Focus

I went out to work and had to go through an evaluation. It was a fairly quiet and slow day. I read the news about the death of Leonard Nimoy. I stopped at the grocery store before going home. I took the bus out to the Grand Lake Theatre. I arrived too early for the showing of “Focus,” so I went upstairs and took a seat to look out the window at the neighborhood. A light crowd showed up. The movie featured Will Smith as a con man. It was something like a combination of “The Sting” and “House of Games.” Smith is a man named Nicky, and he has a band of thieves under him like a character from Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.” It sure looked like too many people were involved with his crimes. How could they split a million dollars among all those people to pay? The victims’ wallets were bouncing around like jumping beans. I couldn’t see why Will Smith had to take this role. These were lovable bad guys. They seemed to be just greedy. The movie tries to keep you off balance, but it’s mostly just annoying. We get to see a little bit of New Orleans, where there is a football game between two fictional teams. Nicky makes a series of bets with some rich man in his suite, and the amount escalates. The scene is interesting for a while, with some of the atmosphere of James Caan’s “The Gambler.” The woman beside Nicky is Jess, the love interest in the picture, a pretty blonde who is eager to get into the con business. It seemed like an unlikely coincidence that two of these characters should meet. Margot Robbie played Jess. The explanation of the betting didn’t seem like it was coming from a good con man. There was too much that was unpredictable. It had to do with the power of suggestion, with vague concepts of human behavior. It was like an argument to show how stupid people are. I had a suspicion of what was going on, and so I wasn’t surprised that something deceptive was happening, but I was surprised at how lame it was. There is a clarity and simplicity to good thinking. Well, suddenly the New Orleans part of the story ends and three years later the characters are in Rio de Janeiro. Nicky has a plan that involves race cars. It seems like it’s not worth the money because there is no guaranteed outcome. It’s like trying to fix a horse race. I don’t figure Will Smith to be a person who can do some hacking with his laptop computer. A problem with this movie is that we don’t particularly want the main character to succeed. He’s stealing money from ordinary people who are trying to enjoy themselves, and then he’s ruining an auto race. There’s an assumption that because it’s Will Smith, we’ll go along with all this nonsense. Most of the audience didn’t especially care about what was going on, unlike “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” I know that I was uncomfortable and impatient for this movie to end. The ending of that last caper was quite foolish. It was one of those where the victim drops everything and flees the scene, rather like in “The Sting.” However, in the hands of Will Smith, one person is left practically dead so that he can’t get away with any of the money. The recovery from the wound made me think back to the needle and Uma Thurman in “Pulp Fiction.” There were all sorts of problems with the script that tried to be smart but really seemed full of holes. This was an average movie, not really exciting, and lacking a pulse. You don’t really know what’s going on, and the explanations you get make you feel that the entire movie is false. I felt that I wanted to follow Jess more than Nicky. The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” was on the soundtrack. That was one of the more interesting things that was in the movie. Even the title was wrong, but it made the movie seem like it was going to be about photography. I wasn’t looking forward to the next Will Smith movie. It was windy and cold when I stepped outside to catch the 57 bus. I got home just after 7:30. I watched the Partridge Family episode “Soul Club” with Richard Pryor and Louis Gossett. I noticed that the family had the green outfits on first, and then the red. The song they performed was “Bandala.” The town sure didn’t look like Detroit. I also watched the NUMB3RS episode “Pandora’s Box,” which dealt with a plane crash. Thieves broke into Charlie’s house and stole a blender and a laptop computer. I wanted to see more about Leonard Nimoy on the news. His last message on Twitter was on Sunday, making me wonder what happened to him over the next four days. He obviously should never have taken up smoking. My favorite Star Trek episodes were “The Trouble with Tribbles” and also the one with Joan Collins. We have seen the deaths of Dr. McCoy, Scotty, and now Spock. I thought back on how I used to watch Star Trek years ago. Those were fun times. I wondered if Jim Parsons had any thoughts about the death of Leonard Nimoy. The Letterman show was a rerun. The Top Ten was Pete Carroll Excuses. The guest was Jack Hanna. He brought a groundhog. I like watching the animals. A bird flew onto Dave’s helmet when Jack put a piece of meat on it. I’m not sure I could stand still for that. Meanwhile, Benedict Cumberbatch was on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Jimmy gave him some wedding presents. Raj and Howard from The Big Bang Theory came on after Letterman. One of the channels had an I Love Lucy marathon. I thought that I would like to see Larry David on 60 Minutes. Some of the people who died on February 28 include Henry James (1916), Frankie Lymon (1968), Paul Harvey (2009), and Jane Russell (2011). Today is a birthday for Rae Dawn Chong (54), John Turturro (58), Gilbert Gottfried (60), Bernadette Peters (67), and Gavin MacLeod (84). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for February 28, Bobby Bloom shot himself while cleaning his gun and died in 1974. In 1986, George Michael announced the breakup of Wham! In 1993, Tony Curtis married Lisa Deutsch. In 2008, Mike Smith of the Dave Clark Five died of pneumonia at age 64.  My choices for the Top 5 Biggest Jerks of February 2015 are: 5. Brian Williams, 4. Rudy Giuliani, 3. Kanye West, 2. Joseph Jesse Aldridge, and 1. Mohammed Emwazi.

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