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Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Focus,' Con Men And Rock And Roll

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On this week's show, we sit down with our good pal Gene Demby for a wide-ranging chat about movies and music.

We start with the Will Smith con-artist movie Focus, which was number one at the box office last weekend and was still in the lower half of Will Smith movies, according to Box Office Mojo. We checked it out to help us think through the loose family of con-artist movies, heist movies, and caper movies, and to put us in a position to wonder what exactly is up with Will Smith these days. All this, plus: Do the cons in a con movie have to be clever? Does the dame in a con movie need to have anything to do? (We talk a little about the piece I wrote for the blog about this movie earlier in the week; you can check it out if you haven't yet.)

We also turn our ears to music as Stephen helps us through a chat about the state of rock. Unlike many past musical movements, as Glen points out, rock hasn't politely shuffled off when supplanted by the next thing, so what is its current cultural currency (or lack thereof)? Stephen makes a couple of interesting points about rock camps and who he discovered was making the best rock he heard during his travels with the Austin 100, and we try to figure out whether the people who say "dad rock" think all rock is "dad rock."

As always, we close the show with what's making us happy this week. Stephen is happy about ... well, the Austin 100, after which he plans to return to knowing about other things that are happening in the world. Glen is happy about several things, including this show, but he is especially happy about a playlist that will pay tribute to the less-discussed accomplishments of a very famous fellow who recently left us. Gene is happy about HBO's Togetherness, a show that sounds less interesting than it turns out to be. And I am happy about one really good show, one really weird show, and one excellent sports documentary that tells a story I know well.

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Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.

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