Lame con man caper ironically lacks focus

Is it worth $10? No

Remember when Will Smith was box office gold? There was a time – nearly 20 years ago now – when he couldn’t miss, when even if his movie was a dud it still collected prime box office dollars. Then “Hancock” (2008) happened and he hasn’t done anything decent since, and given the mediocrity of “Focus,” expect the downward trend to continue.

Sure, Smith brings his trademark charm to Nicky, a con artist. And the gorgeous Margot Robbie (“The Wolf Of Wall Street”) brings beauty to Jess, an aspiring grifter whom Nicky takes under his wing. There’s no debating they’re both easy on the eyes. Nicky calls grifting “a game of focus” that’s all about getting people’s focus and taking what you want. No doubt this deception is meant to be a metaphor for the film as well, thereby prompting writer/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”) to pull the old switcheroo on the audience in the final moments. The problem is the story lacks so much focus leading up to the finale that when the twist comes we don’t care because we’ve already lost interest.

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Fun horror pic about coming back from the dead

Is it worth $10? Yes

What happens when we die? Do we see a white light that ushers us to the pearly gates of Heaven? Or do we descend into the fiery pits of Hell? What if there is nothing? This "theological versus scientific" debate is addressed in the resurrection horror film "The Lazarus Effect." Keep this question in mind: "If you could bring someone back from the dead, should you?"

A college research group has been funded to discover a way to prolong life in critical patients in an effort to give doctors an extra chance at curing them. The team of five, including their new videographer Eva (Sarah Bolger), stumbles across an amazing discovery when their Lazarus serum brings a dog back from the dead. Controversy on whether this is ethical is debated among the team. After the University and a Big Pharma company put a halt to the project, and take all of their evidence, the lead doctors decide to try the experiment one last time to record their findings. Tragedy occurs when scientist Zoe (Olivia Wilde) is accidentally killed and, through desperation, becomes the successful but unwilling subject of the experiment. She is brought back by fiance and fellow scientist Frank (Mark Duplass), but something is very wrong and the team discovers what consequences come with playing God.

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If you don't think you're an asshole (at least sometimes), you're wrong

This video is a bit crude, simplistic and generalized, but I don't think you're being honest with yourself if you don't find a modicum of truth in it. What's more, quality humor finds a way to be real about our misgivings whether we like it or not, so kudos to College Humor for reminding us that we're all, at some point or another, an asshole.


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Oscar winners Whiplash and Big Hero 6 now on Blu-Ray

Many of us can remember teachers who pushed our limits to help make us our best. They believed in us, stirred our passions, and taught us to see past our self-imposed limitations. In “Whiplash,” whether or not Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), the most feared and revered instructor/conductor at a prestigious music academy is that type of teacher to young drummer Andrew (Miles Teller) is up for debate.

The core of Fletcher’s method comes from a story about how jazz legend Charlie Parker became a great saxophone player when Jo Jones, drummer for the hugely popular Count Basie Orchestra, threw a cymbal at Parker’s head (it was actually his feet by some counts, and stories like this get embellished quite often). Fletcher is looking for his Charlie Parker.

He does this by keeping constant pressure on his pupils. His methods aren’t just mental and emotional, they’re also physical. Though instead of throwing cymbals, Fletcher throws chairs. He pushed his drummers to play to the tempo he has inside of his head until their hands literally bleed. The question is: Does this man really have a tempo that his students are not performing, or is he doing all of this to push them, test their limits, and see who quits and who carries on?

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Late night host Kimmel stops by to offer congrats and ask for a few favors

This was probably recorded a few days before the Oscars, but it plays well regardless. It's a shame that Kimmel's post-Oscars show is on so late, as it's arguably the best one he does all year.

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Birdman takes picture, director and original screenplay; Boyhood wins only one award

The show ran a good three and a half hours, but it was entertaining and the awards were spread around. No major upsets, unfortunately -- that always does make things better. Here's my viewing log:

8:37 - Host Neil Patrick Harris nails the opening musical number, written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who won an Oscar for writing Frozen. And from a technical standpoint, very impressive and inspired work with rear projection and choreography. And for good measure, NPH takes a shot at his own work by ripping on The Smurfs 2.

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Sequel to the 2010 hit flat-out sucks

Is it worth $10 – NO!

After seeing this movie, one wonders if the filmmakers of “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” would have gotten black-out drunk in a time machine and gone back to a time before production of this sequel started and put the kibosh on the whole thing. Audiences certainly would have benefited and not had their time wasted. While the original film was an unexpected hit with plenty of heart and laughs, the sequel offers nothing more than crude and unfunny penis jokes and a nonsensical “storyline” that serves only to piece together unrelated segments.

The story is that Lou (Rob Corddry, in an undeserved leading man role), after exploiting his knowledge of the future in the past, is shot in crotch during a gala. Nick (Craig Robinson, one redeeming aspect of the film) and Jacob (Clark Duke) slip him in the hot tub time machine to try to go back and prevent the murder. However, they end up in the future, which Jacob explains is not actually the future of our current timeline but the past of an alternate timeline. Like “Fringe.” John Cusack’s character, Adam, is mentioned throughout but (due to what can only be explained as the actor’s rightful desire to stay far away from this project) is never seen. The gang thinks that he holds the key to Lou’s murder and, while searching for him, meet Adam’s son Adam (Adam Scott, the other redeeming aspect of the film).

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Recent Articles

Focus **
Lame con man caper ironically lacks focus Is it ...
The Lazarus Effect ***
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Want to be a film critic?

"How do I become a film critic?" is one of the most common questions film critics receive. Here's the best answer I can give you.

1) Don't do it. It's a job of constant pressure, unrelenting deadlines, often little pay and even less gratitude. And think about all the crap you have to sit through ("Sex Tape") -- it's not just about getting to see "The Avengers 2" before all your friends.

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