NOT QUITE 20/20: Movie reviews of Focus, What We Do in the Shadows and All The Wilderness by Howard Casner

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focusFocus, the new film written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, comes from a genre with a proud heritage: the rom con game. It’s a genre that was extremely popular in the greatest period in film for romantic comedies, the 30’s, with such movies as Trouble in Paradise and Desire. But it has always had an endearing quality, as in such films as It Takes A Thief, The Pink Panther, The Thomas Crown Affair, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and more recently, Duplicity.

And this latest entry does have some of the qualities of these other films that ingratiate them so much to us: a cool and suave leading man; even cooler cons; and more than a touch of wit.

In addition, there is one marvelous scene of grifting involving an Asian businessman who loves to gamble and who finds himself going nose to nose with the movie’s hero on a series of more and more outrageous bets. You know what’s coming, though when it does, you’re not sure how it could possibly have pulled it off. And then when it is explained, you marvel at the audacity and chance taking of it.

But this scene also works for reasons that much of the movie doesn’t. In the end, though there are some nice moments here, Focus never really quite rises to the level of many of these other films.

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