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Domino is
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De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
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final print."

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Earlier today, I posted links to reviews of Yann Gonzalez' Knife + Heart, which premiered at Cannes the other day and reminded many critics of the films of Brian De Palma. Two other thrillers were recently released in the United States that brought De Palma to mind of critics-- and, in the case of Bad Samaritan, it seems the director, Dean Devlin, had De Palma in mind from the get-go. "You know, there’s a lot of good scary movies in the last couple of years," Devlin tells Colleen Bement at Nerd Alert News. "They tend to be either something to do with a creature or they have some supernatural aspect to it, or they’re sort of violence porn. I wanted to do a scary movie that was a throwback to early Brian De Palma, or even like the movie Disturbia. This is scary because it could actually happen."

Devlin expands on that a bit more in an interview with Collider's Christina Radish:
When this came your way, it came to you as a spec script that screenwriter Brandon Boyce was asking for advice on, and then you decided you wanted to do it. What was it that made you so passionate about telling this story?

DEVLIN: Well, the first thing is that it was a page turner. I couldn’t put the script down, and that’s so rare. Usually, I’m not a great reader. I have to push myself to read through a script. And the other problem I have is that, very often, I’m rewriting a script while I’m reading it, and then I get half-way through it and I realize the movie in my head is totally different from the one I’m reading, so I’ve gotta start over again. This one was absolutely compelling, from the first page to the last. I just couldn’t put it down. It also reminded me of early Brian De Palma movies that I fell in love with, like Dressed to Kill, and things like that. There are a lot of great scary movies in the last couple of years, but they tend to be either supernatural or have a science fiction aspect, or creatures, or aliens. To me, the most horrifying and frightening thing in the world are other people. If you had a psychotic person, who had no ability to feel guilt or empathy, and you married that with someone who had all of the resources and money in the world, that’s a very terrifying idea, but not so unrealistic that you couldn’t run into that, in real life. That’s what chilled me.

Here's an excerpt from a review of the film by The Daily Herald's Dann Gire:
What Alfred Hitchcock (or his disciple Brian DePalma) could have done with this cat-and-mouse "Silence of the Lambs"-lite material boggles the brain.

Director Dean Devlin, who gave us the ludicrously silly weather disaster drama "Geostorm," can't boggle, but he races over logic lapses with such speed that the frequent surprises, power-shifts and reversals easily take up the credibility slack.

Irish actor [Robert] Sheehan executes his role as an out-of-his-class hero with aplomb, although he's operating in a story that supplies a humongous amount of Oregon scenery for British actor Tennant to chew, and he gorges himself on it with unbridled gusto.

Resembling a cross between Norman Bates and Charlie Sheen on a bender, [David] Tennant tunes into the movie's melodramatic excesses better than his co-stars. (If Tennant wore a mustache, he probably wouldn't twirl it, but we'd see him thinking about it.)

David Connell's impressive, widescreen cinematography keeps our eyeballs occupied with kinetic, well-framed compositions, although Joseph LoDuca's crushing suspense score overpowers a climactic, snow-dusted showdown with distracting notes.

If nothing else, "Bad Samaritan" might be just enough of a horror film to give us pause every time we toss our car keys to a parking attendant.


Vaughn Stein's Terminal has also led to at least a couple of mentions of Brian De Palma in critics' reviews:

Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

The latest in a long line of post-Tarantino imitations, Terminal paints its setting in broad strokes. The train station where the film's action takes place abounds in retro-modern colors that are redolent of so many 1990s-era industrial music videos. It's a generic space occupied by stilted characters: two hitmen (Dexter Fletcher and Max Irons) who trade wince-inducing banter while waiting for new assignments; a terminally ill teacher (Simon Pegg) who's looking to speed up the shuffling off of his mortal coil; and a disabled janitor (Mike Myers) who just might be more shrewd and observant than he lets on. Interacting with them all is Annie (Margot Robbie), a woman who's introduced via a series of images that, in the way they reduce her to flashing, emerald eyes and pursing ruby lips, lamely prop her up as a femme fatale.

In fact, Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale stands out as the closest analog to this film, as Annie is constantly slipping on various disguises as she seduces and double-crosses those who dwell throughout this terminal at the heart of an anonymous city. Yet the comparison to De Palma's freewheeling, deconstructionist take on noir does this lugubrious thriller no favors, as writer-director Vaughn Stein doesn't so much as dust off the cobwebs from the tropes he recycles throughout. Terminal's actors are awkward and stiff in trying to project hard-boiled cool, and all while delivering lines—from “Hello, handsome, dangerous men” to “Hello, beautiful, semi-clad girl”—that sound as if they had been passed multiple times through an online translation tool.

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
“There is a place like no other on Earth … to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter.” – Margot Robbie’s Annie in “Terminal.”

With lines like that, it’s not as if the lurid and highly stylized and neon-noir “Terminal” isn’t announcing itself as a derivative B-movie borrowing elements from pop culture touchstones ranging from old-timey gangster films of the 1940s and 1950s to “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” to “Pulp Fiction” to “Sin City” to “Blade Runner” to certain films by Brian De Palma and Guy Ritchie.

This is a dark and bloody and mind-bending trip, alternately fascinating and ridiculous, featuring some bold and outrageous plot twists, and juicy performances from one of the more eclectic casts you’ll see in a film in 2018.

We’re talking Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, Matthew Lewis from the “Harry Potter” films — and Mike Myers playing one of the sickest sickos in recent memory.

Oh, and one of the aforementioned has a dual role, and let’s just leave it at that.

Every year, we get a handful of movies that have a legit shot at appearing on some “Best of the Year” lists and some “Worst of the Year” lists.

"Terminal" is just that kind of movie.

Posted by Geoff at 3:11 PM CDT
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Yann Gonzalez' Knife + Heart premiered in competition at Cannes the other day, and brought the films of Brian De Palma to the mind of several critics:

Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter
If Dario Argento, Brian De Palma and Kenneth Anger conceived a three-way love child while watching Cruising and listening to a Giorgio Moroder mix tape, the result would be something like French director Yann Gonzalez’s Knife + Heart (Un couteau dans le coeur).

Taking the erotic kitsch and glamorously trashy aesthetics of his many shorts and first feature, You and the Night, to the next level, Gonzalez uses a murder mystery set in the late-'70s gay porn industry to explore deeper themes of desire, abandon and sexual repression, all of it with plenty of humor and blood splatters. Playing the same late slot that Good Time and Drive did in previous festival editions, the film should add a needed dose of glitz and gore to an otherwise tame Cannes competition, with potential for crossover appeal in France and elsewhere.

Shot on 35mm by Simon Beaufils and backed by a throbbing retro score from Gallic electro rockers M83 (one of whose founding members is the director’s brother), Knife hits you from its very first frame — and this is really a frame of celluloid and not a file of gigabytes — as a work engulfed in the pleasures of filmmaking's past.

In the beguiling opening sequence, Gonzalez cuts between an editor splicing 16mm footage; a porno movie shot somewhere in the countryside; and scenes of its young, waifish star heading out to a nightclub and meeting a man in a leather mask. Anyone who’s seen the 1980 Friedkin-Pacino movie or the works of giallo auteurs like Argento or Lucio Fulci can imagine where this late-night encounter is headed, though the director tosses in one of several surprises when the murder weapon turns out to be a black dildo armed with a switchblade. This is not your typical slasher pic.

The young victim was the latest muse of 40-something gay porn producer Anne (Vanessa Paradis), who has built up a sizable filmography of semiautobiographical skin flicks with cheeky titles like Anal Fury or Homocidal. With the help of her favorite actor-director Archibald (a hilarious Nicolas Maury), her editor and former lover Lois (American actress Kate Moran) and a fluffer nicknamed Golden Mouth (Pierre Pilol) — or Bouche d’or in French (not to be confused with Palme d’or) — Anne is as passionate about her oeuvre as any self-respecting Gallic auteur, even if her movies only play at a seedy Parisian XXX theater that also doubles as a cruising spot.

Gonzalez has a good time exploring the slapstick behind-the-scenes side of Anne’s productions, although when we first meet the woman, she's totally grief-stricken after breaking up with longtime girlfriend Lois, who’s had enough of her drunken shenanigans. Anne’s work is further compromised by the fact that castmembers keep dying left and right, with each killing beautifully, and sometimes comically, staged in a different setting: a forest during a wind storm, a late-night parking lot, the movie set itself. She soon decides to embark on an ambitious new feature that re-creates the murders in front of the camera, while investigating the murders behind it, as Knife transforms into a film within a film that blurs the boundaries between reality, fiction, dreams and disaster.

The whodunit side occupies much of the movie’s second half, with Anne turning into an amateur sleuth who uncovers a trail of bread crumbs involving a former actor and his doppelganger (Khaled Alouach), a blind crow that looks a lot like the one in Game of Thrones, and a series of black-and-white flashbacks that reveal a dark family secret involving a character named Guy (Jonathan Genet) who may or may not be dead. It’s too much to handle at times, and the film’s rhythm dips a little during the closing reels, but the ending adds some needed thematic weight to all the B-movie antics by focusing on how sexual repression — specifically of gays — can spiral dangerously out of control.

Like in Gonzalez’s debut feature, Knife indulges in the seductive, sleazy stylings of thrillers and horror flicks from the '70s and '80s (alongside movies by Argento and De Palma, the cult classic Liquid Sky also comes to mind here), with cinematographer Beaufils bathing scenes in oversaturated shades of blue and red as M83’s vintage beats blast on the soundtrack.

Peter Debruge, Variety
Someone is killing the cast and crew around the production of a gay French porno in “Knife + Heart,” which provides an inspired opportunity to set an erotic thriller within the milieu of vintage Parisian blue movies. In the hands of gifted French director Yann Gonzalez, who leaps from Critics’ Week to the official competition with this hyper-stylized follow-up to “You and the Night,” an environment that might have once given exploitation helmers the excuse to stage some red-blooded voyeurism (à la “Body Double” or “Crimes of Passion”) instead serves as a backdrop for queer empowerment in what should be one of the hottest tickets for gay audiences this year.

Picture “Cruising” as directed by Brian De Palma, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this frisky parody-homage, which is equal parts kinky and kitsch, rendered with the kind of meticulous attention to lighting, composition, and sound (including a reunion with M83, who also scored Gonzalez’s first film) that all but guarantees a cult following.

Tim Grierson, Screen Daily
Gonzalez, cinematographer Simon Beaufils and composer M83 (fronted by Gonzalez’s brother Anthony) conspire to make a moody whodunit with a dream logic that can frustrate anyone looking for a more straightforward crime story. In Knife + Heart, the investigation is given equal heft as Anne’s romantic woes and her company’s attempt to make their latest porn, although eventually these disparate strands will (somewhat) come together.

The film’s immutable take-it-or-leave-it ludicrousness has its bracing kicks, especially when Gonzalez stages the masked killer’s vividly violent attacks. (His weapon of choice is a dildo with a switchblade at the end.) Knife + Heart pays homage to disreputable genre films of old, not just mocking porn’s cheap production values but also the grimy pleasures of B-movie horror. Whether it’s Anne’s hip wardrobe or the flamboyantly revealed plot twists, Knife + Heart grins through its gruesome murders, revelling in the power of cinema’s pure escapism.

At some point, though, that style needs to add up to something, and Gonzalez comes up short, resolving the mystery inelegantly and failing to make Anne’s existential crisis absorbing. One suspects the filmmaker spent more time worrying about how to construct his retro split-screen suspense sequences — a clear shout-out to De Palma — than he did in developing the human beings in those frames.

David Ehrlich, IndieWire
On paper, Yann Gonzalez’s “Knife + Heart” sounds like an entirely perfect follow-up to his 2013 debut, “You and the Night.” A pansexual fantasia about a gaggle of symbolic characters who get together for an orgy, the film compellingly melded elements of camp, smut, romance, Anger, and the self-aware stylization of Jean Genet into a chromatic fever that established its writer-director as a unique new voice in contemporary queer cinema (or just cinema, full-stop).

Flecked with some new giallo flourishes and a generous helping of De Palma-like psychological distress, Gonzalez’s frenzied second feature certainly finds that voice growing stronger and more confident. “Knife + Heart” outgrows (or obliterates) the black box constraints of its predecessor in favor of a broader canvas that stretches from a subterranean nightclub to an enchanted forest in the heart of France; from reality to fantasy and back again, using the scopophilic pleasures of sitting in the dark as a bridge between those two worlds.

Posted by Geoff at 2:12 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, May 20, 2018 3:16 PM CDT
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

About ten minutes in on his commentary track for the recently-released DVD/Blu-ray of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, writer-director Rian Johnson talks about the beautifully stylized scene in which a Resistance gunner sacrifices herself to the cause:
We used a special camera to do this. We actually used, like, a digital camera that has a smaller sensor, so we could get the depth of field for that shot. And then, this little bit right here was really fun to cut together, and to kind of... um... on set, I would say, We're gonna De Palma this moment. We're gonna stretch it out, kind of to a ridiculous degree, and do these slow motion shots where we stretch this moment of her trying to kick that thing down. And then when it actually falls, it was a question of just how long can we stretch this out for, and we kept pushing it and pushing it, and eventually hit a place where it's like, okay, this is the moment.

Posted by Geoff at 10:44 PM CDT
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Sunday, March 4, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/peeleoscars.jpgJordan Peele was interviewed on ABC-TV's live pre-Oscar red carpet show tonight, where the hosts asked him about his inspirations for Get Out. Peele responded by echoing what he said on stage yesterday when Spike Lee presented him with the best director award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. "Getting this award from Spike is crazy — let's make no mistake, I would not be standing here if it wasn't for this man," Peele said as he looked back toward Lee, who had mentioned that Get Out is a "masterpiece." Tonight on the red carpet, after talking about Lee, Peele added a few more directors' names as inspirations for Get Out: Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Stanley Kubrick, and Brian De Palma.



Jordan Peele: “I want to do what Hitchcock did, what Spielberg did, what Brian De Palma did — dark tales.”

Posted by Geoff at 6:59 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, March 4, 2018 7:18 PM CST
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Wednesday, February 7, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/jordanpeele.jpgJordan Peele talks to the Los Angeles Times' Glenn Whipp, in an article inspired by the recent Oscar nominations for Peele's Get Out. Here's a brief excerpt from Whipp's article:
Peele has just put me in the same leather armchair that Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener) invites Chris Washington (Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya) to sit in before she sends him falling into the Sunken Place. Missy’s floral-accented chair is just off to the left; Peele spreads out on a couch across from me.

“I definitely needed to take a couple of things from the set after the movie wrapped,” he says, smiling.

Peele knew the Missy-Chris hypnosis scene would become iconic. But he figured it would take years and, like most horror films, its appreciation would exist on a cult level. Instead “Get Out,” released the weekend “Moonlight” won the best picture Oscar last year, grossed $254 million and became a cultural phenomenon, the subject of endless discussions over its treatment of race and an Oscar powerhouse, earning Peele nominations as a director, writer and producer.

Now Peele, under the Monkeypaw Productions banner, is working hard, indulging his love for horror and the supernatural and boosting representation in genres that historically haven’t been generous toward black people. He’s producing a “Twilight Zone” reboot for CBS All Access and, with Misha Green and J.J. Abrams, an HBO series based on the novel “Lovecraft Country,” a series of interconnected stories that use various classic horror styles to examine the terrors of Jim Crow America.

And he’s writing his next movie.

“I’m in this horror, thriller, parable, ‘Twlight Zone’-y genre, probably forever,” Peele says. “I want to do what Hitchcock did, what Spielberg did, what Brian De Palma did — dark tales.”

Posted by Geoff at 8:24 AM CST
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Saturday, November 18, 2017
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/weblewit.jpgFilmed during the year leading up to the election of Donald Trump as president, Jean-Baptiste Thoret's documentary We Blew It takes its title from a line spoken by Peter Fonda in Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider. As The Hollywood Reporter's Bernard Besserglik describes it, "Jean-Baptiste Thoret's enthralling documentary We Blew It tackles the riddle of the 1960s head-on — a riddle that has been the subject of lively debate virtually since the day the decade ended. How, after that heady upsurge of youthful idealism and revolt, did we get to where we are now? What happened to the dreams and visions of the peace-and-love generation? What were the twists and turns that brought us from Easy Rider to Donald Trump?"

CineSeries' Guillaume Meral brings up Brian De Palma in his discussion of a shot that traces the road in Dallas where JFK was assassinated in 1963 (a description that cannot help but also remind of the scene in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, when Travis meets the gun dealer):
Basically, We Blew It is a film that deals with the question of the years '60-'70 by questioning their very existence. The work of a director who evolves in a landscape of images and is all too aware of the impact of these images themselves not to wonder if they have not printed in the retina of the popular unconscious a reality that never took place. A dialectic that is found in particular in the staging bias of Thoret. Filmmaker obviously cinephile, the author multiplies the references to New-Hollywood to question his own references. We think of the scene where the camera is walking in Dallas, on the road on which JFK died as if it were scanning the traces of a perennial trauma. As the screen sweeps the asphalt, an oppressive music straight out of a film by Brian De Palma, THE filmmaker who made this fatal day of November 15, 1963 the reason for his cinema, accentuates and invades the entire sound space. As if Thoret summoned the spectrum of the director of Blow Out to derealize what he films and plunge into an agonizing abstraction, which exceeds the factual historical event to touch something more disturbing. For those who arrive in the empty room of all references, the tools work in the first degree, but for the viewer initiated to its author and his cinephilia, Thoret brings a historical event to his cinematographic representation, as if the passage of a historical event in a regime of specific images had altered the initial reality. Did New Hollywood invent these years? Has cinema created America? This is the agonizing question that runs through the author's approach, seeking the traces of cinema in what he films.

Posted by Geoff at 10:28 AM CST
Updated: Saturday, November 18, 2017 10:31 AM CST
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Monday, October 16, 2017

In the introduction of his interview with Noah Baumbach, Dazed's Nick Chen states that "Baumbach’s scripts are so meticulous and efficient, his visual approach can go underappreciated. There is, for instance, one specific directorial flourish towards the end [of The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)] that I’ve never seen from Baumbach before, which is clearly indebted to his mentor, Brian De Palma. Chen asks Baumbach about the De Palma influence in this bit from the interview:
You released a Brian De Palma documentary last year, and spent a few years before that revisiting his films. Did that influence Meyerowitz in any way?

Noah Baumbach: Somebody said to me the other the day that they saw Brian’s influence in the movie. I thought that was interesting. It’s not something I thought of consciously, but there are a lot of long camera moves and stuff I’ve done before, but I felt maybe I and Robbie Ryan, who shot it with me, were more successful at doing some things I’ve been trying to figure out. Brian obviously is known, rightfully so, for his great long pans.

And that thing which Brian says: you can’t play chess without showing the chessboard first.

Noah Baumbach: Right, right. Yeah, his whole thing of suspense is contingent on you understanding the space to know what’s really at stake. So often, people rush to the suspense without setting it up. Brian loves to set up a room and show you everything.

Posted by Geoff at 11:50 PM CDT
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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Posted by Geoff at 11:21 PM CDT
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Monday, August 28, 2017

CineVue's Martyn Conterio reviews Don Mancini's Cult Of Chucky
Cult of Chucky is by and large a gory hoot, with Jennifer Tilly stealing every scene she's in. Sprinkled with James Whale-style camp, Brian De Palma's baroque aesthetic and expressionist production design recalling William Cameron Menzies' use of exaggerated sets in Invaders from Mars, Don Mancini's new Chucky film delivers everything a Chucky fan could possibly want: corny one-liners, the carrot-haired monster being horrible to everybody, Jennifer Tilly playing a demented femme fatale and plenty of violence.

Since their rejuvenation under the auspice of creator Mancini, the once-controversial Child's Play movies have taken a rewarding tongue-in-cheek approach, with doses of postmodernist winking at the audience. Most slasher movie franchises are on the bones of their arse by the seventh episode, dog-tired and ready for the chop, but with Mancini back on board calling the the shots, Chucky has found a new lease of life, moving away from the dark origins of Child's Play and its two sequels into exclusively horror-comedy territory.


Like the best trashy psycho-thriller Brian De Palma never made, Cult of Chucky revels in giddy nonsense. Mancini deploys split-screen, split-focus, suspenseful editing and stages surprisingly icky deaths with aplomb (Nica stomping on a guy's head until its total mush being the chief highlight). And how does a wheelchair user find herself walking? That would be telling. While the plot is supremely silly, hardcore devotees will be delighted to find twists and turns along the way.

This past April, We Live Entertainment's Fred Topel attended a panel for Cult Of Chucky at Monsterpalooza in Pasadena, California. Topel posted that Tilly told the audience, "You’ll see there’s references to other movies because Don Mancini loves horror movies. He’s incorporated homages to great horror films that have come before.” After which Mancini added, "We have lots of Brian De Palma."


Posted June 11 2004
Don Mancini, who has written all four of the previous films in the Child's Play series, is making his feature directorial debut with the upcoming fifth installment, Seed Of Chucky, which he also wrote. According to Fangoria magazine's January issue (the news of which you can read at Gorezone), Mancini has hired Pino Donaggio to compose the score for the film. "A lot of Seed is a takeoff on Brian De Palma's early movies," Mancini told Fangoria, "and I thought it would be a perfect touch to have his composer do the music for our film as well." Donaggio scored many of De Palma's classic thrillers, beginning with Carrie, and continuing with Dressed To Kill, Blow Out, Body Double, and Raising Cain. He also scored De Palma's comedy, Home Movies, and told an Italian newspaper in 2002 that he would be scoring De Palma's upcoming Toyer. Seed Of Chucky is released in October, and will also feature director John Waters as an "ill-fated papparazzo," according to Mancini.
(Thanks to Space Ace!)

Posted by Geoff at 12:00 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, August 28, 2017 12:29 AM CDT
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Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Comrade Detective is a six-episode series that premieres on Amazon this Friday (August 4th). The series is a satire that "purports to be a long-lost 1980s Romanian crime drama rescued from obscurity, digitally remastered and dubbed for an American audience," according to Cleveland.com's Mark Dawidziak. "The idea," Dawidziak continues, "is that, in the midst of that decade's Cold War rhetoric, the Romanian government created its own version of an American cop show: a style-heavy, action-packed series that 'not only entertained its citizens but also promoted communist ideals and inspired a deep nationalism.'"

Executive producer Rhys Thomas tells Multichannel News' Michael Malone that Comrade Detective celebrates of '80s thriller directors such as Brian De Palma. Meanwhile, the trailer for season two of HBO's Vice Principals hit the web today. Co-creator Danny McBride said last year that "we were channeling a lot of John Hughes and ’80s teen comedy in the first season, and I feel like in the second season we start channeling a lot of Brian De Palma.” Vice Principals season two premieres September 17th.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 2, 2017 12:13 AM CDT
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