What to Watch on TV and at the Movies This Week


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Reinventing Elvis: The ’68 Comeback (Paramount+)

If you were among the viewers over 50 who made 2022’s Elvis a $288 million hit, you’ll love the real thing: a documentary about the Dec. 3, 1968, televised concert that jolted Presley’s moribund career back to life. He rocked a black leather outfit, and almost half of people with TVs watched in astonishment. Elvis died on Aug. 16, 1977, but this show will live forever.

Watch it: Reinventing Elvis: The 68 Comeback on Paramount+



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Painkiller (Netflix)

If you liked the Michael Keaton drama Dopesick, you’ll love this limited series about the birth of the opioid crisis, as told through the lens of Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin. Matthew Broderick, 61, plays Richard Sackler, 78, the billionaire chairman and president of Purdue Pharma, with Orange Is the New Black Emmy Award winner Uzo Aduba returning to the streamer as an investigator taking on Big Pharma. The series is directed by Peter Berg, 59, who’s best known for his work on the film and TV show Friday Night Lights.

Watch it: Painkiller on Netflix

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Jules, PG-13

Even with a tatty wig, Sir Ben Kingsley, 79, can lend dignity to a fusty character that recalls Being There’s Peter Sellers. Suburban widower Jules’ routines are all-consuming: addressing weekly complaints to the town council about a dangerous intersection, watching his TV programs, making ham sandwiches. His daughter (Zoe Winters) worries that he’s descending into dementia when — wham, bang — a metal disk crashes into his azaleas. A mute, adolescent-sized alien, dehydrated and hungry, emerges from the wreckage. The interplay between extraterrestrial and human inspires Jules’ gradual reawakening to life. When two nosy council-meeting regulars (Harriet Sansom Harris, 68, and SNL alum Jane Curtin, 75) discover their neighbor’s secret and want in, their growing friendships manifest the power to melt loneliness at any age. Curtin’s throaty rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” is one of the movie’s highlights in a compassionate character study that accomplishes what few current films do: a sweet, simple sense of wonder. —T.M.A.

Watch it: Jules, in theaters

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Shortcomings, R

Snarky Berkeley art house theater manager and aspiring filmmaker Ben (Justin H. Min) struggles to be more than a supporting player in his own life. The opinionated Japanese American movie lover gets his comeuppance — and reluctantly learns his many shortcomings — from the three women closest to him. His underappreciated girlfriend Miko (Ally Maki), gay grad student best friend (breakout Sherry Cola) and rebound relationship Sasha (Debby Ryan) all ultimately demonstrate to Ben that his problems aren’t in his relationships with women. Instead, they’re a function of his own negativity, lack of self-awareness and narrow-minded hipness. As a successful romantic rival who appreciates Miko in a way Ben never has, Veep’s Timothy Simons delights. Ben learns the hard way that he has a lot of growing up yet to do in this quirky, breezy and occasionally biting Asian American rom-com. —T.M.A.

Watch it: Shortcomings, in theaters

⭐⭐⭐⭐ A Compassionate Spy, Unrated

If you cracked Wikipedia after viewing Oppenheimer, we have a documentary for you. It’s about the youngest scientist recruited to the Manhattan Project, Theodore Hall, 18. The Jewish teenager became convinced, according to A Compassionate Spy, that if America had the atomic bomb, the Russians should have the science, too. While a project employee, the physicist passed detailed nuclear secrets to the Soviets. Though his goal was mutual assured destruction (to prevent war), earning him the adjective “compassionate,” his actions raise comparisons to convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The meticulous, intimate documentary registers as a footnote to Oppenheimer, but with its more modest ambitions, it achieves greater clarity about the fraught political history surrounding the atom bomb’s creation. (Also, don’t miss the 1981 Oppenheimer documentary The Day After Trinity on the Criterion Channel.) —T.M.A.

Watch it: A Compassionate Spy, in theaters

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (Amazon Original)

Sigourney Weaver, 73, stars as a strong-willed flower farmer who takes in her young granddaughter, Alice, after a mysterious fire kills her parents. The seven-part miniseries, based on a best-selling novel and streaming in weekly installments on Prime’s ad-supported Freevee service, follows Alice into young adulthood as she begins to question her past and her connection to the natural world.

Watch it: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart on Prime Video

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Theater Camp, PG-13

Broadway’s Ben Platt, fresh off a Tony nom for Best Musical Revival Parade, leads this nutty, nostalgic romp. It’s set at the fictional, but all too familiar, AndirondACTS, an upstate New York summer camp like a shabbier Stagedoor Manor. Here, the show must go on despite mosquitoes, runaway hormones and past-due bills. Joining Platt’s hilariously frustrated actor are two cast favorites from TV’s The Bear: Molly Gordon (who also codirected) and Ayo Edebiri, who embrace broad comedic parts that couldn’t be further from their roles in that buzzy Chicago pressure cooker. When the bank threatens foreclosure, the counselors and campers follow in the tap shoes of young Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, trying to save their beloved summer home away from home by antically staging an offbeat musical masterpiece. For theater nerds, and the ambitious young thespians they foster, this Sundance gem is likely to be the summer’s funniest feel-good film. —T.M.A.

Watch it: Theater Camp, in theaters

⭐⭐⭐ Haunted Mansion, PG-13

Haunted Mansion is a big, plastic theme park ride of packaged fun. It’s funny-scary, not scary-scary, when single mom Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and her lonely son Travis (Chase Dillon) move to a remote Louisiana mansion that even the Addams Family would have rejected. Never purchase a home online sight unseen! The pair quickly discovers otherworldly squatters that won’t begone, or let the small family leave. In desperation, they recruit a gaggle of paranormal-pest exterminators, including tortured love interest LaKeith Stanfield, mediums Tiffany Haddish and Jamie Lee Curtis, 64, heart patient Danny DeVito, 78, and opportunistic Owen Wilson, 54. Jared Leto, 51, manifests as the house’s malicious ghost in chief. It’s all silly screams and high spirits as the disparate strangers coalesce to form a chosen family in adversity, with cheery bromides and a ghoulish climax at the adjacent cemetery for a big bone-voyage. Whee! —T.M.A.

Watch it: Haunted Mansion, in theaters


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