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Weekly Mishmash: June 29-July 5

Endless OceanEndless Ocean. This game was pretty much what I expected — an open-ended scuba diving simulator on the Wii. One can go on dives, get to know fish better by petting them (yeah, that works in real life), deal with a whiny girl on deck, and perform tasks to earn scuba equipment and other rewards. Though the above-water graphics suck, the diving itself is an enveloping, scarily realistic experience. The fish and various undersea creatures behave so true to life it’s like being in a real aquarium. Though it didn’t knock my socks off, this is a beautiful excuse to chill out and relax.
The Guilt of Janet Ames (1947). It’s Rosalind Russel month at TCM — yay! We kicked it off with a viewing of this little-seen thriller which Russel made for Columbia in 1947. In a plot plugging into the Psychiatry Chic zeitgeist of the era, Russel plays a war widow haunted by the fact that her husband sacrificed his life so his comrades could go on to lead productive lives. On a quest to confront each veteran, she’s intercepted by reporter and part time lush Melvyn Douglas — a guy who also happens to be one of Russel’s targeted men. Although there’s nothing to write home about in the film’s hokey storyline (penned by the wonderfully named Lenore Coffee), Miss Russel does a great job being agitated and lovely at the same time, Douglas is solid and there are several effective, moody scenes. It certainly is an unusual film, structured around Russel’s dreamlike impressions of the various men — and when a young Sid Caesar shows up to mug away things decidedly turn surreal. It was a fun time, which is not something I could say about the other two cinematic efforts from this week.
Heading South (2005). A muddled and ugly little film about middle aged female tourists rendezvousing with Haitian prostitutes. Granted, someone could have made an interesting film dealing with that subject, but the direction is so bad that huge chunks of screen time just amble along aimlessly — which only makes the central women look even more pathetic. This film has nothing remarkable to say, the leading actress is a wishy-washy bore, and the talents of Charlotte Rampling are completely wasted. Avoid at all costs.
Three… Extremes (2004). A trio of stomach-churning and bizarre vignettes by the leading horror directors from Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. I love a good scary Asian movie every once in a while, but this shorter format really underscores how cliché-ridden much of this stuff is — the requisite Creepy Little Girl even shows up! Though all three films had their moments, none of them grabbed me. Kinda like the evil kid from The Grudge, come to think of it.

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