santa, Crazy Stupid Love) are helming the film which also stars Martin Freeman and Margot Robbie. Coster-Waldau will be seen in more 'Thrones' this year along with Alex Proyas' "Gods of Egypt".
Source: Showbiz 411 »
- Garth Franklin
15 items from 2015
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