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Domino is
a "disarmingly
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


Exclusive Passion

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario


AV Club Review
of Dumas book


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De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
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De Palma Community

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The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

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Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
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(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
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De Palma a la Mod

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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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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

ComingSoon.net's Grant Hermanns spoke with Paul Williams and Edward Pressman at the Fantasia Fest this past July. In the interview, posted today, Pressman talks about "re-establiishing" Phantom Of The Paradise about five or six years after its initial release, by taking it to selected cities, to get Fox to re-release it. He also talks about efforts to get Led Zeppelin to sign off on the restored version of the film. Here's an excerpt from Hermanns' article:
Pressman describes the feeling prior to release as one of excitement before it opened to disappointing reviews, feeling a lot of that stemmed from “people [confusing] it with Rocky Horror Picture Show,” with the mix of genres of comedy, horror, musical and a love story.

“It was a lot of things combined in an original way,” Pressman said. “I never thought it would last. We did make a serious attempt to revive the film in the last five or six years after it opened and we re-released the film ourselves and created our own posters. We went to Little Rock, Arkansas and it worked and we went to Memphis and it worked again, and then we went to Dallas, and we re-established the film so that Fox was willing to re-release it. At that time, that was a major accomplishment.”

Despite the film’s lackluster reviews from critics and box office failure early upon release, the film found a major following in both Winnipeg and Paris, with the soundtrack selling over 20,000 copies in Canada alone and becoming certified gold. Williams recalled visiting Paris “maybe four or five years ago” and finding it at a theater, where he learned Phantom disappears for a while before returning for screenings 45 years after its release.

While Williams and Pressman love the impact the film has made over the years, writer/director de Palma has kept quiet on the film since its release, even being absent from the documentary surrounding its cult following, but Pressman assures he is not distancing himself from it.

“I talked to Brian as late as last week, he’s a fan of the film,” Pressman said. “He was very happy to hear that the film is going to be brought back with the original cut, and he wrote a letter to try to help make that happen. I think he definitely has a warm feeling to the movie.”

Though the film mostly holds a positive legacy, with critics warming up to the project over the years, one hitch it has seen over the years has to do with the name of Swan’s media conglomerate “Swan Song Enterprises,” as Led Zeppelin had a label of the same name at the time and all references had to be deleted from the film, aside from background visual references, but now a movement is underway to get the rights from the classic rock band to correct this and add it all back in.

“The remaster is done and we just need to get Led Zeppelin to sign off on it,” Pressman said. “So that’s what Brian de Palma wrote a letter along with Edgar Wright and Brett Easton Ellis and a number of other luminaries, Paul Williams, obviously, to try to get them to end this 40 year standoff.”

In exploring the possibility or doing an updated version of the rock opera for modern audiences, both Pressman and Williams believe it would be great to see and have cited the Baby Driver director as the perfect person to helm the project.

“If anybody was going to do Phantom and bring it up to date and all, I love Edgar,” Williams said. “I think that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 30 years from now will have the same kind of fans that Phantom does right now. I saw Shawn of the Dead and I loved it. I mean, Baby Driver, the fact that he shot the film to the songs, that he cuts on it and it’s also that it’s imperceptible. You don’t realize it. I never got lost in that. Then I met him and turned out he had done Bugsy Malone, it’s like Grease here in London.

Earlier this month, the Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival screened a version of Phantom Of The Paradise that had been reconstructed by Ari Kahan of the Swan Archives. At Fantasia Fest this past July, Paul Williams thanked Ari Kahan on stage. "So," Williams told the audience, "one of the things that Ari did, is, he managed to find the footage that was replaced. We thought it was lost forever, but he found it. I think that was your doing, right? [applause] And he found the footage. He has reconstructed Phantom Of The Paradise with all the original [footage]. So there is this absolutely pristine version of the film, exactly the way that Brian De Palma wanted you to see it. And, we're trying to get permission to now, once again, display all of it. That's the kind of archivist that Ari is, and it's terrific."

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2019 7:49 AM CDT
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Monday, October 28, 2019

Earlier today, Chicago Review Press posted to its blog an excerpt from Paul Hirsch's new book, A Long Time Ago In A Cutting Room Far, Far Away (out Nov. 5th). The excerpt is from Hirsch's chapter on Carrie ("My First Hit," reads the title). "It is one of the strictest rules in my makeup that the editor must be loyal to the director," states Hirsch in the excerpt. He then mentions that Carrie producer Paul Monash would put Hirsch's loyalty to his director, Brian De Palma, to the test (which likely is detailed beyond the excerpt, further into this chapter of the book). The excerpt ends with Hirsch providing details about editing the split screen sequence in Carrie.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, October 29, 2019 7:43 AM CDT
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Saturday, October 26, 2019
OCTOBER 26, 1984

Posted by Geoff at 1:23 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, October 26, 2019 8:52 AM CDT
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Friday, October 25, 2019

For the past few weeks, 25 Years Later has been running a series of article essays about the cinema of Brian De Palma. The latest of these, by Laura Beerman, is one of the very best. Titled, "De Palma: Tell the Truth | But Tell it Split," and using subhead quotes about perspectives and ways of seeing from De Palma's documentary The Responsive Eye, Beerman discusses the ways in which De Palma presents multiple truth perspectives simultaneously. "My personal favorites are his voyeuristic 80s thrillers including Blow Out and Dressed to Kill, Beerman offers. "It’s in these films that de Palma’s pin really leaves you wriggling, layering detail on both sides of the frame and dispersing narrative to the point of near breakdown until we come to the central point: when De Palma tells the truth—like Emily Dickinson—he tells it slant, or in his case split. After all, what is 'The Truth'? Can we ever really know it and are we always better off when we do?"

Beerman's essay is illustrated with many frame captures from De Palma's films, so it is best to read it as-is on the 25YL site. That said, here's one small passage:

In one segment of The Responsive Eye, de Palma’s traveling camera captures a perspective shift—a complex work of pointillism that appears to change from 3D to 2D based on the proximity of the observer. Famed art theorist and perceptual psychologist Rudolph Arnheim touches on the shift that happens to the witness spectator: “Partly you are the victim of it, partly you are the rebel against it.” Because in a de Palma film, even a documentary, perspective changes everything.

De Palma’s witnesses are both victim and rebel. The more their positions shift relative to their original “seeing,” the harder it is to know what’s real. In Blow Out, a past tragedy drives Jack Terry to become a sound engineer who ultimately records a fateful car accident. Sally too starts as a victim. When she realizes she’s been duped by Manny she rebels, shifting from unwitting participant to truth seeker. The closer Jack and Sally get, the harder it gets to prove the truth as McRyan’s killer steals the incriminating film. Jack tears his studio apart, only to find his sound library—the entirety of his professional life—has been erased. Any hopes of a stable state are gone. De Palma captures that through two other techniques: spinning panoramas and a final overhead shot of Jack surrounded by whirring machines, piles of blank tape and empty cases.

It’s an almost pointillistic vision, like the one at the MOMA. We have detail. We have perspective. But we don’t have the truth, not a way to prove it anyway. Certainty is replaced with shock, disbelief, and betrayal. The obvious detour here is Blow–Up, the 1966 Antonioni film about a photographer who, in developing his film, discovers he’s captured a murder. To uncover the truth, he enlarges the image until there’s no image left, only pixel and shadow. When he returns to the crime scene, the body is gone.

Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CDT
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Saturday, October 19, 2019

It turns out that the classic noir Brian De Palma mentioned in a brief interview last week is Palmetto. De Palma had told Alex Helisek of Breezeway Productions that he is interested in doing an adaptation of Palmetto, a 1998 film directed by Volker Schlöndorff which was based on the James Hadley Chase novel Just Another Sucker. That screenplay was written by E. Max Frye (Something Wild). Schlöndorff, a pioneer figure of the New German Cinema (which happened from 1962 to 1982), is best known for his ambitious 1979 film adaptation of Günter Grass' The Tin Drum. About five years later, Schlöndorff made films in Hollywood before returning to Germany in the mid-'90s, then back to Hollywood to make Palmetto. "My friend (filmmaker) Bertrand Tavernier asked me why I didn't ever make the kind of movies I like to watch myself, a real 'movie' movie," Schlöndorff is quoted in the studio press notes for Palmetto (via Peter Rainer's review in the Phoenix New Times). "I decided it was time to take a break from the heavier subject matter and have a little fun."

Indeed, watching Palmetto, it is easy to see there is much there for De Palma to play with: a straight arrow reporter whose moral compass is compromised after being framed, staged kidnappings, ransom notes, drop offs, bodies in trunks, recordings of conversations, erotic frisking for wires, femme fatales, plenty of sex, and wigs galore. The film even opens with Woody Harrelson's somewhat Carlito-like stance toward a judge after his conviction is overturned.

Definitely could be fun for De Palma. For a bit more context regarding Schlöndorff's film version, which was not so well-reviewed upon initial release, here's Peter Rainer's review from 1998:

Palmetto is a film noir set in a torpid seaside Florida town. It's based on the James Hadley Chase novel Just Another Sucker, and when we first see Harry Barber (Woody Harrelson), he fits that moniker exactly. He looks dazed and confused--a sucker incarnate. Suckers are, of course, integral to noir--they provide the blood supply for the genre's predatory vamps. It's been said that a thriller is only as good as its chief villain, and, in the same way, most noirs are only as good as their suckers.

Palmetto has a good sucker but not much else. Harrelson is everything one could hope for, but he's surrounded by a cast, including Elisabeth Shue, Michael Rapaport, Chloe Sevigny and an underused Gina Gershon, which appears to have seen too many noirs--bad noirs. Their elaborate machinations are so transparently base that they might as well be camping it up for the cameras. The trick to getting noir right is to play it absolutely straight; the looniness and the greed may appear absurd to us, but they have to be deathly serious to their practitioners. Palmetto isn't a takeoff on noir, and yet it has that unintended effect. It appears to be winking at the audience when, instead, it should be trying to stare it down.

Part of the phoniness of Palmetto can be traced to its director, Volker Schlsndorff (The Tin Drum), being a German director adapting a novel by a British pulp novelist who wrote about America without ever spending any time in it. (Chase was the pseudonym for Rene Raymond.) There's an uncomfortably twice-removed quality about the movie. Screenwriter E. Max Frye (Something Wild) sets out all the proper pulp/noir place settings, but Schlsndorff doesn't really provide a meal.

The film's press notes carry an interesting quote from the director: "My friend (filmmaker) Bertrand Tavernier asked me why I didn't ever make the kind of movies I like to watch myself, a real 'movie' movie. I decided it was time to take a break from the heavier subject matter and have a little fun." But it's one thing to be a fan of noir, quite another to render it effectively. Palmetto is a fan's movie, and it has the kind of gaga unreality that a giddy cineast might bring to it.

Harrelson has always had a look of sozzled lewdness that makes him perfect for roles ranging from Larry Flynt to the deranged vet in Wag the Dog. But Harrelson's lewdness doesn't have many levels. What you see is often what you get. In Palmetto, he brings some softness into his usual slouch. Being a victim becomes him. His Harry Barber is a journalist released after two years in prison; it's been discovered he was framed for trying to expose civic corruption. Angry, aimless, he drifts into a kidnap-for-ransom scheme engineered by Rhea Malroux (Shue), a curvy bundle apparently married to a wheezing millionaire (Rolf Hoppe) with a trampy daughter (Sevigny). Harry becomes the bad guy he was mistakenly believed to be, and he can't quite live up to the billing. When the police, attempting to track down the kidnapers, put Harry on the job as their press liaison, he finds himself double-whammied. Once a sucker, always a sucker.

If the filmmakers had concentrated on this comedy of suckerdom, they might have come up with something piquant. (Harrelson certainly was up for it.) But Harry is surrounded by scenery-chewers. Shue is the worst offender, but Rapaport, playing Rhea's husband's bodyguard, is a close second. He's not playing a bad guy; he's an actor playing a bad guy.

Shue impressed a lot of people in Leaving Las Vegas because she brought a sensual bleariness to her patrician cool; she was a clean-cut slut with a heart of fool's gold. She hasn't been nearly as effective since. As the brainy scientist in The Saint, this Radcliffe graduate actually seemed rather dim; in Deconstructing Harry, she was part of the female foliage with which Woody Allen adorned himself. In Palmetto, spilling out of an assortment of clingy dresses, Shue is so unconvincing in her wiles that you can't imagine even a stupe like Harry getting stung.

Palmetto might not have been appreciably better even if it were more skillful. At this point in film history, it's not enough anymore just to go through the same old noir paces. Something new must be added to the mix. That's what John Dahl attempted to do with Red Rock West and, to a lesser extent, The Last Seduction. It's what Curtis Hanson does so successfully in L.A. Confidential--he dramatizes his own ambivalence about the pulp conventions he expertly executes. If Schlsndorff has any feelings about noir, you'd never know them from Palmetto. He's just happy to be orchestrating the nastiness. But we've heard this score before.

Posted by Geoff at 9:43 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, October 20, 2019 2:55 AM CDT
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Friday, October 18, 2019

A few days ago, Piper De Palma wrote on her Instagram page, "It was such a pleasure presenting the lifetime achievement award to my dad at the Hamptons International Film Festival (and of course meeting Alec Baldwin)✨I’m so proud!!" John Roca took the picture above showing Piper in between Brian De Palma and Baldwin.

The conversation event that took place at the festival last weekend opened with a montage of scenes from De Palma's films, scored to Ennio Morricone's music from Casualties Of War, which Baldwin mentioned during the conversation. The East Hampton Star's Mark Segal wrote an article about the event:

During their conversation, Mr. Baldwin noted the many stars Mr. De Palma worked with at the apex of their careers, among them Al Pacino, Kevin Costner, and John Travolta, who starred in the 1981 film “Blow Out,” which was shown Saturday at the East Hampton Cinema.

“I wrote ‘Blow Out’ after ‘Dressed to Kill,’ which was a big hit, so suddenly I was a genius,” said the director. After Mr. Travolta signed on to the project, the budget went from $6 million to $16 million, “and everything got bigger.”

Mr. De Palma said that making a $5 million movie is more or less the same for him as making a $100 million film. “Obviously there are more people around,” he said. He added that to do the elaborate set pieces for which he is known, he needed the top technicians, and they are in Hollywood. “They always said about Orson Welles that he lost the ability to use all those great technicians, and it showed in his work. I think that’s true.”

While Mr. De Palma has written many of his own films, he stressed the value of also working “in other people’s ballparks. That’s why I’m attracted to really great writers. It enlarges you because you have to tell their story with the techniques you’ve developed yourself.”

Of “Carlito’s Way,” which was written by David Koepp, he said “I was watching it at the Berlin Film Festival and I said to myself that I can’t make a better picture than this. And it wasn’t a big success. It killed me. I decided I was going to go out and make a success.”

Soon after, he heard from his agent, Mike Ovitz, that Sydney Pollock, who was working on “Mission Impossible,” wanted out of the project. “So Mike asked me if I would be interested. And I said, ‘Tom Cruise! ‘Mission Impossible’? You bet!’ It was the biggest hit of my career.”

Though often cited for his stylistic ingenuity, Mr. De Palma stressed the importance of actors. “You’ve got to get great actors to make these stories work, because if the actors aren’t good, you aren’t good.”

Mr. Baldwin said, “None of your peers — Steven, Marty, George — has anything on you when you shoot these things you shoot,” referring to his elaborate set pieces, dramatic camera angles and compositions, panning and tracking shots, and precisely choreographed long takes.

“Needless to say, Marty and Steven are very skilled at those kind of sequences,” said Mr. De Palma. “I think the difference is that Steven always used the same composer, John Williams. And Marty uses rock and roll basically. I used a variety of the best composers who were writing during my era, and that may be why my sequences stand out. Ennio Morricone’s score for ‘Casualties of War’ will tear your heart out.”

Mr. De Palma has also worked with many of the top cinematographers. Asked if he preferred shooting and cutting film to working digitally, he said, “I’m a science brat. I love the new technology. When I shoot digitally, the key thing is to get a cameraman who knows how to light it. It doesn’t have to look like that brown crap you see all the time.”

As much as he is recognized for his psychological thrillers, Mr. De Palma is also known, and sometimes criticized, for his depiction of violence. He discussed his battles with the old motion picture ratings board, which started with the masturbation scene in the shower in “Dressed to Kill.”

Scarface” was X-rated at first. He made a few cuts, sent it back, and it was returned with an X. He made several subsequent cuts of violent material without appeasing the board. “I finally said, ‘What?’ They said, ‘It’s the clown getting shot!’ The clown getting shot? It was too much.” Over the objections of the studio head, he resubmitted the original cut to the full board, and it was eventually approved.

Of the scene in “Scarface” where Mr. Pacino appears with his gun and says, “Say hello to my little friend,” Mr. De Palma explained why so many people are shot in it. “When we went on the set to film that sequence, the set burned down. Then, when Al was using that gun, he grabbed it by the barrel, and it was so hot he burned himself severely.”

“The set burned, then Al burned?” interjected Mr. Baldwin.

“He went to the hospital for two weeks. So here I had a set, no Al, but I had a lot of Colombians. So we spent those two weeks shooting Colombians.” Of Mr. Pacino, he said, “Al can hold the screen with that incredible face and voice; you just sit there riveted. And he’s not only a great actor, he moves so gracefully.”

He cited Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” as two recent films he admires. “We’ve got some good directors working,” he said, moments before his daughter, Piper De Palma, came onstage to give him the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Posted by Geoff at 7:40 AM CDT
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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

In the October issue of EMPIRE, Kim Newman begins his monthly video dungeon column with a brief review of Domino:
Early in Domino, Copenhagen cop Nikolaj Coster-Waldau bungles a routine call-out and gets his partner stabbed. As he’s dangling from a gutter à la James Stewart in Vertigo, accompanied by a lush orchestral Pino Donaggio score, this seemingly typical Scandi-noir is revealed as unmistakably the work of itinerant ex-‘movie brat’ Brian De Palma. A found footage sequence combines elements from Redacted (De Palma’s most interesting 21st century work) and Femme Fatale (his flat-out craziest/most fun) as a chic, brainwashed terrorist livestreams a gun attack/suicide bombing on the red carpet of a swanky European film festival. Sadly, thanks to budget cuts and a never-really-there script, Domino proceeds to fall over, but flashes of genius make it a more interesting watch than the professional plod of most direct-to-anything-but-a-cinema thrillers.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2019 12:11 AM CDT
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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Alex Helisek of Breezeway Productions posted a brief interview with Brian De Palma on YouTube, conducted outside Saturday, with Susan Lehman waiting in the background, before heading in for De Palma's conversation with Alec Baldwin at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Asked what kinds of films he is looking to make in the future, De Palma mentions "a kind of horror film I'd like to make" (he is most likely referring to Predator), as well as a movie he calls Palmetto, based on an otherwise unnamed classic noir:
Well, I'm interested in new styles of telling stories. I do have a kind of horror film I'd like to make. And also diferent genres, and an adaptation of an old classic noir picture called Palmetto.

The interviewer also asks De Palma, with the films coming out this year, gearing up to the "Oscar race, as it begins to heat up," if there is anything he's seen that really strikes a chord with him. De Palma answers, "Marriage Story," saying "the acting, the script, really beautifully done."

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2019 7:55 AM CDT
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Monday, October 14, 2019

White Wall Cinema will host a "a special Halloween double bill pop up cinema experience" October 26th at Wgner Hall in Brighton: Mary Harron's adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho and Brian De Palma's Body Double. "Two movies back to back," reads the event description, "a movie about Patrick Bateman and Patrick Bateman's favourite movie!" Sponsored by It Is Still 1985 ("Brighton's legndary 80s Party"), the event page includes a lovingly-edited trailer scored to Pino Donaggio's Body Double theme, save for a bit of Huey Lewis and The News near the end, and a bite of Frankie Goes To Hollywood to close things out.

Here's more from the event page:

We start the evening with Mary Harron’s 2000 cult classic American Psycho starring Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, an investment banker who attempts to hide his serial killer impulses as he descends into hedonistic violence, in a deeply satirical look at 1980s New York.

The second movie of the evening, 1984’s Body Double, is cited throughout Bret Easton Ellis’s original American Psycho novel as Patrick Bateman’s favourite film (Bateman mentions that he has seen the film 37 times and rents the tape of it from a video store several times in the story, and also repeats scenes from the film to the reader or to other characters). Directed by Brian DePalma (other works include Carrie, Scarface, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way) and influenced by Hitchcock classics Rear Window & Vertigo, Body Double follows an out of work actor as he delves into the seedy world of adult entertainment in order to solve a murder he witnesses in the Hollywood hills. A vibrant 80s neo-noir thriller it’s an unashamed celebration and examination of the most superficial of decades. Tickets on sale now.

Posted by Geoff at 1:02 AM CDT
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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Todd Vaziri, a veteren visual effects artist who has worked on David Koepp's Stir Of Echoes and Mission: Impossible III, among many many other films, posted a video on Twitter a couple of days ago that shows a rare behind-the-scenes look at the Tom Cruise fish tank stunt from Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible. Vaziri's tweet gives credit to stunt coordinator Greg Powell.

Posted by Geoff at 11:02 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, October 13, 2019 11:04 AM CDT
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