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Weekly Mishmash I: April 26-May 2

Note: due to having a lot of free time this past week, Weekly Mishmash will be split in two this time. Part II will arrive tomorrow.
Beautiful Ohio (2006). With certain movies, you have to ask yourself whether you want to invest the next 90-120 minutes in the characters onscreen. As this dreary indie unspooled, the answer for me was a decisive “no.” In this case, however, I stuck it out to the end because it was Christopher’s viewing choice and I couldn’t do something more constructive — like watching paint dry. This ’70s period piece revolves around a family of narcissists. The mom’s a perfectionist and a shrew, the dad is prone to incoherent rambling, one son is a flake and the other is a flake and a math genius. Oh, and there’s a hot chick secretly sleeping in the family basement. This was Chad Lowe’s first film as director. Although he wrangles a few decent performances from the cast, he really should pick scripts that haven’t already been done a million times before.
Escort Girl (1940). This biskly paced ‘B’ was an interesting find off Turner Classic Movie’s TCM Underground schedule, and not nearly as bad as it looks. The film follows the exploits of an escort service run by a gin-soaked, middle-aged broad (silent star Betty Compson). Compson is petrified that her visiting daughter will find out her tawdry means of living. Further complicating things, the daughter’s fiancée is a federal agent investigating escort services. D’Oh! TCM’s print was so full of skips that watching it was a genuinely odd experience. This sequence with a disrobing hoochie coochie dancer must have been hot stuff for 1940:

The King of Kings (1927). Cecil B. DeMille’s epic telling of the Christ story got the deluxe Criterion treatment a few years back. Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, you have to admit that this is top-notch filmmaking for 1927 with gorgeous photography (including two segments shot in two-strip Technicolor) and dazzling special effects. The nice multiple exposure work utilized in the moving scene where Mary Magdalene gets spiritually cleansed in Jesus’ presence, for example, furthers its power all the more. Even bathed in a constant ethereal glow, H.B Warner is obviously too old to play Jesus. The 2-1/2 hour roadshow edition we saw succumbed to ponderousness all too often. Still, it was a grandly entertaining example of silent cinema at its most ostentatious.
Kororinpa: Marble Saga (Wii). This week, while I was sick as a dog (doing much better now, thank you), I spent a lot of recuperation time with this addictive game. This one is similar to its predecessor, Kororinpa: Marble Mania, in that the aim is to simply guide a ball through a series of increasingly difficult obstacle courses. Where Marble Mania was so simple I could solve it in a week, however, Marble Saga ups the ante with several more puzzles in many more creatively themed lands. Right now I’m getting to the “Hard” levels, which is frustrating. I miss my guard rails!

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