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This is NOT a Hold 'Em Tutorial
This film was unjustly panned as lethargic and bleak without a purpose. Considering how Hold 'Em has developed into one of the biggest social fads in the last decade, I would say that this film captures every emotional aspect the 'swings' of No Limit typically carry.
I had absolutely no idea how to play the game when I first saw this movie about five years ago. The dialogue is wrought with jargon that almost makes a mockery of itself. Especially since much of the movie is done with voice-over, I can see where critics are coming from. However, the viewer should not allow themselves to get bogged down with it all, we get the gist with well-developed staging and performances.
Damon and Norton play off each other better than Damon and Affleck. Though the story echoes in the wake of Scorsese's 'Mean Streets', the performances seem more detailed than the Keitel/DeNiro combo. The supporting roles add great depth to the film, and Tutorro shines as the wise-old has-been that successfully provides Damon's character with the cold-hard truth he never seems to adhere to (until it is too late).
Above all, we feel compelled to cheer for Damon's Mike McDermott the ENTIRE time. He acknowledges his 'bad' play but constantly tries to explain that this is a game of skill and not luck. This is an important element considering the widely accepted belief that any success in gambling is the result of luck. This may be true in the bloodsucking casinos, but in Hold 'Em you play the chips AND the man.
Now that baseball is out of the Olympics, perhaps we will see a push for a true "WORLD Series of Poker". Then again, I also wanted to see 'Four Square' made into an official event when I was 8, so maybe I'm just talking out of my ass...
Should be commended as a precursor to a pandemic fad that is costing teens (and their parents) millions daily.
*** (of ****)
The United States of Leland (2003)
More substance than today's garbage
Right away this title grabs your attention. It has to. It is certainly audacious and somewhat condescending, which is probably why I took it off the shelf. Why not? Every other feature title out there generally spells out the movie anyway, so why not go for something more enigmatic? Next to 2004's 'Primer' this is one of the most interesting titles in the last few years.
The story revolves around a socially disconnected youth that commits a heinous crime without any particular reason. While the actual crime 'shoots for the moon', marvelous editing keeps us from knowing all of the information. The crime itself is not important, so much as how everyone else is affected by the consequences.
An ensemble cast of mostly Gen-Y rising stars promotes believability against the backdrop of modern suburbia. Gosling delivers an even-paced and restrained performance as Leland. Jean Malone picks up yet another troubled and sexually exploited teen role. I mention this because it seems she is certainly capable of more advanced work but continues to choose roles that are hyped with drug use and strong sexuality. Don Cheadle, who is one of the top five best actors working today is somewhat of a let down, but this is mostly due to the weak writing of his character. Kevin Spacey shines as the estranged father although he only has about 2-3 scenes of dialogue. The 'dark horse' of this film unquestionably goes to Chris Klein. After some poor choices and weak performances he reaffirms an acting presence that has not been seen since his role in 'Election'.
Hoge employs some interesting camera and cinematic choices that prevent the film from becoming a WB-drama. The editing takes center stage, and is ultimately what keeps our interest. NOT being spoon-fed every piece of plot and action is a nice change of pace from current industry practices. The simple and low-key production design allows the reality of the film to sink in better for the viewer, thereby disposing unnecessary distractions.
I suspect we will see more of Mr. Hoge's work in the near future.
*** (of ****)
War of the Worlds (2005)
Misses the mark
While this 2005 update is certainly more 'entertaining' than the 1959 classic, Spielberg's latest effort falls short compared to his other extra-terrestrial endeavors.
The first 20 mins of the film are by far the most interesting. Spielberg's family has changed dramatically from the 'innocent charm' portrayed in the families of 'E.T.' and 'Close Encounters'. The Ferriers are cold, distant, and quite dysfunctional - accurately depicting the current American familial nucleus. However telling the story through the eyes and ears of a single family has become a cliché, and eventually looses out interest.
Tom Cruise is a fine actor, and could probably be considered one of America's National Treasures. But his antics and indulgent publicity stunts do more harm than good. He provides Ray Ferrier with the Hardworking Everyman that any other actor could have come up with. This is simply another indication that he has been phoning in many of his recent performances. Perhaps if he would keep his private life PRIVATE, we would be able to forgive his laziness. Alas, Mr. Cruise puts more charm and energy on Oprah's couch than his multi-million dollar JOB.
Finally, there is little expansion on the conceptual/design elements that Spielberg is so famous for. He relies on the original illustrations and concepts that, while still provocative, are not really memorable. Even the actual alien sequences leave much to be desired, as we only get about 5 mins and a total lack of suspense. Tim Robbins is wasted in a part that tries to contrast the innate Human Survival At All Costs with the Spielberg's patented Humans Are Ignorant But Compassionate personas.
Tim Burton's parody 'Mars Attacks' accomplishes more.
**1/2 (of ****)
First Men in the Moon (1964)
Would have been a great MST3K.
First Men in the Moon begins with a very interesting scenario, as an international space expedition to the moon turns into havoc as the astronauts discover evidence of a previous voyage from the year 1899! This twist provides a shock-factor to the story, and eventually sends us back to Wells' turn-of-the-century England that many of his novels frequent. The film devotes serious time to the beginnings of the flashback that derails the audience's attention after too long. Though I never read the novel, I am willing to bet that the author wrote extensively about the character's actual journey in space, and the spectacular sights the fortunate threesome witnessed as the first humans to leave our atmosphere.
A very strong and comical performance is delivered from Lionel Jefferies as the scientist Cavol. Christopher Lloyd's character in Back to the Future seems to echo in the wake of Jefferies' portrayal. The relationship between Arnold and Kate is comical, however distracting. Even worse for Kate, is the fact that despite his lies and misgivings, she feels compelled to help his cause. The transition between their supposed final argument is awkward, as the following scene shows her gathering supplies for the mission. With the discovery of the moon's inhabitants, Arnold becomes the aggressor by instantly trying to kill the bug-like aliens. While Cavol is completely passive in trying to pursue scientific virtues, Arnold abandons his friend' in the heat of battle. Stop-motion photography is the film's biggest asset. The giant worm in the cave is outdated by today's digital cinematography, but nonetheless effective for the sequence. Some terrific matte-paintings of the moon's landscape and inner tunnels provide a low-funded project with some nice results. The ending is dismal, as we are brought back to present day to see the current mission decide to destroy the colony. Perhaps this is a commentary providing insight about how our war-like tendencies still plague the human race.
NOTE: The Time Machine was made four years earlier (1960) and has much better effects.
Hastily thrown together, and it shows.
** (of ****)
The Time Machine (1960)
It's no Delorean...
(spoiler near end)
The Time Machine ages better compared to other sci-fi films of the early 1960's, and seems to be more complete and nostalgic. Time-lapse photography is the essence of this film, as George (Rod Taylor) operates his amazing invention. The speedy oscillations of the sun and moon, or the changing seasons are well-done and effective techniques. Although the paradoxes of time travel are not discussed, the story's rich imagination propels the audience into examining the futures Wells has envisioned. The main focus of the film deals with the post-post apocalyptic races of Eloi and Morlocks. 800,000 years into the future is a lengthy bridge to cross. Evolutionary theories are supplied by the talking rings' (a very interesting theory about future technology that seems to echo in our current state). It would have been more effective to make the Morlocks closer to human form than what the film provides. The bumbling trolls are more comical than thrilling. Ironically, the Eloi are just as inept (despite indications of a superior race'). A haunting thought comes across well, as George is taken to the library and the books disintegrate at a mere touch. It would seem that he is not meant to understand the events that brought man to this point, but instead accept the Eden-like return to paradise. George actually fulfills this philosophy by returning back to Weena. Overall, George Pal presents the best adaptation, so far, of this infamous novel. Some really poignant, dramatic scenes add more depth to a (for lack of a less amusing word) straightforward story. When George runs into his best friend's grandson, his realization is captured as we also wonder about his untold future. In a slightly obsessed manner, he drags the machine into the yard for what might be his last voyage. Filby and the maid understand his reasons for leaving, and the doorway for more adventures is left wide open.
Not timeless, but not shameful.
**1/2 (of ****)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Ultimately, the audience has a tough time deciding what genre Dog Day Afternoon belongs with. The storyline is very slow paced, but the subtleties in action and humor that progress the story are very strong contributing elements. As with many of his films, Lumet takes a very even-handed approach to telling tales. This strategy clearly began with 12 Angry Men as nearly the entire film takes place at one location. Both films easily take advantage of the audiences' desire to alleviate tension from time to time. Though Dog Day Afternoon is ultimately a crime-drama, it dabbles relentlessly in comedy. Naivety is initially displayed when Sonny and Sal begin the heist. After the film progresses, it is clear that Sal maintains this characteristic to support contrast between leader and follower. The film also incorporates a healthy amount of absurdism through Sonny's first wife Leon. There is nothing more surprising or shocking in this film. The subject matter is bewildering yet intriguing, its application is upbeat and non-partisan, and the effect is hilarious but poignant. Ironically, one of the film's most dramatic scenes is the (improvised) telephone conversation between the two former lovers. This particular sequence earned Chris Sarandon a Best Supporting Actor nomination for the 1976 Academy Awards.
Finally, exhibitionism exercises the audiences' right to sympathize with the men. Our perspective is echoed in the mobs outside the bank. These individuals have decided to support the determined (but socially detached) thieves. The public seems eager for the spectacle to unfold, yet they rally against law enforcement and instantly assimilate their influence into the conflict.
A good look at the consequences of stupidity.
***1/2 (of ****)
The Way We Were (1973)
What a pathetic relationship.
Sydney Pollack's The Way We Were is a disjointed romance that leaves the audience with mixed feelings. As with some of his other romance films (Out of Africa and Havana), there is never a sense of absolute love. All of these stories incorporate a mixture of rapidly progressive narratives, but then the intent of each film is focused on the romance between Robert Redford and the appropriate leading lady. Pollack is victimized by trying to capture every possible emotion of a serious relationship. His devotion to the realistic parallels between his characters and real people is (at times) incoherent due to over-exposure. Pollack always shows the highs and lows of each affair. In The Way We Were, the happier' times of Katie and Hubbell are mainly captured with montages. It is easier to appreciate the validity of their love if they are seen joyfully running on the beach or sailing in the fresh ocean breeze. Pollack then chooses to exploit the struggles they each have with one another. We are constantly brought back to the question of which person has the correct' views and beliefs. Katie eventually subdues her political ambitions to be with Hubbell. Later they both realize that she cannot lie to herself, (although this revelation is influenced by Hubble's philandering), and they end the romance. Though their problem seems evident, Pollack tries a great deal to show that there are more serious undertones that burden the couple. At times religious distinctions are subtlety employed, and even the possibility that Katie considers herself brighter' than Hubbell (which he resents by domesticating her). Sadly, the film's secondary flaw can be found in the disenchanting HUAAC sequences. Katie's crusade is never fully actualized because of poor editing. The black listing of the 1950's was a very serious time for the film industry and this film did not do the impact justice. Arthur Laurents decided to incorporate the event as a part of the romance, but the beginning college sequences seemingly foreshadow Katie's would-be-triumph. Instead, Pollack shreds the last bits of integrity by using the event only as a vehicle to justify the breakup. Perhaps a more interesting climax might have followed if Katie and Hubbell's demise were set against the backdrop of a secondary culmination that should have been Katie's actualized triumph.
A bleak, rainy day. Far from Pollack's best.
** (of ****)
Easy Rider (1969)
Production value suffers.
Easy Rider is much more neorealistic in dealing with counterculture bikers who want to find America. Although the concept for the film does come across a tad arrogant (treating America as a wild animal), Hopper's story is still poignant and true. Any exaggerations in characters are attributed to social extremities that all exist someplace. While writing these characters, Hopper and Fonda no doubt transcended some of their existential beliefs into the film. This stipulation yielded some clever improvisation between the rogues. The shooting chart is somewhat limited, and this is especially true among the driving sequences. Many camera positions are duplicated (although many times to frame some breathtaking locations). A trendy, but deliberate music score help cover up some of Hopper's shortcuts. Unfortunately, this cycle is never broken. The swimming and hallucination montages serve up some interesting editing and sound choices. The bizarre New Orleans graveyard creates a torturous Alice-like-fall' into Wonderland. The use of jump cuts, even as a method of foreshadowing the climax is truly pioneering. The fading camera from the demolished bike constantly warns (unjustly) that America has no room for their kind', (whatever that means).
Paints a thoughtful portrait.
*** (of ****)
Wait Until Dark (1967)
Wait Until Dark is a wonderful suspense film, which explores different modes of sensation. Having a blind woman as the central character allowed Terrence Young lots of choices with angles and lighting. However, I believe that the sound in this film was carefully exploited as an identifying element and a tool for our blind heroine. Right away we are brought to the beginning of the crime and the origins of the very valuable doll. The radio heard in the background is the main audio element on the shanty apartment where the package is constructed. Through the noise we can tell the setting in somewhere in France, therefore establishing an international drug plot. The radio sets up the size of the playing field, and later the ambiguity regarding all of the major players.
Later on when Roat (Arkin) goes back into the closet, the opening of the door reveals Lisa (the doll's transporter) stuffed in a body bag, hung from a coat hanger. She is clearly dead, but her lifelessness seems to be the focus of this shot. As Roat starts to fiddle with the bag, the next cut shows Suzy in her living room listening for clues. We hear the body tumble from the hanging position with a thunderous thud. Although we do not witness the body falling, this technique creates an audio point of view. We hear (and see) what the main character does, in turn we can infer the severity of the situation. It is interesting to note that Hepburn's character totally relies on smell, touch and noise to comprehend and communicate. The surprise in the film is that, in many instances, information is withheld from the audience so we can appreciate the struggle this character endures. We only notice the squeak in Roat's shoe after it is mentioned, but we remember that Young used cut way shots on the shoe and Suzy's reaction before she divulged this discovery. The blinds are used as a way of communicating silently to the van across the street, but Suzy later reveals that she was suspicious of its constant use. When she finally knows that a van is outside, Suzy breaks down in terror with a sense of pity. It would seem that she almost feels sorry for herself for not knowing this element sooner. We do not expect her to feel this way, but her diligent husband might expect more from `the world's champion blind lady.'
A dark, seedy thriller.
*** (of ****)
The Trouble with Angels (1966)
Lupino had a huge budget!
Although The Trouble With Angels, offers little toward social commentary, this film still accomplishes many simple, but significant feats. The novice directing ability of Ida Lupino is evident as she takes an even-handed approach to the construction of the picture. She does not really take any daring challenges, but definitely captures youthful innocence conceived through a charming comedy. The use of panning is clearly one of the more frequently used shooting tactics that Lupino employs. Many times the cut and edit from one scene to the next would be followed by a wide angle master shot, and a pan-left of right to reveal any action. A very effective method often used in narrative films. She takes the concept slightly further by bridging her scenes together with full-screen close-ups and a rapid pull-back to establish the setting. The camera might be fixed on a painting, flamboyant hat, light fixtures, etc. to highlight some of the particular scene's themes. Production value for this film is an area worth discussing. When the students arrive and leave from the school, they all wear stylish, sophisticated women's clothing. The outfits are brightly colored and perfectly accessorized with pill-box hats and vanity purses. Even at the introductory dinner, all of the girls have professionally done hair and makeup. There was a serious amount of time devoted to scene design. The film progresses with the utilization of just a few main stages (not counting any exterior locations). The main hallway, main staircase and landing, the girls' dormitory room, and some select classrooms. Each of these locations are deliberately filled with scene props (student artwork, holy relics) to establish a sense of depth and reality. Since this film takes place over the span of three years, it is important to create a sense of development and maturation among the students.
A fuzzy Haley Mills comedy.
**1/2 (of ****)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
A Top-10 Thriller.
The Manchurian Candidate is one of the best thrillers ever made. The concepts invoked (hypnosis, conspiracy, ruthlessness) give the tale more clout, as far as innovation in cinematic themes are concerned. I think the storyline and characterization speak for themselves, so I'll focus on some other technical aspects of the film. The dream sequences are, at first confusing but always eerie. Frankenheimer beings the scene with a full 360 degree shot that allows us to see everyone in the room. Many of the character's actions are deliberate and obviously meaningful. Many of the older women are either displaying action, or their physicality is exaggerated in some fashion. These traits are essential for the doubling of action for the mirror-side' of the dream/lecture. The male spectators and the chief doctor are all palindromes' of the women's orchid society. The brilliance of this concept can be found in the fact that although this idea is not critical to implement, it serves as an opportunity to bring more ingenuity into an already pioneering picture. Another interesting element that is constantly played with is the use of Abraham Lincoln to incorporate political distinctions. Before a news conference Sen. Iselan strikes a pose in front of a Lincoln portrait. The camera focuses on the painting, but we are meant to see the senator's reflection. Later, Raymond's mother seems to casually walk by a marble bust of the former President, and the ironically enough, the senator is dressed as Lincoln at a costume party. I believe we are meant to infer that the senator probably has decent intentions to be a major contributor for this great nation', but we also understand that he will be cut down before even the slightest degree of any greatness can be measured. Although Lincoln was killed after he triumphed over a national dispute, Sen. Iselin will be eliminated before his tendencies can be invoked.
**** (of ****)
King of the Underworld (1939)
Early Bogart. Fine Results.
The hurried approach that Lewis Seiler takes with King of the Underworld establishes a deeper plot, while still maintaining an efficient run-time. One of the clearest examples of this is the transition between poverty and wealth for the married medical couple. The audience is instantly transported from a shanty medical office to a luxurious suite at the city's most prestigious inn. This development is critical to understanding the position the doctors have been thrown into. The story suggests from the intro that these two people are generally happy with providing medical practice to those who are less fortunate. By abruptly cutting from this scenario to the morally conflicting occupation (the mob's personal physician), the viewer is called upon to experience this sudden turn of events. The Nelsons (Kay Francis and John Eldredge) are forcibly employed by Gurney (Bogart) without objections. This stylized notion of organized crime being too influential and powerful to overcome has become a standard component in every gangster picture. The one aspect of this film that raised some questions for me, ironically dealt with the pacing of the story, and that rate at which it was told. I think that character development and social identity can suffer when certain aspects of a story are not fully examined. This paradox happens to be a result of personal taste, in that I think that the movie going experience can be enhanced through rigorous character development. However, for the purposes of this film, I must admit that the rapid action contributes more dynamic flare to the impact of the film.
**1/2 (of ****)
My Man Godfrey (1936)
A bright, uplifting comedy.
My Man Godfrey is a delightful comedy that serves up some tough questions regarding the worth of the individual and the layered perspectives in society. Many of the film's scenes are quite long. Although length and development seem to stretch from time to time, each segment is purposeful. La Cava directed in a time when films cautiously strayed from distracting the audience. Many of our contemporary pictures have a great deal of fluff' to administer different effects. By devoting more time to development, the script yields humorous moments more frequently. I was most surprised with the clarity and focus of the film from a technical standpoint. For 1939 this is a beautiful picture that utilizes many distinct locations, but never falters in sharp imagery or detail. The wide open house serves as a great opportunity to use dolly and tracking shots. Since humor is the main objective, it is imperative to exploit moments that use physical humor. When Godfrey comes home drunk and serves the women drinks, he follows a routine serving pattern while the camera tracks him around the circle of chairs. The humor in this instance can be found in the sways and sluggish stepping of Godfrey. He seems to progressively get worse' after each lady is served before he must retire to the kitchen. Although there is a certain amount of social commentary in My Man Godfrey, I think that the comedic element of this film tends to drown out the seriousness of depression and worthiness. Though the story excels at sending a moral message about prejudice, any attempt to dignify the casualties suffered (at the time) flails in the warm blanket of romantic comedy.
A solid, depression-era flick.
*** (of ****)
Star of Texas (1953)
Just another western fable.
Essentially this western is just another 'coat-tail hitcher' that so many other films in this genre frequent. However, it is evident that this film was shot in a matter of days, amidst a standing western set that, no doubt, was employed by others.
Although the production value is limited, the story is still treacherous as two rangers set out to disband a local posse. The narration is used effectively in the beginning to set up the plot. Unfortunately, this tool is used throughout the film, therefore alleviating any suspense. This is the biggest letdown, especially as the end nears, and the posse's mastermind is unveiled.
Some interesting camera-work in some bar sequences again prove that even the most modest of films can still retain qualities of originality of expression. The limited use of sound and music allow the film to inhabit 'noiristic' tendencies, but the use of day-for-night filters is disappointing.
The acting is adequate, but effective, despite the total lack of star-power. A distinct companionship is understood between Ryan and Vance, and Thomas Carr attempts to actualize their bond at the end with a silent pull-in to the famous 'Texas-Rangers service plaque'; a cheap way to enamor the brave, but dead lawmen.
I was lucky to catch this one of a rare 16mm print while in school, so I refuse to totally condemn the film. It is worth seeing if you are interested in seeing how quick westerns were literally thrown together, or you are simply a DIE-DIE-HARD western buff.
** (of ****)
Quality acting with typical Lumet themes.
Fail Safe pays attention to detail in order to have a more effective ending. Lumet does a nice job setting up the individual storylines that will no doubt mesh together at some point. Again, Lumet employs a wide array of characters in order to encapsulate the varied social impact as a near-apocalyptic catastrophe develops. Good taste in actors serves Lumet well, as many of the players have such a wide range of expressions. This film is yet another exploitation regarding the shouldering of responsibility; a common theme for Mr. Lumet. (See 12 Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon)
The time devoted to each storyline varies between each subject. Walter Matthau delivers a chilling performance as a near-mad scientist, bent on using the miscommunication to the American's advantage. The best acting of the film however comes from Henry Fonda and a bit-part by Larry Hagman. For such a serious subject, Lumet is able to extract some humor from these telephone sequences. Although Fonda lends his 'everyman-superman' style to yet another Lumet film, he still does the role justice. Essentially, he acts like a President we would vote for. Perhaps even more impressive in these scenes would have to be the length of each cut. The very first (and arguably most important) phone call from the President to the Soviet Chairman is a three to four minute take. The camera rests in a two-shot of Fonda and Hagman without any interruption.
As noted, the attention to detail is integral to support the dismal end. Many instances of cut-away shots or extreme close-ups of hands, folders, phones or codes seem to indicate Lumet's desire to capture our incarnations and self-marvel. Simply look to the scenario of the film: our relentless desire to gain superior defenses has been manifested through the human will to destroy. Therefore, by examining our most simplistic and necessary creations, we might shed emotion for the film's closing moments. The bomb has been dropped on New York. Lumet begins with random action scenes of people throughout the city. Each instance captures their obliviousness, which sharply contrasts the 'doomed' men who are responsible. The instant freeze-frame is an effective ending because Lumet wishes to show the instantaneousness of this type of death.
Yes, this film is comparable to Dr. Strangelove in many respects. The reason why Kubrick's film became the more memorable work is because a perfectly-written satire has more political influence over a bleak, gut-wrenching drama simply because it is harder to laugh about this subject. (And the subject matter can reach more members). As humans, we can cope with problems and difficulties much easier with a sense of humor. Let's face it, this subject is about as serious as it can get. Either it never happens, or everyone dies (a painful death). This is a rare consequence, so we might as well have a good laugh before vaporization.
Good stuff, not Lumet's best. (*** of 4)
House of Sand and Fog (2003)
This is MY house!
Yes, this film is quite the saga, yet the story is placed amidst a seemingly "more simplistic" social conflict. Terrific performances from Kingsley and Connelly sustain the film's dramatic appeal, and a surprising contribution from Aghdashlo is sure to enthrall the viewer's empathy for the devastating end.
*Careful...spoilers will follow.*
While, we should praise the above mentioned names for their craftsmanship, Ron Eldard's portrayal of the bored father and confused husband is simply unforgivable. He is given one of the most important roles in the stroke-of-luck that finds Connelly's abandoned wife, yet his plastic good-looks, and flaccid delivery slowly destroys any conviction we should have for her right to get the house back.
Behrani's family eventually wins our support ONLY because the other couple cannot. He has been forced to leave his country for ambiguous (but serious) reasons, and his devotion to providing for a once well-off lifestyle is more believable. This is evident through his blue-collar employment. Their son's death triggers the final blow to send Behrani and his wife into suicide. Kathy then returns perhaps to make amends, only to find her saviors (from HER attempted suicides) are dead.
Of course, Eldard's 'Lester' is to blame for the death of Behrini's son, Esmail, and eventually the rest of the family. His cowardice comes full circle while trying to call his wife from prison, yet fails to utter a word. This character's fast digression from a noble law-enforcer into a scared and dangerous villain is not merely 'some nice guy who made some bad choices'. Rather, we should see more sociopathic tendencies early on, so that the role is transcended appropriately.
This film grooms the audience for a definitive answer to the conflict: "Who will finally keep the house?" When the unexpected occurs, we are cheated out of a more meaningful outcome. And after the climax, Kathy denounces her ownership! She has probably decided to forget this life and start anew. OK, but if you saw how she was living before, wouldn't you? I didn't need two hours to tell you that...
**1/2 (of ****).