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Focus




Patrick’s Day

See a film and decide its fate.
On Friday, March 6, the film Patrick’s Day, which has won prizes at the Woodstock Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival, among others, will screen at 7 p.m. at Sweeney Hall Auditorium at NHTI (31 College Drive in Concord). Tickets cost $10. After the film, audiences will get to vote on whether or not the film should get wider distribution.
Patrick’s Day (which I viewed via a courtesy screener) tells the story of Patrick (Moe Dunford, who appears in the TV show Vikings), a 26-year-old man who suffers from schizophrenia but is still able to manage some aspects of a normal life such as a job and the occasional outing, like the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration — St. Patrick’s Day also being his birthday — he has with his mom, Maura (Kerry Fox). They head to a special meal, watch the parades and generally partake in the revelry. This year, however, mother and son get separated, and Patrick ends up waiting for his mom outside the hotel, smoking a cigarette while sitting on a stoop.
Enter Karen (Catherine Walker).
A little older than him and a lot tipsy, Karen bums a light off Patrick, has a few drinks with him and takes him up to her room. What she knows about Patrick’s state of mind, we can’t tell (she answers his “I’m a schizophrenic” with something like “isn’t everybody”). From what we glean about her state of mind, Patrick is perhaps meant to be the capper on a night of self-destruction that ends with her planned suicide. Instead, it ends with them in bed together — a fact that Maura learns in the morning after having spent the night worrying about Patrick and even heading to the police.
Patrick tells his mother he’s in love with Karen. Maura, as she tells the police detective (Philip Jackson) she’s sort of befriended, doesn’t know what to do about the relationship. From her point of view, it can only end in hardship for Patrick even if it makes him happy at the moment. Karen also isn’t certain what to make of this strange romance, but she does think maybe it saved her.
The destructive powers of love — Patrick’s for Karen, Maura’s for Patrick — is on examination here, as is the concept of “doing what’s best” for someone. Who’s idea of what’s best for Patrick is really “best”? And are some kinds of suffering — say, at the loss of love — worth it for having had the joy that causes it? The movie doesn’t present easy answers for these issues.
Should it be at more theaters near you? You be the judge.
The screenings, called the Feature Film Project (which is a part of Manhattan Short, which conducts the annual Manhattan Short Film Festival), are scheduled to take place across the country on March 5 through March 8. The decision will be announced at thefeaturefilmproject.com. — Amy Diaz




Focus (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

03/05/15
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



Focus (R)

Will Smith is a hard-working con artist in Focus, a surprisingly fun little caper movie.
Nicky (Will Smith) is a professional con-man, working at a far higher level than Jess (Margot Robbie) when he meets her in the middle of her own, amateurish game. After he calls her on it and shows her a few pickpocket tricks, she is intrigued enough to follow him to New Orleans, where he has a crew prepared to work on a whole bunch of different petty property crimes during the Super Bowl — everything from lifting wallets and jewelry in big crowds to stealing credit card information to buy goods to launder into cash. Jess joins in and proves herself to be a valuable employee. Also, she and Nicky strike up some kind of a relationship — though there’s always a question about whether one of them is playing the other.
A post-Super Bowl parting leaves the exact nature of the relationship Jess and Nicky had up in the air. Three years later, they run into each other in Buenos Aires. Nicky has been hired to help race car owner Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro) run a con to get a small advantage over his racing opponents. Nicky thinks the job will be easy money until he sees Jess getting cozy with Garriga, who doesn’t know about her previous profession. Nick’s surprise at seeing Jess and his subsequent change of plans in how he approaches the Garriga’s job has Garriga’s security guard Owens (Gerald McRaney) even more suspicious about Nicky. 
When you are expecting flat box wine, a $15 prosecco seems like an effervescent surprise party. And that’s about where Focus is, a particularly tasty $15 bottle of light but enjoyable bubbly. Smith and Robbie are a particularly nice couple; they have enough chemistry for this kind of medium-effort movie (this, Fifty Shades of Grey, this is how you do low-rent chemistry) and a similar approach to their characters. A snazzy little cocktail of “let’s have fun” and “let’s not try too hard” with just a dash of “nobody’s taking this too seriously” is what they both appear to be sipping. 
The story is an equally fizzy blend of laid-back good times. There is just enough twistiness in the various cons to keep you reasonably entertained, especially if you can keep yourself from over-thinking the scenarios or running too far ahead in the plot.  
Focus won’t be on anybody’s top 10 list at the end of next year, but for this point in the release calendar it’s a much-welcome bit of refreshment. B-
Rated R for language, some sexual content and brief violence. Written and directed by Glen Ficarra and John Requa, Focus is an hour and 44 minutes long and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.
 





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