Jonathan Evans

Review Goodbye Christopher Robin by Jonathan Evans

 

3 Stars3 / 5

 

Goodbye Christopher Robin is, at the start, about the rejuvenating ability that thinking as a child can help people through dark times and then becomes about the corruption of success and fame.

We are introduced to A.A. Milne (Domnhnall Gleeson) who has survived the First World War but is shell shocked and angry at the world. He lives rather comfortably in London with his wife Daphne (Margo Robbie) but he cannot get over the trauma, he introduces one of his plays but the spotlight reminds him of the lights in the trenches and cannot get through it. In his disgruntled state he decides to move his wife and son (Will Tilston) out to the country.

Whilst there Milne seems to be much more interested in woodwork and walking rather than writing. Daphne grows ever more bored and frustrated so she leaves for some city time, coinciding with her leaving the nanny (Kelly MacDonald) must also go for three days to see to her sickly mother. So now its just the two of them.

During the time they are away it falls on Milne to step up and take care of his son. He is not the most patient man so they have tension in deciding what breakfast to make and him needing quite. But he gets sucked into the world his son creates with his stuffed toys. We then hear other names and phrases and can connect the dots that these elements will be used to tell the tale we all know.

He of course writes it down and is a tremendous success. But with success comes fame so he is constantly being called and asked to make appearances. Even Milne, who wrote the book is always asked about his son. Public appearances, signings, interviews all in abundance. He can hardly go anywhere and not be recognized. Even in their country home people come looking for him.

Being that this is about the behind the scenes story of a popular work of fiction I couldn’t help but think of Finding Neverland and Saving Mr Banks. Out of all of these movies the best one is Finding Neverland but this is also a different movie. It shows the damaging effects of too much fame for someone that cant handle it.

This is a very handsomely shot movie with attention to detail in the living areas, wardrobe and the sunlight having a truly golden quality to it.

The movies message is a simple one and the story of what when on with the people behind the material is interesting. A few moments of cool transitions, attractive production value and very solid performances help make it more worth seeing it those elements weren’t there.

 

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    Review Blade Runner 2049 by Jonathan Evans

    4 Stars4 / 5

     

    The images and themes of Blade Runner are some of the most iconic in movie and even pop-culture history. They have influences and been ripped off so many times and yet there’s still nothing quite like the original. Whether a sequel was necessary or wanted is now irrelevant, it’s here and the story now continues.

    I have to confess that I’ve never been a fan of the original movie. I ‘ve seen it three times, I like hearing analysis of it and talking about it and it is undeniably influential and amazing to look at, but frankly actually sitting down and seeing the movie play-out has never given me a thrill.

    We get a black screen where writing comes up informing us of the essential information we need to know going into the movie. Replicants are synthetically grown humans that developed their own humanity, they rebelled but a new company has emerged which makes Replicants that obey absolutely, the old models are still running around Earth so there are still agents that hunt them, which are still called Blade Runners. The  first shot, as the original, is with the opening of an eye. Who eye? It does not matter. We then see a flying car hover above a grey landscape, where eventually there’s some kind of farming land. The car lands and a man gets out, he enters the house and waits for it’s owner (Dave Bautista), through a series of questions it’s obvious that he is a Blade Runner here to “retire” this runaway Replicant.

    The Replicant fights back, slamming him through a wall but he is stronger than him. Yes this Blade Runner is a Replicant. The Replicants name is K (Ryan Gosling). Before he heads back he finds a buried box under a dead tree and number carved into them that have meaning for K.

    Being that he’s not human most of his emotions are subdued, for a large portion of the movie Gosling is rather stone-faced throughout it. That’s fine because there are other  more expressive characters that keep the energy alive, his real effort goes into his body movement, being sleek and efficient. However you can still see the glimmers of the thoughts that are going on under the surface that come out in little eye movements or furrowing of his brow. Plus there is a scene in which he comes to a realisation about himself and without going over the top delivers an amazing reaction. For this, I believe it is one of his best performances.

    Something I applaud this movie for is it’s very little amount of action. There are hand-to-hand sequences and a shootout scene or two but this movie really relies on creating images, atmosphere and provoking deeper questions. Science Fiction isn’t supposed to simply entertain you with things going bang and flashing lights, its meant to give you ideas.

    Blade Runner has never been a typical science fiction movie. It was more like an existential Film Noir set in the future. It had a lonely man wandering the streets of a dark city and asked questions about what makes us human. This is still that movie.

    In the directors chair is not Ridley Scott but Denis Villeneuve. He made Arrival last year which really impressed me so I had no objections to him taking the realms on another science fiction movie. He has clearly done his research for what this world is like. He and cinematographer Roger Daekins have created the same dark, rainy world lit with headlights and advertisements, as well as a few other images that will most likely become classic. Whats striking is the way many scenes are composed with the minimal amount of detail and only a few shapes to help fill in what they are. Take a shot where its mostly black but a few coloured lights help us register that there is a car behind the character.

    Someone else that’s taking over is Hans Zimmer and Benjamine Wallfisch on the music where it was previously handled by Vangelis. They have a frame to work within and I believe to sounds like the original. For the big city shots it’s your traditional piece you would expect to hear but there are other moments where the characters dwell on other things and it becomes a deep meditation. They use electronic instruments but create an organic sound with them.

    I have no idea how well this movie will be received by the public or by other critics. I also cannot guess how successful it will do at the box-office or with the fans of the original. But I do admire the visuals and the technical achievements put into this movie. I remember some of the shots very clearly and the feeling of the atmosphere it created. It shows a world far off in the future where technology is capable of so many things but the greatest question man faces is within themselves.

     

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      Review Night Is Short, Walk On Girl by Jonathan Evans

       

      4 Stars4 / 5

       

      This movie is greedy in it’s concept and gratuitous with it’s execution, however I don’t mean any of those as insults. It is greedy because it excessively wants to pack so much into the movie and it is gratuitous in the way that it gives more than is necessary. It wants to  create as many images and scenarios as it can and have you feel as many emotions on the spectrum as you can.

      The Night is Short, Walk On Girl opens on a marriage ceremony where two of the guest Senpai (Gen Hoshino) is smitten with a girl who he goes to college with who we will simply know as The Girl with Black Hair (Kana Hanazawa). He has strategically coordinated himself so that they constantly run into each-other so she will believe they are meant to be together. She is of age to drink and wants to earn her adulthood so she drinks at the celebration and then goes out for the night, he then peruses in an attempt to push the destiny idea.

      From here on it is a case of The Girl with the Black Hair walking around in the nighttime and encountering people and their scenarios and getting involved with them. Meanwhile Senpai is in some way deterred by another story or in his efforts to aid her.

      The drawing style of this movie is certainly not like typical Western animation of Disney but also not like other anime movies like Ghost in the Shell or the works of Hayao Miyazaki. The lines are thin and very little detail is used. Eyes are represented with a few lines and a coloured dot underneath. You can squint and still understand nearly everything onscreen because it is comprised of simple shapes and vivid colours.

      This movie plays non-stop. When you watch it be prepared to read the subtitles fast and suck in the visual information onscreen. Luckily the image is so clear and accessible. If you have ever viewed FLCL then you will have an understanding of this movies sprinting pace.

      This movie is a comedy if nothing else and has an extremely simple plot which allows the creators to put in as many different character, plot points and setups as it can. From a chase, to a drinking contest, to a few musical numbers, all are displayed with as many transitions emotions and levels or ridiculousness that it possibly can. It cooks up a wide buffet of animation and movies and allows you to be stuffed and very happy by the end.

       

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        Review American Assassin by Jonathan Evans

         

        1 Stars1 / 5

        “Women in Refrigerators” is a terms that started in 1999, created by now famed comic writer Gail Simone. It was a response to an issue of Green Lantern where he comes home and finds his girlfriend has been murdered and stuffed into his fridge, this ignites a revenge story-line. The term means that women are killed, harmed and/or depowered simply for plot reasons. Why do I bring this up? Because this is the mentality of this entire movie. In-fact not just at the start, but another time near the end is a female character (this one serving little to no purpose) is killed off mercilessly with not a care or regret.

        Our main character is a young man named Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) that has suffered the loss of the woman he just proposed to. Now that she was tragically gunned down he has resigned himself to hunting down terrorist, training himself day and night and having very little restraint when things become physical. This man is clearly unhinged and apparently that’s just when the C.I.A. want because they recruit him.

        Michael Keaton is brought in as the rugged trainer that’s seen it all and knows it all. His talents as an actor are wasted in this movie and belong in a better one. I cant say whats worse, having a fine actor be in a bad movie and give a bad performance, or in  a bad movie and have the energy of a good performance wasted. I don’t know, either way is upsetting.

        Further adding to the despicable makeup of the movie is its one-sided view of non-white, non-christian Americans. If you are not white then you are the bad guy and a scumbag (that word is used directly by our main character). The main antagonist is white however he has some layers to him, the other enemies that are non-white are bad through and through.

        I cant tell you what the message of the movie is. Revenge is good? Revenge leaves you empty? Follow orders? Don’t follow orders and be your own man? But it doesn’t matter what it’s about because it’s foundation is an outdated, misogynistic plot setup and from there on it fans the narrow-minded drive about how to handle terror threats. Good performances cannot help sweeten this rotten meal of a movie.

         

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          Review Victoria & Abdul by Jonathan Evans

          The opening text of Victoria & Abdul goes “Based on real events…mostly.” That insertion of the last part eases the audience that though the idea and some events may have accrued, they are taking liberties. It allows us to take some of the more eccentric moments and inaccuracy’s with a pinch of salt and enjoy the moments.

          We open in India where a simple man names Abdul goes about his simple duties. By chance he is selected to present Queen Victoria with a gift, simply because he is tall. So he gets shipped off to England and when the pivotal moments comes he is instructed to not to make eye contact with her majesty. Guess what happens!

          Dench is actually returning to the role of Victoria. She originally played the monarch in Mrs. Brown, where oddly, was also about the Queen befriending a servant. There’s not much to write about the performance I feel, Dench has proven her chops as an actor again and again. Here she handles the part of one of the longest running monarch’s as a woman that is more than used to getting her way, but also fatigued with the repetition of ceremonies and political news. It is when this young Indian servant enters her life that she becomes reinvigorated with someone that speaks to her like an equal and has a different view of the world.

          Abdul played by Ali Fazal will most likely bring a smile to your face. He himself is so smiley and optimistic but not without a sense of being grounded. He can be sad and worried, but that is understood because he has his faith that reassures him of a positive outcome. If it were not for these moments then he would most likely become grading, but with these touches he is enduring.

          Typically in these kinds of movies with big named stars and based on historical events you can bet that the studio and filmmakers are seeking an Oscar for their efforts. It may well win or at least be nominated for cinematography and/or costume design. But the moments that will most likely receive a nomination, even a win. This is a moment where Dench is framed in closeup and it never cuts away and she delivers a summary of this entire woman’s life and role. This, on one hand, it obviously trying hard to win the Oscar, but also on the other it is a sharply executed performance that is very well written.

          Eventually there come moments of unhappiness and sombreness. Such moments in movies come and go with varying degrees of effectiveness but these ones truly struck me. It works by starting with sugary charm and digging deeper and deeper into the characters and the way each of their worlds work as well as life as a whole we come to truly tender moments.

          Historical accuracy interest me rather little, what engages me is characters and themes, the movie has these. It has charm and fun but by the end leaves you with a sense of understanding of the connections between people.

           

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            Review Mother! by Jonathan Evans

             

            3 Stars3 / 5

             

            Mother! Is a movie by a man that operates his own way. The setup is a man and a woman live in a little house together, they are married, there’s an age gap between them and there was a fire which ruined the house and she has spent the her time repairing it for the two of them. We never learn their names, nor anyone’s in the movie, the characters operate on the roles in the piece.

            Jennifer Lawrence is put through the emotional ringer as someone that has to be naive, balancing frustration and then terrified of her situation and others.

            The other cast members are here to serve as counterpoints to her character.  Either intruding on her barriers or in no way being civil or polite. They all do this to varying degrees, some creep through bit by bit before they say or do something that is blatant, others arrive and are instantly crass and detestable.

            The house itself is made almost entirely of fresh wood, a spiralling staircase take it’s inhabitants up and down and has designs on the windows, floor and ceiling that probably don’t serve any other purpose than to engrave themselves on the viewers mind. It sits in the middle of a green field that is surrounded by a seeming endless forest.

            The wife and Him (Javier Bardem) are living their lives when suddenly there is a knocking at the door. It is a man (Ed Harris) that was wandering and just wants to say hello, he is invited in for a drink and then is also invited to spend the night. All at the behest of Him. Then eventually the mans wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) arrives at their door and is also staying at their house. As each new visitor seemingly just arrives Him is completely accepting of every new arrival and welcomes them into their home.

            Aronofsky’s main reoccurring theme throughout his work is characters that seek divinity but ultimately fall short due to the world or their own shortcomings. Here Lawrence’s character wants to create the perfect, idyllic home for herself and the man she loves. However he is not content with simply her love, he needs it from others.

            The movie is, I suppose a horror, it certainly has moments of fright, terror and unease. In the sound department it is certainly one. Every little spec of sound, from the footsteps, the insects outside and others that come later on that will most likely disturb are sharply captures and layered.

            When we reach the climax of the movie it is like Children of Men within The Amityville Horror. It is a roaring, swirling, completely mad experience where all of humanities savagery is displayed before us and at times is horrific and at some bits, pretty funny. Like a cartoon. Aronofsky doesn’t believe in slow, delicate climaxes, he always goes all out and loud.

            This is a slow movie that builds to a heavy handed finale of no subtlety. But at the same time you can see that this is the work of a great craftsman who also posses an original voice. Just the originality and way it plays-out is something worth seeing in a time of remakes and franchises. In terms of low scale horror it is not as finely tuned or effective as Get Out, as a larger vision it isn’t as rich as A Cure for Wellness but that’s also it’s appeal as a whole, it isn’t like anything else.

             

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              IT Review

               

              “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify I’ll go for gross-out. I’m not proud.”

              -Stephen King

              3 Stars3 / 5

              Stephen King is author that has one of the most loyal and enthusiastic followings of nearly any writer in history. His fans obsess and devour his books, so no wonder why he is also regularly adapted to the screen. There are many shoddy productions of Stephen King material. This is well produced at the least. You can tell that from the clear images and the visuals and detailed production value. But does it succeed in and kind of engaging horror?

              IT tells the story of a small town called Derry in the eighties where it seems Norman Rockwell’esque, however people are going missing, mostly children. Only a handful of children are catching onto the pattern that there always seen the same demented clown appears and they unite in solving the mystery.

              The children are Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) who has a stutter and is very determined to solve the mystery because a year ago he lost his brother Georgie to the clown. Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is the new kid in school as well as being overweight so he spends time in the library. Richie (Finn Wolfhard) is the wisecracking comedy relief who’s jokes don’t always land but he keeps trying. Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) is the timid, germaphobe who is the one to suggest that they don’t go into the scary places. Mike (Chosen Jacobs) the only black youth in the whole town and has suffered hardships of being an outsider. Stan (Wyatt Oleff) who is the most logical one, believing in facts and rational and second guesses all the supernatural elements. Finally there is Bev played by Sophia Lillis, who is by far the best talent in the movie. She is able to encapsulate all the fear, confidence and insecurities within this one character. I hope to see her go onto more things.

              Until now our only personification of Pennywise the clown was Tim Curry in the miniseries. That was a fun performance but only in the sense that it was an actor going all out with not restrictions. Watching it now as a fully grown adult, you’ll probably be entertained but doubtful be scared. Now Bill Skarsgard is under the makeup, he also goes all out in his performance, however there are delicate touches of control here, adding glimpses of his sinister intentions through bouncy clowning. Also aiding in the overall terror of his performance are some genuinely creepy ideas of what to do with him (none I shall spoil). Finally he comes with much more convincing special effects this time around.

              King is a writer who has developed many reoccurring cliches within his work (IT has more than a few). But the one I want to focus on is the way too mean and soulless portrayal of bullies. The bully here is a boy names Henry (Nicholas Hamilton), a complete psychopath that must be a bully, it is his desperate role in life. This is over-the-top and quite frankly unbelievable,

              Just like in A Cure for Wellness, Benjamine Walfisch delivers a melodic score that starts as whimsical childhood and then drifts into demented screams. Much like Bernard Herman in Psycho for the main moments of fright he cuts out all other instruments and just uses the strings, creating high-pitched shrieks.

              As of this point of writing this review I have never read a Stephen King novel. However from what I understand of his prose they have great ideas and are engaging page turners. However they also are very wild and don’t lend themselves to being put to screen because of an idea that would work while reading it might not be so brilliant when is actually visualised. As for what the book is like I do not know, but they seem to have run with the idea and added and changed elements to make them better suited for the medium.

              Whilst there are moments of genuine frightening material in here there are other moments when it goes too far and it’s just the movie yelling at you. Though for the moments of the children being children and the moments of fright they are very much worth it.

               

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                Review The Dark Tower by Jonathan Evans

                 

                3 Stars3 / 5

                 

                There are many, many stories like The Dark Tower. A child that exists in the mundane world that we know and then stumbles into a world unlike our own where they must manoeuvre it as well as see many interesting things along the way. One of the first examples of this is Alice in Wonderland, then The Wizard of Oz and many more. But while concept is one thing what truly matters is execution.

                Our lead is a boy named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), he is mostly a loner and has dark dreams of another world where monsters dwell and there is a large black tower that stands. He goes to therapy to talk about how he believes that the earthquakes that happen in the real world are related to what is happening in his dream. Of course the world is real and he eventually finds a way there. Taylor handles the role well, displaying all the panic, fear and confusion clearly and convincingly.

                In the other world Idris Elba plays Roland who’s a Gunslinger, basically a knight that roams the land and rights wrongs. But he is the last of the Gunslingers and has become disillusioned with helping people. It is also established that he is a little stronger and faster that the average human, so he can heal faster, do more impressive feats and take more of a pounding and not die. I must give the movie credit for not being on tracks with the stereotypical stern mentor figure. There is a moment in the movie (I wont spoil it) where something traumatic happens to Jake, he says that they have to move but he speaks calmly to him and isn’t above giving him a hug.

                The antagonist is a magician of some kind and mostly referred to as “The Man in Black.” He is essentially a very powerful being of pure evil. He is used to getting his way and can treat anyone how he wants. Mathew McConaughey is clearly having fun with the role, this is an excuse to be devilish and swaggering. As a characters there’s no real depth, but as a scary threat, he does the job.

                Movies these days seem to be very franchise orientated. Wanting to adapt books is nothing new but now studios really want books that are part of a series, so that they can not just get one but many movies out of them. This probably stated with Harry Potter, kept on going with Hunger Games and is still common now. As of writing this I have never read the book by Stephen King that the movie is based one, but this is fine, audience members shouldn’t have to read the book in order to enjoy the movie, they should buy their ticket and enjoy it regardless. This movie is fine to understand, there are things that go unexplained but you don’t always need exposition for every single thing that happens in a world. I heard from one source that a movie could never do the source material justice because the books go so weird and high concept, well that may be, but as a movie it’s fine.

                As stated earlier the concept is not original. The best examples of movies that use this concept would be The Wizard of Oz and Labyrinth. On the opposite scale, the weakest movie I’ve seen with this idea is Percy Jackson & The Olympians  The Lightning Thief. This movie isn’t the pinnacle of this genre but it is also far superior to Percy.

                When the movie ends the story that kicked everything off is wrapped up nicely as well as leaves itself open for other scenarios to happen. Being that there are many books in the series if the film is a success this will happen and if not then it will simply be as it is.

                 

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                  Review Atomic Blonde by Jonathan Evans

                   

                  4 Stars4 / 5

                   

                  There are many movies like Atomic Blonde. A sensitive, political situation where a top agent is called in to handle it and what follows is a chase, gunfights, hand-to-hand combat and some sharply worded moments over a bar. Many movies follow the same form, what matters is the effort and result. This decided new film from director David Leitch decided to use a more vibrant colour pallet and attempts to really make you feel the fights going on.

                  What is the plot? Who cares. Seriously though the movies premise is as simple as I previously described but in order to be professional I’ll elaborate. In 1989 the Berlin wall came down, the city was complicated in terms of it’s politics (to put it simply), spy’s are everywhere, one spy is taken down who has a list of the names of all the active spy’s, there is another man that wants to defect and has committed all the names to memory. So Lorraine Broughton is called in cause she’s the best at all secret agent skills. Honestly this doesn’t matter, the plot is a thin clothing line to take us from one set-piece and character after another.

                  Charlize Theron has established herself as one of our greatest living actors. Able to handle intense emotional material and be the grand star of a blockbuster. This is a role where she is the Fe-male equivalent of James Bond, stylish, a drinker and very dangerous. She is beautifully shot however the filmmakers don’t just make her a something beautiful, she is a fighter and they give her bruises and cuts.

                  In Berlin her contact is David Percival (James McAvoy), a British agent that has allowed the corruption and brutality of Berlin to envelop him. McAvoy can handle this kind of role with ease, he is the kind of actor that believes in giving it all or go home. He gives it all.

                  During the day Berlin is a city of black and white, but at night it comes alive with dark shadows and turquoises and fuchia. The colors are in-keeping with the time and feel of the movie, disco and dance.

                  The extra layer of style in the movie is the soundtrack. Banging dance tracks that add a spicy tone to the movie as well as make the feel rather tongue-in-cheek. This works, it allows you to get into the rhythmic nature of the movie and know that it’s about the style and experience.

                  Not every movie needs to stir your soul. Others don’t even have to be that original in terms of their premise, but they do need to properly convey their goal. Atomic Blonde seeks to entertain you showing a dank, sexy ride. It does this very well, you are seduced by the aesthetic and engaged by the visceral action.

                   

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                    Review Dunkirk by Jonathan Evans

                     

                    5 Stars5 / 5

                     

                    There is the location, the situation, the characters and the deadline. All are set, wound up and then the ticking begins.

                    Dunkirk is not so much of a war movie as we traditionally expect one to be. We see soldiers, it is set in World War Two and there are moments of gunfire but its closer to Grave of The Fireflies because of it’s tone and more about the effect of war.

                    Our backdrop is the beach of Dunkirk where French and British soldiers were pushed back to and the Nazi’s have surrounded them and are going to move in for the kill. Some ships are coming to pick them up but they often get shot down by planes.

                    We have about three situations going on. One follows a young private named Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) who just wants to get on a ship and get out alive. Another follows Mr Dawson a man who owns his own boat and is taking it upon himself to rescue all the soldiers he can. Another is Farrier (Tom Hardy) a British pilot that has to defend what ships he can but a shot has rendered his fuel gauge broken so he has no idea how long he has left.

                    Seeing the movie is like seeing Hitchcock’s Notorious. Christopher Nolan has reduced this movie to as few spoken lines as he could and focused on sharply telling the story through visuals.

                    Throughout the movie it is all about choice. The characters are all facing death and how they decide to go about it. The young private doing all he can to stay alive, the pilot that is remaining in the fight to defend the troops as much as he can,  even though his plane could give out any minute, the old man that has a boat so is going to pick up some soldiers even though he will most likely get shot down and die for nothing.

                    Over the course of watching the movie you will grasp that it is told out of order. Each characters narratives starts and you then learn that they intersect with the others. I tell you this because it isn’t really important, there is no twist involved with it, just a refreshing way to tell a plot with multiple characters from different perspectives. The kind of thing I expect and appreciate from Nolan.

                    This is Christopher Nolan striping himself back. His movies have become increasingly more dense and complicated, not in a bad way, though he has gotten pretty close to over-packing his movies. This is a simple concept with minimal dialog and more about clearly telling a gripping experience.

                     

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