Dave Itzkoff‘s N.Y. Times profile of Taika Watiti (Thor, Love and Thunder) is capable, readable and good natured. It also struck me as a tad obsequious.

Because Itzkoff barely mentions Watiti’s semi-controversial Next Goal Wins, a factual soccer drama (based on 2014 doc of the same name). It was shot two and a half years ago but is today regarded as kind of unreleased joke. Like Covid, Next Goal Wins has caught what could be called the Terrence Malick virus — it’s a movie that refuses to open. Or even produce a trailer.

Next Goal Wins and Malick’s The Way of the Wind are, in a sense, joined at the hip. They both began filming in 2019, and both are still hiding in the wings, shrouded in mystery. Itzkoff dodges the subject almost entirely, saying only that Watiti is still editing the damn thing.

Posted on 8.22.21: “Remember Next Goal Wins, the Taika Watiti-directed sports drama, based on the same-titled documentary from 2014, about Dutch-American football coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) turning the low-rated American Samoa national team into groovers and hot-shots?

“Principal photography began in November 2019 (a year before the Trump-Biden election) and wrapped in January 2020 (ten months before same). Then the pandemic hit in March and the train ground to a halt. Then along came 2021 and the glorious vaccines, and the train still didn’t move. It now appears that Next Goal Wins will open sometime in ’22, probably in the late winter or spring.” Nope!

Next Goal Wins costars Elisabeth Moss and Will Arnett. Former costar Armie Hammer was “Plummered” last year after his b&d sex scandal blew up.