Scott Marks 12:30 p.m., July 26
The Spy Behind Home Plate
Normally, it’s only when a celebrity documentary garners enough attention that it becomes fodder for a Hollywood biopic. Released this time last year, The Catcher Was a Spy starred Paul Rudd as Moe Berg, the inscrutable Jewish baseball veteran whose contribution to the war effort included spying on the Nazis for the OSS. The film died a quiet death at the box office. With a trio of broadening documentary portraits of little-known Jewish folk heroes behind her, director Aviva Kempner choose to take it easy. Passing off file footage or clips from fictional movies as the emmes is a major cheat. Then there’s all the unfateful name-dropping. Moe hit on Babe Ruth’s daughter. So? Chico Marx took Moe and his brother out to dinner. Who cares? Reaching too hard for nostalgia, the distracting wall-to-wall soundtrack plays like a K-Tel collection of wartime hits. And for every talking head author, there’s a copy of their book hogging the frame. A fascinating story nonetheless, distractions and all. 2019.