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AV Club Review
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Sunday, March 26, 2017
DUCOURNAU ON HER DIRECT 'CARRIE' WINK IN 'RAW'
MEANWHILE, SEVERAL CRITICS SEEM TO BE REMINDED OF DE PALMA'S 'SISTERS', AS WELL
Julia Ducournau's directorial debut, Raw, opened a couple of weekends ago. Several reviews have mentioned Brian De Palma, as well as other filmmakers, as potential influences, and specifically De Palma's Carrie and Sisters, in relation to Raw. In the first link/excerpt below, Ducournau explains to Dan at Geekadelphia why Carrie was the only consciously deliberate reference she made to any film. Following that are links to other reviews of Raw:

Geekadelphia's Dan interviews Julia Ducournau
You combine in your narrative social commentary, comedy, gender and horror so effortlessly and fluid in Raw. What were some of the influences that helped you craft the film?

So the thing is when I write and I direct, I really, really try for once not to watch the movies that I love to watch in real life. I try not to be tempted to reproduce anything, I am kind of scared of that. I never go back to my main influences when I do the job. The funny thing is I do not make any direct reference to any of the main filmmakers, like Cronenberg, Argento or Lynch who are a holy trinity in my life. There is a however a direct Carrie reference, you know Brian De Palma. Carrie is a movie I like very much but it wasn’t a foundation experience for me, even though I love it, like how strong it is with a Cronenberg for example.

I did it because lots of members in the audience would think to themselves the premise of the movie, so I decided to make a small wink to it and play with this reference so we can move on to the next scene.

A lot of people have said they see Suspiria, and its funny because Suspiria was one of the biggest shocks in my life when I saw it. Even though I didn’t think about it when I was writing or directing, when someone tells me this, I am like yeah I think I understand it. Somehow its unconscious, but your identity is also what you’ve watched, what you’ve liked and what you’ve reacted to.


Joseph Friar, Victoria Advocate

"Many of the film’s gory moments are reminiscent of Cronenberg’s style and there is an ode to De Palma’s Carrie when the group of incoming freshman are doused with buckets of animal blood. However, the film shocks the most when it does it in a subtle way and Ducournau manages to fool the audience into believing that they are watching a coming-of-age drama that suddenly becomes the perfect double bill with Hannibal or one of my favorites Ravenous. But here the audience never loses sight that Justine is not becoming this terrible monster by choice. She can’t seem to escape what the future has in store and even when she begins to do the unthinkable the audience still finds itself rooting for her to find a way out. Raw is a brilliantly executed horror film that instantly becomes a classic of the genre. The final act is both shocking and satisfying."

April Wolfe, LA Weekly

"The women’s competitive, murderous relationship suggests the psychodrama of Brian De Palma’s Sisters, which tells of separated conjoined-twin serial killers, but in Raw the soul siblings hurt themselves just as much as they hurt other people. When Justine smears lipstick on her face and grinds her hips into a mirror to a song whose chorus is literally “I like to bang the dead,” or when she rips her teeth into her own arm to quell her cravings, these scenes echo Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession, in which a woman is so wracked by sexual madness that she hurls herself over and over into a wall in a subway tunnel.

"A scene where drunk-on-passion Justine rips into her kissing partner’s lips, snagging a tasty chunk of flesh, brings to mind Claire Denis’ archetypal cannibalistic-love thriller Trouble Every Day. But Raw isn’t derivative — it’s fresh, funny and grounded in reality. Underneath all the blood and guts, this is the story of a woman whose body demands love in extremity and the only person who’ll ever understand her fully: her sister."

Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

"Ducournau has some brilliant set pieces to come. A couple, one painted blue, the other yellow, make love, forming green until an abrupt interruption. And in one of the most disturbing horror scenes so far this year, we learn that a human finger tastes like curry.

"But then Ducournau throws in subtexts of patriarchal tyranny, elitism, vengeful mediocrity, colonial exploitation, homophobia, eating disorders, incest, sibling rivalry, and vegetarianism. Plus, a handsome array of allusions to such directors as David Cronenberg, Alfred Hitchcock, and Brian De Palma. But we never get much closer to answering the key question — what’s eating Justine?"

Steve Erickson, Nashville Scene

"Sisterhood is powerful. It’s also powerfully damaged, according to the exciting French horror film Raw. Writer-director Julia Ducournau synthesizes the influences of Claire Denis (especially her film maudit Trouble Every Day) and David Cronenberg, while paying explicit homage to Brian De Palma and Alfred Hitchcock. Like many of the best films, Raw remains enigmatic to the end. I could list a dozen subjects and themes that it’s about, but in the end, it resists being reduced to a metaphor or, even more so, a message. Ducournau captures the sense of terror and the sheer oddity powering the best work of horror writers like Poppy Z. Brite and Clive Barker."

Kalyn Corrigan, Birth. Movies. Death.

In both Sisters and in Raw sexual acts prompt and coincide with the tendency toward violent acts. Just as Danielle discovers that she is as protective and violent towards anyone who tries to insert themselves between she and Dominique, Justine realizes that she, too, wants to keep her sister all to herself, because only her sister truly understands her -- the same can arguably be said about Alexia’s feelings toward Justine. Both stories feature women who evolve into more actualized human beings once their sisters pave the way to understanding themselves. Only the one who shares the same infected blood can point the way to self-acceptance, and only your sister will truly be there for you when you have a body that needs disposing of. It takes a true sibling to stand by your side while you’re holding a bloody kitchen knife in your hand – or, in certain circumstances, a bloody ski pole.

The inspiration for Sisters actually comes from a startling image that director Brian De Palma stumbled upon in an article in a 1966 issue of Life Magazine. The picture showed two conjoined Soviet twins named Masha and Dasha, and a caption in the bottom right corner reads something along the lines of “Although they are physiologically normal, as they get older, they are starting to develop mental problems”. Intrigued by this strange scenario, De Palma dreamed up a story about two Siamese twins who would eventually be surgically separated, resulting in one sister going mad and attacking any man who would dare try to date her one and only human connection. Influenced, as always, by Hitchcock, De Palma took his grand idea of a sibling set slasher and filled it to the brim with nods to his favorite filmmaker, giving it a very Psycho first act, as he kills off a lead character more than thirty minutes in, followed up by a small Rope homage as he uses as long of a take as possible to show the detective and reporter Collier making their way around Danielle’s apartment while looking for a body, all the while keeping a cool Rear Window style ever present with several characters watching important plot points develop through binoculars, typically from across the street, just as Jimmy Stewart does as Hitchcock’s classic wheelchair bound neighborly hero. During the editing process, he and Paul Hirsch even grew to believe it was necessary to get Bernard Herrmann to do the score.

De Palma is not character driven or a man of many words. He finds that too much chatter makes for a dull movie, and instead opts to find inspiration in a large set piece, or a big idea, and then shapes his story around that idea to match the image that he has in his head. Likewise, Raw director Ducournau is more into scoring long moments of silence rather than incorporating a ton of dialogue to explain what’s happening, and finds herself inspired by images of certain peculiar body movements, which she then uses as a jumping off point to build a narrative around. Therefore, although each director has his or her own way of doing it, the story actually comes second to the aesthetics for both filmmakers. Despite the difference in age, sex, birthplace, and point in time, they do share the habit of conjuring up strong visceral visuals and writing whatever is necessary to bring that visual to life.

In the case of these films, both of those visuals eventually came to involve sisters, and each showed the power of coming to terms with one’s own identity through the guiding force of her own female sibling. Blood, sex and carnage lined the path to self-actualization, but once each sister sets out to find herself, there was no turning back from the murderess that they would inevitably become.


Posted by Geoff at 8:39 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, March 26, 2017 8:42 PM CDT
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Saturday, March 25, 2017
ASSAYAS ON DE PALMA
"DE PALMA OR CRONENBERG, THEY DEAL WITH ABSTRACTIONS, WITH THE MYSTERIES OF LIFE"
Hot on the heels of Harry Knowles calling Personal Shopper an "instant classic" that reminds of Nicolas Roeg and Brian De Palma, comes an interview with that film's director in which he is asked if he'd thought of De Palma at all while making it. Here's an excerpt from the interview, conducted by Calum Marsh at the National Post:
So much of this film takes place “inside” a cellphone, so to speak. Is it an iMessage movie?

I had the desire to make a movie that was simply one long conversation over text messages. That’s a bit of a stretch, and would get us into some kind of experimental area, which is not quite what I wanted. But I think that text messaging — which has become such a big part of our lives, for such a long time now — is a fascinating mode of communication. I think its potential has never really been fully explored in films.

How do you mean?

Because texting creates a relationship to words, to punctuation, and other very complex things — how long it takes to answer, how it feels when you’re waiting for an answer. It’s so complex, and it’s so charged, and the way we use the words is so careful. It’s very similar to poetry. Texting is the closest thing we have to poetry in everyday life — because all of a sudden every single word echoes in all of its meanings. It’s very complex. And also fascinating, because we have this strange and disturbing addiction to the screens on our phone. It’s mesmerizing; there’s something hypnotic about it.

What exactly is so engrossing?

I think that any kind of text conversation is pretty intense. And it’s more intense than actual live conversation, which is mitigated by politeness and social conventions. Text messages are straight to the point: you verbalize things in a much clearer, straightforward way than you would do in conversation, where you sort of wrap it in niceness. In text messages, it’s not wrapped. It’s raw. I always thought there was an intensity there — and we’re not even talking about sexting, which one can do or not do, but when you even get close to that area it’s disturbing.

That’s fascinating dramatically. But what about aesthetically? How did you determine how the texting would look on-screen?

To me, it was obvious I was going to shoot the phones, to have the phone be held and used in close-up. I was not going to have those little pop-ups; I don’t like that at all. Because for me it has to do with the screen. If you disconnect the words from the screen, they don’t function the same way. It’s all about the screen. It’s the screen that fascinates us. Again, if you print the words, you don’t have the icons. You don’t have the waiting, the “received at that time,” you don’t get that kind of suspense. And that’s very specific — and addictive.

We’re addicted to the suspense of waiting for messages to arrive?

To all of it. I realized, you know, even when I was I was shooting the phone footage, and we’d wait for the text to arrive on camera, I would think, is it coming, is it coming? And I liked the idea of movement. A lot of times we have inserts, closeups; some of them we did separately but a lot of them have to do with the movement and the way Kristen is typing. She used to say that it’s a movie where her thumbs are the co-star. The way she types is interesting.

Did you instruct her to put a space before her question marks?

No! She did it naturally. This is something that’s not part of English punctuation — it’s something you do in France. In French, there’s a space.

Oh. That makes sense.

No, it makes no sense! But yeah, I never told her, “change this,” “you misspelled this or that.” I thought that was all part of the process.

I love this idea of turning off airplane mode and having the texts come through.

That was part of the screenplay, yeah. I wanted the fear to rise. I like the idea of the text messages coming as a cascade. But it was difficult to get it right — we had to do it multiple times. And the version in the film, it’s the only moment that’s slowed down. There’s a slight slow-motion.

Was Brian De Palma on your mind at all?

I love Brian De Palma. Not so much the recent work, but I’m a huge fan. I’m a huge fan. Some of his Hitchcockian work is pretty amazing. I never interviewed him, but I wrote a long piece about Body Double. I love most of his films from that period. The Fury is amazing.

It was on my mind because of the police interview…

Well, the love I have for De Palma, it’s like the admiration I have for filmmakers like David Cronenberg or John Carpenter. They are guys who make genre films that are just way beyond the genre. They are great artists. Usually they use genre to make films that deal with more complex things. Things that are more powerful. De Palma or Cronenberg, they deal with abstractions, with the mysteries of life. They are just great, great filmmakers, great writers. The genre element just makes it more powerful. So I tried to learn the lessons.

You’ve made genre films before. Boarding Gate, Demonlover. How do you balance those genre elements with a more sophisticated arthouse style?

Well, the more what I have on my mind is abstract — the more it can even be a bit intellectual, but I hope in the better sense, meaning reflexive — the more I feel I need the genre element to make it exciting. But it’s all about the balance. It’s only when you’re writing or editing when you feel the right balance.

Did the balance change in editing?

Yes. The music changed a great deal. Horror movies, they are covered in music, from start to finish, and it’s always very similar. At some point… you know, I’m friends with the Daft Punk guys, one of the Daft Punk guys. I wanted to use his music for the film, to have some kind of electronic soundtrack. And then I realized it would literally destroy the film — because all of a sudden it would become a genre film. That’s when I started using baroque music instead. It’s totally not what you’d expect in a genre film, and it doesn’t give it a genre tone. For me it’s a movie about Maureen that once in awhile goes into genre territory. So that’s mostly where the fine-tuning was. Also the ghost scene. Using CGI, it’s not exactly my world, it’s kind of strange to me. I thought I kind of needed to give some reality to her vision.


Previously:

Harry Knowles: Personal Shopper reminds of Nicolas Roeg, Brian De Palma, moments of Spielberg/Hooper

Jason Shawhan, Nashville Scene review of De Palma's Passion:

"Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams play beautiful corporate warriors doing awful things to one another, and the end result is a delirious fusion of Assayas' Demonlover and Mean Girls."

Personal Shopper echoes Body Double, and De Palma in general


Posted by Geoff at 9:16 PM CDT
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Thursday, March 23, 2017
HARRY KNOWLES ON 'PERSONAL SHOPPER'
"REMINDS OF NICOLAS ROEG, BRIAN DE PALMA, MOMENTS OF SPIELBERG/HOOPER"


Previously:
Personal Shopper echoes Body Double and De Palma in general

Posted by Geoff at 8:13 AM CDT
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Sunday, March 12, 2017
VIDEO - EDGAR WRIGHT'S 'BABY DRIVER' TRAILER
"I'M EXCITED ABOUT DOING SOMETHING THAT'S ALMOST PURELY VISUAL"

Baby Driver International Trailer

While talking to The Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World back in August of 2010, director Edgar Wright mentioned that he was working on an original script that delves into the "purely visual" in a way that a Brian De Palma film frequently does. According to Jagernauth, the script was called Baby Driver, and here is how Wright described it to him:
Well, it’s something I’ve been meaning to write for ages. I really planned to recharge my batteries and get back into writing. I’m excited about doing something that’s almost purely visual, because I’ve done three films—and even though Scott Pilgrim is very visual, it’s very dialogue heavy as well, which is great. And music heavy. Yeah. I think I’d like to try something—I’m a big Brian De Palma fan, and I’ll sit and look at something like "Carrie," and I like the fact that it starts to play out like a silent movie. There’s a point in "Carrie" in the last half hour where there’s no need for any more dialogue because the plot is in motion. Or something like [Jean-Pierre Melville's] "Le Samourai," I look at something like that and think, wow, there’s hardly any dialogue in this film. Something like that can be enjoyed around the world. I’d really like the challenge of doing something where the dialogue is really stripped back and it’s all about the cinema.

Previously:
Edgar Wright influenced by De Palma for Baby Driver

Posted by Geoff at 9:31 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 4:50 AM CDT
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Friday, March 3, 2017
TWEET - 'DRESSED TO KILL' & 'NIGHTDREAMS'


See also:
NightFlight article on Nightdreams

by Bryan Thomas
There weren’t actually too many people working on Nightdreams, though. [Stephen] Sayadian’s partner, Francis Delia — credited as the director of photography (sometimes as director) on the film, using the pseudonym “F.X. Pope” — actually operated the camera. Delia — a native New Yorker — had studied at Cooper Union and worked as as commercial photographer for Madison Avenue Ad agencies, but he was still at the very start of his career, according to his IMDB credits.

(As an aside, your humble writer actually met him once and spent an afternoon talking with him at a screening of his 1988 movie Freeway — held in a tiny room at Raleigh Studios as I recall — when he was looking for a music label to release the soundtrack. Sadly, our label passed on that opportunity).

But make no mistake, despite any involvement in Nightdreams by others, even Delia and Stahl, this is clearly a Sayadian film, a vision borne from his unique imagination and talents.

Sayadian has said that maybe five people worked on the crew of the low-budget art/porn film — in addition to Sayadian and Delia, there was a focus puller who made sure the camera stayed in focus, and a construction supervisor who worked on the sets that Sayadian carefully had art directed and he helped build the sets too. Despite the budget limitations, this gorgeous 35mm production is about visually similar — with its German Expressionist-influenced lighting scheme — with the production values of a high-quality, low-budget TV adverts...

...The thriller sequence seems to be patterned on Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill (Delia did the key art photography for the movie poster for Dressed To Kill).


Badass Digest's Jacob Knight on Body Double and Nightdreams
Near the beginning of the article, Knight writes about one of the movies De Palma had picked for his "Guilty Pleasures" article in a 1987 issue of Film Comment. "Amongst the apologetics," Knight writes, "was a 1981 slice of smut titled Nightdreams, directed by FX Pope. In reality, FX Pope doesn’t exist. The name was a nom de skin, belonging to commercial photographer and artist Francis Delia who, along with partner Stephen Sayadian, designed ads for everything from Hustler magazine to key art for major motion pictures. Included in their portfolio of immaculately designed one sheets (which also boasts John Carpenter’s The Fog and Escape From New York) was the iconic image for De Palma’s own Dressed to Kill. The admiration wasn’t one sided; in Nightdreams, Delia and Sayadian recreated the image from the piece of art they invented to help sell De Palma’s infamous murder mystery, repurposing it into one of the most harrowing scenes in the history of hardcore."

Film Comment - Guilty Pleasures: Brian De Palma
"There was a very strange movie [Night Dreams (1981, by F. X. Pope)] that was made by the people who made Cafe Flesh. I can’t remember the title, but it’s the one before Cafe Flesh, and is very avant-garde. What makes it so incredible is its surrealism. It was shot very surrealistically and very expensively. The premise is that there’s a woman, Dorothy LeMay, in a kind of psychological observation chamber which is being watched by this psychiatrist. She’s constantly masturbating the whole time she’s being watched. While she’s masturbating, she’s, of course, having all these fantasies. One was when she was a little girl and the jack in the box possessed her. Then she’s a housewife and a black guy, Fast Talkin’ Freddy, in an Aunt Jemima box comes after her—it’s obsessed with boxes."


Posted by Geoff at 4:23 AM CST
Updated: Friday, March 3, 2017 4:27 AM CST
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Wednesday, March 1, 2017
JOE AHEARNE'S BBC MINI-SERIES, SPLIT DIOPTERS
3-EPISODE MINI 'THE REPLACEMENT' - FROM CREATOR OF 'ONE WAY OR DE PALMA'


Previously:
Joe Ahearne discusses One Way Or De Palma
Must-See Video: One Way Or De Palma

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, March 2, 2017 12:06 AM CST
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017
ALICE LOWE ON 'PREVENGE' INSPIRATIONS
GIALLO, ARGENTO, DE PALMA, KUBRICK, BRIGHT COLORS
Alice Lowe discusses her directorial debut, the horror comedy Prevenge, with iNews' Alex Watson, mentioning several of her horror influences:
The perpetually hard-working Lowe is no stranger to either the small or silver screens (you may remember her from Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and Hot Fuzz) and has many writing credits in both TV comedy and film, but Prevenge is her directorial debut.

Part of Lowe’s accomplished start in this field comes from her strong grasp of what inspires her, both visually and atmospherically.

“I think there’s a mixture of lots of different influences in Prevenge. There’s a lot of Giallo horror, which is like Dario Argento’s work, and even Brian De Palma was quite inspired by that sort of Italian horror as well, with all the bright colours. Also, Kubrick.

“I wanted to use really bright colours, I didn’t want it to be pastel.”


Last October, Lowe talked to Entertainment Weekly's Clark Collis about De Palma's Carrie, mentioning color again:
Lowe is a huge horror movie fan, who is drawn to family-oriented terror tales with female protagonists, like Rosemary’s Baby or Brian De Palma’s 1976 Stephen King adaptation, Carrie, which stars Sissy Spacek as an unpopular high school student who develops telekinetic powers.

“I think everyone identifies with her character,” says the actress. “I really like the idea of an underdog character going through this transformation where they take power. I also think the reason it’s so rewatchable is, every time you watch it, you are hoping there’s a different ending, you’re really hoping that she just kisses the boy, and is the pageant queen, or whatever. It just doesn’t work that way. I think it’s unique. She is the killer but she has our sympathy. She is also a victim to her mother’s insanity. It’s like a female Psycho in some ways. I love Brian De Palma, I love color in film. That was one of the things that I really wanted to do with Prevenge, was make sure it was an assault of the sense, that it’s about color and vividness — rather than the passion at the moment for sort of grey-blue-black horror. That was, for me, the experience of pregnancy, that it’s kind of a vivid experience. It’s not at all about pastel pinks. It’s all about bright, intense experiences, and revulsions, and strange shifts in your emotions.”


Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
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Wednesday, January 25, 2017
'RIVERDALE' EPISODE 3 IS CALLED 'BODY DOUBLE'
SHOWRUNNER ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA EXPLAINS, IT'S "LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF A BRIAN DE PALMA MOVIE"


Riverdale premieres Thursday night on the CW network, and A.V. Club's Danette Chavez asked showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa about the show's influences:
When we originally developed the show, the show was a much more straightforward coming-of-age slice-of-life drama. It didn’t have the genre element, the mystery, the crime, the noir of it. When Fox bought it, it was that—it was just a high school show, and in the developing of it, they really pushed us to figure out how its voice would be different from Saved By The Bell or O.C. or Dawson’s Creek or things like that. One real touchstone for me and a couple of the other producers was Twin Peaks. What made it particularly germane to Archie was that the central mystery of Twin Peaks is what happens when a high school homecoming queen is murdered. That was like, “Wow, what would happen if one of the Riverdale kids had been murdered?” And rather than follow an F.B.I. detective through the investigation, you follow the ramifications of that through the points of view of the students.

Another big influence was—there was a great movie called Brick with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which was a suburban noir. That was, I think, an early influence as well. The two other big touchstones for me were movies that I loved when I was a kid and that were coming-of-age movies. One was Stand By Me, which is, of course, about four friends who go on a journey to see a dead body, and River’s Edge, the Keanu Reeves movie, which is about these high school misfits that know one of their friends killed one of their other friends, and the body’s by the river’s edge. When the idea to make Archie more like River’s Edge or more like Stand By Me or more like Twin Peaks—really even more than Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, which is one of my favorite movies—it framed every story we wanted to tell, but gave it a genre element, a genre twist to it. It really became a guiding principle, which was, every story we’ll tell on the show has to work as an Archie story, a high school story, but then also has to work as—there has to be some David Lynch element to it. So in episode three, there’s a slut-shaming story, but there’s a much darker solution to that story that’s almost like something out of a Brian De Palma movie. That’s why the episode is called “Body Double.” It became a way for us to be different from other shows. But you know, every show has a shorthand, and O.C. meets Twin Peaks is a great shorthand.

(Thanks to Frank!)


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, January 26, 2017 12:03 AM CST
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Sunday, January 15, 2017
CRAMPTON: 'ALWAYS SHINE' FEELS VERY DE PALMA


Previously:
Always Shine director discusses her influences
Tweet: Always Shine "feels like De Palma's 3 Women"
Star Mackenzie Davis says the gaze of Always Shine feels very different from that of De Palma's cinema

Posted by Geoff at 11:34 PM CST
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Monday, January 2, 2017
NEW SHORT FROM ROMAIN LEHNHOFF
NEW YEAR'S THEMED 'STARTING FROM SCRATCH', W/ENGLISH SUBTITLES

Posted by Geoff at 2:03 PM CST
Updated: Monday, January 2, 2017 2:05 PM CST
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