There’s only one type of nepotism I can condone: the growing tendency of actors to use their influence to get their children to play themselves in films – either their actual self in a biopic (Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson Jr played the aspiring rapper in Straight Outta Compton) or their younger self in a flashback (Meryl Streep and Glen Close’s daughters in Evening and The Wife respectively).
But I’m not sure you can call the decision to cast Michael Gandolfini as the young Tony Soprano in the long-awaited prequel movie The Many Saints of Newark nepotism. Necro-nepotism maybe – after all, who could ever turn down Big Tone … even from beyond the grave. Or Aaron Spelling, formally married to a necrophiliac and dead these 13 years, whose daughter Tori – young enough to be his great-grandchild– is still getting work according to the terms of his estate.
Life after Compton
The ever-growing Shaft (June 28 on Netflix) franchise didn’t go down the father-son route when the 2000 version continued the story with Samuel L Jackson playing the nephew of Richard Roundtree’s character, who again features in this third instalment. All three characters are called John Shaft and all three films are called Shaft.
But there’s no continuity to note in Men in Black 4: International (Not Released Worldwide; June 13 at cinemas) – not even one of Will Smith’s annoying brats playing an unwelcome cameo. Only Emma Thompson (who has appeared in six films with her mother) returns from the third instalment seven years ago, but absolutely nobody from the first and second films. At the helm is F Gary Gray, the director of the aformentioned Straight Outta Compton, but don’t get your hopes up, as he pretty much got that gig because he used to make videos for the likes of Ice Cube and Dr Dre and therefore knew the subject matter.
Continuing with the hip-hop theme we have Beats (June 19 on Netflix), the Chicago-set tale of an agoraphobic beatsmith prodigy who joins forces with the school security guard, a big-name manager back in the day. It looks authentic.
The next Rocky?
Based on a true story, and critically acclaimed since its release last July, A Prayer Before Dawn (76 on Metacritic; June 13 at cinemas) has been compared to classic prison films like Midnight Express. Imprisoned in Bangkok, Liverpool boxer Billy Moore (Joe Cole) trains in Muai Thai boxing to earn his freedom – but funnily enough, Moore’s real-story is even more interesting. He ironically moved to Thailand hoping to escape a life of drugs, alcohol and burglary in his home town, and before he was locked up he got a job as Sylvester Stallone’s stunt double on Rambo IV. And now he’s inspired the next Rocky!
Before you go all holier than thou and thank your lucky stars you’ve never ended up in a Thai prison, watch the documentary Push (NRW; June 13 at cinemas) and ask whether you’ve ever been involved in criminal activity. Like whether your money ended up in a hedge fund that aggressively buys up housing and evicts tenants to make way for the super-rich, or maybe you’re a part-time speculator who sees little harm in fuelling the constant rise in house prices?
Also recommended is Booksmart (84; June 20 at cinemas) from debutant director Olivia Wilde, who some of you might remember as the long-suffering wife in Vinyl and as one of students in House. Nothing in her career suggested she would be capable of helming one of the comedies of the year, but this simple story about two bookworms cutting loose on their final day at high school is just that.
To complete a low-key fortnight for new movies we have the canine perspective tale A Dog’s Journey (43; June 20 at cinemas) and Agatha Christie spoof Murder Mystery (June 14 on Netflix) starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, whose father, returning to the original theme, was ironically once in Days of our Lives.
In a caper that gives Sandler an excuse to dress up as Magnum PI, the pair are falsely accused of killing someone on a boat. Judging by the trailer, Botox has enhanced Aniston’s dead-pan skills, while Sandler looks dead in the water.
Ben’s back in Boston
Over on TV land, it’s also pretty dead, but if you find room for one newbie, it has to be City on a Hill (HBO Nordic, June 17), a fictional account of how two police officers orchestrated a clean-up of Boston’s spiralling crime problem. Set in the 1990s and starring Kevin Bacon and Aldis Hodge – MC Ren in Compton! – the series is based on an idea of Ben Affleck’s, continuing a love affair with the city in which he based the scripts for Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone and The Town.
Meanwhile, Copenhagen’s favourite son Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring in Breaking Bad) is returning in Jett (HBO Nordic, June 15), a classy looking crime series that revolves around a female thief (Carla Gugino). Esposito, the son of Italian (Naples of course) and American expats, spent the first six years of his life in the Danish capital.
Elsewhere, we’ve got new seasons of Dark (S2, Netflix, June 21), Krypton (S2, HBO Nordic, June 13), Marvel’s Jessica Jones (S3, Netflix, June 15) and Riviera (S2, C More, June 4); the promising high school-based, young adult dramas Trinkets (Netflix, June 15) and Euphoria (HBO Nordic, June 17) derive most of their characters from support groups for kleptomaniacs and drug addicts respectively; and Mr Iglesias (Netflix, June 21) looks like the worst stand-up comedian vehicle of all time.
But at least its star Gabriel Iglesias is no relation to Julio. Besides, Enrique filled those shoes a long time ago. I mention this because of the nepotism … not because he ended up with Anna Kournikova.