------------- --------------
Monday , September 23 2019

‘Family First’ a mob crime drama

Reynolds, Jackson to return for ‘Bodyguard’ sequel

The title spells out the theme in the crime drama “Family First”, and if that weren’t enough, the title itself is inked out in cursive on one of the main character’s forearms, a reminder to everyone about how the priorities of mob-linked siblings must align. Quebecois director Sophie Dupuis’ debut feature, selected as Canada’s Oscar foreign language submission, tries to make a virtue of simplicity, whittling the trials of a conflicted goon down to an 87-minute pressure cooker, driving its reluctant hero into action. Yet Dupuis isn’t exactly the first to tackle a “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in” gangland scenario, and the no-frills storytelling mostly works against her, rendering the film’s Verdun, Montreal, underworld disappointingly nondescript.

In this “Animal Kingdom”-like domestic scenario, the mother (Maude Guerin) is too swamped by alcoholism to run the show, so it’s up to her son JP (Jean-Simon Leduc) to take care of the family. JP wants to be an electrician, and appears to be excelling at night-school trade classes, where other students are shown peeking at his written exams and consulting him on wiring jobs out in the field. Yet those ambitions take a back seat to to his illicit work as a debt collector for his sleazy uncle (Paul Ahmarani), who wants JP to deepen his commitment to the family business. The situation is complicated by JP’s volatile brother Vincent (Theodore Pellerin), whose utter recklessness on and off the job make it less a partnership for JP than a babysitting assignment: He needs to take the lead on beatings and kneecappings just to keep Vincent in line. And it’s just as dangerous when they’re bar-hopping and Vincent goes out looking for trouble.

“Family First” catches JP as he’s losing his taste for the work. He’s so reluctant to play the role of enforcer, in fact, that it’s nearly impossible to believe he ever had the fortitude for it. When he and Vincent strike out to collect from the proprietors of a Chinese restaurant or an indebted single mother, JP mostly seeks to reassure the most terrified and vulnerable family members, and he flatly refuses his uncle’s demand to execute a hit on a powerful rival. But for as much as JP wants to lead a normal life with his girlfriend Mel (Claudel Laberge), he feels responsible for protecting Vincent, who’s too morally crippled to say “no” to a hit and too dimwitted and weak to pull it off.

This sets up a difficult decision for JP to abide by his brother’s “family first” tattoos, pursue his own happiness outside the family, or finesse a third option.

Pellerin makes the strongest impression here who bounces around every scene like a 10-year-old on a sugar rush, suggesting an immaturity that tiptoes on the border of mental illness. Vincent’s devotion to family extends so far, in fact, that Dupuis has sketched an ill-advised Oedipal angle with his indulgent mother, another in the litany of reasons for JP to stay at home rather than move out with his girlfriend. In the lead role, however, Leduc makes no impression at all, which isn’t a knock on his performance, necessarily, but on the generic conceits that plague most of the movie. JP’s ambition is to lead the most modest life possible, and there’s little embellishment in the writing and performance to make him more colorful than his dreams.

The same problem extends to Dupuis’ undernourished treatment of the Verdun crime scene. There’s little sense of how the family business operates or how powerful JP’s uncle really is, and Dupuis misses the opportunity to evoke this particular corner of Montreal more vividly. “Family First” cleverly plots its way out of a sticky situation, but stories about men trying to leave the mob are too common to justify a retelling with so little personality.

Also:

LOS ANGELES: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, and Salma Hayek are officially returning for a “Hitman’s Bodyguard” sequel.

Lionsgate will release “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” in North America, the studio announced Thursday at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, Calif, where Millennium Media is handling sales. The original movie was released in late summer of 2017 and grossed $75.5 million stateside and more than $180 million globally.

In “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”, Reynolds played the titular bodyguard hired to protect a notorious hitman, portrayed by Jackson. The film follows the mismatched duo on a journey from London to the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands in order for the hitman to testify against an Eastern European dictator, played by Gary Oldman. Hayek portrayed the imprisoned wife of Jackson’s hitman.

Patrick Hughes will take on directing duties again from a script by Brandon and Phillip Murphy. The sequel follows bodyguard Michael Bryce (Reynolds) enlisted by Jackson and Hayek’s characters to join them on a mission along the Amalfi Coast. Production is expected to start in March.

LOS ANGELES: Johnny Depp’s charismatic leader at the center of the new “Fantastic Beasts” sequel isn’t modeled on President Donald Trump.

But the stars of “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald”, the film written by J.K. Rowling about a dark wizard who becomes a divisive leader in the magical world, tell The Associated Press that there are some similarities.

The film is set in the “Harry Potter” universe and finds Depp’s character, Gellert Grindelwald, seeking to gain power and divide “pureblood” wizards from humans in 1920s Paris.

“It’s shining a light, isn’t it, on things that have happened before as well,” said Callum Turner, who plays Theseus, the older brother to Eddie Redmayne’s hero main character in the film. “And how seductive and easy things can take a turn for the worse. And not just be specific to any one moment.

“That’s the question. Why are we – people being seduced in that way? What is it in the moment, in the zeitgeist, what is that? And that’s what is interesting about that – that’s the similarity. Not the person. The message.”

Katherine Waterston, who plays a magical law enforcement agent, says the villain crafted by the politically outspoken Rowling is more “subtle” than the real-life president. (Agencies)

“Every bad guy is more nuanced and subtle than Trump. He is like the most overt bad guy of all time,” she said. “But it’s amazing because she was actually writing this long before the election happened – this chapter of the story. So yeah, it’s interesting actually with brilliant people, if they’re paying attention to the way the world is going, they actually tend to predict the future. Yeah, but it really is I think from paying close attention. And she’s so politically active.”

Ezra Miller plays a mysterious character named Credence Barebone, whose powers include a destructive magical parasite. He says Grindelwald shares similarities to many leaders throughout history.

“I think it’s approaching universal themes that sure, can you look at all of the autocrats in all of history and be like, ‘Yup, they are all kind of that guy, sure,’” Miller said. “There’s a period where they just convince everyone that they are on their team and they’re going to get them good jobs and it’s going to be awesome.

“And that’s like how tyranny works. Like at first they convince you that they have the right to rule you. And then they arm up and get it on. It’s a universal story.” (Agencies)

By Scott Tobias

 

Translate »