Noriega: God's Favorite

Showtime, April 2, 8 p.m. E.T.

They say history repeats, first as tragedy, then as farce. But sometimes it manages both the first time around. Brit Bob Hoskins is a surprisingly apt choice for the Panamanian kleptocrat, whom he plays as a cruel yet pathetic schemer--a lower-class striver who in another life might have become a crooked appliance salesman or sticky-fingered union boss. This playful film teases out the inherent absurdity in the dictator's fall (this was a man besieged by U.S. troops blaring bad pop music to drive him out of his Vatican-embassy refuge) without trivializing his predations.

--By James Poniewozik

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