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Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

Domino is
a "disarmingly
straight-forward"
work that "pushes
us to reexamine our
relationship to images
and their consumption,
not only ethically
but metaphysically"
-Collin Brinkman

De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
in the ADR, the
musical recording
sessions, the final
mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
Donaggio's full score
for Domino online

De Palma/Lehman
rapport at work
in Snakes

De Palma/Lehman
next novel is Terry

De Palma developing
Catch And Kill,
"a horror movie
based on real things
that have happened
in the news"

Supercut video
of De Palma's films
edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book

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Exclusive Passion
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

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AV Club Review
of Dumas book

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« August 2019 »
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Interviews...

De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


Enthusiasms...

De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site

Phantompalooza

No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

Snake Eyes
a la Mod

Mission To Mars
a la Mod

Sergio Leone
and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags

Directorama

The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the
Guillotine

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema

LOLA

Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor

italkyoubored

Icebox Movies

Medfly Quarantine

Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
24 Frames Per Second

Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
Country Cinephile

So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

Cashiers De Cinema

This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds

EatSleepLiveFilm

No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

The former
De Palma a la Mod
site

Entries by Topic
A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
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Ambrose Chapel
Are Snakes Necessary?
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Books
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Murder a la Mod
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019
TRAVOLTA - KEY THING FROM WORKING w/DE PALMA
SOMETHING HE TOOK AWAY FROM MAKING 'BLOW OUT'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blowoutstation.jpg

Kevin McCarthy, an entertainment reporter for FOX 5 Morning News in Washington, D.C., interviewed John Travolta last week while the actor was promoting his lead role in Fred Durst's The Fanatic. "Brian De Palma’s Blow Out is such an incredible piece of cinema," McCarthy stated in a post on Twitter. "John Travolta tells me the one key thing De Palma taught him on that set in the 80’s that has shaped him as the actor he is today. A fascinating answer that truly shows the depth & care Travolta has for acting. ❤️"

In that Twitter post, McCarthy shared a 2-minute video with audio of Travolta answering his question:

McCarthy: Fanatic: you're on the set, making a film, playing Moose. What do you take from De Palma? Specifically, from Blow Out, that you still use now? I know it's probably a loaded question, because there's a lot of things...

Travolta: No, I'll tell you, there's one thing. Brian De Palma said this to me, one time I gave him three choices of this, circa 1980, and I'm an actor who wants to allow the director to have input with my performance. And he said, "No, no, no. When I hired you, I hired you because I trust your choices. You tell me what the best choice is for this scene."

McCarthy: Do you have an example?

Travolta: I forgot what the scene was, but, it was something that was very weighty, and it was Nancy and I, and I just showed him three different ways I could do that.

McCarthy: Interesting...

Travolta: And he said, "You tell me what it should be." And it gave me the power to do what I'm paid to do, which is, design the character, make the choices. And it took that old adage of, "Oh, the director will mold your performance." No. He hired you, because ninety percent of his job is done by getting you correctly cast. That's his theory on it. So, when I take on a role, I take on a responsibility, and then I look for input, but only on a ten percent level. Like, you know, maybe like what Fred and I did together, where he was improvising with me. He helped me get into the zone.


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, August 22, 2019 12:13 AM CDT
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Tuesday, August 20, 2019
TARANTINO ON HERRMANN'S SISTERS SOUNDTRACK
ONE OF THE 10 FAVORITE RECORDS HE CHOSE FOR MELODY MAKER INTERVIEW, CIRCA 1994
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/sisterssoundtrackcrop.jpg

"Seeing Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood the other night," Michael Bonner writes at Uncut, "reminded me to dust down this interview I did with the director many moons ago. It first ran in Melody Maker -I’m guessing it was done around the time of Pulp Fiction, so 1994 – and then again in the first issue of Uncut."

In the interview, Tarantino chooses his ten favorite records, and includes Bernard Herrmann's soundtrack score for Brian De Palma's Sisters:

“This is from a Brian De Palma movie. It’s a pretty scary film, and the soundtrack… ok if you want to freak yourself out, turn out all the lights and sit in the middle of the room and listen to this. You won’t last a minute. When I’m first thinking about a movie I’ll start looking for songs that reflect the personality of the movie, I’ll start looking for songs which can reflect the personality of the movie. The record I think most about is the one which plays during the opening credits, because that’s the one which sets the tone of the movie. Like in Reservoir Dogs, when you see the guys all walking out of the diner, and that bass line from ‘Little Green Bag’ kicks in – you just know there’s gonna be trouble.”

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 12:07 AM CDT
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Monday, August 19, 2019
16-MINUTE VIDEO - BRIAN DE PALMA - MASTERPIECES
CRISPLY EDITED 'MASTERPIECES' SERIES VID INCLUDES DE PALMA'S LATEST, 'DOMINO'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/depalmamasterpieces.jpg

Gabriel Fasano posted a crisply-edited Brian De Palma edition of his Masterpieces series a few days ago on Vimeo, with the following description:
Few directors like Brian De Palma have explored so thoroughly the ways of narrating cinema. From the use of PoV, split screens, split-diopters, cinema screens, different types of camera angles, especially zeniths and low angles, perspective games, use of different artifacts to show different forms of vision: cameras, televisions, binoculars, mirrors, lenses, frames inside frames, etc. All in service of telling stories of thrillers, gangster and war, about obsessive, megalomaniac and voyeurist characters. This is the cinema of Brian De Palma.

Yesterday, the video, which is so up-to-date as to include De Palma's latest film, Domino, also posted to YouTube:

 


Posted by Geoff at 7:55 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, August 19, 2019 7:57 AM CDT
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Sunday, August 18, 2019
CASUALTIES OF WAR, OPENED 30 YEARS AGO TODAY
BASED ON TRUE EVENTS FIRST REPORTED IN THE NEW YORKER IN 1969
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/cow1.jpg


Posted by Geoff at 11:49 AM CDT
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Saturday, August 17, 2019
A.S. HAMRAH ON 'DOMINO'
AND THE APPARENT SIMILARITIES BETWEEN CARICE VAN HOUTEN & NOOMI RAPACE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/copscrossfade.jpg

A couple of weeks ago, A.S. Hamrah included a review of Brian De Palma's Domino in a post at n+1. In one paragraph, Hamrah states, "The director seems to have contempt for both his leads," and I really don't follow where that idea is coming from. It seems more likely the critic is projecting his own such contempt on these two actors when he notes that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau "has a second-choice feel," and that "Carice van Houten, who exists in Domino like she’s waiting for each take to end so she can go outside and smoke, resembles Noomi Rapace in De Palma’s earlier film Passion, but why? In the past, the resemblance would have been evidence of directorial obsession. Here, it’s probably a coincidence."

In fact, De Palma had originally wanted Carice van Houten for the role of Isabelle in Passion, but she was not available during the planned shooting schedule. Noomi Rapace then took on that role. Maybe Hamrah is on to something then by noting a similarity. In any case, here's an excerpt from Hamrah's review:

Even in its partly realized form, Domino’s every frame is better than anything in Game of Thrones. In its less-than-ninety-minute running time, Domino links together CIA surveillance, terrorism, drone warfare, ISIS execution videos, and international film festivals. It all has a last-stand feel, in which De Palma excoriates today’s regime of easy-to-make but disposable images, which people, now all spies, use to brutalize each other. Scene after scene features piles of red tomatoes, there for critics to throw at De Palma so they can be tabulated and scored by review aggregators.

Politics for De Palma is a bizarre excuse for exploitation. This is one of his films in which he spares no one. Everyone is a torturer and a victim at the same time in Domino—confused, compromised, in for punishment. With some irony, De Palma sets up a Libyan terrorist (Eriq Ebouaney) as the film’s conscience. The CIA (in the person of the satanic-blasé Guy Pearce) forces him to work as a double agent, and the film’s plot comes to depend on him. Yet by the end De Palma abandons this downhearted terrorist without any more hesitation than he gave a minor character whose face gets dunked in a fry cooker.

A final scene, which could be the last of De Palma’s career, switches back and forth between a Spanish bullring and a hotel rooftop. The locations are linked by the threat of a mass killing and a camera drone, which De Palma uses to collapse the great distance between mass events and personal ones, a last gasp of mise-en-scène in the age of martyrdom videos on YouTube.


Posted by Geoff at 12:46 AM CDT
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Thursday, August 15, 2019
SUBMERGED IN CINEMA - KATIE STEBBINS ON 'THE FURY'
FUSION OF PERFORMANCE & FORMAL STYLIZATION MAKE THE EMOTIONS PALPABLE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/furydiopterdarkroom.jpg

Katie Stebbins' most recent Top Ten By Year zine looks at her ten favorite films of 1978 (buy a copy at her Etsy page-- it's only $6.99). Brian De Palma's The Fury comes in at #3 for her (in between Terrence Malick's Days Of Heaven at #4, and Hal Ashby's Coming Home at #2). Yesterday she shared a "Zine Peek" by posting her fantastic essay about The Fury at Cinethusiast:
The Fury is the best X-Men film ever made, and in an ideal world it’d be considered a model for what pop cinema can be. But as Brian De Palma’s follow-up to his masterpiece Carrie it was destined to disappoint, in part because of how much they have in common. Both are based on novels about a telekinetic girl. Both feature Amy Irving as an empath who tries and fails to save a peer-in-need. And both enjoy playing at an offbeat pitch; but while Carrie does so within an unmistakable horror designation, The Fury is an ice cream sundae of genres – a coming-of-age supernatural espionage government conspiracy horror-thriller. Got all that? Add an experimentally self-reflexive cherry on top, and you have a film that audiences and critics did not, and largely still don’t, know what to make of. But to De Palma devotees (and some film devotees) it is an essential work, and an irresistible opportunity for writers to intellectualize De Palma’s relationship with cinema through cinema. It’s an exercise that often, for all its worth, makes the film itself sound like a narrative thesis. There is often a clinical disconnect that obscures The Fury’s entertaining and emotional immediacy.

Watching The Fury, the main thing you notice is that even through its early slower section it is blisteringly alive, as if De Palma has some unspoken knowledge that this will be the last film he ever makes (spoiler alert: it wasn’t). It is so in tune with its own wavelength, and with the emotional stakes of its characters, that the preposterously schlocky story feels like it matters (this is greatly helped by John Williams’s momentous Herrmann-eqsue score, by turns eerie, epic, and playful. “For Gillian” is his Harry Potter before Harry Potter). It maintains the same two-fold hold on me every time I watch it — a mix of uncommonly strong investment in the characters and story, and a near-constant awe at its formal power. With an opening set-piece that involves a betrayal by way of (who else but?) John Cassavetes, a terrorist attack, a kidnapping, and a shirtless 62 year-old Kirk Douglas letting loose with a machine gun, an “all-aboard!” line is drawn in the sand. Either hop on or get ready for a long two hours.

That ice cream sundae also contains eccentric pockets of comic relief. Scenes open on oddball peripheral characters, whether it’s the cop who just got a brand new car, the little old lady who delights in helping out a trespasser, or the two security guards who pass the time by negotiating trades of Hershey bars and coffee (it also has the priceless reveal that the elderly Kirk Douglas’s ingenious disguise is to make himself look, wait for it, old!). All that Kirk and quirk gradually give way to the more sincerely executed dilemmas of the teenage Gillian (Amy Irving in a performance that belongs in my personal canon), a new student at the Paragon Institute coming to grips with her increasingly cataclysmic and all-seeing powers.

It’s trademark De Palma to toy around with the nature of cinema, and as The Fury unfolds it begins to self-engage, reaching back into itself in ways that are still hard to fully fathom. Gillian’s telekinetic link to the missing Robin (Andrew Stevens) is depicted visually, including us in the intimate and exclusive psychic link they share. Since Gillian’s visions are triggered by touch and experienced by sight, she acquires information by watching scenes play out in front of, or all around, her. She learns and we learn through her. She becomes submerged in cinema — part of the audience. Gillian experiences harrowing psychic access to Robin, and through the immediacy of the filmmaking we are given that same experiential access to Gillian. This is cinema as the ultimate form of communication, information (surveillance is a recurring theme here too, another De Palma favorite), and feeling, seen as capable of transcending the confines of the screen. As part of his brainwashing, Robin is even shown the first five minutes of the film. Cinema weaponized and all that jazz.

The tricks in De Palma’s formal playbook make all this possible. The editing (at times flickering in-and-out like a flip-book) and rear-screen projection are used to emphasize and envelop. Characters are brought together by overlapping space and sound. The camera often tracks conversation by circling around characters, knowing that the more an image changes, the more we can percieve. A bravura slow-motion sequence turns the notion of the escape scene into a cathartic reverie gone wrong. It isn’t until the end that we realize the slow-motion is in fact stretching out a character’s final moments. It is the perfect encapsulation of how De Palma, at his best, uses pure stylization to not only enhance, but become emotion. Gillian’s shake-ridden fright and confusion, Hester’s (Carrie Snodgress) heartache and longing, and Peter (Douglas) facing the consequences of his quest, are all deeply palpable through this fusion of performance and form.

The Fury carries the devastating punch of his most emotional works like Carrie, Blow Out, or Carlito’s Way, but without the ever-lingering bleak aftertaste. It hijacks the senseless loss that came before with a vengeful ascendance so absolute it can only be called the money shot to end all money shots. And it wouldn’t be The Fury if it didn’t replay from every imaginable angle — wiping our memory out with pure orgasmic vindication.


Posted by Geoff at 12:00 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, August 15, 2019 12:10 AM CDT
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Monday, August 12, 2019
REYGADAS ON DE PALMA AND 'BLOW OUT'
"THERE'S A LOT OF INFORMATION IN HIS FILMS, BUT LIKE TATI, IT'S ALL AT A DEEPER LEVEL"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blowoutcriterion.jpgThe Criterion Collection today posted Carlos Reygadas's top ten Criterion Collection films. Coming in at number nine on Reygadas's list is Brian De Palma's Blow Out. "As I said, I love filmmakers who struggle," says Reygadas about his choice, "and I’ve always gotten the feeling that De Palma struggles. I feel in his work that there’s something awkward, something that is not flowing easily, and that makes me watch the film from a different perspective. In Blow Out, the storyline is very pristine, there’s nothing distracting, and you get to see and observe all the details in a special way. There’s a lot of information in his films, but like Tati, it’s all at a deeper layer. You could see a De Palma film and think it’s very ordinary, but if you see it more than once, it always gets better."

Posted by Geoff at 11:25 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, August 12, 2019 11:26 PM CDT
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Sunday, August 11, 2019
IS 'FEMME FATALE' DE PALMA'S STRANGEST FILM?
EVA ZEE SEES IT AS ONE OF HIS "LEAST DEFINABLE MOVIES"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/ffmontagedetail.jpg

A couple of days ago, Eva Zee posted a Letterboxd review of Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale, adding on Twitter, "Femme Fatale is a very strange movie!! ... Like honestly im kind of baffled." When someone responded that it is "a perfect movie," Zee continued, "I don't disagree! I think it's great specifically because it's one of De Palma's strangest, least definable movies (moreso than even something as buckwild as Phantom Of The Paradise)."

Here's Eva Zee's full mini-review on Letterboxd:
De Palma goes to Europe and, for the first time, gets really interested in metaphysics: the nature and transference of souls, the encroaching inhumanity of the image as tool and telos, salvation through chance and meaningless structural coincidence. seven years later and no time has passed at all, instead it feels like a different movie collided with this one and some tiny crucial piece got lost in the confusion (but it is wonderfully, gorgeously regained in a dream). some of Hitchock’s influence has been traded in for Eurosleaze’s stumbling towards glorious abstraction, for the better: De Palma has never been freer even at his trashiest. a bathtub overflows and it fills the Seine, seven years later and in a dream

Posted by Geoff at 8:15 AM CDT
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Wednesday, August 7, 2019
'SCARFACE' SUPPLY PUSHING TO LIMIT IN 4K THIS OCT
PACKAGE DUE OCT. 15 WILL INCLUDE LAST YEAR'S 35TH ANNIVERSARY REUNION AT TRIBECA
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/scarface4k.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 7:59 AM CDT
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Monday, August 5, 2019
R.I.P. ROBERT FIORE
CINEMATOGRAPHER ON GREETINGS, DIONYSUS IN '69, TO BRIDGE THIS GAP
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/bobfiore.jpg

Robert Fiore has passed away. His daughter, Jessamyn Fiore, announced his death on July 14, following a long illness, according to Milestone Films.

Fiore collaborated with Brian De Palma on several films in the 1960s. Along with Bruce Rubin, Fiore did a little of everything in the De Palma camp. He was the sound recordist on Murder A La Mod (a clip from which ended up playing on a TV in a scene from Blow Out years later). Fiore was the cinematographer on Greetings, and shortly after, co-filmed the split-screen documentary of Richard Schechner's Dionysus In '69 with De Palma and Rubin (the latter recorded the film's sound). Fiore was the cinematographer on To Bridge This Gap, a documentary by Ken Burrows and De Palma, which was edited by Rubin.

There was one other project, a lost documentary from earlier in the 1960s that was to be titled Mod. Fiore, De Palma, Rubin, and William Finley had all shot footage in England. It was Finley's idea, circa 1964, a movie about mods and rockers within a then-burgeoning scene in London. In Justin Humphreys' book, Interviews Too Shocking To Print, Rubin explains that Finley's father had died and left him money, which he was going to use to finance the film. "And I was amazed at the audacity of somebody taking money that they had inherited and immediately spending it on making a movie," Rubin tells Humphreys. "But he was so enthralled by what was going on in London - the whole new music scene and he wanted to document it - to get it on film before it went away because this was the moment of birth for that whole [movement]. I mean, The Beatles were just coming out, and The Stones, and everybody - The Animals, Herman's Hermits, on and on."

After arriving in London ("there was a whole group of us," Rubin says in the book), Finley asked if Rubin would go to France with De Palma to pick up a light Eclaire sound camera, mentioning that he also needed another person to work on the film. Rubin had known Fiore from film school, and De Palma had known Fiore, as well. Fiore happened to be on a Fulbright grant in Paris, "and so he agreed to come back from Paris with us to work on the film," says Rubin, adding that they all had "an incredible two days" in Paris before heading back to London, where they worked on the film for two weeks, "through Christmas and New Year's."

Rubin continues in Humphreys' book:

"Bob Fiore and I went to Birmingham, I think... We drove up there and we went to the Beatles' Cavern (The Cavern Club in Liverpool] and there was a group showing there that night called Herman's Hermits. We got permission - I had a card that said I was from ABC News. I don't know how I got it but people thought that's who I was. They made a lot of things available. We went in and I had enough film to shoot one act of the concert. And it was Herman's Hermits, so I got the camera and Bob Fiore was my sound man at that point. I shot this amazing, exciting number using every element of the zoom lens. It was really very, early '60s exciting experimental cinema. I really shot a great roll of film of Herman's Hermits.

"And then, right after it was done, and we were out of film, the announcer onstage says, 'And, now, everybody - here's Herman!' I had shot the whole backup group without their leader, so I had wasted every bit of film of some of the most brilliant filmmaking of all-time.

"We were very ragtag as a group and we did what we could do. We did shoot some stuff of a group called The Who in a room in a hotel but nobody had ever heard of them, really, but people were saying, 'This is going to be a big group.' It was a small hotel performing area in a restaurant, like. I did shoot some of their performance."


Much of the film shot in England was impounded by Customs agents at the airport. Finley did not want to pay Customs taxes, so they had tried, unsuccessfully, to pass the rolls of film off as bits of tourist footage shot by each individual. On top of all that, the agents ran the film rolls through x-rays, likely destroying much of the images. Rubin, who was paid by Finley to transcribe the sound tapes they all recorded, says that Finley did manage to get some of the film back at some point, but doesn't know much more than that. Mod remains, for now, a lost film.

Fiore went on to work with the Maysles brothers as a camera operator on Gimme Shelter (1970), and was a cinematographer on a key Vietnam documentary, Winter Soldier (1972), in which former U.S. soldiers testify in Detroit about their experiences in Vietnam. Fiore was a co-director and cinematographer on Pumping Iron (1977), the doc that made a star of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he was a camera operator on Robert Townshend's Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987) and Al Pacino's Looking For Richard (1996).

Milestone Films shared some words from Fiore's daughter, Jessamyn: "My father was a really good man. That description may seem overly simplistic but I think we can all agree that actually, at this moment, being a good man is a great accomplishment. He was incredibly generous; he had a talent for making people feel at ease and welcome. This was the skill that made him such a great documentary cinematographer — putting people at ease in front of the camera — but also made him a great friend, a trusted confident, and a wonderful father.… He was a modest man, but also very proud of the films he made, proud of their endurance and continued relevance, knowing they could be experienced long after he was gone.”


Posted by Geoff at 1:35 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, August 6, 2019 7:43 AM CDT
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