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    Tuesday, July 23, 2024

    Tipping Point: Our picks and pans ('Cardinal,' 'Thor: Love and Thunder,' 'Closure/Continuation')

    TV tip



    I could plink around on my computer, dive into the dark web and successfully order bags of vipers delivered to certain Congressional Jan. 6 deniers easier than I can find out why the fourth and final season of "Cardinal" was delayed in the U.S. That's the biggest mystery of all to emerge from this outstanding Canadian noir series based on the novels of Giles Blunt. Most importantly, we here in the states can finally stream it — however it happened. Snowy Algonquin Bay is the setting for detectives John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) and Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse), who are back and trying to find a prominent crown prosecutor who's apparently been kidnapped. The case quickly takes a very dark turn, and efforts to keep the situation from blasting out of control forestall possible romance between the two leads — along with the very real possibility Delorme may be taking a job in Toronto. Magnificent, moody and beautifully acted.

    — Rick Koster


    Thor: Love and Thunder

    Taika Waititi can be such a goofball. I mean that as a compliment. The director/writer turned Thor on his head (metaphorically speaking) with “Thor: Ragnarok,” which was irreverent and hilarious. He now gives Thor a rom-com spin with “Love and Thunder.” Unfortunately, this movie feels less gonzo and more slapdash. There are sparks of comic gold; who would have thought Russell Crowe, wielding a Eurotrash accent and a spectacular level of self-absorption, would make such a damned funny Zeus? But too much feels like it’s the first draft of the script, waiting for more inspiration to strike. Chris Hemsworth, having perfected the art of deadpan delivery, returns as Thor, who runs into Natalie Portman as his erstwhile love interest. With Thor’s old hammer in hand, she is now a superhero herself. Much of “Love and Thunder” is centered on their push-pull relationship. Christian Bale is grievously serious as the god-killing villain, who nonetheless is given a reason for his bad behavior.

    — Kristina Dorsey 

    CD tip


    Porcupine Tree

    After the extrapolating success of Porcupine Tree leader Steve Wilson's solo career — and the not coincidental fact the last PT album was over a decade ago — I'd assumed we'd heard the last of this all-time great band. News that they were recording what became "Closure/Continuation" cautiously excited me. I'm a lot older now; would the Tree's galaxy-hopping musical visions still appeal despite my decline into what I call my "On Golden Pond-ness"? The answer is mostly yes. As always, the musicianship and production are exceptional, and the collaborative songwriting fluidly explores styles from jagged-glass prog to intricate balladry/atmospherics. I prefer the prettier material (see "Pond" reference), and my main complaint is that three of the best tracks are only available on the very expensive bonus disc version of the album.

    — Rick Koster

    This image released by Marvel Studios shows Natalie Portman, left, and Chris Hemsworth in a scene from "Thor: Love and Thunder." (Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios-Disney via AP)

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