The best con artists let the rube have fun while they’re being hustled. The wonderful new scam-fest, Focus, has learned this lesson well. Of course, none of the scams hold up to later scrutiny, but they’re fun as hell when you’re in the thick of it. Like a simplified Mamet thriller hopped up on Out of Sight juice, Focus breezes by on the confident charm of Will Smith and a clever script that pays off each slight-of-hand with a masterful reveal. So far, this is easily the most entertaining Hollywood film of 2015.
House of Cards premiered last year to tremendous buzz, the highly-anticipated, prestige-soaked first original program from Netflix. Viewers embraced the series and no one was surprised to see it rack up nomination after nomination, both for the Golden Globes and Emmys. After the initial furor died down however, many critics were left cold by the show’s self-satisfaction and paint-by-numbers approach, the strong individual performances let down by predictable plotting and under-developed characterization. Fortunately season two of House of Cards, while still flawed, greatly improves on many of the first season’s biggest problem areas and this self-awareness bodes well for the already-commissioned season three.