This week, Cineast previews the new movies Everly, The Lazarus Effect and Focus.
I know what you’re thinking about Everly. “At last, that bio-pic about Don and Phil Everly, the two Texas brothers who rode their perfectly matched harmony voices and boyish charm to rock and roll fame in the late ’50s.” You’ll probably feel cheated and mistreated if you go into Everly laboring under that misconception. Because in Everly, instead of two boys singing like angels, we find a baroquely tatted Selma Hayek playing Everly, a woman whose ex, a mob boss, has sent a team of assassins to kill her. Talk about “Bye Bye, Love.” The only singing comes from sharp blades flying through the air and from rocket propelled grenades whizzing past. In other words, the fact that “Wake Up, Little Susie” isn’t featured prominently in the soundtrack of Everly won’t be your only clue that Everly is NOT a film about the legendary Everly Brothers. It may well be the greatest disappointment since we learned that Selma was not a biopic about Selma Hayek.
The Lazarus Effect
What’s wrong with Zoe? Ever since she was accidentally fatally electrocuted in a lab accident and was brought back to life through weird science, she’s been acting—how to put it—erratically. For one thing, there’s her voice. She used to have a pretty chirpy voice, especially for a nerdy science type. Now it’s all low and devilish, like she’s possessed or something. Her brain is also showing some strange activity, like it’s become supercharged or is rewiring—whatever it is, it makes her pretty irritable, and we’re not talking “I haven’t had my third cup of coffee” type of grumpy, we’re talking “I’m going to squeeze your head ’til it pops” type of grumpy. After you see The Lazarus Effect, you’ll never pass by that clean, sleek, lavishly funded university science department building without experiencing a bit of a chill. Not for the squeamish.
It’s always a good time for a good movie about con artists. Will Smith and Margot Robbie star in Focus, Smith playing Nicky, a veteran con man, and Robbie playing Jess, a woman he trains in the business. Naturally, the student Jess reaches, and even surpasses, the level of her master, and before long she’s pushing against his boundaries, ultimately becoming his rival. Shades of Oliver Twist, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Catch Me If You Can abound—it’s a genre picture, after all—but there’s more than the average dose of drama in Focus. While most con artist films revel in the lives of deception their heroes lead, this one sometimes stops to ponder the corrosion of the soul that results from such a life. It remains to be seen if an introspective con artist film will click.