Wednesday, December 29, 2010

BEST OF 2010

TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2010:
What started off as a slow year, turned out to be quite an amazing one once all was said and done. Legends like Jean Luc Godard and Roman Polanski proved that they're still very relevant with 'Film Socialisme' and 'The Ghost Writer'. 'Toy Story 3' brought back fond memories of our childhood, Sofia Coppola made it perfectly clear that she's not her father, and has no interest in being like him as a director. And 'Machete' was the official guilty pleasure movie of 2010 (with 'kickass' and 'the expandables' right behind it). From the eerie and poetic; 'Uncle Boonmee...' (winner of best picture at this years cannes film festival) to Joaquin Phoenix's Practical joke on hollywood in the form of 'I'm Still Here', this new decade of cinema is off to a great start. Not to toot my own, but i can almost guarantee you wont find a "best of 2010" movie list as diverse as what you're about to read.


Ben Affleck can direct, but maybe he should just stay behind the camera for now (not trying to jump on the Ben Affleck-hate bandwagon, but its true).
I don't consider this one of "THE BEST" of the year, but its too important and relevant to go unmentioned.
An L.A. crime drama with a touch of the wild west, set in Australia.
Louis C.K. taps in to his "inner Bill Cosby" ("Bill Cosby Himself" to be exact) and proves why he's one of the best comedians working today.
A surprisingly good (and progressive) family dramedy, that might finally get Annette Benning the academy award that's dodged her for so many years.
a remake that wasn't as bad as we all wanted it to be.
guilty pleasure
another guilty pleasure
Michel Gondry steps away from his usual quirky humor & visual effects and returns to documentary film making with a personal film about his family.
Abbas Kiarostami steps out of his comfort zone, and makes a romance story reminiscent of 1960's italian art films. Juliette Binoche gives a great performance as well.

It was such a great year for documentaries, i gave them their own category. My one and only regret is that i didn't get a chance to see Werner Herzog's latest film; 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams' (which was apparently in 3D).
a man struggles with remembering his past after he's nearly beaten to death. In order to cope with the pain, he creates a unique form of therapy that involves reenactments with action figures. Eventually, his therapy turns in to art for others, and the subject must now deal with being an artist and trying to maintain what little memory and sanity he has left.
a documentary on 'Troll 2', which solidifies its status as the #1 cult movie if this generation.
Steven Soderbergh's unique and touching documentary about his friend (and former collaborator) Spalding Gray, told entirely through old performance footage, personal home videos and old tv appearances ranging from MTV to E!
say hat you want about Banksy or "Mr Brainwash", but this was one of the biggest documentaries of the year, and it got everyone talking. Whether the documentary is truly a hoax or not, Banksy made a great film (with a sick soundtrack).
while the social network may be the official film about, networks, Winnebago man is this years official film for the youtube era. this documentary focuses on one of the very first "youtube celebrities"; the angriest man ever. It focuses on his hatred for most people (specifically dick cheney), his political views, his colorful language and his disdain with being associated with the youtube generation.

Sometimes movies from the festival circuit don't get a U.S. distributor until months later. Technically these films came out last year, but no one in the U.S. has seen them outside of special press screenings or something like that.
a disturbing yet (darkly) hilarious look at dysfunctional families.
Andrea Arnold dispels the so-called sophomore jinx with a touching coming of age story, set to a surprising mid-90's hip-hop soundtrack including; Nas (life's a bitch), Gangstar (just to get a rap) and Eric b & Rakim (know the ledge). Not as good as 'Red Road' (one of the best films of 2006), but definitely a great film.
Nicholas Refn tries to shake his comparison to Stanley Kubrick (which hasn't been working out to well for him) with a violent, tripped out, acid-induced viking story. This movie starts to kinda fall apart at in the middle, but the cinematography, atmospheric soundtrack and ending keep everything together.
one of the most talked about books, became one of the most talked about movies of this year. To bad the sequels were a huge disappointment.
Claire Denis continues to prove why she is one of the best directors working today.
unlike 'mother' or 'secret in their eyes', this is one of the best foreign films of last year that actually lived up to its hype.
an amazing documentary/unfinished film hybrid about one of france's greatest directors (Henri Cluzot) and the masterpiece he never finished.

These are films that had some serious flaws, yet at the same time tried to do something new and think outside of the box in some way shape or form. They had both; amazing aspects along with things that should have been worked on like; editing (which is what 'Black Venus' and 'Enter The Void' suffered from) or a predictable unfolding of events (Black Swan). Nevertheless, these are still movies worth seeing more than once and will more than likely stand the test of time. Who knows, i might change my mind about these movies in the future.
Unfortunately, this is nothing that we haven't before with; '3 Women', 'Persona', 'Mulholland Drive', 'Repulsion', 'Vertigo' or other various films directed by Roman Polanski, Alfred Hitchcock or David Lynch. A great ending would've saved this movie, but instead Aronofsky took the predictable "its all in your head" route (with an ending VERY similar to 'the wrestler'). However, Natalie Portman gives the performance of her career (which may not be saying much because there's not a whole lot to compare it to, but still...). And Vincent Cassell is amazing all always. Even Mila Kunis surprised me (and many others) with a great supporting performance. Even though this isn't one of my top 10 films of the year, its still one of the most interesting, and should be seen. Oh, you get to see the trailer for Terrance Mallick's new movie ('tree of life') with Black Swan, so that's a major plus.
Say what you want about Gaspar Noe, but every one of his films gets more and more technically advanced. His downfall with this movie was similar to 'Black Venus' in that this movie could have been 45 minutes shorter. This is still a good movie (sometimes intense), but it just went on for too long. And some of you have seen this may find it hard to believe, but there's actually an even longer version of this movie.
As flawed as this movie may have been, at the end of the day it was a step forward in black film (if there even is such a thing). For once i didn't have to sit through a movie about; the first black athlete to slam dunk a basketball at an ivy league school, a single teen mother in the ghetto (yes I'm taking a stab at precious and the hundred other movies to focus on that), an aspiring rapping pimp (hustle n' flow), a black sidekick that has some stupid loyalty to the white main character (a role kept alive by Morgan Freeman and Whoopi Goldberg) or a biography about a predictable civil rights leader. This is probably the best post-slavery film to come in YEARS (might be one of the best). This film only had one flaw but as far as I'm concerned it was a MAJOR one. The editing. Jesus Christ this movie could have been cut down quite a bit. I thought there were WAY too many scenes that focused on her being shown as a freak, and hardly no focus on the main characters back story (outside of a few references here and there). Even more, the scenes where she is paraded around like a sideshow went on for way too long to the point where you want to scream; "ALRIGHT, ENOUGH! WE GET IT!"

Olivia Williams, Pierce Brosnan & Tom Wilkanson (The Ghost Writer)
Leslie Manville (Another Year)
Casey Affleck (The Killer Inside Me)
Joaquin Phoenix (I'm Still Here)
Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Jeremy Renner (The Town)
Yahima Torres (Black Venus)
James Franco (127 Hours)
Ryan Gosling & Michele Williams (Blue Valentine)
Emily Alyn Lind (Enter The Void)
Julliete Binoche (Certified Copy)
Annette Benning & Julianne Moore (The Kids Are Alright)

if the trailer is any indication of whats to come, i cannot wait.
david cronenberg's next film
lynne ramsay returns
lets hope that these 2 new superhero films are not only great, but can tie all of the avenger movies together
snakes on a plane loses its belt of having the most ridiculous movie title
manuel de oliviero is 101 years old and still directing
after 4 years, this movie is finally getting a release
scorsese's next film. lets hope its better than 'shutter island'.
im not sure what david gordon green is up to, but as long as danny mcbride is in this, i'll see it
can harrison ford make up for that last indiana jones movie?
once again steven soderbergh is going 2 movies in one year. no one he's supposedly retiring. he's burnt out.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New and improved Flud website with new reviews...

The flud website recently got face lift. Check out some of my latest movie reviews ('the social network', 'the town', 'machete' and more) on the new site.—the-expandables

Michael Mann & Claire Denis Ranked

Last night, I realized that Mann & Denis where the 2 directors i explored the most this year, outside of my regular go-to movies like; ghost dog, stranger than paradise, taxi driver, in the mood for love and a few more. In fact, Heat (Michael Mann) and Nenette & Boni (Claire Denis) are also two of my go-to movies when i cant think of anything else to watch.
With Mann, Ive always been a fan, but in all honesty, it never really went past ‘heat’ and ‘manhunter’. This year, i made a point to re-watch movies of his i haven't seen since i was a kid ('thief' and 'the insider') or to give other movies i disliked a 2nd chance ('ali' and 'collateral'). I even got around to finally seeing; 'Public Enemies' and 'Miami Vice'. Sure his current “digital” style of film making doesn't always work (like in public enemies), but other times he pulls it off beautifully (miami vice…which is a movie i think many people are scared to admit they like). The shots in his movies are so beautiful sometimes its ridiculous. I think he’s the best “studio” director working today (obviously that's debatable, but still…). I'm sorry that collateral is ranks so low, but that movie was not good at all. Also not a fan of the “white guy accepted by the native americans” movies, which is why last of the mohicans is ranked so low. i totally understand if other people like that movie, but its just not my thing.
Claire Denis is my 2nd most explored director this year. With the exception of that one dance documentary she made a few years, Ive made it a point to try and see everything she’s done. The retrospective at IFC this year made that easy. Ive said this many times, but i’ll say it again; i think she’s one of the best directors working today. She has a style unlike anyone else. Her films have a masculinity that most male directors cant match. All of her movies have an amazing score/soundtrack (even the ones that aren't scored by Tindersticks). And I love her choice of actors (especially Alex Descas and Vincent Gallo). I only wish she worked with Dennis Lavant more.
Just like i did with Thomas Vinterberg (and still SLOWLY working on with John Carpenter), a more in depth overview of each of their filmographies may come in the future if i have time.
Michael Mann
Claire Denis

Friday, December 17, 2010


Yo, here's a writeup i did with my friend John Cribbs for him and his friend Chris's website;
Its a pretty awesome concept where people are given the task of saving 5 films from the combined filmographies of 5 random directors. I got; Leos Carax, George Lucas, Russell Mulcahy, John Huston and Carl Dreyer.
Be sure to check out the rest of the five from the fire articles on the site as well (link to the website is on the right).


I cant remember the last time I've anticipated a movie coming out so much. 2011 is shaping up to be a pretty awesome year, and I'm really only basing this on 3 or 4 movies that i know of so far. David Cronenberg's 'a dangerous method', Lynne Ramsay's return with 'we need to talk about kevin' (which will also have John C Reilly acting in a dramatic role for the first time in a long time). And even though i still have my doubts, I'm very curious to see how both; 'Thor' & 'Captain America' will turn out. Anyway, here's the official trailer for Terrance Mallick's next film; 'The Tree of Life' (we can finally stop watching that bootleg camera phone version).

Monday, December 13, 2010


Just like Troll 2, this is another cult movie where most people don't seem to care about the first part (i wouldn't even be surprised if anyone hasn't actually seen Silent Night Deadly Night 1). This movie also shares another similarity with Troll 2 in that its another awful/awesome movie that's been re-discovered thanks to sites like; Youtube, Collegehumor and other viral sites. Because of the famous "Garbage Day" clip, Silent Night Deadly Night 2 has become one of the new cult movies of the 21st century. I was gonna put this on one of my "Movies for Halloween" lists, but it made more sense for this to be with the christmas movies (i mean, these silent night deadly night movies are essentially about a psycho running around in a santa klaus outfit hacking people up with an axe). In Silent Night Deadly Night 2 we follow Ricky, Billy's little brother from part 1. In the film, we see Ricky follow down the same evil path as his brother and watch as he slowly turns in to a serial killer seeking revenge on the sadistic nun from the first film who made life for him and his brother a living hell. If you've actually seen this entire movie, you know that there's a whole lot more to this besides the Garbage Day scene. There's the scene where Ricky kills the guy in the movie theater. The part where Ricky shoves an umbrella through a guys torso. And lets not forget the overall performance given by the commanding lead actor Eric Freeman, who almost never seems to blink (or show much emotion at all) through out the entire film.

Its kinda funny that Terry Zwigoff directed this movie strictly for the paycheck, and it ended up being even better than the disappointing; 'Art School Confidential' (the movie Zwigoff made thanks to the money he got from 'Bad Santa'). While 'Ghost World' highlighted Zwigoff's talent for awkwardly dark humor, Bad Santa was his first foray into raunchy and somewhat obscene humor. The dark humor in Bad Santa isn't as 'intelligent' as Ghost World, but it still works. Before this films release, the trailer didn't make this movie out to be that appealing. But slowly through word of mouth, this movie started to gain a reputation for its unexpected humor, and is slowly becoming a new-age cult movie (midnight screenings of Bad Santa have slowly started to pop up in movie theaters through out the U.S.). Zwigoff's obvious Todd Solondz-influenced film making (as seen in 'Crumb' and 'Ghost World') is nowhere to be found in Bad Santa. R.I.P. John Ritter and Bernie Mac.

After you finish watching 'Bad Santa', why not depress the shit outta yourself and watch the third installment of Michael Hanake's "Glaciation trilogy" (a trilogy based on actual events that have taken place in Austria over the years). This movie, which is loosely based on the true story of an austrian college student who cracked up, shot up a bank full of people then killed himself a few minutes later, is one of the few multi-storyline/multi-character films from the mid-90's that had absolutely NOTHING to do with Pulp Fiction (for that fact a lone, this movie deserves an applause). In the film, Haneke interweaves the lives of random austrian residents (a couple that has just adopted a daughter, a middle-aged couple that's recently lost their child, a lonely old man, a college student on the brink of a nervous breakdown, a romanian immigrant, etc) during the christmas season. Michael Haneke sure does make his country seem like a pretty grim place. This movie isn't as depressing as his first film; The 7th Continent, but it comes pretty close, with an ending just as powerful.

The Rocky saga shouldve ended with this one if you ask me. Outside of the final street fight at the end of Rocky 5, both; 5 & 6 are horrible, especially when compared to this one. We've all seen Rocky 4 by now (and if you haven't, what the fuck have you been doing with your life?), so we all know the story. Ivan Drago, the new lethal kid on the boxing circuit kills Apollo Creed in a boxing match, and Rocky seeks revenge. This movie was made during the height of the "evil russians" plot craze, that many american action movies played into with movies like; 'Red Dawn', 'Ruskies', 'Rambo 2', and many more. This movie has so many memorable scenes (especially the final training montage) and quotes. This is a must see for everyone.

I just saw this over the weekend at IFC, and along with 'Kickass', this is my favorite guilty pleasure movie of 2010. Its funny, because in a strange way, this horror/action/comedy reminded me of that parody action santa klaus movie from 'Scrooged' (the Bill Murray 'Scrooged'). I must emphasize that in order to enjoy this, it cannot be taken seriously. In Rare Exports, director; Jalmari Helander puts a disturbing twist on the age-old fairy tale of Santa Klaus. The film follows main character; Pietari, a young finnish boy who lives with his struggling single father, who notices certain things that others in his village don't see. Due to all the disturbing fairy tales he always reads, he's convinced that Santa Klaus isn't the jolly old man that everyone makes him out to be and he's lurking around the village waiting to kidnap all the children on christmas eve. Anyone who's a fan of Jav Svankmajer (a director famous for making movies based on twisted fairy tales) is sure to enjoy this movie.

I'm partially putting this movie on my list as reminder to myself to re-watch it, because its been a while. I'm aware the entire film (a biography about gangster/entrepreneur Bugsy Seigel) doesn't take place during christmas, but a critical segment of the film (Bugsy's casino owning days in Las Vegas), does. This movie is also a big part of Harvey Keitel's comeback that took place during the early 1990's. In a few short years ('92-'94), Keitel re-emerged to the A-list status that he once had with; Bugsy, Bad Lieutenant, Reservoir Dogs, The Piano and Pulp Fiction. Much like how Dennis Hopper was nominated for an academy award for Hoosiers, when he really should have been nominated that year for Blue Velvet, Keitel ended up getting nominated (his one and only nomination) for his performance in Bugsy, when most people felt it should have been for Bad Lieutenant.

Wow, Christmas time must suck for american kids in the public school system who celebrate Hanukka (or even Kwanzaa for that matter). Sure schools, try to acknowledge other holidays, but no matter what, Christmas is always #1. I think part of Hebrew Hammer's motivation as a film was to appeal to all the non-christian kids who had Christmas shoved in their faces for so many years. In 'The Hebrew Hammer', Adam Goldberg plays; Mordecai Carver, aka "The Hebrew Hammer". He's pretty much a jewish shaft/local hero among the jewish community. After santa is killed by his evil son (played by Andy Dick) with plans to do away with all holidays except Christmas, the Hebrew Hammer is given his toughest mission yet from the Jewish Justice League (the company he works for): save hanukka. To do this, he joins forces with fellow JJL agent; "Ester Bloombergensteinenthal" and head of the Kwanzaa liberation front; "Muhammad Ali Paula Abdul", played by Mario Van Peeples (a nice homage to Melvin Van Peeples, who pretty much single handedly started the 'Blaxploitation' genre, which 'The Hebrew Hammer' pays homage to).


This movie will always be a nice comment on yuppies and the 80's in general. Thank god we have the 'american psycho' we know today, and not what almost became the cocaine induced Oliver Stone adaptation that was supposed to star Leonardo Dicaprio. In the film, Christian Bale plays a young successful wall street stock broker by day and a serial killer by night (...or is it all in his head). By now, I'm sure most of you reading this know that my mancrush on christian bale started after his amazing temper tantrum on the set of the last terminator movie (which bumped mike tyson's homophobic/homoerotic rant at the tyson/lewis press conference down to 2nd place). Other than 'the fighter', which has everyone talking about bale, 'American Pyscho' is Christian Bale's best performance. I mean when you think about it, the batman movies are obviously not about his acting, 'public enemies' focused on Johnny Depp more than him, and with the machinist, people seemed to be more hung up on his weight loss ability and less on his acting. Bale does an amazing job as a psychopath, and i cant help but think that director; Marry Harron drew some inspiration from Mike Leigh's character 'Jeremy G Smart' from his film 'Naked'. Oh and in case you guys didn't realize, this movie takes place during christmas so it counts

for those of you not familiar with the movie 'naked', here's the character i was talking about, that I'm sure was used in some way to shape the patrick bateman character.

Sorry, but i had to throw in one "art house" film on the list. On christmas day, Morvern Callar wakes up to see that her boyfriend has committed suicide. This doesn't really seem to bother her (or director Lynne Ramsay was exploring a new way to express shock). Also, before his suicide, her boyfriend leaves behind a manuscript that she passes off as her own, which turns out to be very good and she sells it for $100,000. This is an anti-chick flick. Or, depending on how you look at it, its a chick flick that men can also enjoy. And Boards of Canada's amazing music makes this movie even better. In fact, i consider this movie to be one of the best of the last decade, and Samantha Morton's performance is also one of the best of the decade.

No matter how much i say this movie annoys me, i always end up watching it a couple of times a year. Maybe its time for me to just admit that i kinda like this movie. We all know the tale of stanley kubrick's last movie that left everyone scratching their heads (especially at that ending). When Dr. Harford (Tom Cruise) cant deal with the fact that his wife (Nicole Kidman) once considered cheating on him, he tries to get back at her by going to masked sex orgy, but ends up getting in way over his head and puts his and his family's life in danger. What annoys me the most about this movie is that if any other director shot a movie in london that was supposed to set in nyc, they would've gotten trashed, but because Kubrick did it, everyone (including Martin Scorsese) reached for the most bullshit excuses as to why Kubrick pulled off representing nyc with a green screen backdrop and scenic shots of the city (shot by someone else). Also, the scene where Nicole Kidman confesses her fantasy about cheating on her husband (a crucial part in the film) could have been executed so much better. I think of plenty of actresses who could have pulled off that scene much better. If anything, watch the movie because it was shot well (like any kubrick film), had a great soundtrack, and the sex orgy sequence was very good. But overall the acting was kinda flat.

Just trying to throw in yet another non-traditional christmas movie (this story takes place during christmas). This is a great modern western that stands out above most because of its dark, moody, atmosphere (probably due to nick cave's influence). For years, there have been plenty of Australian films that many would consider a "western", but this may be the first (or at least most successful) crossover to incorporate Aborigines. In 'The Proposition', Guy Pierce is hired by Ray Winstone (in one of his best performances ever) to hunt down and kill a sadistic gang of outlaws under the command of Pierce's brother (played by Danny Huston). This movie is way more bloody and violent than your average cowboy movie. Fans of Deadwood or The Assassination of Jesse James should enjoy this movie.

I threw in a tv episode in one of my "movies for halloween" lists back in october, so why not do the same for christmas. In this episode of southpark, the 4 boy and Jesus have to save Santa Klaus from terrorists after they shoot his sleigh down because they have mistaken santa for a terrorists. This was during the period where was southpark was getting super preachy and a bit obnoxious at time, but this episode in particular wasn't that bad. The highlight of this episode for me was the random reference to david o russell's 'three kings' (the torture scene). I was never a fan of the southpark christmas episodes that feature mr hanky because, just like cartman, i cant stand that character. But I'll make an exception with this episode.
link to full episode:

This one is a little obvious, but it never gets old. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best adaptation of a christmas carol yet. This is Bill Murray at his prime. And just like most of you, i am getting kinda sick of 'a christmas story'. For the last few years, Ive only watched it for a few scenes, but never all the way through. Luckily, just like TNT does with 'a christmas story', AMC will be showing 'Scrooged' for 24 hours starting on christmas eve. Bill Murray is obviously hilarious in this, but the supporting cast is also great. Aside from him, Carol Kane is probably my favorite character in the movie as the ghost of christmas present.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I'm sure by now most of you have seen this, but I'm pretty late on it. I admit that i slept on this movie. Even with all my friends telling me how great it was, i still planned on skipping it. Don't get it twisted, I'm not one of these pretentious film snobs that hate on pixar movies just for the sake of hating. I love incredibles , up and monsters inc. I just didn't think toy story 3 would be my kind of movie. Boy was i wrong. It was almost like god was trying to tell me i need to see this movie. On my flight back from spain (i flew Air France), Toy Story 3 was one of the MANY movie options i had to choose from. I must say, i always knew the french loved cinema more than most people, but shit...even their movie selection on their airlines are superior. I couldn't believe some of the movies i had to choose from on my flight back: wild at heart, le circle rouge, heat, 12 monkeys, animal kingdom and many more. Ive done a bit a of traveling over the years, but I've never got to choose from films by; David Lynch, Jean-Pierre Melville, Michael Mann or (GOOD) Terry Gilliam. In fact, the movie choices on my last 2 trips out of the country was shit like; Speed Racer, Red Belt and Blind Side. Good movies really do make flights go by faster. From now on, i may only plan my trips around locations that Air France flies too.
I always had a special attachment to my toys when i was a kid. And me being an only child meant that i had more than the average kid who had to share his stuff with his siblings (that's something foreign to me). Now, unlike Andy in toy story 3, i gave up playing (or even thinking about my action figures) long before going off too college, but the movie still touched an emotional nerve. Toy Story 3 kinda made me feel bad about giving my action figure away when i was kid. In fact there's that scene in in the movie when the pre-school kids play too rough with Andy's toys that brought back some memories. Even when i was young i use to hate kids like that. Id always avoid playing with them. They'd just take action figures and smash them together to simulate fighting. I hated that shit so much. I remember when i was 12/13 i went to my aunts house and saw some of my old toys on my cousins floor all broken and bent up with marker writing all over them. Toy Story 3 brought back all those memories.
In Toy 3 story, Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang have come to terms with the sad fact that not only has Andy totally given up on playing with toys, but hes going away to college. After Andy decides to only take Woody to college with him (as a memento of his childhood), Buzz and the rest of the Toys fear that they'll be thrown away. A mix up occurs, and Andy's toys are accidentally sent to a day care center where they meet a new set of Toys, led by "Lots' O' Bear", who may not be as nice as they appear at first. Now they have to figure out a way to escape from the day care (or prison as it slowly turns out to be) before Andy leaves for college. The last half of this movie gets pretty "dark" for a family movie. Some parts in Toy Story 3 are pretty heavy for a little kid to handle, especially the scene towards the end when they're at the landfill, and pretty much accept the fact that they're about to die, just before being saved.
I think a lot of people relate to Toy Story 3 (or the Andy character specifically), because we've kinda grown up along side him with each movie, and can relate to growing out of playing with toys and action figures. I was pleasantly surprised with Toy Story 3. With the year almost over, i see Toy Story 3 maintaining a solid position on my top 5 of the year.


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