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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:53 pm 
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The Wyler version. I've seen the silent version before and actually quite liked it.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:52 pm 
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^ Speaking of the Wyler Ben-Hur, today I watched the film that should have won Best Picture in 1959 instead of it:

North by Northwest - My first and favourite Hitchcock feature. The plot twists are ingenious and highly influential - I love how Kaplan turns out to be non-existent, and how Roger Thornhill proves to be more adroit than actual spies. The reworking of old concepts (like the mistaken identity plot device) is enthralling, and the quotable dialogue crackles with eloquent wit. Cary Grant oozes charismatic charm and James Mason is the perfect silver-tongued antagonist. Hitchcock seamlessly blends adventure, romance and comedy, and the result is timeless, hysterically funny entertainment with plenty of substance. The editing and cinematography is good too, particularly in the brilliant crop-duster scene, where the Master of Suspense maintains tension and keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat for a whole ten minutes. This film is much more exciting than most modern thrillers put together, and Bernard Herrmann's fast-paced, brassy score is magnificent.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:13 pm 
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Just finished watching Spaceballs, which is always a treat. Though, I gotta say, of the handful of Mel Brooks movies I've seen (which I love), this one seems to have the most dated jokes. The Double Mint Twins, Mr. Coffee jokes left and right, I doubt kids today would get a lot of the humor in this. It's a shame they never made "Spaceballs: The Prequel", because the parody they could have done of the Star Wars prequels is just insane. Actually, for years I had talked with my best friend about this, and we came up with so many ideas, but we never physically wrote them down. If I ever get the time, I will do a "Spaceballs: the Prequel" webcomic.

Of course, they did make an animated series a few years back, though I hear it was terrible. Actually, I think I saw like a few minutes of it once, and yeah, it was pretty bad. It's amazing they never did any Spaceballs merchandise (though, I guess Mel Brooks never did that sort of thing, but a real Yogurt doll would have been fun to have). With all the retro merchandise that comes out these days, I wonder if we ever will see stuff like that.

As for the 50's Ben Hur, I haven't seen it in a long time, but I remember really enjoying it, and even though I LOVE Cary Grant, I seem to remember not being AS impressed by North by Northwest. In truth though, I am not one of the bigger Hitchcock fans. I do love a few of his though. Been a while since I've watched any though.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:05 pm 
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I haven't seen either Ben-Hur, and honestly, I'm not too interested in the 50's version. I like Wyler and all, but it just doesn't seem like it's worth the viewing for me.

Recently I watched 3 somewhat similar comedies done in different pieces, The Odd Couple, Withnail & I, and The Life Aquatic. Not too much for me to say about them at the moment, but I enjoyed them all.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:12 am 
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Always wanted to see The Life Aquatic. Haven't gotten to yet.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:06 pm 
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Harvey (1950) - A comedy about a man whose relatives attempt to have him institutionalised, because of his hallucinations of a six-foot-three rabbit called Harvey. The man, Elwood P Dowd, is an overtly pleasant, friendly and hilariously optimistic character; James Stewart plays the character well, and Dowd is memorable despite being rather one-dimensional. The twist near the end is marvellous, and there are many funny moments; unfortunately, there's a contrived romance between an aslyum doctor and a nurse which makes the film tedious at times, and the cinematography is rather stiff (it feels a bit 'stagey' in several scenes). Despite these flaws, it's still a charming movie and Stewart is a delight from start to finish.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:53 pm 
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Today I watched The Iron Lady and Revolutionary Road. TIL was... okay. Meryl Streep was great, as always, and this was definitely one of her best roles - she rightly took home that Oscar. The film as a whole seemed biased, incomplete, and just lacking in general.

RR was fantastic, I thought. Kate and Leo were wonderful, though it almost seemed like Kate was overacting at times. It was just so depressing and filled with so much melancholic emotion that it was hard to watch at points, especially since I was aware of the outcome. Highly recommended.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:39 am 
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Ratings based on a 5 star method.
[Blue = 1st time rating and/or viewing]

Hugo (2011) ✰✰✰✰
[^ I now see why it won so many awards.]
The Adventures of Tintin (2011) ✰✰✰
[^ I struggled finishing this. Predictable, silly...just one big action mess. Watched it for the Andy Serkis bits and even that didn't convince me.]
The Hunger Games (2012) ✰✰✰1/2
[^ Second viewing. Still think it was a good handling of the material.]
The Muppets (2011) ✰✰✰✰
[^ Had to watch after the depressing Hunger Games. The songs are maddenly ingrained in my head...so I bought the soundtrack.]
Underdog (2007) 1/2
[^ Disney Channel movie. Smirked at the jokes, but it's just a too hokey adaptation of the animated series.]
13 Wishes (2010) 1/2
[^ Disney Channel movie. Didn't expect much, didn't get much. So tired of all High School movies/TV shows.]

John Carter (2012) ✰✰✰
[^ Sad that this movie didn't work. I wanted to like it, and I kinda did. It's complex like Stargate, artistically-driven like Star Wars, action-packed like >insert superhero movie here<...but I think that's why I couldn't completely go with it. The themes and situations have been loved to death in so many films that combining everything together didn't appeal to me. I know that the John Carter/Barsoom books came long before, but this glorious tribute just arrived too late. The century between John Carter's conception and silver screen debut passed him by for shinier space enterprises.]

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:37 am 
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Yesterday's viewings:

Dog Day Afternoon - Although hilarious at times, this is ultimately a tragic story. Al Pacino is terrific in the lead role as bank robber Sonny Wortzik, and Sidney Lumet's direction increases the tension tremendously. John Cazale is good and likable too as Sonny's accomplice Sal, who is unfortunately assumed by the negatively-portrayed authorities to be a violent killer (when in fact Sal is anything but).

On the Waterfront - First time viewing. This powerful drama is driven by three great performances, from Lee J Cobb, Karl Malden and of course Marlon Brando. Cobb is corrupt and loathsome mob boss Johnny Friendly, who controls all the work on the titular waterfront; anybody who 'rats' on him ends up dead. The sister of one of the mob's victims, Edie Doyle (Eva Marie Saint), falls in love with Terry Malloy (Brando), who has been working for Friendly for years. Terry soon strikes back against the mob when his meetings with Edie raise suspicion. Malden appears as a surprisingly heroic priest who attempts to persuade Terry and others to testify against Friendly in court. Brando makes us care for and like the anti-heroic Terry, and even understand his bleak worldview; even though they are mainly different in demeanour, I was sometimes reminded of Paulie from GoodFellas by Cobb's portrayal of Friendly. The energetic Cobb dominates all conversations his character is in, and the hate in his glares is intense and palpable. Brando, Cobb and Malden all express their emotions and characters' feelings with their eyes, showing fear, loathing, determination and pain perfectly. There's some gorgeous lighting as well, occasionally making Brando and Eva Marie Saint little more than dark silhouettes in the grim waterfront world, and the cinematography - especially in the final scene when the camera literally shows things from Terry's eyes, shaking and trembling along with him - is impeccable. The oft-mumbling Brando is sometimes hard to understand, and the romance between Terry and Edie - while not forced - feels formulaic, but these minor problems are forgivable.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:25 pm 
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Cabin in the Woods - I took a tip from the Cinemasnob and went to see this today at the early bird showing. I gotta say, it was one of the coolest movies I've ever seen! Truly! The climax, wow, it was like the ending of Waxwork times 1,000 in awesomeness and horror. That also was the scariest werewolf I've ever seen! I just loved the whole concept though. So cool.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:37 pm 
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Baby Boom (1987 / directed by: Charles Shyer)

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Not much happens, it doesn't seem like it's even trying to be funny, and there aren't any real serious conflicts or drama but... I liked that. And overall, the movie was a short, easy, uncomplicated watch with an actress I liked. And... I really liked the baby. It could have been better but for some reason, I never found myself wanting to turn it off or put something else on.



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King Ralph (1991 / directed by: David S. Ward)

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90 minutes of John Goodman looking like a deer in the headlights. But, I think there's a competition going on here of who can give the most awkward and forced performance with Peter O'Toole largely outdoing Goodman for most why-am-I-here(?) casting. The movie really belongs to Camille Coduri as the shopgirl-by-day, stripper-by-night with-a-heart-of-gold; largely because John Hurt, who makes a truly compellingly slimy and sickening villain, doesn't get enough screentime. She does a wonderful job of conveying exactly what Goodman says his character sees in her (which I don't think I'd be willing to go on record as saying for Halle Berry's character in The Flintstones). As for the story, the dialogue needed a serious re-working and the embarrassment-humor of the movie's many fish-out-of-water scenes was almost unbearable.



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Ghost Dad (1990 / directed by: Sidney Poitier)

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I actually had a lot of fun with this one. I think for anyone who remembers anything about it though, Cosby himself is the weakest link. Bad vibes abound with his character from his psychotically flustered, muffled ranting to that same patronizing attitude toward his children trademark of The Cosby Show. (Sexy) Ian Bannen's Edith-is-a-girl's-name might just be the most pointless and lousy running gag in the history of Hollywood comedy. Oh, and apparently, the teenage daughter is so depressed that all along- she wanted to be dead. Um... o...k..ay. It's something the movie shouldn't have waited until the last pre-credit 5 minutes to bring up but that "dramatic resolution" to her story that really is all about the father instead is pretty worthless. So, it's not good with characters. But there was some fun to be had. I especially smiled when Cosby became a Satanic Agent to the film's rampaging wacko cab driver, Raynor Scheine. And the actors playing Cosby's kids were - for me - more likable than most of the kids on his show. Apart from that, I don't know why I liked most of this movie. But I did.



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For Richer or Poorer (1997 / directed by: Bryan Spicer)

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You know, I really used to love this movie? Now I'm probably likely to remember it as a fascinating colossal disaster. But, if this movie is anything, it's most certainly a disaster. Since I learned Tim Allen is a Republican, everything I see him in is tainted with a deeply irritating sense of smugness. It's literally shocking how much he reminds me of my own father. But my father is funny. Tim Allen is not. He can't do jokes about getting in touch with emotions without sounding like he thinks sensitivity is beneath him, he can't mime a woman's voice without sounding like a jackass, and he can't try to be deep or share a touching moment with anyone without looking like he doesn't understand a thing that's going on. I can't help but feel his true calling was in drama, where he might have been able to work out whatever demons are inside him that make his comedic performances so nasty. But I vividly remember the sequences in Joe Somebody where he was meant to be depressed and he genuinely looked like a person who'd hit rock bottom. Outside and in. He and Kirstie Alley have absolutely zero chemistry. As for the rest of the movie, it's okay. The jokes seem pretty well-written. The camerawork and cinematography are great. The music is nice. The supporting cast are pretty good. Especially Wayne Knight (who has the movie's funniest line... in a blooper), Larry Miller, the underrated Megan Cavanagh (A League of Their Own, Robin Hood: Men in Tights), John Pyper-Ferguson, and the little girl who incessantly follows Kirstie Alley around (I don't remember her character's name). And... is it me, or was Miguel A. Nunez Jr.'s character (the black IRS agent) talking about having sex with Larry Miller when he said "sounds good to me"??? :

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:09 pm 
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The Three Stooges Seems like this was largely a love it or hate it kinda movie, and the haters seem to be largely folks who don't get Stooge humor or are the kind of fans that just don't approve of recreating it today. In other words, folks who decided to hate the film before it even came out. Then, there are the folks who keep saying it should have been a biopic. Apparently, they don't know there was already an excellent (and oft depressing) biopic made for ABC in the 90's. It really did the job sufficiently. Anyway, as for this new film, what can I say. As someone who loves the original Stooges, this is the same thing in a modern setting, and I found it hilarious and true to the spirit of the original Stooges. The actors playing the roles were phenomenal. People bitching that they wanted to see Jim Carrey do Curly... c'mon. That was never a good idea! And, I can't imagine anybody playing the roles better than the three guys actually cast. I was really amazed by Larry, but they were all amazing. Granted, as I have seen Will Sasso a lot on Mad TV, he becomes the most recognizable to me (as he doesn't look totally different, like Larry does from his Will and Grace character), so that can be a tad distracting, but he is still a perfect Curly, so I can deal with it. Oh, and the kids playing the Stooges at age 10, man, they should have their own show! Though, our world would never allow it. After all, the one fail of this new movie is the "don't try this at home" instruction tacked on directly after the final scene by two fake Farrelly Brothers. They should have at least let a bit of the credits role before doing that. Anyway, besides that, overall, I loved this one! If only the Little Rascals movie had pulled off what this film did.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:24 pm 
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Lazario wrote:
90 minutes of John Goodman looking like a deer in the headlights...The movie really belongs to Camille Coduri as the shopgirl-by-day, stripper-by-night with-a-heart-of-gold; largely because John Hurt, who makes a truly compellingly slimy and sickening villain, doesn't get enough screentime.


I'm not certain if you were criticising him for just King Ralph or in general, but John Goodman's a good actor - great even, in Barton Fink and The Big Lebowski. Also, a bit of trivia: did you know that Camille Coduri had a supporting role in Doctor Who a few years ago for several seasons?

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:28 pm 
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Lazario wrote:
And... is it me, or was Miguel A. Nunez Jr.'s character (the black IRS agent) talking about having sex with Larry Miller when he said "sounds good to me"??? :

It always seemed that way to me. I remember re-watching that film when I got older (for Kirstie Alley) and being shocked. Was not expecting to find that in a Tim Allen film. :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:14 pm 
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Some movies I watched the last weeks:

Dune - not the 1984 film (who is a real stinker according to Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert) but a mini-series based on the same science fiction novel. So I was looking for Sting in vain. Slow moving, with actors dressed in the most curious outfit solemnly stating their lines. Amusing in several ways but too long.

Mother and child - a much better movie. Three stories about motherhood an parentage come together.

The curious case of Benjamin Button - third time I watched this. Still a wonderful movie that makes me ponder about the meaning of life.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:57 pm 
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Shame - What a fantastic movie. Both Fassbender and Mulligan are great as Brandon and Sissy, respectively, and in the end, both of their performances evoke such sadness that it's really quite moving. It's not even about the sex addiction, really (like, at all). There was one point in the film in which you can see the pity, sadness, and pain in Fassbender's eyes that I literally said out loud that this was one of the saddest things I've seen in a film. It's definitely not a film I'll be watching over and over again, but it's definitely a significant film and I wish it could have been recognized during the award season.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:46 pm 
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Dr Frankenollie wrote:
I'm not certain if you were criticising him for just King Ralph or in general

Just King Ralph. But, even then, doesn't it seem like I'm criticizing the direction more for just making him look like an absurd buffoon. I didn't even buy his redemption in the movie's resolution, everything he did was completely tarnished by that paralyzed stupor he spent the majority of the movie in. In fact, the second I read your reply (2 days ago), I was thinking of making a YouTube video compiling just a minute's worth of his wide-eyed, sweat-stained, heavy-breathing reaction shots - just to show you how many there are. He pulls one in 9 out of every 10 of his scenes. (And I was going to score it to "Dance of the Hours.")

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:10 am 
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^ I wish you had made that video. It sounds funny.

The Matrix - After being encouraged to watch this by several people, I finally did and...I hated it. The concept is good, but it's handled really poorly. It goes without saying that Keanu Reeves is an awful, one-dimensional actor, and most of the other actors are pretty bad as well (although Laurence Fishburne does add a feeling of gravitas in a few scenes as Morpheus). The special effects and action scenes are focused upon much more than the story and characterisation, and while they are well-choreographed, they're not as innovative and original as many have claimed. Moreover, the romance between Neo and Trinity is contrived, pointless, and lacking in chemistry completely (the fact that Neo is brought back to life with a kiss is also quite laughable). Not enough time is spent in the Matrix itself, so the Wachowski Brothers evidently broke the screenwriting rule "show, don't tell"; we rarely see that Neo notices something wrong with the world, we're just told he does by Morpheus. Much of the fighting in the third act is unnecessary and overlong, and I was a little disgusted by the heartless way Neo and Trinity gunned down innocent guards (remember, if you die in the Matrix, you die in the real world). It just came across as badly directed/written and was very disappointing.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - One of the reasons this film is so impressive is that it makes hours fly by like minutes. It's a mesmerising film, and the chemistry between actors, realistic dialogue and funny scenarios makes it very entertaining. The ending - from Nurse Ratched's discovery of her ward after a party and to the final moments - manages to be both heartbreaking but uplifting. Jack Nicholson is marvellous inwhat initially appears to be a charismatic clown act, but as Randle P McMurphy becomes a hero to the other inmates on his asylum ward, Nicholson's performance becomes all the more powerful. Louise Fletcher is incredibly chilling as Nurse Ratched, and her intense cold stares are some of the most memorable moments in the film. Brad Dourif imitates a stammer very realistically, and Danny DeVito, William Redfield, Christopheer Lloyd, Will Sampson and Sydney Lassick are all incredible. Heck, the entire cast should have received acting nominations. Milos Forman's direction is as good here as it is in Amadeus, and also like in that film, Cuckoo's Nest is full of sublime characterisation.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:22 pm 
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Saw Cabin in the Woods a second time. Rarely see movies in theaters more than once, so that says a lot about how much I loved it.

Also, watched The Rapture last night. Here come the spoilers, if you haven't seen it. It's this Mimi Rogers film about a woman who in the beginning is a call center employee by day and a swinger by night, but is discontent with her lifestyle. She overhears some co-workers discussing a dream they are having about the end of the world coming soon, and she is curious and wants to be a part of it. Eventually, we see her struggling to become "Christian", and finally it seems she has succeeded and even converted one of her old swinger buddies, whom she married and has a kid with. They are now heavy into this group of Christians awaiting the rapture, and things really start to hit the fan after that for her, personally. She basically gets the impression she had to taker her daughter out into the dessert and wait for god, but they get tired of waiting and she kills her daughter to movie things along, and then the rapture (though it's more like judgement day here) happens, and she is asked if she loves God, because that is the only requirement for her to go to Heaven and be with her family, but she refuses to say yes, being stuck forever in the dark, wasteland landscape of purgatory.

This was a really interesting film. First, if you are anti-religious stuff, this is not like a Left Behind movie or anything like that. In fact, a lot of non-religious folk consider this to be an anti-religion movie. However, one of the interesting things about it is that some religious folks find it to support their beliefs. It's funny like that. Myself, having become agnostic over the past few years, I find it to be pretty open on this issue. Perhaps the writer did have a specific message for one side or the other here, but if so, I'd say that's unsuccessful, because this movie comes off to me as something very open to interpretation as far as what it is supporting. Another big question (which affects that "whose side is this movie on" question to some degree) is the question of whether or not the supernatural aspects of this film are really happening or are all inside the lead character's mind as she goes through a sort of breakdown. I tend to get the impression the events are really happening, but I suppose it could go either way and is a powerful film no matter what (but, in my opinion, more interesting if it is really happening, which perhaps is why I choose to see it that way). At any rate, it's a fascinating and thought-provoking film. I prefer for so many things not to be left open to interpretation (whether that was intentional or not), because that can really muddy the message if there is one, but I gotta love this movie for its crazy imagery during the judgement stuff. That stuff is just dark and twisted and fascinating, even if it was super low-budget in this film. That stuff was really well done and this whole story was very interesting. I don't love that it doesn't make it clear if this was mostly madness or not, but I do like that its message was (intentional or not) mostly a matter of taking away what you put into it.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:04 am 
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A Stolen Life (1946) last night on TCM.


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