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The Silverscreen Revue
Reel Cool Movies That You May Have Scene
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7th-Mar-2008 04:50 pm - The Lives of Others

            When the German film The Lives of Others won at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony for Best Foreign Language film, I think everyone was pretty surprised.  It was up against Pan’s Labyrinth, and even though I hadn’t seen either at the time of the awards, I (along with I’m pretty sure everyone else) suspected that ‘Pan’s’ would win.  When Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s name was called (and what a great name it is) and it was announced that The Lives of Others or, in German, Das Leben der Anderen, I knew then that it must have been pretty good to beat out a much more main stream foreign film.  So, when I saw that the film was coming to the newly opened Amherst Cinema I thought I would probably go see it.  But, I knew I would definitely not miss it when fellow movie enthusiast and Climax writer Dan Clarendon and I were invited to an advanced screening – free of charge!  So, first of all, going to see a complicated German subtitled film at 10:30 in the morning seemed at first to be pretty hard, but once I got into the story and the characters, I woke up and really enjoyed it.

            The Lives of Others stars Ulrich Muhe (who looks a lot like Kevin Spacey!) playing a police officer who sets up camp listening into the conversations of a dramatist couple, played by Sebastian Koch and Martina Gedeck, who are also members of the Socialist party.  The eavesdropping job starts out as purely business, but slowly over the course of the film becomes somewhat of an obsession. 

            The one thing that really struck me about this film was the use of color.  Or, the lack of color, I suppose.  Throughout the entire film jackets, houses, wallpaper, cars, everything, is a gray-blue color.  The kind of light that makes everything look really cold and dreary.  Really the only place in the film that actually had some different shades was in the apartment of the couple being spied on.  This of course, in relating it back to the police officer (the one who looks like Kevin Spacey), meaning for him that it was really the highlight of his life.  He had no family, no real social life, so in listening to these people throw parties, have sex, eat dinner, etc, it was like he was living their life with them.  And for him, this was making his life more colorful. 

            The other thing making the film certainly more colorful was the gorgeous music, composed by Gabriel Yared (Cold Mountain, The English Patient).  Beautiful orchestrations added so much depth and complexity to each scene it was accompanying. 

            Overall, a really well-done, enjoyable film.  I’d definitely recommend for you to check it out when it hits the Amherst Cinema this month.  Watching the lives of actors play other people is cool enough, but watching actors, whose job it is to also watch actors = very cool. 

 

WAY-COOL MOVIE TRAILER TO WATCH:  Penelope.  Christina Ricci is a cursed, disfigured girl who, in order to break the curse, needs to find someone of “her own kind” to love her.  Apparently, “her kind” is Scottish actor James McAvoy.  Hey, that’s weird; he’s totally my kind too!  I bet he’s also your kind.  Go check at http://www.apple.com/trailers

7th-Mar-2008 04:46 pm - Brick

Rock solid.

 

          Drugs.  Crime.  High school?  Yeah, high school.  All this and more in the film noir Brick, written and directed by Rian Johnson (Evil Demon Golfball from Hell!!)  My wonderful mod-mate Merritt ordered the movie during an online shopping spree which took place a few weeks ago, and last week I finally curled up in my bed with my laptop and some popcorn and watched it.  I wasn’t really sure of what it was about when I started watching it, so I didn’t really know what to expect, and still, after watching it once, I feel I’d need a second or third viewing to get everything to sink in, and to catch things that I missed during round one. 

            So, Brick takes place in a California high school over the course of say, 5 or 6 days.  It was sort of hard to imagine because, although most of their day was spent at school, nobody actually ever went to class.  It was just like lunch lasted all day long.  The movie is about an underground high school crime ring and their involvement with the disappearance of a girl who we know is dead right from the beginning.  The only other person who knows she is dead is the main character who is also her ex-boyfriend, who finds her dead under a bridge.  He goes through the movie investigating the crime, trying to figure out what happened to her by getting close with the people in the crime circle and meeting up with people who knew her.  The movie stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (10 Things I Hate About You), Emilie de Ravin (TV’s Lost), Lucas Haas (Everyone Says I Love You), and Nora Zehetner (Point of Origin). 

            The thing I loved most about this movie was the dialogue and the way it was all delivered.  The way they delivered their lines made me think they were putting on a Shakespeare play.  Their words were so eloquent and well written that it sounded more like poetry rather than lines and sentences.  Once in a while, it even sounded like there was a bit of a rhyme to their words.  I have read some feedback from the movie where people complained that the entire film was like watching a high school play.  While I disagree with that part, I would say that it sounded like one.  But I think all for the better.  I loved listening to them because it did really remind me of Shakespearean dialogue.

            Brick was both written and directed by Rian Johnson, and it shows.  Every part of this film was very fluid, everything constant, always moving, always something happening.  During the parts where there was no movement, just dialogue, it still felt like the film was moving.  It never just took a minute to stand still.  I can’t think of any other film off the top of my head where the dialogue is also the action.  It was really impressive while watching it, and now just thinking about it, I’m still really impressed. 

            I’d definitely like to watch this film again, and if you’ve never seen it, maybe you’d like to watch it with me?!  In any case, you should see it.  It’s definitely worth a watch or two, even just a listen.  So, get the movie, find your favorite comfy spot, sit back (with some popcorn, obviously) and try and figure out the clues, the symbols, the language.  The brick is heavy, but worth it.

 

WAY-COOL MOVIE TRAILER TO WATCH:  Little Children.  Kate Winslet has certainly proved that she doesn’t need a sinking ship to star in a great movie.  And Little Children looks like no exception.  And, although sinking ships always help, this movie also has Patrick Wilson, which is also a great attraction.  About a little boy and a little girl whose parents meet and begin having an affair, this looks like a must-see.

 

DYNAMIC DIALOGUE:  THE BRAIN:  When the "Upper-Crust" does shady deeds, they do them all over town, and the pitch is, they got these little symbols so they can tell each without word getting around.

7th-Mar-2008 04:41 pm - Stranger Than Fiction

Pretty normal, actually.


          So, I was practically on the red carpet for the release of the new movie, Stranger Than Fiction, directed by Marc Forster and starring Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson.  I was able to attend an advanced screening of the movie a few days before its release, in Boston.  My good friend Merritt and I braved the pouring rain and drove the two hours to the Alewife station in Cambridge.  A few stops and a switch over to the D train later, we had arrived at the theater!!!  Oh man, it was super exciting walking past all the security guards, showing them our two free-passes, and walking into the theater marked Saw 2.  No, it wasn’t Saw 2 that we were seeing, it was Stranger Than Fiction, two days early! 

            The movie is about an author (Thompson; Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually) with writer’s block.  She’s writing a novel about a man named Harold Crick and she’s can’t figure out the perfect way to kill him.  Little does she know, Harold Crick actually exists and he’s Will Ferrell (Anchorman, Winter Passing).  As she’s typing out her story on her typewriter, Harold hears her voice reading the lines in his head, and she’s narrating whatever he does.  Does Harold actually die in the end?  You should go see it to find out.  And along the way, enjoy performances from Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary, Mona Lisa Smile) as the eccentric baker who doesn’t pay her taxes, and Dustin Hoffman (I Heart Huckabees, Runaway Jury) as a crazy literature professor who is also a lifeguard. 

            The movie was great.  Lots of humor and also lots of heart.  I hear people say sometimes that they think Will Ferrell is too ‘over the top’ or too ‘nutty.’  And, well, yeah, ok, maybe he is.  But he’s a manageable amount of nutty.  Whereas, to me, Jim Carrey or Robin Williams can sometimes be too nutty.  But never Will.  For him, less is more.  And it shows through in his blank expressions throughout this film.  Just watching him brush his teeth is hilarious.  And I sit through enough lame toothpaste commercials to know that brushing your teeth isn’t that funny.  I’m sure you know what I mean.  But, watching Will Ferrell brush his teeth?  Now that’s some good comedy.  It doesn’t make much sense, but it’s wonderful.

            The major theme in the movie was time; how timing is everything.  When you set your wristwatch to a certain time everything that you do is different than if you had set your watch to a minute different.  How being in the wrong place at the wrong time really sucks, and how being in the right place at the right time is completely wonderful.  Every now and then in the movie when Harold was adjusting his watch, counting his steps or toothbrush strokes, a digital grid would pop up on the screen and it was like we were seeing inside his head how he views things.  It was fascinating to watch because while you were trying to figure out the equations and follow the grid, you could also see it on Will Ferrell’s face.  Like he was constantly thinking about something. 

            The original music composed by Britt Daniel and Brian Reitzell was great also.  It was smart and sharp and could be compared to the score in I Heart Huckabees.  It was interesting to listen to and I always seemed to notice it when the music started to play.  If anyone comes across a soundtrack with just the score, please get in touch with me.  Thanks in advance.

            This movie is a nice break from reality.  Although it’s about a normal guy who leads a normal life, there’s a sort of fairytale quality to it that’s so fun.  And did I mention a great scene with Will Ferrell and a guitar?  Oh, you can’t miss that.  I know you’ll enjoy this movie and even though I didn’t pay to see it the first time, I’d pay to see it a second. 

 

WAY-COOL MOVIE TRAILER TO WATCH:  The Bridge.  When I first read the description about a movie that’s about the stories of people who jump off the Golden Gate bridge, I was a little creeped out.  But, then I watched the trailer and found it completely fascinating.  Go jump to it at http://www.apple.com/trailers

 

DYNAMIC DIALOGUE: 

Dr. Jules Hilbert: Let's start with ridiculous and work backwards.  – Stranger Than Fiction

7th-Mar-2008 04:38 pm - Little Miss Sunshine

Let the sunshine in.

 

            I’m writing this review just as the sun is rising, and so talking about sunshine I feel is quite appropriate.  Now, last year when I gave my movie trailer recommendations, I recommended this Little Miss Sunshine saying, “It’s about time for another dysfunctional family comedy.  I know I can’t wait.”  I take those recommendations very seriously, and couldn’t wait all summer until I finally got to see it to see if it was going to be as good as it looked.  Now, before we go any further, I must apologize.  I did recommend Lady in the Water to you all, and even though the movie has already come and gone, I would just like to revoke my recommendation.  If you haven’t seen it, don’t waste your money.  It’s not nearly as exciting or interesting as any of M. Night Shymalan’s previous films, and I actually fell asleep through parts of it.  But anyways, I was extremely happy when Little Miss Sunshine turned out to be fantastic.  I went to go see it for the first time the night before I left for Hampshire with my friend Andrew, and we were two of four people in the theater.  It was a 10:15 showing.  The second time was just last week with my two wonderful friends Emily and Jenny.  I think the film was actually better the second time, because I got to pick up on the really small details that completely made the movie a success.

            Little Miss Sunshine, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, and written by Michael Arndt,  completely thrives off of its cast, which includes Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Abagail Breslin, Paul Dano, and Alan Arkin.  The story is seemingly simple:  A 7-year old named Olive (Breslin, Signs) has already won runner-up in the regional Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant, but when she gets the phone call telling her that the winner had to forfeit her crown, Olive now has a chance to compete in the state-wide competition in California.  So Olive and her parents, Richard (Greg Kinner, You’ve Got Mail, We Were Soldiers) a motivational speaker, and Sheryl (Toni Collette, In Her Shoes, The Sixth Sense), her brother Dwayne (Paul Dano, The Ballad of Jack and Rose) who has taken a vow of silence until he gets into flight school, her uncle Frank (Steve Carell, Anchorman, The 40 Year Old Virgin) who has just unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide, and her grandpa (Alan Arkin, Wait Until Dark, Firewall) who was kicked out of his elderly housing complex for snorting heroin, make the long trip to California in their yellow VW bus.  The story takes bold moves, but never for once loses its humorous nature.  You’ll have to go see it to find out if they make it to the pageant. 

            Now, there are so many things about this movie that make it so good.  Let’s first talk about music.  The soundtrack, composed by Mychael Danna and Devotchka, perfectly reflect the film.  The tightly weaved, odd sound of the music, which is the first thing we hear from the movie, is a wonderful first impression.  It’s light and airy to begin with, and then as each new character is introduced, gets more and more complex, with other instruments being added.  This is exactly like the film itself, where each new character is sure to make things more complicated, and much more exciting.

            The costuming in the movie is also fantastic.  Greg Kinnear’s costumes are perfectly fitting to his character.  Throughout most of the movie, he is wearing a printed shirt, tucked into khaki shorts (complete with his cell phone attached by a belt clip), high socks and sneakers.  He looks so much like a dad, it’s hilarious.  Toni Collette’s costumes are also wonderful, looking exactly like stuff someone’s mother would buy from JC Penney’s.  They are great, and add a great sense of reality to the film

            The thing that really makes the movie wonderful, are its details, the little things that you might only catch seeing it a second time.  A picture of Olive in a quick shot of the fridge, the plastic Sesame Street mismatched dinner glasses, and the way Steve Carell runs down the hallway in the end of the film, are just some of the small things that make this film a total success.

            And finally, the thing that really made this movie fantastic, was not the costumes, not the music, not the writing (although that is also awesome), not the details, but the VW BUS!!!  If you’ve known me since middle school, you’ll know that my dream car has always been a VW bus.  Doesn’t matter what color, as long as it’s a bus with a flat front.  I always swore to myself that my first car would be a VW bus, and I am sad to report that it did not happen.  SO, two things 1) If you know of anyone who has a VW bus for sale – please let me know! And 2)  The VW bus just makes the movie absolutely irresistible. 

            So, please go experience this movie for yourself.  If you want company, I’ll see it with you.  Promise.  Come on, I know you want to listen to my advice and add a little sunshine to your day!

 

WAY-COOL MOVIE TRAILER TO WATER:  The Pursuit of Happyness.  Finally something starring Will Smith that doesn’t start out with cheesy rap music and awesome 80’s effects.  And seriously, it looks really good.  Yes I’ll admit to you, that I did shed a tear watching it for the first time.  But, what’s even more sad, is that we’ll have to wait for Christmas to see the whole thing.  Watch it and cry at http://www.apple.com/trailers

7th-Mar-2008 04:36 pm - Oscar Picks '07

And the Oscar goes to…

 

            Well, here we are again, folks.  We find ourselves right in the middle of everyone’s favorite time of year:  Awards season!  That’s right, with the Golden Globes, the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards and the Director’s Guild of America Awards behind us, we have two major film award ceremonies to go:  the BAFTA Awards (the British  equivalent to the Oscars), and the Oscars, which are taking place on the 25th of February.  Now, this will by far be the best Oscar ceremony ever, simply for one reason.  And that is this:  the 25th of February is also my 21st birthday.  So, basically what is happening, is my two favorite days of the entire year, are happening on one day.  And also, Kate Winslet is nominated, so basically it’s my three favorite things.  It’s like The Perfect Storm.

            So, many of the top film critics in the country are revealing their picks for some of the major categories at the Oscars, and, I am going to follow in their footsteps and here, for you right now, are my Oscar picks.  Keep in mind that these are picks, not predictions.  This is who I will be rooting hard for:

 

BEST PICTURE:  The Departed (Or, Little Miss Sunshine)

BEST DIRECTOR:  Martin Scorsese for The Departed

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:  Leonardo DiCaprio for Blood Diamond

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:  Kate Winslet for Little Children

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:  Jackie Earle Haley for Little Children.  (Or, Mark Wahlberg for The Departed)

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:  Abigail Breslin for Little Miss Sunshine

BEST SCREENPLAY, WRITTEN FOR THE SCREEN:  Michael Arndt for Little Miss Sunshine

BEST SCREENPLAY, BASED ON PREVIOUSLY WRITTEN MATERIAL:  William Monahan for The Departed

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:  Milena Canonero for Marie Antoinette

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:  Gustavo Santaolalla for Babel

BEST ANIMATED FILM:  George Miller for Happy Feet

BEST DOCUMENTARY:  Laura Poitras and Jocelyn Glatzer for My Country My Country

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT:  Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon for Rehearsing a Dream

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM:  Gary Rydstrom for Lifted

 

Ok, to start with:  who knew that Gary Rydstrom was an animated film director?!?  I haven’t seen his film, but he’s a good guy, and I’m voting for him. 

            My picks for Best Actor and Actress are the ones I feel most strongly about, I would say.  Although, no, because I really, really want Marie Antoinette to get the Best Costume award.  But, if you know me, then you know how close Kate and Leo have been close to my heart since the release of Titanic back in 1997.  I think they both are fantastic actors and definitely deserve to take home the top award.  But, if it’s not Leo, then I think it will probably go to Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland.  He did do a good job, but I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I’d be, I didn’t love the film as much as I thought I would, and I thought they portrayed him too much of a good guy, and not enough as a bad guy.  We liked him too much throughout the film, which was necessary in order for us to hate him, but I never got to the hate part.  So, although he has won every other acting award this year, there’s something that is telling me he’s not a complete guarantee.  Not like Helen Mirren.

            Now, I probably want Kate Winslet to win more than I want most things in my life.  And, this is for serious.  But, apparently Helen Mirren has bewitched everyone with her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II, and I think she’s a definite bet to win.  Kate Winslet is still a winner though; she holds the title for the youngest actor ever to have been nominated the most times (five). 

            I do think it’s possible for Babel to come up and take the Best Picture award.  It could very well be last year’s Crash.  Not sure it would be completely deserved though, I wasn’t as moved or angered after seeing Babel then I thought I would be.  The film 21 Grams was also directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, and I was moved much more by that. 

            And, WHOA, listen to this:  Did you know that three Hampshire College alums are nominated for awards??!!  Karen Goodman (who has been nominated three previous times!), her husband Kirk Simon and Jocelyn Glatzer are all nominated for their skills as documentary filmmakers.  Karen and Kirk are both nominated for their film, Rehearsing a Dream in the Best Documentary Short category, while Jocelyn is nominated in the Best Documentary category for producing the film My Country My Country.  I’ll definitely root for them.  And then try and get in contact to see if they were able to snap any good pictures of Leo during the event.

            After seeing Little Children my immediate reaction was that Jackie Earle Haley has got to win.  He was amazing in his role as a child molester that you actually sympathized with.  You would think that a performance like that might be shaky, or hard to grasp, but Jackie did it with grace and ease.  I was in awe the whole time.  Then, after seeing The Departed I said, “Oh wow, Mark Wahlberg was also really great.”  Therefore, I would be happy to see either win. 

            But, there’s no one that I want to win more than Abigail Breslin for Best Supporting Actress in Little Miss Sunshine.  I’m pretty much against the whole Dreamgirls thing, therefore, I would be a little disappointed if Jennifer Hudson won.  So I never saw Dreamgirls for one main reason:  Jamie Foxx.  Ok, and Beyonce too.  And, I’m sure it was a good movie, I really just never had any desire to see it.  I thought that Abigail Breslin did a totally wonderful job as Olive Hoover and it would be amazing if she won.

            Let’s see.  Oh, Gustavo Santaolalla for composing the chilling music for Babel.  All the music was such a small sound, but was all so tightly woven together that it backed-up the events in the film so well, making them seem even more complicated and horrific.  At last year’s ceremony he won the Oscar for composing the music for Brokeback Mountain.  It’d be nice to see him win again. 

            And, finally, let’s talk about Milena Canonero and her costume designs for Marie Antoinette.  I can remember sitting in the theater watching the film and thinking that these costumes were outstanding, and actually, if you dig up my review of Marie Antoinette from last fall, I totally say that Milena should be nominated for her costume design.  They were just amazing.  Every single costume.  Right down to the little details.  All the shoes matched the dresses, all the dresses were colorful, and funky, with hip patterns and cool designs.  Even the stuff they wore to bed was extravagant.  I will be very, very upset with the academy if The Devil Wears Prada wins in this category.  Because, those costumes were just normal clothes.  Although, normal meaning thousands of dollars, super trendy designer clothes.  But, they were nothing special and felt like you were just watching a runway show the entire time. 

            Alright, I just heard the orchestra start to play, which means I should wrap things up.  So, to say the least, basically all of my picks should win, because it’s my birthday.  You can find out the winners by watching the live show on February 25th and I would definitely recommend it.  Oh, also, a side note, if you are a film student and ever get nominated for an Academy Award, you should think about taking me along with you.  Because, it seriously is one of my favorite days of the year (my birthday being another), I am obsessed with anything Hollywood, and I love getting dressed up.  So, I’ll be waiting for your call.  Until then – enjoy the show!

 

WAY-COOL MOVIE TRAILER TO WATCH:  Zodiac.  Based on real events!  A string of murders causes Mark Ruffalo and Jake Gyllenhaal to start searching for the killer, who seems to be leaving clues in strange codes that somehow relate to the Zodiac.  I took an astrology class over Jan Term, and I saw this movie in your horoscope.  Weird, eh?  Check it out at http://www.apple.com/trailers

7th-Mar-2008 04:33 pm - Rent

Measure in…love.

 

            I’ve loved the music of Rent ever since I was in Junior High.  I finally got to see the show in Boston during my freshman year of high school, and when I heard that they were making a movie, I was pretty excited  Anxiously, I awaited the film’s release, planning to go see it with my best friend, Maria over Thanksgiving break.  We did just that, and I ended up falling asleep for most of the first half.  We were less than impressed with the film, and pretty disappointed.  I still loved the story and the music, so I when I got the movie for my birthday in February I was excited.  I was going to give it a second chance, which I believe strongly in.  So, I watched it with some of my friends who had never seen it.  Surprisingly, I enjoyed it a lot more the second time.  I watched it again later on that week and I was hooked.  After that, I watched the special features, a feature-length documentary on the making of Rent, and the film with commentary.  Now, it’s the film that I watch whenever I’m bored, or can’t think of anything better to watch.  I recently had the opportunity to see Rent on Broadway with Maria and we were both blown away.  I think the movie makes up for the limitations of seeing it live, and seeing it live makes up for what the movie can’t do with emotion and power. 

            The film stars six out of the eight original Broadway cast members, Taye Diggs (Chicago), Wilson Jermaine-Heredia, Jesse L.Martin (Law and Order), Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal (SLC Punk!) and Anthony Rapp (A Beautiful Mind).  Two cast members, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Freddie Walker, were replaced with Rosario Dawson (Josie and the Pussycats, Sin City) and Tracie Thoms.  The film is directed by Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire, Harry Potter 1and 2) and features music and lyrics written by Jonathan Larson.  If you aren’t familiar with the show, let’s try to go over the plot: 

            Mark and Roger are roommates.  Mark used to date Maureen, who is now dating Joanne.  Roger is dating Mimi, who used to date Benny.  Benny and Collins used to live with Mark and Roger, but now Benny owns the building.  Collins now dates Angel.  The story takes place in NYC’s East Village, in the Alphabet City.  Most of the characters are living with AIDS and struggling to get by.  The show is about making the best with what you’ve got, living each day to its fullest, and making sure you have no regrets.  That’s the best I can do.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Oh wait, it gets even better – they sing the entire time!  Yep, if you didn’t know, Rent is a musical.  But not just that, it was the revolutionary musical of the ‘90’s - and it’s still packing in houses ten years later.  It’s mainly rock music, mixed with ballads, gospel, and even a little tango.  If you’ve never seen a musical before, it might take a little getting used to listening to the dialogue being sung and the characters breaking into song and dance.  But, I promise, it’s amazing.  The story is loosely based on Puccini’s La Boheme.  Instead of having Marcello and Rodolfo be a painter and a poet, they are a film maker and a song writer, and instead of Mimi being a seamstress she is a junkie stripper. 

            Now, the first time people watch the film, I usually tell them that it’s a great movie, but doesn’t translate well into film.  The characters are poor, living as squatters in gritty apartments and here we are watching these elaborate dream sequences and sweeping camera motions.  At first watch, you may think that it is to glorifying and too big of a change from the 1,100 seat Nederlander Theater, where Rent plays every night.  At first I thought this too.  Now, however, I think especially after watching it with commentary, I feel completely opposite.  The cinematography in this film has got to be some of the best I’ve ever seen.  It’s truly beautiful and so incredible smooth.  The way the camera follows the dancers during the ‘Tango: Maureen’ is fantastic.  Keep an eye out for the most beautiful scene at the end of ‘Another Day’ when Mimi is out on the street singing to Roger who is up on the balcony and as she lifts her arms up to sing, the camera follows behind her and we get the most gorgeous shot. 

            If you’re not up for watching Rent (if you are – let me know and I’ll join you!), at least pick up the CD.  Or, ask me and I’ll let you borrow my copy – I have both the Broadway and film versions.  The songs are really amazing and beautiful and everyone should hear them at least once.  The most famous probably being ‘Seasons of Love’.  I know that we sang it in my high school chorus, and I’m sure you’ve heard it.  All the music should be recognized as much as that song.  From ‘Light My Candle’ to ‘I’ll Cover You’ to ‘Take Me or Leave Me’ the music is all incredible and unforgettable.

            When Jonathan Larson was writing Rent he probably had no idea what a success it would become.  Some part of it relates with us all…the characters, the story, the music.  It’s a great film, and I urge you to see it.  Go watch it today, because you never know what will happen tomorrow.

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT:  Jonathan Larson.  If you don’t know this story – then keep reading.  Jonathan Larson was born on 5th February, 1960 in White Plains, NY.  He went to Aldelphi University in Long Island to study acting and musical theater.  Once he graduated he began to focus on composing and would take any job he could get, while keeping a steady waitstaff job at the Moondance Diner in SoHo.  He composed small musical numbers for Sesame Street and other children’s shows.  In 1991 he completed his first real accomplishment, a rock-monologue called tick, Tick…BOOM!  It was performed only in workshops, but definitely got his name out there.  Around this same time Jonathan began work on a new rock musical dealing with issues such as addiction, sexual orientation and HIV.  It was called Rent.  He rewrote and rewrote for years until finally he got word that the New York Theater Workshop was going to produce it as a musical.  This was Jonathan’s first big break and meant that he could quit his job at the diner.  Auditions were held and once a cast was put together rehearsals began.  The show was set to open to the public on 26 January, 1996.  A few weeks before this, Jonathan had been complaining of chest pain and feelings of having a heart attack.  Every doctor he saw told him it was due to the extreme stress and that he was fine.  On 25 January, 1996, hours after the final dress rehearsal for Rent Jonathan went home and died in his kitchen due to an aortic aneurism.  At the request of Jonathan’s parents the opening night performance still happened, his family, friends and cast clearly in shock.  The show ended in a standing ovation, but afterwards no one knew how to react.  After a period of silence, one voice from the audience spoke up, “Thank you, Jonathan Larson.”  Rent has gone on to become one of the biggest musicals of its time, touching people of all ages.  Unfortunately, Jonathan was not here to see Rent win the 1996 Tony and the Pulitzer Prize.  He remains probably the strongest message that Rent has to offer, to live each day to the absolute fullest, because you never know what will happen tomorrow.  No day but today…

 

WAY-COOL MOVIE TRAILER TO WATCH:  Little Miss Sunshine.  Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell and Toni Collette star in this comedy about a little girl who wins a shot at the Little Miss Sunshine pageant.  It’s about time for another dysfunctional family comedy.  I know I can’t wait.  Go to http://www.apple.com if you’re a real winner.

 

DYNAMIC DIALOGUE:  The opposite of war isn’t peace.  It’s creation.     -Rent

7th-Mar-2008 04:26 pm - Marie Antoinette

A great slice of the cake.


            Now, those of you who read The Climax last year know that Jason Schwartzman and I have a pretty intimate relationship, so after months and months of waiting, when Marie Antoinette was finally released there was no question that I would be seeing it.  I mean, it’s only right to support your future husband.  So, last Tuesday evening me and my lovely friend Merritt ventured out to the Hampshire Mall and, after a quick trip into Claire’s, purchased tickets to the show.  There were maybe only eight other people in the theater, so it was very easy to find a good seat, which was important for an unobstructed view of Jason. 

            Marie Antoinette is the fourth film directed by Sophia Coppola (Lick the Star, The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation) and stars Kirsten Dunst (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Elizabethtow), Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore, Shopgirl) and Rip Torn (Men in Black, Dodgeball).  To simply sum up the plot, it was about the life of Marie Antoinette.  It started on the very morning she left Austria to go to France and followed her life up until the night that her and her family had to escape Versailles.  The main thing that Merritt and I took away from the movie was that she was never meant to be a queen.  Her young age and inexperience matched up with the demands of France just did not work out, and as we all know, ultimately led to her beheading in 1793, nine months after her husband Louis XVI was beheaded.  Luckily though, we see no heads get severed. 

            So, the movie started and I was still in my “omg Jason Schwartzman” frame of mind.  It was not until about twenty-five minutes into the movie that I started thinking, “wow, this is really slow.”  And, then I sort of got tired of watching these people live.  It was just like I was in the same room with all of them; just watching them hang out and party.  Merritt put it the best when she said, “it was not until the scene on the boat until I was like, “ohh, ok.””  That scene to which she so eloquently referred to was probably halfway through the movie.  Marie Antoinette is at Le Petit Trianon, her smaller, but just as gorgeous palace, and she’s in a boat with some of her friends, and they’re all just lounging.  She’s draped over the back of the boat, staring off somewhere, letting her hand just glide across the water.  Seriously though, that’s when I really understood the movie.  That, these women had nothing to do all day, except hang out and wait to get pregnant.  And in that sense, the movie flourished.  I then found myself being a little envious that she just get to sit around all day and party all night, and that her biggest concern in her life was that her husband would not have sex with her.  Oh well.

            After I realized that, the film became a lot more meaningful.  The slowness was easier to bear and I found myself focusing on other things:  like the costumes!!

            Okay, the costumes were designed by Milena Canonero and, in my opinion, deserve an Oscar nomination.  They were absolutely fabulous.  Everything right down to the nightgowns were amazing.  Last year, I actually went on a rather long hunt for the perfect nightgown, and never really found it – until seeing this movie.  Marie Antoinette wore the nightgown of my dreams in this film.  And also like every dress and pair of shoes she wore were also of my dreams.  The patterns, the fabrics – oh, they were amazing.  She wore the most wonderful pink patterned dress during one scene, and of course had shoes to match!  Everyone looked perfect.  It must be easy though, to dress Jason, because he looks good in pretty much anything. 

            The entire film was just gorgeous.  It was definitely a visual masterpiece.  There wasn’t much to the script except for simple conversation or quick one-liners, so the film thrived off of the set, the costumes and the scenery.  Everything about it was gorgeous.  One thing that did bother me a lot was the fact that it was shot with a soft focus camera lens, which made a lot of the scenes blurry and hard to make out.  I guess mainly, I would’ve liked to know why Sophia Coppola chose to do it this way.  I might not have noticed it as much if there wasn’t a big sign on the theater door warning us that it was blurry and that if we had vision problems that it might be wise to choose another movie.  After reading that, I kept noticing it over and over, which got annoying. 

            Yeah, so this film isn’t the most amazing film ever made, but it’s definitely very well done.  There’s something about it that I really liked.  Yes, other than Mr. Schwartzman.  Although, he was a big part.  And the fact that he had to gain thirty five pounds for the role made me love him no less.  I would definitely tell you to go see this movie.  If you want, you can take me along too.  I wouldn’t mind.  It’s beautiful.  Just go to watch it.  Don’t worry about the history, don’t worry about the slowness, don’t worry about the lack of Jason nudity (although, I was quite distraught), just go to experience something beautiful, because, I’m sure it’s something you can’t have too much of. 

 

WAY-COOL MOVIE TRAILER:  Perfume.  About a young man who is obsessed with any woman he meets, or just sees on the street.  He instantly falls in love with them.  Sounds romantic, right?  Yeah, until he kills them and makes perfume out of their bodies.  Ha, not so romantic now, right?  But, yet, it looks really good.  Take a sniff for yourself at http://www.apple.com/trailers

 

DYNAMIC DIALOGUE:  Marie-Antoinette: Letting everyone down would be my greatest unhappiness.

7th-Mar-2008 04:22 pm - Shopgirl

Hey, you!  Yes you.  Stop your window shopping.  This is the one!!!

 

            Finally, a romantic comedy made for adults.  Shopgirl is the perfect date movie, the perfect “make you laugh, make you cry” movie, and the perfect romance.  I was excited to see Shopgirl for many reasons, the main reason being that my future husband Jason Schwartzman was co-starring.  So, on a Friday night my friend Jenny and I drove to Northhampton to the Pleasant St. Theater and paid about $8 to see it.  I haven’t felt like the product was worth my money in a long time.  Shopgirl was elegant, funny, grown-up, and completely wonderful.

            The movies three main stars include Claire Danes, Steve Martin and of course, my Jason and was directed by Anand Tucker, whose only other recognizable film was 1998’s Hilary and Jackie.  Martin, who wrote the novella, also wrote the screenplay.  I believe this is Martin’s first attempt at fiction, though since then he has written more.  Having not read the book, I cannot compare it to the film, only to say that to see something as serious and beautiful come from a “wild and crazy guy” is pleasantly surprising.  

            Mirabelle (Danes; Little Women, Stage Beauty) has moved to Los Angeles from Vermont and finds herself working in an upscale department store selling gloves.  She’s at the Laundromat one night and meets Jeremy (Schwartzman; Rushmore, I Heart Huckabees) who designs fonts and logos for a company that sells amplifiers.  He talks her into going on a few dates with him, but she is less than impressed with his messy, slacker lifestyle.  Enter Ray Porter (Martin; The Jerk, Bringing Down the House) who is successful, rich, and immediately wins Mirabelle’s heart.  They begin to spend all their time together and Jeremy finds himself touring with a band, working as a roadie.  In the end Mirabelle and Jeremy are reconnected and ultimately, she must choose between him and Ray.  The story made me laugh, cry, and constantly swoon.

            All marriage biases aside, Jason Schwartzman was very impressive.  He definitely carried the movie in terms of comedy and every time he would appear onscreen, the audience would laugh without him having said anything.  He played the part perfectly.  The love scene between Jeremy and Mirabelle is a highlight, although it made me painfully jealous.

            I was also very impressed with Claire Danes, who seems to have grown up somewhere in between her Juliet and her Mirabelle.  She seemed very confident in her role, which shone through her actions and the way she eloquently delivered her dialogue.  And she totally had the best costumes ever. 

            Steve Martin plays his serious characters with a surprising ease.  When I think of him, all I ever think about are his days on Saturday Night Live, or watching him in the trailers for Cheaper by the Dozen (and yeah, I’ll admit it – I think the sequel looks kinda funny…).  If you’ve seen 1997’s The Spanish Prisoner you’ll know that he plays his serious characters quite well, and I’m looking forward to his future films. 

            If you’ve seen the trailer for the film (if you haven’t, two things: 1) what’s wrong with you?  And 2) go watch it!)  you know that one of the best things about it is the music.  We hear catchy songs by The Notwist and Death Cab for Cutie and it really adds to the movie’s appeal.  One of the things that disappointed me with the film (the other being the lack of Schwartzman nudity…did I just say that out loud?)  was the music.  Instead of the cool indie-hits from hipster Los Angeles bands that I was expecting, it was mainly a somber score.  The score, with music by Barrington Pheloung was good, but not what I was expecting.  It added a hint of a depressing quality that I’m not sure the film needed.  Although it made Mirabelle’s loneliness evermore convincing, it seemed to make the film seem lonely as well.

            The one word I have to sum up Shopgirl is ‘lovely.’  I simply enjoyed all of it, the story, the characters and Mirabelle’s journey to find the right man.  So enough browsing the catalogues and flyers, go see Shopgirl.  Right now!

 

MY PUBLIC LOVE LETTER TO: Jason Schwartzman. 

Dear Jason,

            I want to begin by saying, I am more than just a fan.  Not only did I enjoy you in your most recent film, Shopgirl, but I have enjoyed you in all your films.  And yes, I have seen them all.  Max Fischer stole my heart with his determination and charm, and I wanted to live out the part of Rosemary Cross.  Even in Spun you could do no wrong as a college-dropout, crystal-meth addict whose life was falling apart.  All your characters have a certain aspect about them that is so irresistible, and I’ve narrowed it down as to what it is:  You.  I love the way your hair falls into your eyes, the way your smile lights up a dark room, and the way everybody else just towers above you.  It’s ok, I’m not that tall either. 

            Jason, I think that if we ever are to meet that you will find me your perfect other-half.  My friends agree with me when I say that we are perfect for each other.  You like movies, I like movies, You are funny, I like funny guys, You play drums, I’ve always wanted to learn how to play drums.  Even the stars agree, you are a Cancer, I am a Pisces, and our love can make it work. 

            Now, I know this letter might come as a bit of a shock to you, especially after your recent break-up with Zooey Deschanel, but please hear me out.  I know that subconsciously you wrote the Phantom Planet song ‘Always on my Mind’ for me, and I also know that the fact that we are both single at the same time is not a coincidence.  Take this seriously, Jason.  Ms. Cross didn’t give Max the time of day.  Let me give you the time of night. 

            With sweet, sweet love,

                        Julie

 

WAY-COOL MOVIE TRAILER OF THE WEEK:  Lady in the Water.  The latest film by M. Night Shyamalan, who gave us The Sixth Sense and The Village.  This film is advertised as ‘a bedtime story’, which makes it sound even creepier than the creepy music at the end of the trailer.  Watch, and listen.  http://www.apple.com/trailers

 

DYNAMIC DIALOGUE: 

Jeremy:  I’ll protect you.  I will…     - Shopgirl

7th-Mar-2008 04:17 pm - Legally Blonde

No objections here!

 

            No, I am not ashamed one bit for writing this review.  I am also not ashamed to make the following statement publicly known:  I happen to love the film Legally Blonde.  It’s definitely one of my favorite movies of all time.  Starring Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair and Victor Garber and directed by Robert Luketic (Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!, Monster-in-Law) this movie has just as much laughs as it does heart.  If you’ve watched it as many times as I have, you will understand when I say that this movie is so much more than it seems.  I know it seems like a silly story about a ditzy blonde who ends up getting into Harvard, but there’s really an important message under all the pink which is actually quite important.  Yes, I am being serious. 

            I am not embarrassed to admit that I did see Legally Blonde in the theaters when it was released back in 2001.  My sister’s summer birthday party was viewing it, and I tagged along.  I remember liking it a lot more than I thought I would, but it was only recently when I truly became a fan.  This past summer I was going through my annual ‘I must watch every movie that stars the Wilson brothers’ and I had planned on heading over to Blockbuster to rent something with Luke.  Suddenly, I remembered that I had no money, and we happened to own Legally Blonde.  So, I headed for the movie cabinet, pulled it out from the back, blew the dust off the cover and popped it in the VCR.  Man, I had forgotten how funny this movie was, and how brilliant (yeah, brilliant) Reese Witherspoon is.  Luke Wilson was enjoyable as always, but it is definitely Reese who steals the show.  I ended up watching it about three times last summer, as well as two times during September and once over Winter break.  There was one instance where I thought my tape might be broken as my hand shook as I dreaded putting it back in the VCR, but my family and I witnessed a miracle as it started to play. 

            I cannot express my sadness and disappointment if you’ve never seen Legally Blonde, but just in case – here’s the storyline…

            Elle Woods (Witherspoon; Just like Heaven, Walk the Line) is a sorority queen with the perfect boyfriend and a 4.0 GPA in fashion merchandising.  One night on a date with her boyfriend she is expecting a proposal and instead, gets dumped because he tells her that she’s not serious enough to be his wife once he gets elected Senator.  This outrages Elle and she immediately knows what she has to do to win him back: become a law student.  She applies and is accepted to Harvard with some great letters of recommendations, a 179 on her LSATS, and a killer admissions video directed by a Coppola.  So, she confidently makes the cross-country trip to Massachusetts and is taken by surprise when she can’t get whatever she wants and sees that her boyfriend is already engaged to a snobby class-mate, Vivian (Blair; Cruel Intentions, Pretty Persuasion).  This pushes Elle to work harder and fight back, at first just to get her ex to notice her, but ultimately she will do it for herself. 

            A part from being ridiculously cute and funny, Reese Witherspoon plays the part of Elle with grace and fashion.  We totally believe and accept her transition from flakey, shopping-obsessed girl to an independent, hard-working woman and it is one of the most rewarding onscreen changes to see.  You find yourself cheering for her every step along her journey from the mall to the courtroom.  This movie is the ultimate poster for the saying, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’  Everyone that Elle meets assumes that she is nothing but a floozy who just likes to spend money, and they try to convince her of that too.  But as her strong personality unfolds throughout the film, we see that no one will steer Elle off her course to success! 

            You may be hesitant in renting Legally Blonde, but I promise you that it’ll be worth it.  Not only will you be entertained by the sweet humor and Elle’s lovable personality, but more importantly you’ll be inspired to achieve even your highest goal.  Then, we can all sit together and wait for the next installment, Legally Blonde 3: Vote for Elle!

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT:  Reese Witherspoon.  I don’t care what you say about Reese Witherspoon, I think she is wonderful and amazing, and - I’m just gonna say it – I think she will win the Best Actress Oscar this year.  Yep, that’s my prediction.  Her only main competition is Felicity Huffman for Transamerica, which I haven’t seen, but looks amazing.  But, Reese has been winning all the major awards for her performance as June Carter in Walk the Line.  I saw Walk the Line in South Hadley with my friend (and fellow concert-fanatic) Jenny and we both loved it.  Neither of us knew much about Johnny Cash, or his music but by the end we were singing his songs the whole way home. 

            Now, I have a big problem with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences choosing the winners strictly based on their performance in the nominated film and not also taking a look back at their other work.  Taking a look at both Reese and Felicity, we see one major difference:  Desperate Housewives.  I simply cannot stand hearing about that show for another minute, and off the top of my head, I can’t name another project that Ms. Huffman was a part of.  Reese, on the other hand, recently starred in the charming romantic comedy, Just like Heaven, and has also been seen in Cruel Intentions and Sweet Home Alabama.  She’s one of these actors that people don’t take seriously because they’ve been in a few romantic comedies.  If you think that about Reese Witherspoon, you should think again.  I think she’s fabulous, she’s funny, she looks great in pink, and she’s absolutely going to win the Oscar.

 

WAY-COOL MOVIE TRAILER OF THE WEEK:  Okay, so this one isn’t actually a movie trailer, but it’s great nonetheless.  Actually, it’s fantastic and it’s a huge internet sensation.  It’s a hardcore rap video about The Chronicles of Narnia which was featured on Saturday Night Live earlier this season called, “Lazy Sunday.”  The video stars Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg (my newly-found boyfriend) and was written by Parnell, Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone and directed by Schaffer.  Akiva, Jorma and Andy also make up the comedy trio of The Lonely Island.  Check out their ridiculously funny skits at www.thelonelyisland.com, where you can also get the link for “Lazy Sunday.”  I know you’ll love it.

 

DYNAMIC DIALOGUE: 

Elle:  And last week I saw Cameron Diaz at Fred Segal, and I talked her out of buying this truly heinous angora sweater. Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed.       Legally Blonde

15th-Feb-2008 06:35 pm - V For Vendetta

R for Revolutionary.

 

            I took a second job this past summer working at a local Blockbuster store that I usually frequent two or three times a week.  I figured I might as well get paid for going there.  My first week of work the film V for Vendetta was released, and every night I worked, it was completely sold out.  I had wanted to see the movie, but never got an opportunity until I came back to Hampshire.  The back of the case said that there was strong violence, and it made me nervous, because I really don’t like violence, but I grabbed my knitting, settled into my bed with my laptop and was completely amazed at what the next two hours had to offer me. 

            V for Vendetta, was written by the Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix movies) and directed by James McTeigue (this was his first directing job!) and stars Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, and John Hurt.  I feel very strongly when I say that this film might be one of the most beautiful films I have every seen.  Adrian Biddle did the cinematography, and I must applaud him.  Let me tell you, there are some gorgeous shots. 

            The storyline is somewhat complicated, and it took me a second viewing to really get it all.  Let me do my best.  Evey (Portman, Closer; Garden State) is rescued one night by a strange man in a mask who calls himself V (Weaving, The Lord of the Rings; The Matrix).  Soon after she meets V, she realizes he is a terrorist with plans to reawaken the Gunpowder Plot, brought forth by Guy Fawkes in 1605.  His plan was to blow up Parliament, but was caught and executed before it happened.  V carries out his plan by killing people who have haunted him in his past, and who he believes are bringing England to the ground.  The movie starts out on the fifth of November, and ends exactly one year later, with much change coming into place as V repeats, “People shouldn’t be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.” 

            The film starts out with a catchy children’s rhyme about the Guy Fawkes ordeal:

 

Remember, remember the fifth of November

The Gunpowder Treason, and plot;

I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason

Should ever be forgot.

 

            Just a warning:  once this verse is stuck in your head, it is impossible to get out.

            With all the unfortunate things happening in our world today dealing with terrorists especially, it seems to me that we forget that they are also just people.  The film did an amazing job at really portraying this fact, which was perhaps the most rewarding aspect of it.  We see V in his home, watching his favorite movie, cooking breakfast and listening to music.  We can see that he is a human, just trying to bring his country up to where he thinks it should be.  I, as a viewer, can respect him.  I feel for him, I support him, and even though he is technically a terrorist, I feel very safe when he is on the screen. 

            Now, I thought Natalie Portman was awesome in Garden State, but watching her in this was like watching a completely different person.  The transformation that Evey goes through in the film is amazing to watch.  From meek and timid, to fierce and unafraid, I think she ends up the kind of person we all want to be.  Or, at least I do.  The scene where she’s getting her head shaved is perhaps her turning point, where she is bare to the world, and ready to be reshaped.  That scene is kind of amazing to watch, because you know they only had one take to shave her head, it’s really her hair falling to the ground, and it’s really her reaction on the camera.  And I, as a person with long hair, must congratulate her on that scene. 

            A thing that really surprised me about the movie was how romantic it was!  I loved it!  There is something about a man in a mask that is very oddly seductive.  It’s romantic in the way that The Phantom of the Opera is romantic.  In that film, the phantom is teaching Christine to be a stronger singer, while in this film V is teaching Evey to have a stronger mind.  And, let me tell you, if I have to listen to someone speak for two hours without seeing their face, I would want it to be Hugo Weaving. 

            The movie gets tenser as the minutes pass, but all for the better.  It is violent, but not too much.  I’m being completely honest here when I say that I hate violence in movies more than anything – and I loved watching the fight scenes here.  It would be hard to miss, but keep an eye open for the last big fight scene when V is taking on all the policemen with his swords.  The absolutely gorgeous effects make it seem like you’re watching a ballet, or a deadly waltz. 

            But oh!  My favorite scene in the film – you cannot miss!  It is the scene when Evey and V are on the roof together in the rain.  By far the most gorgeous and powerful scene in the film. 

            Now, we are very fortunate here at Hampshire, because this film will be showing at 8pm on Friday, the 20th of October in the main lecture hall.  You can be sure that I will be there, and I hope to see you too!  This is definitely a film worth seeing, because even if you don’t like it, I think it is about some important issues that are good to think about.  The movie’s release date of the 5th of November was actually pushed back four months due to terrorist attacks in London.  I’m not saying that I would be “scared” to see it after a real terrorist attack, but just that it is a powerful film.  So, ‘Y for You Should See this Film,’ ‘I because it is incredible,’ and ‘T because it Makes you Think.’

 

WAY-COOL MOVIE TRAILER TO WATCH:  The Guardian.  Ok, I’ll admit to you guys that I sort of love Ashton Kutcher and I’m pretty excited about this movie.  He stars with Kevin Costner in what I anticipate to be the next Behind Enemy Lines.  Troubled, unserious kid enlists in the coast guard to try and prove to everyone that he can be a hero.  And – I’m guessing he can!  I’m also guessing that this movie will be pretty good.  And no, you’re not getting punk’d. 

 

DYNAMIC DIALOGUE:  "What I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that though I do not know you and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, I love you.  With all my heart, I love you."  -V for Vendetta

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