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In Brief: "Noriega: God's Favorite"

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Bob Hoskins, directed by Roger Spottiswoode and supported by the able likes of Jeffrey DeMunn and Tony Plana, does his considerable best as the Panamanian dictator who helped launder drug money for the Colombians and provide guns to the contras, informed for the CIA, and, if you gave him a chance, quoted Lao-tzu at you, but Noriega: God's Favorite (Sunday, April 2; 8 to 10 p.m.; Showtime) can't quite make up its mind what we're supposed to think about him. Poor boy made good, from the slums to the palace? Pineapple-faced thug, specializing in the torture and dismemberment of his political opponents? Tin-pot? Crackpot? Patsy? We certainly aren't encouraged to care more about his erstwhile partners in geopolitical crime, George Bush and Oliver North. It would take a García Marquez, writing at the top of his Autumn of the Patriarch form, to bring off this odd amalgam of sadism and slapstick.


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