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PsycoticMastermind
PsycoticMastermind
Thought Provoker
United States
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Joined 20th Mar 2015
Forum Posts: 209

Insanity

is doing the same thing
over and over and
expecting different results

 
You can thank Albert Einstein
for popularizing said phrase  
 
before mental illness itself
was thrust into the spotlight  
of American consciouness
 
premiering as topic of conversation
after Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho  
inspired water conservation  
as it prompted 1960 moviegoers
when alone in their homes
to avoid shower curtained bathtubs
 
Gus Van Sant's 1998 remake
of the black and white classic
despite having a different cast
was likewise brutally savaged
in fashion similar to Marion Crane
by all manner of geniuses
 
Pointless!  
was the consensus
because scene for scene
the film was almost identical  
to the original  
 
but this cinematic "experiment"
proved fruitful, redefining
insanity, summing it up
into a single word for all those  
hypocrit'ics:


 
Broadway


Written by PsycoticMastermind
Go To Page  


Someone informed me that Is this where movie talk in verse format is to be posted.

If this is not true, you are welcome to eat me.

poet Anonymous


Malignant

The first thing I noticed about Malignant, James Wan’s new shocker, is how cheesy it is. Consciously so, to a point where it’s clear that on some level it’s deliberate. The film opens on a cliffside asylum, on a dark and stormy night, one of those movie asylums modelled on haunted medieval castles. (Because there’s no place more soothing to the damaged psyche than one which looks it’s about to host a very real production of Macbeth.) You’ll see a lot of kitschy sets throughout Malignant. A doctor and her team are menaced by a supernatural presence they’ve been keeping locked up, and then we cut to Madison (Annabelle Wallis). She’s a pregnant woman whose husband, Derek (Jake Abel), knocks her about and is straight out of a Stephen King novel. (He drinks, watches wrestling, and wears a plaid shirt. That he’s played by a male model as opposed to a hairy trucker is a minor variance.) He’s the type who’s only attentive to his wife when he’s finished hitting and needs her to forgive him. Thankfully he’s quickly despatched, though a traumatised Madison ends up on the PD’s radar when she discovers that she’s psychically linked to a serial killer. As the late Chicago critics Siskel and Ebert used to say: Don’t you just hate when that happens?

I won’t say much more about the plot, because this is the type of film where a part of the charm is letting it spring one bonkers twist after another on you. I’m at least equally as interested in the presentation, anyway. A lot of films over the last twenty years have tried to recreate the B-movie charm of ‘70s, ‘80s, and even ‘90s films, with at best mixed success. One of the best is the much maligned but clever and entertaining slasher-cum-muscle-car film Death Proof, directed by Quentin Tarantino and one half of the Grindhouse double bill from 2007, alongside Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. That film, though, still had Tarantino’s artistic fingerprints all over it, to such a degree that it was ultimately more a Tarantino film than one legitimately in the genres it references.

Malignant, on the hand, is so effective in its recreation of a kitsch, pulp aesthetic that if you ran it through a filter so that it looked like it was shot on actual film, and removed a few modern devices like smartphones, it would arguably be indistinguishable from something shot during the VHS era. It’s acting and dialogue are pitched at a comedically exaggerated level, as are its bombastic score, locations, and even wardrobe. It would be easy to dismiss the acting and writing as just bad, but it’s very entertaining. And if you pay attention to what you’re watching it becomes clear that it’s a stylistic choice, not a mistake. Madison lives in a Gothic shriek of a house, more like the Bates Motel or Texas Chain Saw farmhouse than a suburban dwelling for a young and upwardly mobile couple.

The PD, meanwhile, has a high-ceilinged and windowed incident room that looks more like a college library. It’s reminiscent of similar layouts from ‘90s cop films, back when tobacco-smoke fogged the air and there were notice boards everywhere. You can tell that it’s going to host a highly choreographed action scene as soon as it appears.

The film’s most memorable sequence, however, is set in a women’s holding cell. It’s a triumph of camp and macabre. The costumes and caricatures are straight out of a ‘70s film, with Afro’d women in disco flares and mullet-ed lesbians.

Conceptually and in execution, it rides the line between horror and humour more successfully than many “classics” of the B-movie genre. At one point the killer seems to be dancing through its enemies like the cell has become a dance floor in Saturday Night Fever. It’s a riot, gross and funny.

Our detectives trying to figure out what’s going on are Kekoa (George Young) and Regina (Michole Briana White). The very handsome Young provides the sex appeal, as does Madison’s sister, Sydney (Maddie Hasson), a gorgeous aspiring actress who has a chaste flirtation with Kekoa. White hits exactly the right notes as Regina, providing the relatable and no-nonsense voice of reason that all films like Malignant have, though funnier and more self-aware with White.

Going back to the plot, I guessed the rough direction that it would go in on seeing that title: Malignant. A film about a woman left hospitalised by a malignant presence, which might be inside her. Think about it. It’s still surprising though, with lots of twist, each one marked by a cheesily effective swell in the score.

Malignant is my favourite James Wan film to date. It’s an almost perfect Halloween movie, so its September release date is a shame. It’s more seasonally appropriate than Halloween Kills, yet another in a franchise that stopped being great before its second entry. Great Halloween films are harder to make than you might think. I always disliked that the Saw sequels became a Halloween tradition, due to their grubby and narrow, torture-porn aesthetic. Like Christmas films, a true Halloween film requires some seasonal cheer. It can be as gory as it likes - the more so the better, in some cases - but it should also be amusing, escapist, and colourful. It should have weird costumes and at least somewhat practical effects, funny bits, high-pitched acting, and memorable characters. It should be somewhere between panto and Gothic horror. Malignant achieves that, and I think I love it.

3/4

poet Anonymous


Dune (1984)

In preparation for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune 2021, to be released in the UK on October 22nd, I decided to take the opportunity to see David Lynch’s original 1984 adaptation on the big screen. Unfortunately, it’s not one of those infamous box-office and critical flops which are misunderstood masterpieces. Every snarky review and unsold ticket was justified. Based on Frank Herbert’s seminal science-fiction novel of the same name, Dune chronicles a feudal conflict in outer space as various planets ruled by noble families fight for dominion over Arrakis, a desert planet on which is harvested a spice so powerful that it can “fold space”. (i.e. transport you instantaneously from one part of space to another.) Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) is a duke’s son, of a house destined to rule Arrakis and control the spice harvest. That is unless the dastardly house of Harkonnen and its vile Baron (Kenneth McMillan), engaged in convoluted court politics, have anything to do with it. The film is narrated by Irulan (Virginia Madsen), daughter of universal Emporer Shaddam IV (José Ferrer), though to little effect since the plot is impenetrable except in the broadest sense. This is the type of ambitious but unsuccessful fantasy film where the more that's explained to you, the less you understand. Its plotting is so mangled at times that important characters like Paul’s lover (Sean Young) are barely introduced, while others like his mother seem to come and go in the narrative without rhyme or reason. The hero’s courtship of his bride should be a huge point in a sweeping romantic fantasy like Dune, yet I struggle to recall what the bride even looks like, or if she has any meaningful dialogue. She's on the poster, for God’s sake, yet for all that she’s in the finished product she might as well be credited as “third assistant to Mr Lynch”.

Furthermore, the film constantly broadcasts its characters’ thoughts, in simplistic declarative statements, largely expositional in function. (“I like this duke.” “Is he the one?”) It’s a classic show-and-tell problem. Instead of showing us who its heroes and villains are through their speech and actions, the film simply gives us their internal monologues. This precludes any interest in either what’s happening or what happens next, reducing the characters to pallid parts of a screenplay, as opposed to people with distinct personalities.

The characters are the simplest and most reductive of types, anyway. I’d say that the villains are straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon, but even that genre bothers with a little shading or mystery in the sketches. Here, the wicked Harkonnens are floating bags of psoriasis, hate, and predation, a people so stupid and ugly that it’s a wonder they ever became a force to be reckoned with in this universe. It’s been said by certain film scholars that The Baron’s characterisation is homophobic, and there’s truth to that. Dune was released during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, and it depicts its villains as effete men who salivate over beautiful male bodies. This includes one scene where a blond Sting steps out in what is essentially an electric-blue thong, his body oiled and glistening, like Rocky in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). (I don’t mind saying that this was my favourite bit of the film.) At one point The Baron spits on a captive, a moment reminiscent of media panics of the period, around the transmission of AIDS via bodily fluids. Since the Harkonnens are such dim-witted caricatures, however, any dodgy subtext is hardly worth parsing. Who cares what the pantomime baddies do in bed?

Dune ‘84 is a bit like Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), in that its screenplay is so convoluted that you eventually give up trying to understand, and just regard it as a fight between obvious goodies and baddies. Except that Dune might be worse. Menace at least occasionally paused for an imaginative landscape or non-expositional character moment, and wasn’t broadcasting everyone’s thoughts all the ruddy time. At no point did Qui-Gon Jinn’s inner monologue interrupt a fight scene to say ‘I don’t like this Darth Maul chap!’ You know you're in trouble when your writing’s clunkier than George Lucas’.

Still, the deadening exposition and ultimate failure of Dune are likely due to studio interference more than Lynch. David Lynch is arguably one of the least expository directors to work in the mainstream. Anyone who’s seen his Eraserhead, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, or INLAND EMPIRE knows that he’s not all that fussed about explaining his plots to his audience. I’d be more inclined to believe that pigs can fly than that he decided to add either the prologue by the Emporer’s daughter, her periodic narration, or any of the inner monologuing.

These seem a lot more like De Laurentiis decisions. I tend to cringe whenever I see the name De Laurentiis in a film’s credits, almost as much as when I see the name Weinstein. While the Dino De Laurentiis Corporation has produced some enjoyable and even classic genre films in its time, Dino himself has also been responsible for creatively offensive abominations like Hannibal Rising (2007) and, well, this. I can picture him looking at a property like Frank Herbert’s Dune, with all its weird mysticism and historical trappings crossed with sci-fi concepts, and seeing its market potential while not trusting the audience to understand any of it.

The score is easily the best part of the production. It's haunting and mystical, giving a rich atmosphere to scenes that don't deserve it. The “Dune Prophecy” is so good it's included as an audio clip on the film’s Wikipedia page. The score is the only reason I’ve rated this film a 1.5 instead of 1.

None of the acting stands out as anything special since like the plot and characterisation it gets lost in the mess of a screenplay. MacLachlan is broadly effective as a naive young man who finds his inner strength and becomes a leader of men. Patrick Stewart is Patrick Stewart. Charismatic as always, though not really in service of anything. Character actors Brad Dourif and Linda Hunt are wasted in cannon-fodder roles. Alicia Witt gets the film’s best scene as a psychic little girl who menaces and battles the grown-ups around her. Sting is quite fun as an unblinking and narcissistic Harkonnen warrior. For a film that's so homophobic in parts of its subtext, it's a lot more concerned with admiring Sting’s body than any of the women’s.

Though it's supposedly a story about religion, politics, power, and intrigue, what you ultimately get in Dune is the shallowest, junkiest form of pulp fiction, without even enough camp to make it endearing on that level. I knew that it wouldn't be great going in, but I was expecting a certain ramshackle charm to the material, in line with other bonkers ‘80s sci-fi and fantasy films. There are moments of camp, like MacLachlan riding a sandworm while rock music blares in the background and the aforementioned scene with Alia, which comes right at the end of the film. But these are few and far between, leaving you with acres of dull, confusing, expository scenes, executed with cheap special effects.

1.5/4

JohnnyBlaze
JohnnyBlaze
Tyrant of Words
United States
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Wowzers. Whatever little desire I had to see "Dune", you just killed it. But ... that is such a killer review, I'm now tempted more than ever to see it  and how much of what you say rings true.

poet Anonymous

I'd still say see it. I think it's important to watch the famous flops as well as the masterpieces.

poet Anonymous

Insanity

is doing the same thing
over and over and
expecting different results

 
You can thank Albert Einstein
for popularizing said phrase  
 
before mental illness itself
was thrust into the spotlight  
of American consciouness
 
premiering as topic of conversation
after Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho  
inspired water conservation  
as it prompted 1960 moviegoers
when alone in their homes
to avoid shower curtained bathtubs
 
Gus Van Sant's 1998 remake
of the black and white classic
despite having a different cast
was likewise brutally savaged
in fashion similar to Marion Crane
by all manner of geniuses
 
Pointless!  
was the consensus
because scene for scene
the film was almost identical  
to the original  
 
but this cinematic "experiment"
proved fruitful, redefining
insanity, summing it up
into a single word for all those  
hypocrit'ics:


 
Broadway


Written by PsycoticMastermind
Go To Page  
PsycoticMastermind said:

Someone informed me that Is this where movie talk in verse format is to be posted.

If this is not true, you are welcome to eat me.


It belongs here more than it does anywhere else!

PsycoticMastermind
PsycoticMastermind
Thought Provoker
United States
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Joined 20th Mar 2015
Forum Posts: 209

The_Silly_Sibyl said:

It belongs here more than it does anywhere else!


You're too kind. I'm sure there are more in my freezer that could be defrosted.

poet Anonymous


No Time to Die

British critics have been going bananas over No Time to Die, doling out 5 star reviews like they’re a limited resource post-Brexit, and I’m not sure why. The temptation is to psychologise. To speculate that in both a post-COVID and post-Brexit Britain, a straightforward Bond film with some action, some melodrama, and a sense of humour is a big, warm hug. That’s great, if true, and I wouldn’t deny them that pleasure if I could. I’m just curious about how well this film would have been received if it had come out five, even two years ago. My suspicion is that it would probably have gotten positive reviews. It’s a big improvement on SPECTRE and better than Skyfall, though I didn’t personally care all that much for Skyfall anyway. But I don’t think that it would have been quite as acclaimed as it has been in the British press.

The plot is in more traditional Bond film territory. A facially disfigured, quasi-religious terrorist steals a bio-weapon from a secret laboratory. Meanwhile, a weaselly Russian scientist is bandied about between warring factions, from the CIA and MI6 to SPECTRE and the terrorist’s cult. James is pulled out of retirement to do... something or other. Trace the scientist, I think. He seems to be pulled out just so he can be rudely told by M (Ralph Fiennes, balding and in a two-piece suit, like a High Tory MP) that his services aren’t needed, right before being told that his services are needed.

No Time to Die’s first half is better than its second. The cold open is admittedly fantastic, almost perfect. It begins with a snowbound house on a frozen lake, as a troubled woman and her young daughter are stalked by an assassin in an opera mask. It’s thrilling, creepy, and mysterious. Then we segue to Bond and his bride in the Italian city of Matera. Their honeymoon is cut short in another brilliant, and brilliantly daffy sequence, with bike stunts, car chases, and even an exploding tombstone. Director Cary Fukunaga takes full advantage of the winding and narrow Italian stradas, lonely squares, and religious processions.

This tone continues throughout the first half, making up for a rather dreary Billie Eilish song for the opening credits, and prepared me to love this last hurrah for Daniel Craig’s Bond. The plot is suspenseful and just the right sort of bonkers. This part of the story is clearly just having fun, like one sequence that had me hooked, where a gathering of SPECTRE’s agents swill champagne and chuckle malevolently at a Cuban nightclub, watching as Bond appears to be targeted by a bioweapon.

I was impressed by the amount of intrigue built up in the plot, when you consider that Bond films of late have lurched between lazy template jobs and just Really Bad Ideas. (SPECTRE’s plot was ripped from Austin Powers in Goldmember. Seriously. Look up the similarities. I totally believe that it was accidental on the part of SPECTRE’s makers, but that kind of makes it worse.)

There’s a fair amount of humour in the script, of a corny and self-parodic sort usually seen in superhero films. You can see comedy writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s positive influence on the script. Given Bond’s roots, the films tend to have a laddish and punning sort of humour, famously parodied in the Austen Powers trilogy. At least one pun that Roger Moore would have been proud of sneaks through, but thankfully the laddishness is toned down. The humour is more rooted in character and situation, as opposed to sexual innuendo, and all the better for it.

Midway through No Time to Die, however, its exciting and self-aware tone starts to turn brittle and fall apart. I’d say it starts with the death of a recurring character in a way that feels weirdly unceremonious. The atmosphere grows turgid, more like that of a generic action film, the plot gets too convoluted and arbitrary to really care about, and suddenly it’s all very somber, no longer fun.

Which is a shame because Rami Malek only really shows up in the second half, and he gives it his all as the main villain in the relatively few scenes he’s in. He’s sinister and deeply wounded, a bundle of neurotic affectations. He doesn’t shout or scream, never seems to even raise his voice, but speaks in a soft and insinuating manner reminiscent of Bela Lugosi in the black-and-white Dracula films.

Unfortunately, he suffers from a similar problem to Javier Bardem’s in Skyfall. The main reason I disliked Skyfall was because its villain made little sense. Bardem’s a great actor and probably the best thing about that film, some set-pieces aside, but his role’s clearly written in the style of “he’s crazy, so we don’t need to give him a thought-out motivation.” Instead you get a lot of Freudian nonsense about Judi Dench’s M as a tortured mother figure, a dollop of gay panic stuff where the bleach-blond Bardem ties Bond to a chair and feels him up, and a final confrontation between Bardem and Dench that seems to negate the whole point of the plot we’ve just spent two hours watching.

Malek isn’t that cringeworthy, probably because he doesn’t get much time to be. But like Bardem, after an exquisite opening villain-speech, filled with venomous and utterly insane self-belief, he drifts into vague motivations and rambling.

The love plot between Bond and his bride (Léa Seydoux) feels appropriately fraught and tragic at first, yet doesn’t convince in any way after that because the female character just isn’t drawn with any depth. Why did Bond make the unwise decision to fall for her? Beyond the obvious, that she looks like a Hollywood actress, I dunno. The romance stuff might be the weakest part of the film. Even in the excellent prologue you can see that there’s not much there besides looking sexy in an oversized tee, and really anything she wears. Characters in big, bombastic spy films don’t need to be Shakespearean, but a little bit of something would have been helpful. She’s a psychiatrist, her father was a villain, and she loves Bond. That’s really all you get.

Compounding the problem is that there’s at least two other female characters who’d have made a more sparkling romantic pairing. Lashana Lynch plays the agent taking over the 007 role in Bond’s retirement. She’s strong and truculent, but reveals a more loyal side over time. Ana de Armas is cute and funny in her scene as a newly minted Cuban spy. Either of these woman would have been a perfect love interest, Lynch providing a verbal (and physical) sparring partner, or de Armas light-hearted humour. The point is that they have independent personalities off of which Bond could have played. Seydoux, by contrast, is probably a good actress, but sparsely characterised outside cliches of female strength and attraction to Bond.

Though on the latter point, who can blame her? Seydoux is 36 and Daniel Craig 53, but at no point do we get anything like the uncomfortable cringe of Roger Moore pawing Grace Jones in A View to a Kill, the 57-year-old man looking like a randy old tycoon who’s been gifted a twentysomething woman. Craig’s sex appeal only deepens as he ages. Maybe when he’s 93 it will have worn off, but right now he exudes it like a scent, from his burnished blond hair to sardonic pout and abs that make me feel funny inside.

No Time to Die is half a very good movie and half an average one. If it had lived up to the promise of its first half - and successfully resolved all those wonderful, theatrical plot threads - it would have been a great film. Instead, it lapses into incoherence and mawkishness. But that’s okay. It's still the second-best Craig Bond after Casino Royale, still engaging for just about all of its nearly three-hour runtime (though my legs were going numb in the cinema; whatever happened to intermissions?), and often funny. It's just a shame that Craig spent it wearing clothes. Okay, that's a quibble only I and a few other queers would have.

3/4

JohnnyBlaze
JohnnyBlaze
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End Of Day(s ..... And Their Evil Dead Ways)

   
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,    
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,    
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,    
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
   
~ Thomas Gray "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"    
   
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day    
Ghoulish wights glare from hidey holes chillingly    
My chainsaw and boomstick readied to slay    
Deadite's Army of Darkness in mass killing spree    
   
"Let's rock'n'roll," I arrogantly say    
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea    
Necrotic slumber o'er, they lumber my way    
Smell of death and decay wafting o'er me      
   
Cunning? Plain chicken in my Olds Delta Eighty-Eigh-    
*thud* gunning gas pedal, lead footed, intensely    
The plowman homeward plods his weary way    
Putrid bodies exploding, I plowed the road free    
   
Sped like a bat out of hell, for which no one prayed      
Abandoned *thump* by Jesus Christ! everything holy    
God fled this era of witchcraft while I fucking stayed?!    
and leaves the world to darkness and to me  
 
 
Written by JohnnyBlaze
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MaryWalker
MaryWalker
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Marion's Revenge

           
Another young, dumb, rich cunt, eh ..?            
             
You FUCK, YOU kill            
what you can't control            
     
Manipulate others to fill              
your shallow pond scum soul           
             
Gaslighting, thrill at first so exciting            
           
as she slowly breaks              
until the process takes too long    
because same as I am still     
she's strong and spiritful            
             
This time around, you'll be    
the corpse rotting in the ground            
             
Now look into the eyes  
of my screaming skull            
             
             
 
Written by MaryWalker
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PsycoticMastermind
PsycoticMastermind
Thought Provoker
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Scream Queen

   
chop chop chop chop  
kill kill kill kill       
chop chop chop ---
STOP!    
And help me understand    
or am I the only one    
who wonders why    
the Boogeyman's sister    
refuses to die    
after forty years?!    
   
 
 
Written by PsycoticMastermind
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Northern_Soul
Northern_Soul
-Missy-
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England
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Which is a shame because Rami Malek only really shows up in the second half, and he gives it his all as the main villain in the relatively few scenes he’s in. He’s sinister and deeply wounded, a bundle of neurotic affectations. He doesn’t shout or scream, never seems to even raise his voice, but speaks in a soft and insinuating manner reminiscent of Bela Lugosi in the black-and-white Dracula films.

Y’know… I was really disappointed with the most recent Bond offering. I went the other night with Hubs and I have to say Rami Malek was one of the few things that kept my interest.  

Some of the cinematic shots in Spectre / Skyfall were memorable and lustrous. In fact there were shots in those films that could have been mistaken for a Refn directorial. This however … really gave me nothing.

I found the story quite weak. It didn’t really go anywhere. In my personal opinion I think it’s the weakest of all of Craig’s Bond performances. Hubs said the same thing to me on leaving the cinema, and he’s the biggest Bond fan going.

And I second the clothes complaint. It’s one of the main reasons I agree to put myself through a Bond film on the big screen. 😂

Casted_Runes
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I found Malek more sympathetic than Bond, in a weird way, though that might just be me.

Northern_Soul
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Bond is kind of a psychopath tho… I remember Craig saying that himself in an interview, and one can’t really disagree 😂

Casted_Runes
Casted_Runes
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Northern_Soul said:Bond is kind of a psychopath tho… I remember Craig saying that himself in an interview, and one can’t really disagree 😂

Maybe, although Craig is definitely one of the cuddlier Bonds

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