Movie Review: Mark Wahlberg’s fighting and recalling past lives in “Infinite”

So what sort of gonzo nonsense have Antoine Fuqua and Mark Wahlberg cooked up now?

Infinite” is about humans who wander the Earth, “gifted with a memory of all their past lives.” Wahlberg plays an “Infinite” who has forgotten his. Because of course he has.

It squares him up against Chiwetel Ejiofor, who shaves his head and grew a James Harden beard because that’s what all the best villains are wearing. He says things like “Impossible, impossible,” when staring at his foe, hanging onto the tsuka (“handle”) of a samurai sword we’ve seen him forge himself.

He’s hanging on to that tsuka because he’s jabbed the sword through the wing of a military transport jet and it’s all that’s keeping him from being blown off.

“Infinite” has all sorts of absurd “Bugs Bunny physics” like that, and big fights and epic car chases in vintage Ferraris, Aston Martins and the like. Because it you remember all your past lives, you’re going to remember the coolest car you ever drove, right?

Here’s the money scene for me, one I’m assuming screenwriter Ian Shorr adapted from the novel, “The Reincarnationist Papers,” by D. Eric Mainkranz. The heavy, Bathhurst (Ejiofor) is about to interrogate this Evan fellow (Wahlberg) to determine if he’s his ancient foe, Treadway.

Bathurst vs. Treadway. Sounds like a British courtroom comedy, right?

Bathurst pulls out this collection of objects, a wine cork, a bullet casing, etc. “Which of these belongs to you?” If you’ve ever or read about the process of “identifying” a new Dali Lama, that’ll seem familiar. The reincarnated Lama will be the one who recognizes something he used to own. That’s a fact an author writing about reincarnation games would know.

Only here, Bathurst ups the ante. He adds a threat to the questioning. He loads a revolver with a single bullet, spins the cylinder, and pulls the trigger at Evan with every wrong answer. Maybe the next Dali Lama will face a similar game of Russian roulette.

“Infinite” is about a missing doomsday bomb called “The Egg,” which is “designed to kill every living thing on Earth.” As if anyone would want to use it. But apparently Bathurst does.

Before all this business about “Infinites” and their warring factions — “Believers vs. Nihilists,” a play of “The Big Lebowski’s” bowling league? — Evan thought he was just a “diagnosed schizophrenic with a history of violence.”

But he remembers things, things he just knew “how to do,” like turning iron into steel and forging it — “folding it 27 times” — into a sword.

Now he’s teamed with this tough, British “believer” (Sophie Cookson) who drags him hither and yon to try and figure out where “he” hid “the egg.” In a previous life.

Jason Mantzoukas of “The House” and “John Wick 3” and TV’s “Brooklyn-99” and “The Good Place” is “The Artisan,” a tech whiz/guru sort whom Mantzoukas turns into the guy having the most fun in this story.

He does that in every movie, and in a lot of animated TV shows as well. A LOT of them. Funny guy.

Wallis Day is here to give us that action pic moment when the tall, supermodel-thin blonde dons a black leotard and turtleneck and shows off her assassin skills. Before you can say “CAT FIGHT,” she and Cookson are mixing it up. It’s their destiny.

Evan? “Destiny has even more in store for you.”

Walhberg serves up some voice-over narration here which doesn’t sounds like him, an acting challenge he decided to trot out for a picture he had no idea would go streaming without a theatrical release.

It’s still an impressive looking movie, with grand stunts and some decent effects. And if Fuqua & Co. had taken a more askance view of this quintessentially goofy concept, they might have gotten an “Edge of Tomorrow” out of it, with Wahlberg and Ejiofor in on the joke.

They didn’t, opting for “gonzo nonsense” that’s as watchable as it is forgettable.

MPA Rating:  PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, some bloody images, strong language and brief drug use

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Cookson, Jason Mantzoukas, Rupert Friend, Toby Jones, Kae Alexander, Wallis Day

Credits: Directed by Antoine Fuqua, script by Ian Shorr, based on the novel “The Reincarnationist Papers” by D. Eric Mainkranz. A Paramount+ release.

Running time: 1:46

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Documentary Review: “Upheaval” lauds the life and career of Israel’s Menachem Begin

Upheaval: The Life and Journey of Menachem Begin” is an adoring profile of the combative right wing Israeli prime minister who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for courageously negotiating the Camp David Accords, ending decades of Egyptian-Israeli conflict.

An army of Begin’s fans — Knesset members and colleagues from his cabinet to assorted sympathetic authors, journalists, conservative Israelis on the street old enough to remember his seven year rule, two Israeli ambassadors to the U.S., a couple of American diplomats, Begin’s personal secretary and U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman all sing his praises and color in his personal story, showing us the Zionist struggle, which he began in Belarus in his youth, that shaped his life.

The film is straight-up hagiography. The closest “Upheaval” gets to a contrarian view of Begin’s militant, combative and eventually-scandalized career is the presence of Jordanian-born think-tank member Ghaith Al-Omari. Where are the critics, at home and abroad, who might lend balance and thus authority to this film?

It’s worth stating upfront that this is a film from the director of “The Yoni Netanyahu Story,” a 2012 film about the Entebbe Raid commando timed to fluff the image of Israel and its controversial and then-embattled, now-ex prime minister, Netanyahu’s brother Bibi.

Right Wing Israeli hagiographies are pretty much filmmaker Jonathan Gruber’s brand, and this echo-chamber portrait is much in keeping with that. Take it’s conclusions with a sack full of grains of salt.

Begin’s early life has been widely discussed, but it remains fascinating to take in. He was radicalized early, and his years of Zionist activism led the Soviets to throw him into a Gulag, only to release him to fight the Nazis in the Middle East during World War II. Begin emigrated to Palestine and fought the British instead, which probably didn’t bother the Russians that much.

He led the Jewish militant group Irgun, labeled a “terrorist organization,” which blew up British trains in Palestine and later the British headquarters of the protectorate, the King David Hotel, in an effort to force the British out so that the Jewish immigrants could declare an independent Israel. That’s his picture on a British wanted poster.

“Upheaval” paints an interesting picture of the “Jewish civil war” that nearly broke out as Begin set himself in opposition to other founding fathers of Israel like David Ben-Gurion in the late 1940s. It makes him come off as statesmanlike for not letting something he was about to cause happen.

After decades as leader of the opposition far right Likud Party, Begin became prime minister in 1977, and “Upheaval” shows the ways his seven year rule changed Israel’s shape and security and planted the seeds for strife that continues to this day.

Begin pushed the peace process with Egypt at a time when most Israelis were opposed to that. He spoke publicly about making one state where Jews and Arabs could co-exist. Then he ramped up Israeli settlement building in lands won in the 1967 Six Day War. Labeled as “honest” and “a mensch” by everybody testifying here, the viewer hears him playing semantics games — “We don’t use the word ‘annexation.’” And we see him and hear him start the ongoing Likud “settlements” talking point, citing the Bible as proof of “ownership” of the lands of historic Israel, Judea and Samaria. Begin was the Likud prime minister who normalized the party’s embrace of conservative religious sects and their far right politicians.

The de-facto result of this process of taking Palestinian land for Jewish settlers has another name in other parts of the world — “ethnic cleansing” — with the Israeli Defense Forces backing the settlers up. “Apartheid” has come up in international criticism of post-Begin Israeli governing.

Begin’s tolerance and acceptance of the Palestinian Arabs within the state is played-up in “Upheaval,” as is his championing of civil rights for such people when Likud was a minority party.

But more important to Begin was welcoming in Jews from Africa and the Middle East and mending fences between those populations. When he and his apologists here remark on his embrace of “multi-culturalism,” they’re too tone deaf to acknowledge that he always punctuated such declarations with “of the Jewish people.” Jewish ethnicity and Jewish culture were his obsessions.

I noted the film’s one contrary voice, mentioned above, in this chorus of adoration and endless rationalizations of everything controversial Begin said or did, the one expert who noted Begin’s “fascist” reputation, his fame built on “a lot of violence against Arabs.” I wanted to know who this was giving a more measured account of the man. Unlike every other of the scores of expert witnesses on camera in “Upheaval,” Ghaith Al-Omari isn’t identified until very late in the film.

Gruber starts the movie with a montage of news accounts of anti-Semitic attacks worldwide justified by their attackers as anti-Israeli, and that sets the film’s tone. He sentimentalizes a bellicose man famous for perfecting the “any means necessary” pre-emptive military/foreign policy by divorcing a violent world today from the violent “upheaval” that began the moment the word “Zionism” was coined, and the blowback today that still seems like shockwaves from the “upheaval” this “mensch” created.

There is interesting historical material and some cogent analysis of the man, his psychological makeup and career in “Upheaval.” But like Begin himself, any time something unsavory starts to emerge about himself, he would gush and gush about his wife. Gruber’s film plays that sentimentalizing trick, too, by slipping in such gushing here and there.

One thing Gruber either doesn’t realize or is loathe to embrace is that his films, focusing almost exclusively on people who share a view and an agenda he is pushing, have no authority.

Movies like “Upheaval” are more propaganda than history

MPA Rating: unrated, scenes of violence

Cast: Menachem Begin, Dr. Avi Shilon, Stuart Eizenstat, Joseph Lieberman, Ghaith Al-Omari, Yona Klimovitsky

Credits: Scripted and directed by Jonathan Gruber. An Abramorama release.

Running time: 1:27

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Movie Preview: Jessica Chastain has “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” — coming in Sept.

And who plays her sexually ambiguous preacher-husband, Jim Bakker? Andrew Garfield. On the nose casting!

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Movie Review: Stuck in place “In the Heights”

Embracing, immersive and inclusive, the Tony winning “In the Heights,” the musical that launched Lin-Manuel Miranda as a phenomenon, comes to the screen with its Broadway charms more or less intact.

Jon M. Chu’s film has a little pathos and moments of rambunctious fun with big dance numbers staged on the streets and in the gigantic public swimming pool in the north Manhattan neighborhood, Washington Heights, that gives the story its name.

Chu, a veteran of the “Step Up” dance movie franchise before “Crazy Rich Asians” made him famous, emphasizes the tiny world the story encompasses, a tightknit Latin neighborhood where the Cubans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans get along, sing along and fret over the simmering threats any such Manhattan community faces — power outages in the summer heat, gentrification and monied yuppies.

Usnavy (Anthony Ramos, terrific) is our storyteller and star, relating the tale of his old barrio to kids on a beach in what we take to be his native Dominican Republic. He ran a bodega “in the heights,” “stuck to this corner like a street light,” serving cafe con leche to his customers and keeping his teen cousin Sonny (Gregory Diaz IV) busy and in line.

He pines for salon star Vanessa (Melissa Barrera, impressive), which earns him a lot of teasing from Sonny and his car service driver/dispatcher pal Benny (Corey Hawkins, fun). Maybe if he picked up on her dream, to become a fashion designer, he’d have a shot.

That’s the subtext of “In the Heights,” dreams, “sueños.” “Little dreams” (“sueñitos”) are what everyone in The Heights has, of moving back home (Usnavy’s dad had a beachside pub named El Sueñito in the DR), “getting out” or of getting a daughter through Stanford.

That’s what car service owner Kevin Rosario (Jimmy Smits, superb) hopes for. But daughter Nina (Leslie Grace), “the smart one who made it out,” has come home with plans to leave school, which is draining Dad’s bank account and crushing her spirit. Benny was sweet on her, back in the day.

There’s a graffiti artist who gets on everybody’s nerves, a piragua vendor (Lin-Manuel Miranda, perfect), peddling shaved ice snowcones, a full service beauty salon presided over by the brassy Daniela (Daphne Rubin-Vega, a scene stealer) and the old Cuban woman everybody calls Abuela (grandmother) Claudia (Olga Merediz, who originated the role on Broadway and wears it like a glove). She sort of holds it all together with calls for “paciencia y fe,” “patience and faith.”

They’ll need that to get through what our storyteller, Usnavy warns, will be the big test of the place — an upcoming power outage.

The songs mashup a few genres — Salsa, Merengue, Samba, and hip hop — and are mostly aspirational anthems, not entirely forgettable. But there’s nothing here that sticks that landing the way the show stoppers in “Hamilton” do.

Everybody gets a tune or a part of a song (Jimmy Smits Sings! Well!) as we hear character songs, descriptive numbers about the people and the place and Caribbean-flavored expressions of “longing” — a mainstay of the musical theater, whether on stage or in a Disney cartoon — “It Won’t be Long Now” until Vanessa gets that apartment in another neighborhood, “96,000” where everyone wonders who bought the winning LOTTO ticket at the bodega.

“No Me Diga,” a playful tune about the gossip such communities live on, is a stand-out. And Miranda’s character-song about his work selling shaved ice cones is entertaining and illustrative of his songwriting style here.

“Piragua, Piragua
New block of ice, Piragua
Piragua, Piragua
So sweet and nice, Piragua
It’s hotter than the islands are tonight
And Mr. Softee’s trying to shut me down
But I keep scraping by the fading light…”

The film, which makes a few changes to the stage play to add drama and sentiment, comes off as a “Do the Right Thing with Dancing,” with all of the friction and most of the conflict rubbed off. There is no “villain,” and barely a hint of anybody showing so much as a dark side. The characters struggle mostly against perceptions of themselves within larger American culture and the tug of the “paradise” they or their parents or their parents’ parents moved away from.

The casting underscores the “reality” of the place — decent singers and excellent dancers, good looking people of all ages, with lived-in faces and bodies, perfectly at home in the Heights, save for the two female leads, who have a whiff of willowy, runway-ready “Disney Princess” about them.

It’s all pleasant enough, decently-acted and sung and beautifully-shot. But I thought it lacked lump-in-the-throat moments and found the romances too tame to generate heat or much of a reason to root for the couples. There’s a lot of stumbling and fumbling about for “an ending,” the main reason this drags and drags towards the 2:24 mark.

If you want to know the best reason to stick around through the credits, look for this name, the real “star” of this version, in my opinion. “Step Up” vet Christopher Scott’s joyful, sassy choreography has some jaw-dropping moments. “In the Heights” doesn’t truly reach the heights, except when everybody’s on their feet.

MPA Rating: PG-13 for some language and suggestive references

Cast: Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, Jimmy Smits and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Credits: Directed by Jon M. Chu, script by Quiara Alegría Hudes, based on the musical by Lin Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes. A Warner Brothers release.

Running time: 2:23

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Netflixable? Filipino Woman fights back when she becomes “The Girl with a Gun (Babae at Baril)”

Netflix is calling the film “The Girl and the Gun.” But the Filipino title is “Babae at Baril,” which my translator says is “Women and Guns.”

Either way, you get the idea. Writer-director Rae Red (“Neomanila” was hers) sets us up for a female revenge fantasy. Not delivering what she promised is a pretty serious breach of cinematic trust.

A downtrodden, working-poor department store clerk (Janine Gutierrez), bullied by her boss, harassed by the Boys on the Corner on her way home every night, threatened by her slumlord, rudely dismissed by the convenience kiosk owner closest to her flat, overhears a shooting down the street. She finds the offending revolver.

So when she’s raped by a creep at work, she’s not just ready to snap. She’s got the means of revenge.

But Red then spends the entire second half of the film showing us how the gun got to our unnamed heroine. “Babae at Baril” comes to an utter halt as we see the pistol assembled in a back-alley armory, a wheelman at a shootout take possession of the pistol, and take a bullet in that shootout, and so on.

Everything that works in this brief, gritty and lurid little parable of a thriller is in those opening acts.

We see the seemingly-routine abuse women are subjected to — on the street, on the job. Every command to “SMILE,” every creepy colleague whose unwanted attention includes hosiery (“Try them on! Here!”), every time the roommate’s boyfriend demands sex, is an affront and an outrage.

A pistol can seem like a quick fix to that, and often is in glib American films where consequences are ignored or at least conveniently delayed. Red depicts a nearly lawless culture where cops are nowhere to be found, unless there’s corruption afoot. But to her credit, she doesn’t look for an easy out.

The percussive score weaves ambulance sirens and natural sound into a rhythmic scene-setter as our provincial heroine navigates the luridly-lit mean streets back to her home.

“Babae at Baril” has all that going for it, only to stop in its tracks. The transition to “How she got that gun” is clumsy, and at least one hand-off, owner-to-owner, has a “Wait a minute, how’d HE get it?” that makes you wonder if the director missed a step.

It’s got a feminist subtext, and as parables go, at least its short. But it was nervous, edgy and punchy for 40 minutes, something we can’t forget as the picture limps through its second half.

MPA Rating: TV-MA, violence, sex and sexual assault, profanity, smoking

Cast: Janine Gutierrez, Felix Roco, JC Santos

Credits: Scripted and directed by Rae Red. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:19

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Documentary Review — A grand conversation continues after death, “Truman and Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation”

It isn’t the exact quote that gave birth to the old Wilma Askinas aphorism, but I’ve always remembered it as “A friend is someone who sees through you and still enjoys the show.” Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams were contemporaries so superficially similar that you can’t imagine that they were ever friends.

But they were. Apparently, they could see through each other yet still enjoyed “the show.”

Through ups and downs, jealousies and blasts of “bitchery,” Williams and Capote were connected for nearly 40 years, two titans of American letters who saw themselves as rivals but who pleasantly coexisted in the rarified air of art. They corresponded, complimented or (lightly) insulted each other in televised interviews, met up at parties or in restaurants and even took joint vacations with their respective partners during their vacationing days.

Drawling, florid Southern homosexuals who were “out” long before that was done, or safe to do, they make a fascinating, intensely quotable pair of wits in “Truman and Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation,” a documentary built on their relationship with each other, their art, their respective psyches, fame and the world they lived in.

To-the-manner-born filmmaker Lisa Immordino Vreeland, who has made documentaries about her mother, fashion editor Diana Vreeland, as well as arts patron Peggy Guggenheim and photographer and set designer Cecil Beaton, rounded up the many interviews Williams and Capote had with David Frost, Dick Cavett and others and juxtaposed them in near-conversation form. Here is how each answered questions about fame, reputation, writing, fear, “superstition,” love and happiness. Frost in particular hit each with the same sorts of questions which makes for a marvelous compare-and-contrast exercise.

We see generous snippets of screen adaptations of their work — movies such as “The Rose Tattoo” or “In Cold Blood,” “Breakfast at Tiffanies” and “The Glass Menagerie.”

And Vreeland cast actors Jim Parsons (as Capote) and Zachory Quinto (as the darker-voiced Williams) to read from their letters, memoirs, plays and books — sometimes droll, occasionally playful, cutting or confessional — to create a fascinating portrait of two giants who had a lot more in common than we ever could have guessed.

Williams was a dozen years older, and always presented a kind of weary, boozy and fey gentility. The much-imitated nasal whine of Capote could be grating or amusing. But the man never could keep a lid on his ambition, ego and vanity, even when trying to feign modesty.

“I invented myself,” the New Orleans native born Truman Streckfus Persons noted. “And then I invented a world to fit me.”

Capote was first moved to write after discovering the artistry in Melville’s “Moby Dick.” Thomas Lanier Williams III was “obsessed” with the playwright Anton Chekhov, which might be, he admits to one interviewer, because “the South (could be) so much like Czarist Russia.”

Capote (he took his stepfather’s surname) takes pains to deny his constant self-promotion, even as it related to his grand “society” statement, his lavish all-star/all-upper class 1966 “Black and White (Costume) Ball” in Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel. Please, Williams wrote, when relating the reasons why he turned down the invitation.

“People are never so unattractive as when they think you are worth impressing.”

Capote could be gloriously cruel to those he might be feuding with — their mutual friend, the also-ran novelist Gore Vidal, for instance. But the meanest on-camera remark he dropped about America’s most decorated playwright was “Tennessee’s not intelligent,” in trying to make a point that artistic achievement doesn’t always correlate with native or educated intelligence.

But the obvious point of comparison here is quotability, and Williams wins that contest, hands down. His anecdotes and his ability to see, analyze and succinctly sum up human foibles are what made “Truman and Tennessee” for me.

“Life was a wonderful basket of gifts that (Capote) loved digging through,” he said of his friend. “He took, and he shared.” But above all else, “Truman wanted to be famous and loved and envied.” That’s the tidiest description of the “famous for being famous” celebrity ever written.

Capote talks of wanting to “rescue from anonymity…the ‘girls’ (like Holly Golightly of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”) who come to New York,” and of what researching and writing “In Cold Blood” cost him psychologically.

Williams breaks down “The Glass Menagerie” (which is about “the necessity to break tender bonds”) and “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and the rapid fall his career experienced after 1960.

And Parsons and Quinto sound just enough like the real writers to make this an almost seamless, often revealing and always entertaining look at the two writers, letting us see them as they were each other, two men of letters cut from very similar cloth.

MPA Rating: unrated, drug and sexual content

Cast: Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, David Frost, Dick Cavett, with Jim Parsons and Zachory Quinto

Credits: Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland. A Kino Lorber release.

Running time: 1:25

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Series Review: What mischief might “Loki” get up to in his own show?

Just as high-concept as “WandaVision” and funnier, even without the sitcom-centric premise, “Loki” takes our favorite Marvel mischief maker and puts him on trial for his crimes against time. And timelines.

It gives him the chance to make good on those crimes by helping the TVA — which has nothing to do with dams and electricity in Tennessee — catch another Loki, one who is scampering through time in an alternative and overlapping timeline and making a general mess of things in pursuit of some unknown payoff.

And it gives us the chance to get pure, unadulterated Tom Hiddleston in the title role. None of this sibling tussling with Thor, dodging Black Widow, Captain America, Scarlett Witch and Hulk, just glimpses and reminders of the Avengers throwdowns of the past.

I have to say, I went with it pretty much from the moment when we see who master airline hijacker and escape artist D.B. Cooper REALLY was.

This is a Marvel spinoff that could be very easily overwhelmed by exposition, and yet escapes that fate by the skin of its teeth. The TVA are the Time Variance Authority, whose origins and mission are outlined in a cheesy ’60s-style cartoon video which Loki (Hiddleston) is forced to watch.

They’re the enforcement arm of the Time Lords, who keep track of who is supposed to be where and when, maintaining “the sacred timeline” with a vast, Kafkaesque bureaucracy whose SWAT-armored goons are but a tiny portion of their work.

When Loki, nabbed after his 2012 escape in “The Avengers,” is taken in, his tesseract won’t save him. He’s robo-stripped, put in in a prison jumpsuit and “processed. A mountainous computer printout is shoved in his face.

“Please sign to verify that this is everything you ever said.”

His “powers” gone, helpless in the clutches of those who control time, he gets read the Marvel riot act by a judge (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and placed in the hands of Major Mobius, ace detective of the agency. He’s played by Owen Wilson.

Mobius wants to study the lying, double-dealing, back-stabbing (“literally fifty times”) “variant” so that he and his team can catch this other Loki from another timeline, the most cunning of all, from whatever evil scheme he is up to.

We’re whisked from 1549 Aix-en-Provence, France to A.D. 79 Pompeii to the Medieval fair of…Oshkosh, Wisconsin (1985) as Mobius chases his quarry and Loki seems to help, always with an Asgardian finger crossed behind his back. The lad knows how to work the angles.

“If you sheathe your smarm for a moment,” he sneers at one point. “Trust is for children…and dogs,” he opines. “Those you underestimate will devour you,” he counsels.

The dialogue isn’t Shakespeare but is pithy enough. And the big, overarching theme, with hints of Biblical self-determination — Loki doesn’t want to be told what’s “NOT supposed to happen” and resents these unseen “time lords” ordaining that he stay-in-his (temporal) lane — seems more interesting in theory than anything the series will seriously wrestle with.

Hiddleston and Wilson aren’t the next great comic duo, but they mesh well enough as the series unfolds (Disney provided a couple of episodes for reviewing).

The one sentimental thread running through the many Marvel multiverses, in their big and small screen forms, is nostalgia — for characters, and for the era which much of the base-audience for these productions vegan reading comics. The jokes play into that, a fight set in a Medieval Fair tent with Bonnie Tyler singing “I Need a Hero” playing over the PA. Stuff like that.

The effects are primo, if not exactly novel — time portals as translucent blocks, etc.

There’s little pretense to social satire here, so “Loki” is easier to get into the spirit of this than “WandaVision,” although I’m of the minority opinion that none of these Marvel small-screen spinoffs pack enough wit, action, pathos or what have you into them to justify “series length” treatment.

But Loki and Hiddleston — in all their many colors — are fun enough to bring one back to the stream to catch each new episode to see what that “scamp” is up to now.

MPA Rating: TV-14

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Sophia Di
Martino, Richard E. Grant, Sasha Lane

Credits: Directed by Kate Herron, scripted by Michael
Waldron. A Marvel Studios/Disney + release.

Running time: episodes Six episodes @52-55 minutes each.

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Movie Preview: Rom-com” with a “time travel” bit — “Long Story Short,” with Rafe Spall and Zahra Newman

Spall’s a guy who “waits” for this and that and Ms. Right and who gets a dose what he might be missing out on, losing a whole year at a time, in this July 2 romance.

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Movie Review: Womanizing Aussie Footballer is chasing women, chasing a dream and “Chasing Comets”

“Chasing Comets” is a damp dishrag of a “footy” comedy from Down Under. It’s about a coulda-woulda womanizing player for the Comets of Wagga Wagga, a small town “so nice they named it twice.”

And that’s about as funny as this gets.

Scripted by a rugby veteran, Jason Stevens, with cutesy credits thanks to director Jason Perini (“Costumes by Jason Stevens’ wife…Catering by someone Jason Stevens met at a chicken shop…Directed by a different Jason.”), it has maybe two laughs in it. Total.

It isn’t really working out for Chase Daylight (Dan Ewing). He’s the local hunk/jock “who could’ve been anything,” but is stuck here in the minor leagues, not cut out for the big time. So he takes out that frustration by skirt-chasing and ruining any chance he has with the fair Brooke (Isabel Lucas).

He’s a heel, and to hear his Mom (Deborah Galanos) tell it, when broken-hearted Brooke confides in her, he got it from his no-good, cheating, walked-out-on-them Dad.

So he’s got “issues” far beyond not being able to hang onto the football.

His running mates are up for drinks and “We’re not wired for monogamy” cruising. But his spiritual advisor, The Rev (George Houvardas) keeps working on his character. The Rev’s smart-aleck “never date a footballer” daughter Dee (Kat Hoyas) pitches in.

So Chase, freshly-benched with the Comets on their way to another “wooden spoon” in their league, resolves to clean up his act, hit The Rev’s church regularly and give up sex. That’s front page news in Wagga Wagga.

Any guesses as to where this is going? Any reason given by the script or the actors playing it to care? Not really.

MPA Rating: unrated, sexual situations, alcohol abuse

Cast: Dan Ewing, Isabel Lucas, Kat Hoyas, George Houvardas, Deborah Galanos, John Batchelor, Justin Melvey and Rhys Muldoon.

Credits: Directed by Jason Perini, script by Jason Stevens. A Gravitas Ventures release.

Running time: 1:36

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Documentary Review — “Salvador Dali: In Search of Immortality,” three hours earn an “incomplete”

 The endlessly fascinating figure of artist, provocateur and artistic bon vivant Salvador Dalí has been dissected on film before, but rarely with the detail that “Salvador Dalí : In Search of Immortality” does.

It’s a psychological biography, emphasizing the childhood trauma that drove him, the paranoia that he fed on (not always his own) and the psyche behind the 20th century’s greatest surrealist painter.

Few artists turned themselves into the grand, dapper-to-the-point-of-foppish public figure Dalí did. He set out to outrage and often succeeded.

An early fascination with film and a lifelong love affair with “media” ensures that there is a treasure trove of footage of Dalí painting, creating “performance art” before the phrase had been coined, and being interviewed by the likes of Mike Wallace, Dick Cavett and others, a wit with a flair for self-promotion, a walking “meme” before that was a thing.

His obsession with fried eggs, which manifested in many a wilted, draped image (clocks, most famously) in his art, his insistence that he remembered the “paradise” he experienced “in utero,” his pointed decision to “make myself seem eccentric to set myself apart” are all explored.

The film is packaged here in chapters covering his early years, 1904-1929, or from Dalí’s birth, near Barcelona, up to his arrival as an international sensation in Paris, climaxing with the avant garde short film “Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog),” made with his friend and art school classmate, future film legend Luis Buñuel.

“It had neither Andalusians nor dogs,” Dalí famously quipped. “I shall be a genius and the world will admire me,” he predicted. And to ensure that he stood out, even before that happened, “I let my hair grow long, long as a girl’s,” inspired by his favorite Grand Master, Raphael’s long-haired self-portrait.

Other chapters cover his years of rising fame with his muse, Gala, and his enfeebled final years after her death.

Using archival interviews blended with opinions of the principal in-house experts of the painter’s museums (in conversation with the filmmaker at significant Dalí “sites”), and lots of voice-over narration from Dalí’s autobiography, letters to and from his wife and muse, Gala, his many friends and admirers, we gain a deep understanding of the autobiography that drove the work. The older brother with the same name who died before Dalí was born haunted him his entire life.

There are clips from some of the filmmakers he worked with (Hitchcock, most famously, but he planned an animated film, “Destino,” with Walt Disney and did sets for productions of Luchino Visconti), and archival interviews with other admirers. Thanks to all that, and generous samplings of Dalí’s art, we get a very good picture of his sources of inspiration and the obsessions of his life, which of course drove his art.

But despite the lengthy running time, there’s little of the “personal” Dalí, the scandals of his life and late career (allegedly signing canvases when his hand was too shaky to create the art attributed to him), his flirtation with fascism and endorsement of the Spanish dictator Franco, stealing another man’s wife only to cheat on her with others over the decades.

There’s next to nothing of his New York years, famous and cutting quite the figure, friend to Mia Farrow and anybody who was anyone in the swinging ’60s into the ’70s.

The film, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation-produced and thus officially endorsed by his estate, had a theatrical release that was ran just under two hours. In this new form, it’s half again as long if not necessarily more illuminating. You could make a pretty interesting Dalí documentary on what they chose to intentionally leave out.

Most fascinating here are the scenes set at his house at Portlligat, on the extreme northeastern Mediterranean coast of Spain, of the castle Púbol he bought for his wife and muse, Gala, and his hometown, Figueres, where he built his Dalí Theater-Museum, the most immersive Dalí experience of any museum featuring his work.

There’s also a discussion of his relationship to Picasso and an extended look at his closest famous friends, the poet Federico García Lorca, filmmaker Buñuel and painters Joan Miró and Juan Gris.

So what’s here is engrossing, if somewhat repetitious, with so many letters, so many interludes with the hand-picked home-team experts as to take on an air of tedium.

And that’s the last word you’d think to associate with Salvador Dalí.

MPA Rating: unrated, nudity

Cast: Salvador Dali, Alfred Hitchcock

Credits: Directed by David Pujol, script by Montse Aguer, David Pujol. A Film Movement+ release.

Running time: In three parts, 174 minutes

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