FilmDrunk

Your Mid-Week Guide To DVD & Blu-ray: Lee Daniels’ The Butler Is In Love With A Church Girl

After a pretty long stretch of not a whole lot, the DVD release schedule is back into full-swing and this week marks the release of a lot of worthy films.  For real.  Even if the Oscar-baiting Lee Daniels’ The Butler isn’t your thing, we’ve got new movies starring Vin Diesel, Chloe Grace Moretz, James Gandolfini, Adam Scott, Sam Rockwell, and Ja Rule.  We’ve got movies about troubled teens both telekinetic and non-telekinetic. We’ve got movies about home invasions and seaside vacations. We’ve even got a movie about burglars who do parkour. If that’s not enough for you, we’re even including a bonus movie that hits VOD today.  That’s top-notch value, folks.

The DVDS:
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Riddick
Carrie
Enough Said
Short Term 12
The Spectacular Now
You’re Next
A.C.O.D.
Fruitvale Station
A Single Shot
Blue Caprice
Rewind This!
Big Sur
Plus One
I’m In Love With A Church Girl
Run

Bonus VOD Selection:
The Great Chicken Wing Hunt

I wasn’t kidding -most of these movies look genuinely promising.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to say that before.  Of course ‘most’ is not ‘all’ and one or two of them look downright terrible, so continue reading and you’ll know which is which. I mention a few celebrity encounters I’ve had and I even share a story about the time my middle school science teacher was investigated for exposing his students to porn.  It’ll be a good time, I promise.


Lee Daniels’ The Butler

First things first: This is not the legendarily well-known and universally beloved Edwin McKim film from 1916 starring Davy Don and Patsy De Forest. No, my friends, this is the one about the African-American gentleman who gets a unique, front-row view to history in the making while serving as butler to eight U.S. presidents. It stars Forest Whitaker as the butler, and co-stars Mariah Carey, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Clarence Williams III, Oprah, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden, Minka Kelly, Live Schreiber, Alan Rickman, and Jane Fonda.

Evidently there’s a lot of demand to work with the guy whose last film involved Nicole Kidman peeing on Zac Efron and whose film before that included a character that was a child with Down Syndrome named Mongo. At any rate, Warner Brothers has gone out of their way to make sure that we, the easily confused movie-going public, do not mistake this movie for their short film from 1916, and any claims from certain Hollywood moguls that this was all a bullying tactic to get some more money from The Hobbit are simply unfounded.  Never mind the curious fact that there was another film entitled The Butler produced last year that got no such heat from Warner Brothers.  It’s all about the purity of the art, I’m sure. What all this means, however, is that the actual title of this movie really is Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and I for one think all movies should have the director’s name as part of the title.  It’s not that I think it would result in directors being more concerned about making better films, I just think it would be funny to think about each and every movie like it was the work of an auteur.  Dennis Dugan’s Grown Ups 2Michael Tiddes’ A Haunted House. Leonard Nimoy’s 3 Men And A Baby.  The possibilities are endless.  Of course there would be the occasionally unwieldy title like Elizabeth Banks’, Steven Brill’s, Steve Carr’s, Rusty Cundieff’s, James Duffy’s, Griffin Dunne’s, Peter Farrelly’s,  Patrik Forsberg’s, Will Graham’s, James Gunn’s, Brett Ratner’s, Jonathn van Tulleken’s, and Bob Odenkirk’s Movie 43, but I’m willing to live with it.  If nothing else, Lee Daniels should’ve been doing this all along.  Precious (Base On Nol By Saf) (Based On The Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire) just sounds confusing, but Lee Daniels’ Precious (Base On Nol By Saf) (Based On The Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire) sounds confusing and classy.  For those wondering, yes, the official complete title of that film really is Precious (Base On Nol By Saf) (Based On The Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire).  Just like Lee Daniels’ The Butler, that title was changed from the originally intended title, Push, to avoid confusion with another film –a now mostly forgotten action film about kids with telekinetic powers starring Dakota Fanning and Chris Evans. You know what?  I’ve just decided that you should disregard everything I’ve written about wanting directors’ names included in film titles because now I wish the revised title of The Butler was The Butler (Base On Arkl A Blr Wl Srvd Bi Thz Ecshn By Wlay Gud) (Based On The Article ‘A Butler Well Served By This Election’ By Wil Haygood). It just rolls off the tongue, you know?


Riddick

Vin Diesel’s back for another installment in the sci-fi franchise about a big burly guy who can see in the dark.  Or something. Plenty of people seem to like these films, but it almost seems like they are apologetic about it.  It’s always, “Actually, Riddick wasn’t that bad.  In fact, it was pretty good for what it tries to be…” which might as well be code for catch it on home video.  So now’s the time, I guess.  I don’t have anything against these films, I just haven’t been interested enough to dive in.  If I’m being honest, I think it’s because I don’t really buy Vin Diesel as a leading man –although if there were ever a leading role for a bulked up, gravel-voiced mumbler, it’s probably as an outer space mercenary who has to wear sunglasses. So do what you will.  I’ll probably see this and its predecessors eventually. Or I won’t.  Nothing against Vin Diesel mind you, he seems nice enough, his movies just aren’t very high on my list. I’m completely serious about him seeming nice, by the way, because I met the guy once.  I was the only customer sitting at a hotel bar, I was nursing a beer and minding my own business when some big guy sits down a few empty seats away from me and politely asks for water with lemon. The guy sounded just like Vin Diesel so I stole a glance and immediately turned back to facing forward because damned if it wasn’t the man himself.  I must’ve turned too quickly because he noticed, and he says, “Hey pal…”  “Yeah?” I reply.  “It’s okay.  I’m used to it.” The bartender hands him his water, and now I’m faced with a choice.  Do I admit I was freaked out to see Vin Diesel or do I try to play it cool?  It might’ve been the beer, but I decided to choose neither option and instead  act like I didn’t know him so I asked him, “Used to what?”  “People surprised to see me.  You didn’t expect it.  I get it.”  I could’ve just agreed, but instead I insisted that I didn’t recognize him.  I don’t know why. I guess I was just bored.  He listens to my denial, and then with a  big smile he says, “Sure you do.  I’m the guy.”  At this point the bartender chimes in with, “You know, from the Fast Furious car movies.”  I persist in my lie that I don’t know him, and I apologize saying, “I don’t really get to too many movies or follow Hollywood news, so, don’t feel bad, but I don’t know you.”  Vin says, “You’ve seen Saving Private Ryan, right?  Everybody’s seen that.”  Again, I lie.  “Nope, like I said, I don’t really see a lot of movies.”  “Well you should see that one, it’s from Steven Spielberg –he made Jurassic Park- and it stars Tom Hanks.  And I’m in it.”  I agree to look it up some day, and as he’s finishing his water, Vin smiles and tells the bartender to give me another beer, on him.  He leaves more than enough money at the bar takes a step closer to me and says, “You should check out some of my movies, and when you do, you can tell the people you’re with that you met me once and I bought you a beer. Name’s Vin.  Diesel.”  The trouble is, that was over two years ago and I still haven’t gotten around to watching any of his movies.  Nice guy, though. Nothing like the time I ran into Christopher Reeve in an adult bookstore. F*cker tried acting like there was more than one Clark Kent-looking paralyzed dude tooling around in a motorized wheel chair. He ended up just buying a shit-ton of edible underpants.  Really weird.


Carrie

Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz headline this latest unnecessary remake of a horror classic.  Moretz and Moore play Carrie and her mother, and I’m just going to guess they won’t be getting Oscar nominations like Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie got for the original film.  Speaking of, I’ll never forget the first time I saw a clip from Carrie.  I was in seventh grade science, it was the psychology unit and instead of actually teaching us anything our teacher was having us watch the 1976 miniseries Sybil (not to be confused with the 1921 silent film based on Benjamin Disraeli’s novel of the same name).  Every day he would turn it on and leave the classroom, probably to go get a little drunk in the teachers’ lounge . He seemed like that kind of a guy. Anyhow, after several days of watching Sally Field fight with her multiple personalities, the movie finally ended with a few minutes left in the class period and the VHS tape cut to a scene of a teenage girl soaping her breasts in a locker room shower.  We all watched in confused fascination as the girl began to bleed from her crotch and, well, if you don’t know the scene you can watch it here.  The incident led to our science teacher being briefly investigated by the school board for exposing minors to pornography but he ended up not really getting in trouble because it technically wasn’t porn, and we all had previously turned in signed permission slips from our parents letting us watch the tape which was known to contain ‘adult subject matter’. He wasn’t allowed to show us videos for the rest of the year, though, which sucks because I was really looking forward to seeing that TV movie (dude loved TV movies) about Jeff Goldblum discovering the structure of DNA.  Still, you can see why I have a certain fondness for the original version of Carrie.


Enough Said

If you insist.


Short Term 12

This indie film, about a young woman working at a home for at-risk teens, has gotten impossibly great reviews.  While there is no official FilmDrunk review, Vince has seen it and recommends it, despite traditionally being averse to these types of dramas.  In fact, in his brief write-up of the film he mentions the final scene saying, “It’s so good.”  Now if he had instead said, “It’s so good!” he would’ve snagged another box-cover critics’ blurb, but he didn’t so he doesn’t and that’s that. Learn to play the game, Vince.  Learn to play the game.

Vince’s Note: It’s a bit emo and perhaps relies a bit too heavily on “people got issues, yo,” but it’s clearly heartfelt, well-acted, and incredibly well done. The final shot of the film was one of my favorites all year.


The Spectacular Now

The synopsis:

Sutter Keely lives in the now. It’s a good place for him. A high school senior, charming and self-possessed, he’s the life of the party, loves his job at a men’s clothing store, and has no plans for the future. A budding alcoholic, he’s never far from his supersized, whiskey-fortified thirst-master cup. But after being dumped by his girlfriend, Sutter gets drunk and wakes up on a lawn with Aimee Finecky hovering over him. She’s different: the “nice girl” who reads science fiction and doesn’t have a boyfriend. While Amy has dreams of a future, Sutter lives in the impressive delusion of a spectacular now, yet somehow, they’re drawn together.

Normally that synopsis would be enough for me to take a pass, but I’m willing to give it a shot because it’s been getting pretty great reviews -although not Short Term 12 great. That film’s 99% on Rotten Tomatoes makes this film’s 92% look like shit in comparison. Critical praise aside, I’m also keeping this on the to-watch list simply because I feel bad for Shailene Woodley (who plays Aimee) after she got cut out of the forthcoming The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  They can fit in 637 obscure super villians but that can’t find narrative space for a third female with a speaking role? Anyhow, we can all see her in this movie instead and hopefully it will lead to more movies in which her role is essential.  Simply put, this movie wouldn’t exist without her character.  Unless they wanted to make it a 95 minute film about an alcoholic teenager who falls in love with his nerdy, invisible, imaginary girlfriend, which actually sounds about right for a guy with a stupid name like ‘Sutter Keely’.

Vince’s Note: I saw this last night. There are a lot of reasons I wanted to hate it, not the least of which because it’s trying to sell us on Shailene Woodley as the overlooked Plain Jane (no high school boy is overlooking Shailene Woodley, I don’t care if she’s wearing a trashbag full of dog poop to school every day). And because the main characters say each others’ names CONSTANTLY (always a pet peeve of mine). And did I mention that one of their names is “Sutter?” BUT, I thought it was mostly pretty well done. A bit emo for my tastes (people got issues, I get it), but the acting was great, and it’s hard not to fall totally in love with Shailene Woodley’s character. The depiction of an alcoholic trying to remember the night before was especially spot on.


You’re Next

Shelved in 2011 after playing a couple film festivals, this gory but humorous home invasion horror film finally got a theatrical release last August and was met with both critical and financial success -making over $18 million on a $1 million budget.   Nothing’s been announced yet, but there’s no way they aren’t making a sequel.  So what’s it gonna be: You’re Next Again, You’re Nexter, You’re Also Next, You’re Next 2, or maybe You’re Next Too?  I suppose Now You’re Next could work.  Or maybe just Next. It worked for Riddick after The Chronicles Of Riddick. Or how about You Are Next, or perhaps the provocative Are You Next?, or the controversially nonsensical Your Next?  No matter what they end up choosing, I’m going to stop now because I’m experiencing some serious semantic satiation with the word ‘next’.  Next next next next next next next next.  The word is now totally meaningless to me. I hate when that happens. Time to move on to the DVD that is after this one.  There’s got to be a simpler way to say that.


A.C.O.D.

Adam Scott headlines this comedy about adult children of divorce (abbreviated as A.C.O.D.s, because A.C.O.D.s are too busy reminiscing about getting two birthdays and two Christmases each year to take the time to say four actual words).  Scott’s character finds out that he was unknowingly part of a study on children of divorced parents as a child and somehow this prompts him to choose to participate in a follow up study about adults with divorced parents.  This leads to him meeting and f*cking Jessica Alba because why not?  Amy Poehler is stunt cast as his step-mom because it’s funny if you know that they play a married couple on TV. A.C.O.D. barely got a theatrical release and wasn’t liked very much by the critics, so tread with caution.  If you’re an A.C.O.D. you might get a kick out of recognizing elements of your own life being depicted in the film, but at the same time, I could see A.C.O.D.s wanting to avoid it for the same reason.  I’m an A.W.G.U.W.O.O.L.P. (Adult Who Grew Up With Only One Living Parent), so I’m probably going to take a pass on this one.  Your parents can’t see each other without fighting?  Big deal, my parents can’t see each other without a crystal ball or a shovel.  I guess what I’m saying is I bet this movie has just a bit too much “My life sucks because my parents don’t like each other” bitching and moaning in it for me to watch without making a jacking-off motion with my hand the whole time.  Granted, the jacking-off motion is a given. How else am I supposed to jack-off? I’m just saying that I hate jacking-off while also rolling my eyes at whiny douches who don’t know how good they have it.


Fruitvale Station

The synopsis:

This is the true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother, whose birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend, who he hasn’t been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to T, their beautiful 4 year old daughter. He starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easy. He crosses paths with friends, family, and strangers, each exchange showing us that there is much more to Oscar than meets the eye. But it would be his final encounter of the day, with police officers at the Fruitvale BART station that would shake the Bay Area to its very core, and cause the entire nation to be witnesses to the story of Oscar Grant.

If you didn’t know –spoiler alert, I guess- Oscar Grant, a black man, ended up getting fatally shot by a white police officer despite already being in restraints.  If you want more details, Vince gives the incident a brief breakdown here.   This is one of those films that gets a lot of critical praise and a fair amount of awards from festivals and such, but man, this seems like such a downer to watch.  I’m not saying the film doesn’t look compelling or well made, nor am I saying that it isn’t an important story to tell, I’m just saying that it looks like actually seeing it will be depressing as hell.  I’m all for watching films that focus on racial issues, and I don’t even mind if they have some challenging scenes along the way, but I prefer them to have, if not happy, at least inspirational and uplifting endings. So, given the choice between watching this or Lee Daniels’ The Butler, I choose the one with Robin Wiliams in a wig.  I can’t say  for sure that it ends on an upbeat note, but I’m willing to bet it does based solely on the number of older white people I know who like it.  Luckily for anyone on the fence about which film to watch and who thinks they might want to own both films, Best Buy is running a promotion this week in which you save $5 when you buy both movies on blu-ray. Given that information I’m sure the movies must be more alike than they seem and Best Buy wouldn’t just be pairing them because they are both ‘true’ stories about black people, but hey -free shipping!


A Single Shot

Sam Rockwell stars as a West Virginia hunter who accidentally kills a young woman out in the woods and then discovers a box of cash near her body.  He takes the cash which leads to all sorts of complications because of course he does and of course it does because if he didn’t take the cash every single person watching the movie would say, “Why didn’t he take the cash?  It’s obviously there for a reason, narratively speaking. I mean, if he isn’t taking the cash, why is it there in the first place?  Who wrote this god damn movie? Why did they show the cash to us?  Hell, why did they even create the prop and put it in the scene if he’s not going to take it? And it’s not like he’s going to come back for it; if he was going to take the money it would’ve been one of the first things he did.  This movie makes no sense.  Rockwell better start dancing or else this movie will just be a waste of time. I mean, I like the guy, but he’s beginning to make me wonder. Did you know he’s starring in a remake of Poltergeist?  I swear to god, they remade Poltergeist.  Who needs that?  The first one was legitimately terrifying, and that’s to say nothing of the Poltergeist curse.  Does he think that’s a joke?  Because it’s not.  That little girl died.  At age 12.  12. F*cking tragic and creepy as hell.  And the older daughter was murdered, I swear to God.  For real. I mean, holy shit, you don’t mess with stuff like that.”  Luckily, Rockwell’s character in A Single Shot takes the money.


Blue Caprice

This is that film about the African-American father and son who terrorized Washington D.C. with sniper attacks in 2002 (and let’s be honest, we were all surprised it was them and not a lone white guy). Missing out on an obvious marketing ploy, Blue Caprice‘s home video distributors have opted to not release this film on blu-ray. Just think of the savings Best Buy’s customers would’ve been getting if they had.


Rewind This!

This week marks the DVD release of several documentaries, and many of them address important topics.  These documentaries include Gasland Part II (about fracking -again), Greedy Lying Bastards (about climate change science and the rich dudes who try to discredit it), Our Nixon (I’ll give you one guess about the subject matter), and How To Make Money Selling Drugs (all you need to know is that it is executive produced by Adrian Grenier).  All of those are arguably more ‘important’ films than Rewind This!, but I’m featuring Rewind This! because it’s the only new doc this week that I’d ever actually watch.  It’s a love letter to the video tape and how rentals changed the face of movie making.  It looks like a lot of fun and certainly reminds me of my days discovering weird movies like Beware: Children At Play and Meet The Feebles at the video store.  Seriously though, if you plan on watching any ‘serious’ documentary any time soon it really should be The Act Of Killing, which hit DVD last week.  While certainly  full of challenging subject matter –it depicts Indonesians recreating the genocidal murders they personally committed- the film has received almost universal praise from everyone who has seen it.  Our man Vince has given it a lot of coverage and besides c0nsidering it one of the best films of 2013, he tells me it is a serious contender for the best documentary he’s ever seen.  And he’s seen like nine or ten of ‘em. Just so you know, The Act Of Killing’s DVD edition includes the 165 minute director’s cut, which is a full 43 minutes longer than the theatrical edit.  That’s a really long time to sit watching a movie, so unless you fill up with a big meal before you press play on your remote, you’ll probably want to line up a few snacks to nibble on while watching people fondly reminisce about -and then reenact- their days torturing and killing their fellow man.  I recommend taquitos.


Big Sur

Here we have another self-important movie based on a Jack Kerouac book that, in turn, was based on Kerouac’s life experiences. Is it really a novel if all you did was change the names in your diary?  Literary digressions aside, this cast is just as high-caliber as the last cast. Instead of Kristen Stewart, new Tron guy, and some other guy I don’t know, this one stars Josh Lucas, Kate Bosworth, and a different guy I don’t know. Whereas the last one was about Kerouac’s time spent in a car, this one is about his three brief visits to a friend’s cabin near the California coast.  They really screwed the pooch not making this in 3-D.


Plus One

This movie asks the age-old question: if you got caught in a time-loop and ran into a version of yourself from a different timeline, would you shoot your double or make out with them? At least I think that’s what it’s asking.  The whole thing takes place at one of those clichéd massive house parties that are in every teen movie and would never happen in real life and as always it’s way too crowded and  the music is just too god damn loud.  If I ran into my doppelganger at one of those sweat-and-Axe body spray-infused stench festivals I’d end up just asking myself for an aspirin.


I’m In Love With A Church Girl

What can I say?  This movie, a ‘true story’ about a drug dealer who came to love God by way of chasing a righteous piece of ass and hanging out with a Lamborghini-driving pastor, so fascinated Vince that he actually sought it out and wrote up an official FilmDrunk review (giving the film a “D+”, but still).  I can’t say I expected a better grade, but it would be hardly fair to say Vince has the final word on this film when The Dove Foundation exists and -this is true- the film lists God as an executive producer.  That’s right my brothers and sisters in Christ, in what may possibly be a FilmDrunk first, we have an official review face-off between FilmDrunk and The Dove Foundation.  Many films have been appraised by the two organizations, but never before have they set their stern-but-loving critical gazes upon the same work of art.  We know Vince’s assessment, but now I’m here to share the Dove Foundations decree: I’m In Love With A Church Girl gets the highest honor –a full 5 Doves!  Did you really expect anything less from God’s production company? Featuring ‘fine actors’ and a ‘terrific theme’ Dove’s reviewer states in no uncertain terms that this one should not be missed. With that in mind, they’ve laid out their usual warnings about rough content so each of us can prepare our families for what we will see when we watch this most amazing film.  “SEX: a woman tells a man that the Bible is better than sex and he laughs at her comment in amusement; a couple shares ahotel but she makes him sleep on the couch; a woman sends a man a sexy photo by phone.  LANGUAGE: H (as a place)-1; two indistinguishable words are heard at which could possibly be “H” and “D”. VIOLENCE: Talk of a man that hung out of a car with guns blazing; a man smashes a car window and pulls man out of car; gun held on man. DRUGS: Drinking in a bar including some shots; a man admits to having trafficked drugs in the past; wine; the cops watch a drug deal but no drugs are used; men are arrested for selling drugs. NUDITY: Cleavage in several scenes.  OTHER: A few characters with tattoos; a woman says she would rather be called a woman of faith instead of a Christian but she practices the Christian faith; a man says he saw a man on TV that said Jesus was only a prophet; a man wonders aloud why God allows rape, murder, sorrow; an angry man prays and and tells God that someone else needs to “take the wheel” because God seems as if He is out to lunch following a car accident but then the man repents.”  Oh man do I love those warnings.  Each category has its charms but it’s often tough to beat the bizarre treasures that can be found in the OTHER section.  I love the fact that it made the reviewer uncomfortable that a character didn’t like using the label Christian.  I wonder why this (fictitious) woman wouldn’t want to be branded with that term?  It’s not like there are very vocal people calling themselves Christians, all while spouting absolutely insane shit like say, fretting over what wasn’t said by a character in a movie because what they didn’t say could’ve been a swear.  Or how dare anyone question God’s love when something bad happens?  Or why wouldn’t a proper Christian raise concern when characters are depicted drinking wine?  Surely there’s no Biblical precedent for wine consumption.  Look, I’m not saying I agree with Vince and I’m not saying I agree with Dove.  A review is just an opinion and we are free to form our own, I am saying, however, that if God could take a few producing notes from his boys Kirk Cameron and Tyler Perry.  This film didn’t even make back its $3 million budget.  The guy can create all of existence in a calendar week but he can’t even make a movie that does as well as The Grace Card? That’s more embarrassing than the time Noah got drunk and his children saw his nakedness.


Run

If you’ve been wondering what ever happened to the young actor who played Peter Pevensie in the Narnia movies I am happy to tell you that he is starring in this straight-to-video movie about parkouring  burglars that –of course- co-stars Eric Roberts. You didn’t really think we were going to get through this week’s DVDs without at least one Eric Roberts movie, did you?


The Great Chicken Wing Hunt

This one’s not on DVD yet, but it hits iTunes and other VOD services today.  Here’s the synopsis:

American expatriate, international journalist and upstate New Yorker Matt Reynolds forsakes a successful life in Eastern Europe, compelled by a singular obsession: find the world’s best Buffalo chicken wing. Joined by his long-suffering Czech girlfriend, a perplexed Slovak film crew, and a ragtag gang of wing-obsessed misfits recruited on-line, Reynolds embarks on THE GREAT CHICKEN WING HUNT. After 2,627 miles and 284 varieties of wings, the quest ends in the very countryside of Reynolds’ childhood, where he discovers that the perfection he has sought so hard to find was right under his nose all along.

Vince has seen this movie and liked it enough that he asked me to specifically include it.  Again, it’s not one of today’s DVDs and I don’t like breaking my own self-imposed rules determining which movies I feature in a given week, but I’ve already broken some rules this week by mentioning another documentary Vince liked, The Act Of Killing, so why not give this film some love as well, right?  So check both movies out.  Maybe make it a double feature. Buffalo wings go with taquitos, right?

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