My View: Focus (2015) R Nicky (Will Smith) is a long time con-man who agrees to show Jess (Margot Robbie) the tips of his trade. They get involved, and Nicky breaks it off when Jess gets too entrenched in Nicky’s life. Three years later, Nicky is doing one last con, a con that could set him up for life. The only problem: Jess shows up and throws his plan out the window. Con movies are one of the hardest genres to make; you have to have great chemistry between the leads. Con movies need to have several twists and turns the audience doesn't see coming and an ending that is surprising and creative. A movie like the 1973 classic, The Sting, would be a good example. Focus isn't one those movies as it fails in all aspects. There isn't any chemistry between Smith and Robbie, the plot twists are predictable and easy, and the ending is just plain stupid. It's sad when a cast seems to be just going through the motions except for TV veteran Gerald McRaney, who gives a great performance as a henchman. If you see this film, it will be like someone picked your pocket, but believe me, you will notice. My Rating: Cable Focus Website
Indiefest: Leviathan (2014) R In a small Russian coastal town, Kolya’s (Aleksey Serebryakov) house is about to be taken away from him by corrupt government officials. Koyla asks an old army buddy, who is now a high-power Moscow attorney, to help him combat the local government. Reminiscent of a mob film by Martin Scorsese, this film is worthy of its Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Picture. The film is filled dread and gloom as Kolya desperately tries to keep his way of life but is beaten down every step he takes by a bureaucracy that is corrupt and evil. The film is marked by three performances of the leads, especially Elena Lyadova, who plays the wife of Kolya, as she tries to stand by her husband and ultimately, his bad decisions, and, ultimately, bad decision after bad decision, herself. You eventually get the idea that the characters in this film are like the wrecked boats along the coast. They are doomed to waste away into nothingness. My Rating: Full Price Leviathan Website
Indiefest: What We Do in the Shadows (2015) It’s hard being a vampire in the modern world. You have to pay rent, do household chores, try to keep up with the latest trends and still keep your vampire coolness. Will this group of vampires get along long enough to survive another 8,000 years? Overall, this film drags a bit and probably should have been a little shorter, but it’s still a fun film to watch, and several times it's just out and out hilarious. The household of vampires has let a documentary crew come in and shoot their lives, which leads up to a big vampire ball. Everything that can go wrong does, including mistakenly taking a human friend to the Vampire Ball (not a good move for the human). The film, at times, seems a little like small skits put together, but some of those scenes work as great comedy. My Rating: Bargain Matinee What We Do in the Shadows Website
Forgotten Film: Julia (1977) At the request of an old friend, playwright Lilian Hellman (Jane Fonda), agrees to smuggle money through Nazi Germany to Russia. Complicating things is that Lillian is a Jew. This film stands out due to the stunning performances of Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave as Julia, and Jason Robards as writer Dashiell Hammett. This is one of the better films of the 1970s due to its outstanding cinematography and its depiction of the two leads: both strong women who are willing to risk anything for a noble cause. My Rating: Full Price Julia Info
Weird Credits: From the credits of Focus: Assistant Football Coach
In Case You Missed It (A New Release Out on DVD and Blu-Ray): Big Hero 6 (2014) PG The Academy Award winning film about a young robotics engineer named, Hiro (Ryan Potter), and his plus-sized inflatable robot, named Baymax (Scott Adsit), uncover a criminal plot and put together a team of inexperienced crime-fighters to take on a masked villain. I loved this film, which combines the superhero element of the Marvel films with the nice, personal touch of the Walt Disney films. You will fall in love Baymax and his little fist bump catch phrase. The film is enjoyable for both adults and children and teaches a wonderful lesson of listening to your conscience. Full Price Big Hero 6 website
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (2014) A young Japanese woman discovers an old copy of the 1996 film Fargo on VHS. She is convinced that it is a treasure map to the location of the big bag of money that Steve Buscemi’s character buried out in the snow in the film. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter Website
Until Next Time!