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Reviews: England, Spain and Canada prove to be a tedious tour with 'Postcards From London,' 'Miss Dalí’ and 'The Perfect Kiss'

Reviews: England, Spain and Canada prove to be a tedious tour with 'Postcards From London,' 'Miss Dalí’ and 'The Perfect Kiss'
Harris Dickinson in the movie "Postcards From London." (Strand Releasing)

‘Postcards From London’

“Postcards From London,” which follows the adventures of a fetching 18-year-old named Jim (Harris Dickinson) who becomes Soho’s favorite gay rent-boy, may sound like an enticing coming-of-age film but, with its static theatricality, curious chasteness and high-minded chatter, proves pretty much a bore.

Writer-director Steve McLean, making his first film since 1994’s New Queer Cinema offshoot “Postcards From America,” has re-created a stylized version of a Soho of yore — though the film is arguably set in a kind of “timeless” present — entirely on soundstages. Despite a skillful use of color, lighting, framing and music, the movie’s artificiality might have played in a short film but becomes tedious and pretentious when stretched to 90 minutes.

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The slender, episodic story finds the aforementioned Jim, a handsome, “fit bloke” from the suburbs looking for an education in the big city, falling in with a kind of Greek chorus of high-end male escorts and learning about art, sex and commerce as he goes from hustler to muse to authenticator of fine paintings.

That last job — and qualification — comes courtesy of a strange condition called Stendhal Syndrome that causes Jim, apparently oversensitive to beauty (oh, please), to faint at the sight of great art, then imagine himself in the paintings, often posing for supposedly gay Italian artist Caravaggio (Ben Cura). It’s just one more arch conceit in a film that’s decidedly, irrevocably full of them.

—Gary Goldstein

‘Postcards From London’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: Starts Nov. 23, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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‘Miss Dalí’

Joan Carreras and Rachel Lascar in a scene from "Miss Dalí."
Joan Carreras and Rachel Lascar in a scene from "Miss Dalí." (Els Films de la Rambla)

Ventura Pons, the writer-producer-director of “Miss Dalí,” has crafted an oddly clunky, egregiously overlong biopic that’s technically about Salvador Dalí’s younger sister and his onetime model, Anna Maria, but is closer to a cradle-to-grave lecture about the legendary Spanish surrealist. And all this curiously without offering even a glimpse of the painter’s iconic work.

In 1989, shortly after Salvador’s death, the elderly Anna Maria (veteran Welsh actress Siân Phillips) is visited at her lovely home in seaside Cadaqués, Spain, by lifelong friend Maggie (the also venerable Claire Bloom). Over drinks, food, strolls and lots of forced smiles and gazes, banal rejoinders and pensive gazing, Anna Maria methodically recounts for Maggie (make that: for us, Maggie already knows most of this) the highlights — and lowlights — of the Dalí siblings’ lives.

We thus flash back to an endless checklist of unevenly re-created events featuring such characters as Salvador and Anna Maria’s lawyer-notary father (Josep Maria Pou); Salvador’s seemingly monstrous wife, Gala (Rachel Lascar); poet-playwright Federico García Lorca (José Carmona); filmmaker Luis Buñuel (Alberto Ferreiro); and others.

Despite scads of stiff exposition and constant proclamations of Salvador’s genius, the brash, eccentric, weirdly mustachioed artist remains an elusive and puzzling force. That he’s played, unconvincingly from teen years to death, by an often annoying Joan Carreras doesn’t help.

—Gary Goldstein

‘Miss Dalí’

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In Catalan, English, Spanish and French with English subtitles.

Not rated

Running time: 2 hours, 49 minutes

Playing: Starts Nov. 23, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica

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‘The Perfect Kiss’

Lucie Vondrácková in the movie "The PerfectKiss."
Lucie Vondrácková in the movie "The PerfectKiss." (Marcova Productions)

‘The Perfect Kiss’

Billed as a romantic comedy but really a farce, “The Perfect Kiss” is the perfect example of a movie that is so bad it’s … no, not good, just terrible. Unlike a film such as the “The Room,” which was elevated to cult status and notoriety by Tommy Wiseau’s wacky, deadpan sincerity (not to mention James Franco’s portrayal in “The Disaster Artist”), this disaster by writer-director Tina Adams (a.k.a. Martina Adamcová, who is also credited as producer, executive producer, costume ‘choices and concept,’ casting director and driver) is merely 83 minutes you will never get back.

Lucie Vondrácková plays Tanya, a ditzy 30-year-old Realtor who gets fired shortly after we meet her. Her real challenge, however, is escaping her nutty spy parents (Luc-Martial Dagenais, Liliana Komorowska), with whom she still lives. The parents, more cartoonish than Bullwinkle’s Boris and Natasha, exist primarily to deliver bits of slapstick with very little payoff.

Tanya’s adventure gets her as far as the couch of her married friend Britney (Sophie Gendron) and entanglement in domestic woes. A wintry sprint through the local park leads to an encounter with a frisky jogger (Samy Osman) and a series of nonsensical moments devoid of passion or humor.

The strangest thing about “The Perfect Kiss” is its surprisingly high production values (apparently made possible by the government of Canada and a tax credit from the province of Quebec), giving its Montreal locales the sheen of a studio rom-com, even if the foreground is ridiculous.

—Kevin Crust

‘The Perfect Kiss’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes

Playing: Starts Nov. 23, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica

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