Posts Tagged ‘Focus’


Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 9.36.32 AMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “Focus,” “The Lazarus Effect,” “Elephant Song” and “Big News from Grand Rock” with host Beverly Thomson.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro Canada: Adrian Martinez is proud of being “sidekick to the stars.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 12.36.37 AMBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

Adrian Martinez is “that guy.” You recognize his face but probably don’t know his name. He’s the actor you’ve seen in everything from American Hustle to The Amazing Spider-Man to this weekend’s Focus, standing just to the side of the main actors. He’s the sidekick to the stars, a moniker he wears proudly.

“Sidekick to the Stars?” he says. “That’s absolutely cool with me. I’m working and it’s the best film school in the world.”

From Ben Stiller, his “teacher” and Secret Life of Walter Mitty co-star, he says he learned “how to compartmentalize your energy. Nobody works harder than Ben Stiller. He was acting all day, directing and then editing.”

“Will Ferrell,” he says, “is surprisingly not funny on set except during the takes when he’s hysterical. I took discipline away from him.”

In Focus Martinez plays Farhad, a computer expert and associate of scam artist Nicky Spurgeon, played by Will Smith. It’s a small but important role, which gave Martinez the chance to watch Smith in action as they shot the film in New Orleans and Buenos Aires.

“From Will Smith I learned gratitude,” he says. “This is a guy who’s been doing this a long while and every day on set he was absolutely invested in the well being of everyone. He would gauge the temperature of the room and if he felt people were dragging he would just start dancing. Literally get jiggy with it. I felt, wow, this guy doesn’t have to do anything and he’s doing everything to lead the pack into the right place.”

He puts those lessons to work in a variety of gigs from comedy to drama, from big screen to small.

“I do television and commercials,” he says. “I don’t care. I just work. The way I’ve always seen it is that commercials are the haiku of acting, TV is like the short stories and movies are the novels. Whatever format you use as an actor you’re still a character whether it is six seconds or an hour-and-a-half.”

Finding a way to balance his professional and personal lives was a lesson he learned from a source off set.

“I have a nine-year-old daughter and she keeps it in perspective fore me,” he says. “The other day we were talking and I said, ‘Isn’t this great? I’m in Los Angeles but we can facetime and see each other.’ She said, very cogently, ‘You can’t hug in a facetime daddy.’ She doesn’t fool around. She brings it right home. I flying back to New York today and I can’t wait to hug her.”

FOCUS: 3 ½ STARS. “Half Soderbergh, half Scorsese with a dash of “The Sting.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 4.45.56 PMNicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) is a seasoned grifter from a long line of con men. His father and grandfather were flim flam artists and now he is passing along the tricks of the trade to Jess (Margot Robbie) a beautiful newcomer with a light touch—perfect for picking pockets—who just might get Nicky to break his golden rule of never getting emotionally involved with anyone.

When Spurgeon first spots Jess she is working a low level scam in a hotel bar. He teaches her how to use misdirection to pick pockets. “You get their focus,” he says, “and then you can take whatever you like.” Using a mixture of his methods and chutzpah they hit the rubes at the Superbowl in New Orleans, raking in over a million dollars in one week.

A nervy game of one-upmanship nets another big score, and Jess, thinking she is part of the team—both professionally and romantically—imagines a life of crime with Nicky until he unceremoniously dumps her, gifting her with $80,000 and a free ride to the airport.

Three years later Nicky is in Buenos Aires working a big job for billionaire Garriga   (Rodrigo Santoro). To his surprise Jess is also there, but is she working an angle or has she gone straight?

One part Scorsese, one part Soderbergh, with a healthy dose of “The Sting” thrown in, “Focus” is a stylish crime drama more about the characters than the crime. Nicky’s maxims—“Die with the lie.”—set the scene, but the story is more about a commitment-phobe who loses himself over a woman. It works because of the chemistry between Smith and Robbie. They have great repartee, trade snappy dialogue and despite a gaping age difference, make a credible couple.

Smith hasn’t been this effortlessly charming in years and Robbie blends streetwise—“It’s a minor miracle I’m not a hooker right now,” she says.—with easy charm. The pair are a winning combo, reminiscent of the spark-plug chemistry between George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez in “Out of Sight.”

“Focus” could use a bit more focus in the storytelling—a late movie plot twist doesn’t ring true given the lead up to the big reveal—but it zips along at such a pace and is enough fun that you may not notice.