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Catch-22 (2019– )
9/10
WOW.
26 May 2019
Easily one of the best binge shows I've ever seen. Love war drama? Action? Vaudevillian comedy? You're drafted to watch this limited series.
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Song of the Vampire (2001 Video)
4/10
Pretty Lame. See Subspecies for Denice Duff at her best instead.
15 November 2005
I love vampire films, but this one had nothing new to add to the genre. On top of being painfully low budget, the boom mic dips into every other scene. Why wasn't this caught in editing? The story is predictable and awkwardly slow paced. The vampire, who is supposed to be a good guy, takes some peoples lives without a second thought. It doesn't really make any sense.

To be honest, I got this movie on DVD because I am a huge fan of Denice Duff's work on the Subspecies series. In Subspecies, she's hauntingly beautiful, and was the perfect vampire. I was hungry to see more of her. In this film however, she is not a vampire, and her character is pretty weak. She does have one love scene which is unfortunately PG-13.

Pretty lame overall. I'd recommend skipping this movie and picking up Subspecies instead.
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One Point O (2004)
10/10
Easily the BEST Sci-Fi Film of 2004
28 August 2005
I can't believe more people haven't seen this film. I downloaded this film from the internet by chance last year before it came out (It was called "One Point O" then), and I told so many of my friends that they made the trek to the Montreal Film Festival to see it. I anticipated that it would also show in the Toronto Film Festival (where I live) but unfortunately it did not.

The cast is brilliant. Udo Kier as a creepy neighbor. Lance Henrickson (in something watchable for a change) as a basement dwelling bum, the deliciously sexy Deborah Kara Unger play the main character Jeremy Sisto's (Six Feet Under, Wrong Turn) love interest.

This film actually kept me guessing until the end. It's well paced, originally written, and beautifully shot. It's the exact style of science fiction that I love the most.

I just picked up the DVD, now called "Paranoia: 1.0" (I prefer the original title). It's a must have for any sci-fi fan.
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Sin City (2005)
9/10
Exactly what I was hoping for. A beautifully literal translation from the page.
1 April 2005
Some scenes will make you forget you are looking at live action because of the perfect integration of high contrast art. This film is perfectly cast. I couldn't imagine anyone but Mickey Rourke playing Marv and Bruce Willis playing Hartigan. Brittany Murphy gives an over the top performance as Shellie, which really made the film noir experience for me. When I first heard about the casting, I was upset that they chose Jessica Alba to play Nancy, due to Jessica's "no nudity" clause in her contract. But she managed to pull it off. Rosario Dawson has never been hotter. Another perfect fit.

That's all I care to say without spoiling any of the film. See it immediately.
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8/10
Hilarious and frightening homage to The Exorcist.
19 September 2004
RAHTREE: Flower of the Night is a Thai Horror-Comedy about a girl named Buppah Rahtree, who through a series of unfortunate events, ends up bleeding to death and haunting an apartment building full of weirdos.

Though the film is more comedy than horror, with lots of ridiculous laughs throughout, there are easily over a dozen scenes where the entire audience jumps. The director Yuthlert Sippapak is admittedly in love with the movie The Exorcist and pays a hilarious homage to it in this film. The director even pokes fun at himself when he has one of the characters in the movie complain that people are stupid because they only watch movies where a ghost chases someone down a hallway. Ha ha.

The director also hinted that he is working on a sequel, involving some bank robbers that end up in the room Rahtree haunts. Funny and genuinely scary with a sprinkling of original ideas, I'd highly recommend Rahtree. (8/10)
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Saw (2004)
10/10
Original Horror that will definitely keep you guessing!
19 September 2004
SAW was the final film of the Toronto International Film Festival's Midnight Madness program, and the most anticipated. I think it was the first, though not the only film to sell out Ryerson's huge (1200+ capacity) theatre. My hat, if I were actually wearing one, goes off to Colin Geddes (Festival Programmer) for always knowing exactly how to end the film fest.

This film has everything you want from a horror movie. It has a few laughs, it's scary, extremely original, with interesting characters, a wicked soundtrack, and enough gore to make some audience members turn away. There aren't many films that have ever kept me guessing, and this is one.

The first feature film from Australian director James Wan (written by himself and buddy Leigh Whannell, who stars in the film as Adam) was completed incredibly with only 5 days of pre- production and 18 days of filming. The, also Australian, Spierig Brothers (UNDEAD) even sent the SAW team a letter congratulating them and telling them they were in good hands with the Toronto audience. Australia is quickly becoming known for creating some of the best cult films in the world.

I've also never wanted a movie prop, the reverse bear trap headpiece, so badly in my life. Too cool.

SAW was so unbelievably good that it left me wanting more, and luckily the creative team hinted at a sequel featuring the twisted ventriloquist dummy that appears throughout the film. Hopefully, the big budget version of THE PUPPET MASTER that I always hoped for.

DO NOT read or listen to anything about this movie, or someone might spoil it for you. See this movie as soon as possible! (10/10)
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Steamboy (2004)
9/10
Masterpiece worth waiting a decade for!
19 September 2004
STEAMBOY is director Katsuhiro Otomo first feature film in ten years, since the release of the cult-classic AKIRA. Though he did work on a few projects in between, like MEMORIES and METROPOLIS as well as supervising SPRIGGAN and the brilliant psychological thriller PERFECT BLUE, you can easily imagine Otomo-san spending the better part of a decade honing STEAMBOY to the masterpiece it has become.

I've always felt a great anime should do the following: create real characters, make you think, dazzle you visually, and forward the art of animation by creating new techniques. STEAMBOY does all of that. Simplified, the message of the film is that science is a tool that should benefit mankind, and not be used to fatten the pockets of warmongers. The message is not heavy handed though, as Otomo-san presents several angles and allows the viewer to come to the obvious conclusion on their own. Visually this film is stunning. Even minor touches like water reflections under bridges were added to make the film seem more real. 3D was incorporated throughout the film, which I normally hate, but instead of inserting it and having it look out of place, it is simply used as a reference, and then painstakingly traced to appear more 2D and blend in with the film. I've been waiting for someone to do this properly for years. There is a lot of camera action that you've never seen in an anime before. Rather than quick edits, some scenes are panned, zoomed, or rotated with amazing accuracy, as if they were actually filmed rather than being drawn.

This film is full of wonder, with amazing inventions, interesting characters you quickly care about, and beautiful scenes. It plays like a classic adventure film. There is a scene where Dr. Steam turns to his grandson and says "Go Steamboy!" That choked me right up. I could not have been happier with the way this film turned out. It's a masterpiece that Otomo-san should be extremely proud of, and that every anime fan will enjoy. (9/10)
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Hotel (2004)
3/10
Psychodrama without the psychology ... or drama.
17 September 2004
HOTEL is about a young girl who is hired as a receptionist in an isolated, apparently inaccessible hotel in the Austrian Alps. Her co- workers are not responsive to her arrival, and to make matters worse, the girl she replaced was said to have disappeared. This description reminded me of the only film to truly scared me, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Second time director Jessica Hausner however, is no Kubrick.

The characters in this film are very one dimensional. Even the main character Irene, who finds herself in some situations that might scare a normal person, does not react at all. As a direct result, neither does the audience. The environment was also very bland. You would think the director would scout a location with some atmosphere for a psychodrama, but instead we're shown a very boring well kept hotel. This film is shot without any style whatsoever. The director must have thought a few of the scenes were terrifying (walking down a hallway, or looking into the woods), as she showed them over and over again. The conclusion was uninspired and predictable.

Note to amateur filmmakers everywhere ... If I can't put myself in the place of one of the films characters, and the situation isn't unusual or intense, and the environment does not seem unwelcoming, THERE IS NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF. Your psychodrama will not work. Geez, I thought that would be obvious. (3/10)
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Zebraman (2004)
9/10
"Black and white ecstacy!" A must see Miike film.
17 September 2004
Takashi Miike never disappoints. His latest film to the Toronto Film Festival is ZEBRAMAN, a story about a father (Shinichi) who no longer has a family, or a life. His wife is having an affair, his daughter is a slut (no wonder, she's cute as hell), and his son is bullied at the school where he teaches. Even the other students think he is a geek. Shinichi spends all of his free time fantasizing about a show he watched as a kid called Zebraman, that was cancelled after only a few episodes due to low ratings. He even goes as far as to make his own Zebraman costume, and that's when the fun truly begins.

As the Earth is invaded by aliens (what did you expect) Shinichi is called into action as Zebraman and he transforms from mild mannered teacher to Earth's last hope. Think PowerRangers but with odd and hilarious dialogue ("Don't stand ... behind me."). But first he spends some much needed time in front of a mirror practicing his shouts ("Black and White Ecstacy!"), costume spliting poses, and signature attacks like the "Zebra Double Back Kick". I admit I was sold as soon as he beat the crap out of a guy wearing a giant crab mask on his head. I laughed the hardest at the introduction of ZebraNurse, though.

This is a different kind of film than what you'd expect from Miike. The characters are warm and lovable, and no one gets injured (with the exception of an easily re-grown arm, "Thanks ... ZebraNurse!"). Which shows the kind of range this cult director has. My only regret was that Takashi Miike wasn't present to witness a world class response to this outrageously funny film. (9/10)
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Kontroll (2003)
8/10
Dark and funny with a rockin soundtrack.
16 September 2004
KONTROLL is a Hungarian film from director Nimród Antal. Yes, that's really his name. The first thing he did when he introduced the film was make fun of the fact that he was called Nimrod, which is great.

The film is about a group of ticket inspectors in the Hungarian subway system, with the focus on at least one in particular (Bulcsú). Each character is extremely likable, even the passengers become memorable characters, as none of them buy a ticket and are chased or shaken down by the inspectors, which is commonplace in Hungary. There is even a young girl in a bear suit (don't ask) that is absolutely gorgeous. The interaction between her and Bulcsú is sweet and funny. They had the kind of chemistry that is difficult to capture on film.

The entire film takes place in the underground, which is effectively presented as a separate world than the one above ground. Some characters even talk about "up there" with a child- like wonder in their voices.

The cinematography is beautiful. Some of the scenes or long panning shots in the underground are breathtaking. Who'd a thunk it'd look so cool down there? You can tell the director has a photography background, by the wonderful shots he selected.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the rockin' soundtrack. Unfortunately, the band that did the music (NEO) are no longer together. Lets hope the director gets the soundtrack released.

This film is not all laughs however. It has a very serious side that is dark, and an ending that makes you think. If this is the kind of film we can expect from Hungary, I'm eagerly anticipating more. I definitely recommend this film. (8/10)
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Oldboy (2003)
10/10
Easily one of the BEST films I've ever seen.
16 September 2004
OLD BOY came highly recommended by friends who are Asian film fanatics. Now I see why. OLD BOY, a South Korean film from director Park Chan-Wook, is easily one of the greatest films I have ever seen. It's original, unpredictable, funny, realistically violent, sweet, sad, and it even has a message. It's brilliant!

There's not much I can say without spoiling the plot. Even the short descriptive text they used to promote the film says too much. Let me just say that it is probably the most creative revenge movie you will ever see. The set design is great, especially the penthouse condo. There is one special effects sequence (with an ant) that works perfectly, and provides a quick laugh in a moment of sadness in the film. The pacing is surprisingly perfect, considering the run time for the film is 2 hours. The acting is stellar. The struggle of the main characters was so real that I felt uncomfortable for a good portion of their interaction.

It also has one of the most realistic fight sequences I've seen on film. Where the main character defends himself in a hallway (shot lengthwise so you can see almost the whole hall at once), against about 20 thugs. I swear he actually makes contact with some of them.

If you enjoy movies, and you must if you are reading a movie review, you need to see this film. (10/10)
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Calvaire (2004)
3/10
Long build up with no pay off. Not worth seeing.
14 September 2004
CALVAIRE was very disappointing. I was expecting a lot from this film, and after about 40 minutes of badly paced build up, the film fails to deliver at all. The cast was all over the board. Some characters were interesting but not explored. The main character, was annoying and instantly forgettable.

The story was nothing I haven't seen before. The events that were supposed to be shocking or disturbing were too predictable to be so. And the dialogue seemed like a rushed first draft that somehow got approved.

On the positive side, there is some interesting camera work in the cabin, spinning around the table like a bottle, with intermingled closeup shots of the victim's eye darting around the room in sheer panic. And one scene in particular where a group of disturbed hunters dance with each other while one plays a haunting tune on the piano almost makes this film worth watching. I did say almost. Although the tune did stick in my head all the way home, so I'll give extra credit for that. (3/10)
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A Dirty Shame (2004)
9/10
John Waters funniest film yet!
14 September 2004
A DIRTY SHAME is the new film from John Waters, and arguably his funniest film yet. And by funny, I mean laugh out loud hilarious, start to finish. The only way you would not like this movie, is if you are easily offended. But, if you've ever intentionally gone to a John Waters film, my guess is that you are not, in fact.

The plot is pretty simple. Small town America is invaded by a bunch of sex addicts, each of their sexual quirks (from shelf humping to dirt worship) brought on by an accidental blow to the head. The whole town starts to convert, as the neuters (normals) lose the fight for decency.

John has lined up a stellar cast for this raunchy romp, my favorite being chronic masturbation lady. You'll see what I mean.

The great thing is, even with over the top sexual humor, there is still a underlying message of tolerance for everyone, as long as their beliefs and actions don't negatively affect anyone else.

My favorite John Waters film by far. See it! (9/10)
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Off Beat (2004)
8/10
Funny. Sexy. Great Soundtrack. Choked me up.
13 September 2004
OFF BEAT is a German film about a paramedic named Crash who relives the accident that killed his parents as a child in his dreams, over and over again. He keeps seeing a woman in his dreams with outstretched arms, who is not his mother. One day, he actually meets her. I don't wanna say more than that plot wise.

This film was fantastic. The main character, Crash (Matthias Schweighöfer), is instantly likable. No, to be honest, you will fall in love with this character immediately. I had the same connection with him as I did with James Duval in Gregg Araki's NOWHERE. I don't think this movie could have been made without him.

The soundtrack was amazing. But I think it's against the law to make a German film without a good soundtrack. Someone look into that for me.

Though I think the movie could have been edited down for a tighter feel, I was ultimately impressed by it. The story will choke you up if you are a big old sissy like I am. Definite recommendation. (8/10)
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8/10
Insanely Hilarious Canadian film.
13 September 2004
PHIL THE ALIEN is a hilarious Canadian comedy about an alien that crash lands on Earth, gets drunk, befriends a talking beaver, joins a band, becomes the messiah, is hunted by assassins in pimpin' fur coats, and goes on a killing spree. If you need more of a reason to see this, something is wrong with you.

Rob Stefaniuk is insanely funny as Phil. In fact, the whole cast works great in this film. Which is pretty rare.

My only gripe is that it looks like a Canadian film. By that I mean that it could have been shot on equipment someone found in Grandpa's den, and mom washed the film that that the director left in his good pants. Ignoring that, which was easy enough, I'd say see this movie as soon as possible. (8/10)
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7/10
A mature departure from the Gregg Araki we know and love.
13 September 2004
MYSTERIOUS SKIN is from one of my favorite directors, Gregg Araki. I avoided reading anything about this film before going to see it, because I didn't want to spoil it. Which left me surprised to find that it was based on a book, and not an original Gregg Araki script. That being said, it is apparently a faithful adaptation of a powerful story about child molestation, and the real way it effects victims. It may be a bit too realistic for some people to watch without squirming, if at all.

Ultimately I enjoyed the film. I found it moving and thought provoking. However, fans of Gregg Araki will find this a departure from his earlier work. He's matured and moved to working with a larger budget, and an "established" cast. This transition was noticeable in his previous film SPLENDOR. Which doesn't have the same life as NOWHERE or DOOM

GENERATION.

Part of the problem was casting, in my opinion. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Neil (from TV's Third Rock from the Sun) was unbelievably good. He even went to the trouble of flying to Kansas to capture the accent and attitude of the people there. He's Araki's replacement James Duval, though not beautiful. Elisabeth Shue (Neil's Mom), Mary Lynn Rajskub (Abduction Girl), Bill Sage (Coach Pervert) were also great. My issues lay with Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn from TV's Buffy), who has always grated on my nerves. She could only act reliably if cast as Idiot Number 3 in the Poseidon Adventure. Being prepared for that going into the movie, I was successful in simply ignoring her "performance". Brady Corbet (Abduction/Molestation Boy) was a bit over the top for me. But Jeffrey Licon was worst of all. He came across like a straight guys sketch of a gay club kid. Whatever he's sellin, I ain't buyin. Young Neil was played by a very talented young Chase Ellison

The soundtrack was pretty forgettable as well, which surprised me.

I can't say I didn't like the film, I was just expecting something different from Gregg Araki. If I imagined this as an unknown directors first film, I could have enjoyed it more. Don't get me wrong, Gregg did an amazing job of it, it just didn't come across as his work. I look forward to the next project he writes and directs himself. (7/10)
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Re-Generation (2004)
2/10
Avoid this worthless film at all costs.
12 September 2004
THE LIMB SALESMAN is a complete bag of ass. It's like someone from Degrassi Junior High directed it. It was as poorly written as it was executed. The location was uninteresting, the set and costume design was amateurish at best, and most of the acting was lame, save for Julian Richings who is always a treat.

It's too bad really. It had a catchy title and an interesting idea, which was then hammed up with sappy dialogue delivered by flat emotionless actors. There were some decent drug nightmare sequences, but ultimately they could not save a worthless film. I want my time and money back. (2/10)
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Blood (2004)
7/10
Inappropriately hot and funny Canadian film.
12 September 2004
BLOOD is an adaptation of a play by the same name. It's a dark comedy that revolves around a brother and sister desperate to have sex with each other. The sexual tension between the two main (and only) characters was authentic, which they later confirmed during the Q&A.

What makes the film truly unique is that it was shot in one long take, four times. And they just choose the best one. The dialogue is thick, biting, and hilarious. The characters even seriously injured each other during one take and kept on going. The entire film was shot on a Montreal sound stage, with a couple of exteriors. The director explained how he tricks the eyes of his audience into not being bored by one small set by having each room a different color, and then using an occasional split screen during rapid dialogue. I thought that was pretty cool because it totally worked on me.

I like the fact that the director replaced the main characters, originally intended to be in their late forties, with young twenty-somethings. I think the sexual tension would have seemed weird and gross otherwise. Instead it was actually pretty hot. This is what Canadian film is all about. (7/10)
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Mirage (2004)
8/10
Worth seeing for 12 year old Marko Kovacevic's performance alone.
12 September 2004
MIRAGE (Iluzija), is a Macedonian film from first time director Svetozar Ristovski, about a boy who is bullied at school, neglected and emotionally abused at home, and without a friend in the world. His teacher gives him hope by encouraging his writing, but eventually he is pushed to the brink. I knew I was going to enjoy this movie immediately as it opened with one of my favorite quote from Nietzsche: "Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man." The movie is about how children can endure physical violence, but not false hope.

The director uses some clever metaphors in the film. Although trains constantly pass through the sleepy Macedonian village, they never stop there. Marko, the child star of the film, seeks refuge in a train graveyard, living in an abandoned train car that will never go anywhere.

There is nothing new about the story, as it's been told time and again in many different languages. What makes it worth watching is an honest look at Macedonian life, it's struggle with poverty and American occupation. But what really made the film for me was a phenomenal performance by 12 year old Marko Kovacevic as Marko. He blew me away. I had the chance to meet the young talent after the film, and he's as cool as he is shy. I would certainly recommend seeing this film for his performance alone. (8/10)
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The Machinist (2004)
8/10
For optimal impact, don't sleep for a week, then see this.
12 September 2004
THE MACHINIST is a film from director Brad Anderson (Session 9, if haven't seen it, you suck) I've been looking forward to for quite a while. Christian Bale plays a machinist who hasn't slept in a year, and has withered away to about 120 pounds. This is not a special effect! Christian Bale actually got to that state. He's basically skin stretched loosely over bones. Extremely gross. As his mind begins to break down, the machinist starts to imagine a sinister plot against him, and his world starts to fall apart.

First, I wanna say that Christian Bale dedication to this role was amazing. For anyone who has been an insomniac, he played it accurately, though the idea that he hadn't slept AT ALL in a year, was totally unbelievable. I imagined instead that the director meant he hadn't had a night of sleep in an entire year.

I was expecting a psychological horror film, much like Session 9, but The Machinist is more of a thriller than a horror. Perfectly executed, it surprised me as the story came to it's conclusion. As anyone who knows me, that's a feat not easily accomplished. There's not much else I can say without giving anything away. If I had any criticism, it would be that there were too few thrills and the film would have been greatly improved with a IRREVERSIBLE style soundtrack. This film was made all the better by having not slept properly all week, and racing around all weekend to see films. I was struggling to stay awake during the movie, which I have to recommend is the state to watch it in. (8/10)
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8/10
Does not disappoint
10 September 2004
Last night I had the distinct pleasure of viewing GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: Innocence in the Toronto International Film Festival.

I should note, like most fans of the original I was expecting a LOT from this sequel. I have to say I wasn't disappointed.

The use of 3D alongside 2D animation has been extremely popular in animation for the past couple of years, and though it was done well here, I'd like to see this trend disappear.

Technology wise, there was not as much of a "wow factor" as with the first film. The wow in the sequel was the long panning Neo-Tokyo shots, an elaborate parade, near perfect light interaction/reflection between 2D/3D elements. There were some neat technology scenes, like the assembly of the sex androids, but it simply did not have the same impact on me that it could have, had it been drawn traditionally. The android suicides, for example, blew me away. I've heard some people arguing about the long stand still scenes, where characters deliver a line and do nothing but stare for several seconds. This is NOT in fact "padding", these bits of timing are placed intentionally for comedic effect, or to allow the viewer the chance to let the words sink in. Sadly, most people will not follow the plot enough to take advantage of these moments.

Musically, this sequel surpasses the original. Though they have shared elements, including the theme, the music was powerful and perfectly utilized. One scene in particular felt like a very familiar Ketamine trip, the jerky funhouse style music felt out of place to me personally, which only added to the effect.

Plot wise it was exactly what I was hoping for. Without giving anything away, it is an extension of what the Major philosophized in the original, with new ideas expanded thoroughly without seeming heavy handed.

A welcome return of all the characters in a sequel that will not disappoint.
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10/10
Hands down, one of the funniest films I've ever seen.
11 December 2003
I love this film, and though I recommend it to everyone I meet (who enjoys a good laugh), some people just don't get it. It's the kind of ridiculous humor I haven't seen in any other film. That's why I say that hands down, one of the funniest films I've ever seen. Period.
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