Monday, April 30, 2007


Movie: Disturbia

With obvious plot allusions to Hitchcock's classic Rear Window, in this film we've got a troubled teen under home arrest (with an ankle bracelet to keep him on the property) watching the neighbors. He begins to suspect one neighbor of being a serial killer and sets out with the help of a couple friends to prove it. Not bad. It's well-done technically, but it's a bit long, the ending's typical -- the neighbor's guilt or innocence isn't confirmed until the end, of course. Basically, the premise just feels like something we've seen too many times before. Above average and the new characters and modern setting do bring a bit of freshness to the idea, but it's not quite enough to make this anything other than a mild diversion.


Friday, April 27, 2007


Movie: Next

The trailer didn't give me much hope for this, but it's actually not that bad. The premise that a psychic can see the next two minutes of his future doesn't sound like much of a superpower, but it turns out to be impressive. He's always one step ahead of his pursuers, and there's a funny scene where he hits on a girl multiple times until he figures out the approach that works. My favorite was an action bit where he throws a baton down an empty hallway and you're thinking, "Why on earth did he do that?" and suddenly a guard comes around the corner right as the baton whacks him in the face! But then of course the plot has to get too convoluted as our psychic hero tries to save his girlfriend and L.A. from a stolen nuclear bomb terrorists plan to detonate. The ending's supposed to be clever, though it's really not -- it's obvious and too gimmicky -- but despite all that I liked the ending which was simpler than I expected. Usually films like this have two or three red herrings and subplots and confusion. I actually like the film as a whole -- it's harmless fun and occasionally interesting -- but it's certainly not a work of art. Don't expect too much and you might be amused for a while.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Movie: Vacancy

I still don't see the point of this film: the premise isn't exactly innovative (a couple at a seedy motel finds snuff videos filmed in the room they are in and realize they are being filmed for the next tape), and while it's well-done, the trailer pretty much gives away the entire lukewarm plot and there's just not much else to see. Sure, the cast and acting is decent, and there's a moment or two of interesting drama, but overall who cares? Nothing original or special or worth bothering with.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

What In the Bleep Do We Know?

Movie: What In the Bleep Do We Know?

Unusual film that's a cross between a documentary and a fictional story as it attempts to explore spirituality through science (quantum physics). A story about a deaf photographer who learns a new perspective that changes her life is at the core of the film and it's intercut with interviews from scientists who talk about quantum physics. Much of the science was familiar to me (though I did discover a few things), but I was disappointed that the film didn't try to explain any science but simply presented it as knowledge (when it's all theory and conjecture). The film does get you to think about complex and deep subjects, however, which is interesting and good, but does seem to have an agenda, which is not so good. I did like the presentation, which is visually interesting and the storyline keeps you involved with what could be a dense topic. Worth seeing, though I'll let you draw your own conclusions.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Running with Scissors

Movie: Running with Scissors

This is one of those films that's a puzzle: it's a fantastic cast with great performances, a wild and unusual story, and wonderful visuals -- yet it falls flat. Why? The problem is that the awkward topic -- crazy people -- while interesting, does not promote cohesiveness or consistency, and while there's humor, the topic is depressing and grim. In the book this works because the humor comes from how things are presented. That is much more difficult to do in film and the humor's lost, making for a depressing movie about bewildering crazy people. Thus it ends up a series of scenes instead of a movie. It's not terrible, but it's not successful either. Stick with the book.


Friday, April 20, 2007


Movie: Fracture

Nicely done. This is a twisty thriller about a seemingly clear-cut crime: a wealthy man shoots his affair-having wife in the head and admits to it when the police arrive. The prosecutor assigned to the case has just accepted a position at a prestigious law firm and isn't focused on the case with a mountain of evidence including a signed confession. But in court things go awry: the gun found on the man had never been fired, the arresting officer was having an affair with the victim, and that man was present during the man's confession. Suddenly the case is in jeopardy and the fiasco might be enough to derail the prosecutor's new job. The resolution is a bit predictable -- I figured it out in the first half -- but it's still a fun ride and the performances are excellent, especially the incomparable Anthony Hopkins as the murderer.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Hot Fuzz

Movie: Hot Fuzz

Fun parody-type film, but seriously done with plenty of unpredictable humor. For instance, you'd expect the main cop to be a violence-prone idiot, but it's the opposite: he's a super-cop, so good that his outstanding arrest record is making the rest of the force (sorry, service) look bad, so he's shipped out to an isolated village as a "promotion." There he uncovers a huge conspiracy and the film concludes with plenty of mindless violence and hilarious action. The plot's purposely overly elaborate and convoluted since this is a parody and at times that slows things down a bit, but it's still plenty of fun. My favorite bit of humor: when the cop goes to see his girlfriend, a crime tech, she and her fellow techs are dressed in identical coveralls and dust masks, and he starts confessing his feelings to her only for her to say she isn't his girlfriend and point to a different identical-looking tech across the room!


Friday, April 20, 2007

Echo Park

Book: Echo Park
Writer(s): Michael Connelly

I can't say I'm crazy about this style of writing: the pace is glacial, almost Dragnet style, with almost every donut eaten and cup of coffee drunk described in depressing detail. Of course it turns out this level of detail is somewhat important, since this is a crime drama, and those details come into play later, but the book takes forever to get going and then keeps on going long after things are resolved. Worse, though the plot is a conspiracy that is significant enough to justify a lot of this time, it doesn't quite make up for it. Next time I'll stick to the condensed version.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Zoom: Academy for Superheroes

Movie: Zoom: Academy for Superheroes

If you want to study what makes a bad film, this would be an ideal candidate. I thought it was low-budget and targeted at kids when I saw the promos, but its technical quality is well above a made-for-DVD release and it's got an impressive cast (Tim Allen, Courtney Cox, Chevy Chase, etc.). The basic concept of the film isn't that bad -- a school for kids with super-human abilities -- and I was surprised to learn it was based on a comic book series. The script even has a little humor and isn't the worst. But somehow nothing comes together. Every joke falls flat, the pacing is jerky and awkward, as though the editors were on speed with they put it together, logic and realism is thrown out the window, everything's a stereotype, and it soon seems as though the film's only reason for existence is to humiliate one-time stars (like Chevy) with dreadfully unfunny scenes like having a skunk spray right in his face. Literally this is probably the worst film I have seen in my entire life. It's unspeakably bad. I'd give it a negative rating if I could.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Woodsman

Movie: The Woodsman

Nicely acted, slow-paced film about a criminal (Kevin Bacon) released on parole and trying to fit back into society. We aren't told his crime initially but we get the dreadful feeling we have an idea and are conflicted. We have sympathy for him but his crime is reprehensible. But is he reformed? Occasionally he acts like it, but other times it's hard to tell and we wonder. He seems to have remorse and worries he will fail again. This culminates in the movie's most dramatic scene where the man is tempted to act and we wonder what he will choose. That's when the predictable takes a twist -- and it's a really cool result. I won't spoil it by explaining it, but trust that this is a serious look at a taboo subject. Well worth your time.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Samantha: an American Girl Holiday

Movie: Samantha: an American Girl Holiday

I did not know anything about "American Girl" dolls prior to this film, but they sound like a neat idea: a line of young girl dolls from various points in history so that children can learn about history by exploring the lives of these doll characters. The "Samantha" doll/character in this movie is a girl from 1904 New York and in the story she befriends a working class girl and learns about the working conditions of child labor in that period. It's well done with impressive acting for such young girls, and the story, while not being profoundly deep, isn't totally smaltzy and has some emotional impact. Definitely the kind of thing you wouldn't mind your daughter watching. The DVD has some interesting extras that explain the whole "American Girl" doll phenomenon.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

Movie: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

Interesting documentary about the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), the organization put together by the big movie studios to rate films. The ratings system is not supposed to be censorship, but it effectly acts like it, by condeming certain films with ratings that mean the film won't get widespread distribution. Worse, the process is a bizarre cloak-and-dagger affair, happening in back rooms in the dark with no public involvement, and where independent filmmakers are given different treatment than big studio films. There's also damning evidence of tremendous inconsistency by the MPAA, where something is allowed in one film but disallowed in another. The part I found most enlightning was that filmmakers, who appealing a ruling of a rating, are not permitted to quote precedent! Knowing what's been allowed in previous films is the only guide filmmakers have to permissible content, so if they make a film that has similar content to another, it should receive the same rating as the older film, right? But when that fails, they are not permitted to use the other film as evidence! Crazy.

Now I do understand some aspects of the MPAA's perspective: rating a film is extremely difficult. Two different edits of a sex scene, for instance, can use the exact same footage but convey a completely different tone depending on how the scene is put together. With that it mind, how do you say that merely showing a particular body part or act is allowed or not allowed? Sometimes the implication of something is more powerful than the graphic depiction. But that said, the MPAA is totally a political organization. They are a lobbyist group and the ratings system was created to keep the government out of film's business.

I agree with the director of this film who said in a Q&A on the DVD that the solution is to get rid of the ratings and just use language description instead. That's totally the answer, though a couple categories -- Under-13 and Under-17 -- should be used as well. That way families know that films in those categories won't have too much of anything bad (the descriptive list would be included so parents could see just what is in those films), but films for adults would just be that. I just wish the director had included a solution like this as part of the documentary. Instead the doc just bashes the MPAA but never offers an answer to the problem.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Perfect Strangers

Movie: Perfect Strangers

This is a film that doesn't seem to know what it is. Unfortunately that's key to its nature: there's a twist at the end that can't be revealed early, so the viewer's in the dark for most of the film. Halle Berry plays an undercover reporter trying to find evidence that a rich ad exec (Bruce Willis) killed her children friend. If they'd left it at that it could have been a could film, but instead they must get overly complicated and throw in some red herrings and a doozy of a twist that comes way out of left field and really ruins anything good the film originally had. Sigh. Don't waste your time.


Friday, April 13, 2007

The Hoax

Movie: The Hoax

Disappointing story about a failed writer who comes up with a crazy scheme: he claims he's been authorized to write recluse Howard Hughes' biography and wants a million dollar advance. It's not badly done, but it's not enlightening either. There's never an explanation of why the writer would do this: it seems unplanned, inept, and a really, really, really stupid idea, but we're just supposed to go along with it that a writer could be that dumb. For example, a big part of the advance money is supposed to go to Howard Hughes and the writer's stumped at how to cash a check not made out to himself! It's a real-life story so maybe it's accurate, I don't know, but I found myself distracted by such stupidity throughout the entire movie. Oh, the film has some mildly interesting scenes when you're wondering when the scam will be uncovered, but it wasn't like I cared about these characters.


Thursday, April 12, 2007


Movie: Ultraviolet

I'd heard this was horrible but I actually found it visually interesting. The plot's waaay over done -- any time you need to start a film with five minutes of narration to establish the situation is a warning sign for trouble -- but the action is fun and the visual effects of the futuristic world are cool. Could have been made into a decent film with a little bit more effort, but it's a mild diversion now.


Sunday, April 8, 2007

Nanny McPhee

Movie: Nanny McPhee

Surprisingly decent children's film about a magical nanny who reforms a family of seven rambunctious children. A bit obvious at times, but has heart and the lessons the children learn and the way they are taught are creative and interesting. For instance, when the children pretend to be sick, Nanny McPhee doesn't expose their plot -- she merely uses her magic to pin them to their beds so they cannot get out of bed and are forced to spend the day in bed eating foul-tasting medicine and chicken broth. By the end of the day, of course, the children are more than ready to admit they aren't sick!


Saturday, April 7, 2007

Wolf Creek

Movie: Wolf Creek

Grim and depressing serial-killer thriller about a group of people stranded in the Australian desert who get help from a seemingly well-meaning creepy, who then tortures and kills them. Well done with some twists that make the simple plot seem more elaborate than it is. Great villain.


Friday, April 6, 2007


Movie: Idiocracy

Two modern-day idiots are frozen as part of an experiment and wake up 500 years in the future to find that humanity has disintegrated into reality TV-watching morons and the two are the smartest people on the planet. It's actually amusing and surprisingly funny -- but it's not exactly high-brow humor. I liked the way the future is portrayed as being run by fast food companies -- sounds about right. Mildly amusing.


Friday, April 6, 2007


Movie: Grindhouse

I've been eager for this for months. Just the idea of a Tarantino-Rodriguez double feature had me sold, and then the previews looked amazing. And guess what? You get exactly what's promoted: two full-length features (about 90 minutes each), plus some fake movie trailers in between that are hilarious and practically worth the price of admission alone. The first feature is Rodriguez' Planet Terror, which takes the zombie flick to a new level. Even for a zombie movie this has got an unbelievable amount of gore and blood. The premise is simple -- a military bio-weapon has been released and except for a handful of survivors, everyone's turning into zombies. Lots of eclectic characters, inventive and gruesome deaths, and pure B-movie adrenaline. Everything climaxes when Cherry, our heroine, who's lost a leg at the knee, is outfitted with a machine gun for a leg -- hilarious! It's so over the top it's brilliant. Wonderful. If you like the premise you'll love the movie. If you don't like the premise, you won't. It's as simple as that. Tarantino's contribution (other than cameos in both films) is called Death Proof and stars Kurt Russell as a stuntman with a "death-proof" car. Unlike the non-stop Terror, this feature has less action with delicate character building that's like the lull before the storm. When the action hits, it's violent and loud and fitting. The story's elegantly simple: Russell stalks beautiful women and kills him with his car, knowing that he'll be the only one to survive the crash and no one can prove it wasn't accidental. But then he picks on the wrong girls -- and the tables are turned. This feature had some of the most realistic dialog I've ever seen in any movie. The four movie girls' conversation was amazingly natural and flawlessly acted -- it's really amost too good for the supposed B-nature thrills of Grindhouse.

I liked both movies a lot. I was a bit worried about the cheapo "bad movie print" effects I'd heard, like grainy and scratchy film and missing reels, but there's just enough of it to be interesting and add dimension without it actually interferring with the film or getting annoying. The only negatives I have is that Death-Proof is a little slow, especially after the frantic chaos of Terror -- perhaps the order of the two films should have been reversed? By the third hour you're really eager for mindless action. The only other negative is that the previews are so detailed that the films have few surprises. Oh, you get what you pay for and expect, which is good, but it felt a little bit like "Yeah, that's what I expected." In other words, there was nothing wrong with it but I felt just the tiniest bit of a letdown -- probably because all the key set pieces are telegraphed in the trailers. Still, this movie is a blast. It's very retro, and the sensationalism of the presentation is just brilliant. Two thumbs up.


Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Reaping

Movie: The Reaping

Going in I figured this would either be really good or really, really bad. Given the sensational premise -- the Old Testament plagues happening again -- I figured there was no way it could be just mediocre. Well, the producers figured out a way. Oddly, though I wanted to totally hate this, I didn't. Most likely that's just the optimist in me seeing some potential. For instance, the main character's a former ordained missionary who, after the loss of her family, has turned her back on God and is now a scientist who travels the world disproving miracles. Lots of potential there. Unfortunately, the film doesn't really develop the idea, except during character setup and toward the end, when the woman has the expected "revelation." I also liked some aspects of the conclusion -- things are wrapped up to sort of make sense. But throughout the film things make so little sense that by the time the "mystery" is revealed you are long past caring. The real problem with the film is that, like so many pseudo religious films, it just makes up its own mythology, and like most invented mythology, it just sucks. It makes no sense and just feels fake. Real mythology is invented gradually, over a long period of time, and thus has a sense of truth at its core. In this case, after assaulting us with lectures on the Old Testaments ten plagues, the film suddenly pulls out some ridiculous "pre-Christ" prophecy (no source given, but hey, the priest's got some medieval-looking books to read from). Even stupider, the "rational" scientist woman, who can't explain away the plagues she's investigating, suddenly accepts this prophecy as truth and is going to act on it. Crazy! Of course the film has more depths to plumb, so it goes further into idiocy by never really explaining the plagues. I mean, their source is revealed, but there's little logic as to why plagues, in particular. Any other kind of supernatural phenomena would have worked just as well -- except that wouldn't have been a movie-selling gimmick. Okay, though it's not the worst movie of all time, it's pretty terrible and I wouldn't recommend it to a lobotomized yak. But like I said, for some reason, I didn't totally hate it. Very odd.


Thursday, April 5, 2007

Champions Cup Semifinal: Houston Dynamo at Pachuca

Soccer: Champions Cup Semifinal: Houston Dynamo at Pachuca

What a terrific game! I missed the first leg of this series as the schedule was changed at last minute, so I didn't get to see Houston win their home match 2-0. Unfortunately, this second leg was at high-altitude in Mexico in front of a packed stadium of soccer-crazy home fans. Houston are still in pre-season (the new MLS season starts on Saturday) and rusty, while Pachuca is in mid-season and firing on all cylinders. Houston got off to a bad start, surrendering a goal just 3.5 minutes in; but the replay showed he goal was offside and shouldn't have counted. That encouraged Pachuca who attacked even more, and by fifteen in Pachua were up 2-0 after Craig Waibel tripped a player in the box and the ref called a penalty kick. But Houston started playing better after that, holding off Pachuca until the second half, when Houston began to play much better and actually put together some attacking runs. When Ching and DeRossario combined to get the ball to an open Brian Mullan, he didn't disappoint, scoring to give Houston the aggregate lead. But it was too much to hope for, as shortly thereafter, the ref gave Pachuca another penalty, this time on a phantom foul (there was no contact). But Houston came right back with a terrific headed goal from Ching, and as the clock wound down it really looked like Houston might advance to the finals. The Pachuca fans were crushed, but their team was resillient, keeping up the tremendous pressure and scoring with just a few minutes left in the game. Now it was 4-4 on aggregat (combined score between the two games). That led to 30 minutes of overtime and an exhausted Houston could hardly walk, let alone run. But somehow they kept in going and DeRo had probably the best chance of the entire game with a point-black header that was miraculously saved one-handed by the diving Pachuca keeper. Then more controversy as the ref didn't blow the whistle at the overtime half-way mark, but allowed Pachuca one more opportunity on goal. As the Houston players dropped off, the player took a wild shot from long range. Everyone -- even the Mexicans, I think -- expected one of those "row Z" shots that miss the goal by a mile. Instead the rocket curled right into the top corner not even giving Houston keeper Zach Wells a chance. Wow. Nice game winner. Unfortunately Houston couldn't score in the second half, though they had a couple chances and nearly tied it on a Ching header. In the end, I can't say either team didn't deserve to advance. This was a game worthy of the final.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Meet the Robinsons

Movie: Meet the Robinsons

Not bad. At times I was worried this was drifting into typical recent-Disney crap where the story's just a loose excuse for lame jokes, but fortunately this came back around with a solid story at the heart. The story's about an orphan boy who is into inventing. Since he's too geeky to get adopted, he decides to invent a memory machine that will help him find his mother who abandonned him as a baby. Then we've got an over-the-top villain (complete with melodramatic black cape, pencil mustache, and yellow-toothed evil grin) who's traveled back in time to sabotage the memory machine, and a young boy time traveler who takes the inventor to the future where he meets the boy's wacky family. Some of the characters, like the toothless Grandpa, seem like excuses for those lame jokes I was talking about, but in the end the inventor boy has to learn a lesson, save the future, and find a family. Not quite up to Pixar standards, but better than recent Disney animations.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Dreaming in Code

Book: Dreaming in Code
Writer(s): Scott Rosenberg

This is a book about a "failed" software venture. It reads like a novel, telling about how Mitch Kapor (Lotus 1-2-3 inventor) formed an open source foundation with the vague goal of creating the ultimate information manager, discovered that was a lot more difficult than it seemed, and three years later they're barely out with a 0.5 release. It's a fascinating read about the difficulties of software creation, looking throughout history and comparing software development to fields like architecture, art, and engineering. Unfortunately, though an interesting read, the book fails to provide any conclusions, and the dramatic story of Kapor's company doesn't end, it just peters out, since Rosenberg didn't want to wait several more years until Kapor's software is actually released. A bit disappointing in that respect, but as long as you aren't expecting a resolution to the story, it's a wonderful intellectual read that will have you asking a lot of questions about how we develop software.


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Science of Sleep

Movie: The Science of Sleep

Normally I like this sort of weird stuff and I'd wanted to see this before it vanished from theatres, but for some reason I just couldn't get into this at all. Utter disinterest. I'm not even sure what it was about. Something about a young Mexican artist moving to Paris after his father died, him struggling with a relationship with a woman, mixed in with lots of bizarre animation and weirdness and periodic television broadcasts from the dream center of his head. It's got some interesting visuals -- some of the funky hand-made animation is cool (like stop-motion cellophane used for flowing water) and I liked the multi-language approach, the way the film would randomly switch between English and French and Spanish -- but everything's so disjointed and illogical, like a dream, that the film cannot hold interest. It's just like hearing someone else tell you, in vague terms, about their dream. Who cares?


Monday, April 2, 2007

Fast Food Nation

Movie: Fast Food Nation

I didn't know much about this except it was based on the non-fiction best-seller. I thought it might be a little like Super Size Me with some drama thrown in. It turned out the whole film is fiction, with overlapping tales of various characters involved in the fast food industry. We meet a corporate executive who's trying to find the truth about the meat his restaurants serve. We follow several Mexicans as they cross the border and get jobs at the dangerous meat packing plant. There's a girl working at the fast food place who gets involved with environmentalists protesting the company's practices. It's an interesting ride, and much of it is very well done. I liked the way many controversial topics were brought up in the course of the film without making it seem like preaching or point-raising. Most of the time it felt natural and just part of the stories. Unfortunately, there isn't much balance in the film. There are occasional comments from characters who are pro-fast food, but the film portrays them as crazy nuts or paid whores of the industry. But mostly the film is simply depressing: it's just scene after scene of horror. For instance, the sympathetic Mexican worker is injured on the job and the corporate bosses claim his blood tested positive for drugs so they won't pay medical claims, his wife has to prostitute herself to the Mexican manager to get a better-paying job at the plant, etc. There's just no hope shown, not an inkling of light anywhere, and that not only makes it a frustrating movie to watch, it makes the film's points seem more like propaganda. Our minds basically just go, "It can't really be this bad!" It could very well be that bad or worse -- I have no idea. But by presenting only one radical perspective, the film invites doubt. In the end, while I found the story entertaining and a few of the points important, I didn't appreciate the film's overt political nature.


Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Quiet

Movie: The Quiet

I wanted to like this: it's directed and photographed with flare and it's got some powerful, dramatic material to work with, but in the end it's a little clumsily handled. The story is about a girl named Dot who's deaf and doesn't speak either. Her mother died when she was seven and her father just passed away, so she's moved in with relatives. Her new "sister" (her cousin) is a popular cheerleader and is unusually cruel to the deaf girl. It was these scenes that bothered me the most: they just felt off, false, almost surreally exaggerated. Yes kids can be mean, but this was meanness of a baser kind, picking on a girl with a disability for no reason other than cruelty.

For instance, in one scene the cruel sister, Nina, encounters Dot in the bathroom. They are alone. Nina's putting on makeup and she tells Dot that she ought to use some makeup to make her prettier. She then says some sweet things that seem genuine: stuff about how she was sorry they hadn't kept in touch since they were kids, etc. What she says as real depth and insight, quite shocking come from the airhead cheerleader. We start to wonder if maybe Nina isn't as bad as we thought. She puts some lipstick on Dot and leaves. Then Dot looks in the mirror and we see her whole mouth is covered in red lipstick like a clown in a nightmare. The reason that scene didn't work for me is that if Nina was smart enough to come up with such insightful thoughts, she could not have been so cruel with her lipstick joke. The two actions contradicted each other and could not come from the same person. If Nina had been less insightful and more cloyingly fake, the scene would have worked. But the writers made her seem too genuine -- more genuine than she could possibly be even for pretend.

The story continues as secrets are revealed: Dot discovers that Nina's perfect life isn't so perfect. She's hiding a terrible secret: her father has been having sex with her. This part of the film I thought was extremely well done. Nina's reactions here were flawless. She's torn between loving her father and hating him. She seeks out his approval with a desperation that's pathetic to see, yet she's filled with rage and frustration at her lack of power in their relationship. The father is horrifying and disgusting yet we understand him: we watch his manipulation of his daughter with a sick dread. All of the characters have secrets: Nina's mother, Nina's best friend, Dot, and Dot's new boyfriend. Interestingly, they all find an outlet with Dot. She can't hear so they talk to her, confess their secrets, and she doesn't say anything. She's like the ultimate priest.

Everything culminates in the planned murder of Nina's father, and the ending worked. Unfortunately, the film as a whole strikes a few wrong chords that make it feel awkward. Much is extremely well done, but there are occasional scenes that don't work or leave a bad taste. Some just seem out of place, like the pig dissection scene in biology class. These are minor but they add up, and in the end you aren't sure if the drama is artificial or real. If the whole film had been done right, with a realistic feel, this could have been a powerful film. As it is it has power, but the power is muted, and it just doesn't quite work. It's an interesting piece, fascinating in many ways, but as a whole it misses the mark. That's unfortunate because it had great potential.