Never Drop the Con: FOCUS

Friday, February 27, 2015


“Rather than diverting their eyes, you must occupy their minds. Their attention is controlled by their dreams, desires and fears. People often see what they want to believe rather than what is really there. So, if you can control their focus, you control their reality.” - Professional Con-Artist Apollo Robbins

Tinsel & Tine's Look at the Movie Focus

by Le Anne Lindsay, Editor

After seeing the movie FOCUS you may become paranoid and start constantly checking for your phone, wallet, watch and other assorted valuables whenever you're in public. One pickpocket you might notice or catch, but when it's a band of seemingly unrelated people working together to distract, pilfer, swipe, hand off and lift, while never slowing down - even the most aware and alert person will and can be a victim. It really makes you wonder how many real life crime rings are out there everyday getting away with taking people's stuff with sleight-of-hand and diverting focus.

Writing and Directing team Glenn Ficarra & John Requa (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”) takes us into a world where there's honor among thieves, but is it a place for falling in love? After all, relationships, particularly those of a romantic nature, require trust, right?  But then again, think about this, how many times have you or your friends gone through a lover's cellphone to see who they've been calling/texting? Check their computers to see if they're on any dating sites?  Cyber stalk them, or try to catch them in a lie?  There's so many pitfalls when it comes to trusting your romantic partners, now magnify that x10, when you're dealing with two people who make their living deceiving others, and you've got the basis for Warner Bros latest offering, Focus.

QUICK SYNOPSIS: Nicky (Will Smith) is a seasoned master of misdirection who allows an amateur con artist Jess (Margot Robbie "Wolf of Wall Street") to lure him to her hotel room out of professional curiosity, and as Nicky puts it "I like boobs, figured it was a win win". She beseeches him to take her on as an apprentice of sorts, and after testing her abilities, brings her into his ring which consists of among others, operations manager, Horst (Brennan Brown) and computer genius Farhad (Adrian Martinez).  It's all fun and games as they teach Jess the tricks of the trade, until she gets too close for Nicky's comfort and he drops her hard after one particularly interesting game of chance that really has the audience guessing. When the two meet up 3 years later, who do you think gets the upper hand?

OBSERVATION: The camera loves Margot Robbie not just because she's beautiful, there's a thousand sexy blondes that look almost identical to her, but her humor and energy really make her stand out among her "type". I think we all saw it when she proved to be more than a trophy wife to DiCaprio's Jordan Belfort in Wolf of Wall Street (click for T&T post) and she brings all that and more to Focus. I would imagine Will Smith really needs this movie to do well, after After Earth bombed, his production Annie (click for T&T post) pretty much bombed, and remember that strange cameo he did in a Winter's Tale? (click for T&T post).  I think audiences will like him as Nicky, he's pretty much what would happen if The Fresh Prince had been raised by the antithesis of Uncle Phil.

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AROUND THE WEB: The movie used Apollo Robbins as a consultant on the film brought in during script development and through to production READ MORE. Robbins is referred to as the "Gentlemen Thief". He's perfected the art of sleight-of-hand and has created a business called Whizmob Inc., a brain trust that offers law enforcement officials and ex-cons as subject matter experts on current fraud, theft, and scam trends. Apollo hosted Tru TV's reality show, The Real Hustle, and served as technical advisor on TNT's series, Leverage... READ MORE also

RESULT: What I think really works about the movie is the plot of the cons are interesting and plausible, but they somehow take a backseat to the characters. Yet at the same time, I was often misled; the script seems so straight forward, as if we are only involved in this world of deceit because of Nicky & Jess, and then the movie turns the tables, and you realize you were being conned while your focus was on the relationship. No big crazy twist, turns or surprises, but good writing which reveals things you didn't see coming, or at least I didn't.

T &T's LAMB Score: 4 outta 5

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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