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Subject: "The Descendants (2011, Payne)" Previous topic | Next topic
Wordman
Member since Apr 11th 2003
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Sat Oct-29-11 10:08 PM

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"The Descendants (2011, Payne)"


  

          

Just got back from a screening.
The first of the Oscar contenders.
And uh, well, how to put it?
You know how every Oscar season, there's buzz around a film, but that film really isn't, you know, award-buzz-worthy? The film is good, no question about it, definitely better than a lot of films released in the past year. But the film never really turns the corner from GOOD to GREAT.
Yeah.
I'll restrain myself for the moment and ask what others thought first.
Anybody else get the chance to see this?



"Your current frequencies of understanding outweigh that which has been given for you to understand." Saul Williams

  

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Topic Outline
Subject Author Message Date ID
Kinda bummed to hear that
Oct 30th 2011
1
I'm a fan of his movies
Oct 30th 2011
3
In the trailer, GC's performance *looks* like it could be outstanding..
Oct 30th 2011
2
2 hours of George Clooney looking sad
Oct 30th 2011
4
      Which is odd since I don't think he was sad for a single frame of film.
Nov 15th 2011
13
You and I didn't see the same movie.
Nov 15th 2011
5
Word?
Nov 15th 2011
9
      You must have seen the director's alt cut or something. (SPOILERS)
Nov 15th 2011
10
      The movie's extremely focused on its predominant theme.
Nov 15th 2011
11
Skipping the Duke game for a screening of this tonight.
Nov 15th 2011
6
Good not great
Nov 15th 2011
7
Also, fair warning to people who have had similar life experiences
Nov 15th 2011
8
Easily the most heartfelt Payne film to date.
Nov 15th 2011
12
This is a fair point
Nov 17th 2011
14
Fuck what the OP said. See this shit
Nov 17th 2011
15
liked it, didn't love it.
Dec 01st 2011
16
"I'm gonna hit you."
Dec 11th 2011
17
I'm surprised how much I enjoyed this movie
Dec 11th 2011
18
its a good film...
Jan 28th 2012
19

mrshow
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Sun Oct-30-11 03:10 AM

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1. "Kinda bummed to hear that"
In response to Reply # 0


          

Are you much of an Alexander Payne fan usually?

  

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Wordman
Member since Apr 11th 2003
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Sun Oct-30-11 02:54 PM

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3. "I'm a fan of his movies"
In response to Reply # 1


  

          

Loved SIDEWAYS.
But this one just felt off.
It definitely fits his style though.
Without a doubt - DESCENDANTS is the movie that lives between ABOUT SCHMIDT and SIDEWAYS in terms of plot, story, direction, cinematography.
But it really didn't deliver.


"Your current frequencies of understanding outweigh that which has been given for you to understand." Saul Williams

  

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The Analyst
Member since Sep 22nd 2007
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Sun Oct-30-11 10:35 AM

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2. "In the trailer, GC's performance *looks* like it could be outstanding.."
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

I'm looking forward to seeing this...

----

  

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Wordman
Member since Apr 11th 2003
11224 posts
Sun Oct-30-11 02:55 PM

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4. "2 hours of George Clooney looking sad"
In response to Reply # 2


  

          

If he wins the Oscar, that will be why.


"Your current frequencies of understanding outweigh that which has been given for you to understand." Saul Williams

  

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Frank Longo
Member since Nov 18th 2003
85547 posts
Tue Nov-15-11 11:58 PM

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13. "Which is odd since I don't think he was sad for a single frame of film."
In response to Reply # 4


  

          

Sadness implies a level of passivity that this character simply doesn't have at all at any point in this movie. There's exasperation, there's anger, there's confusion... but sadness? I can't think of a part where he's sad.

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ZooTown74
Member since May 29th 2002
43582 posts
Tue Nov-15-11 02:26 AM

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5. "You and I didn't see the same movie."
In response to Reply # 0
Tue Nov-15-11 02:28 AM by ZooTown74

  

          

I can't remember a movie that was so emotional, so sad, so quiet, so grown-up, so heartbreaking and funny -- sometimes all at once.

It's a quiet movie. This is not Up in the Air 2011. This is not Sideways 2011. This is not a rousing comedy about how families are weird when it comes to death stuff. Do not be fooled by the shot in the trailer where Robert Forster tells the young buck, "I'm gonna hit you," then hits him. That was funny, and there are more chuckles where that came from, but this is an almost completely somber meditation on death and family and forgiveness.

The basic setup is that CLOONEY's wife is in a coma and CLOONEY, an absentee husband and father, is charged with rounding up and tending to his two daughters, kids he really has no connection with. Then he finds out that his wife was having an affair. Oh, and then there's the whole deal about a big piece of land that CLOONEY's family wants to put up for sale.

I thought all of the performances were outstanding. CLOONEY anchors it and spends a lot of time reacting to everything that's going on, which is the point. His character is a reactor; he hasn't been around the three most important women in his life, and now the chickens have come home to roost at the worst possible time. His performance is more than just "two hours of being sad." He's sad, he's angry, he's confused, he's befuddled, he's amused, he's exasperated... The girl playing the teenage daughter was very good, as was the younger daughter. I also thought Robert Forster was great.

What struck me was the constant idea that people can say the meanest things to each other in times of crisis. And while some may attribute that to Alexander Payne being Alexander Payne (he did a script pass and got a writing credit along with the two original credited writers), the meanness works in this context. People oftentimes say things that aren't nice when they're faced with the impending death of a loved one. And sometimes the people around the people facing that death say shitty things too. All of that stress has to be expressed somehow. I bought it.

I loved how the story zigs and zags. It's somewhat unpredictable. If I had to quibble with one thing, it would have to be the subplot with the family's parcel of land. Seemed to be too obvious a metaphor, and I was tripped up by a few of the details about it. Maybe I'll understand it more in future viewings.

I really thought the film was dope. It's almost like it was tailor-made for the Oscars. Very moving in spots and chuckle-inducing in others. You might find yourself tearing up more than you laugh. Maybe. Don't want to oversell it.

And those who say that Payne is heartless and mean-spirited would be hard pressed to maintain that stance after seeing this. It's his most heartfelt film. Not necessarily his best, but it's right there.

_________________________________________________________________________
Scared money don't...

  

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Wordman
Member since Apr 11th 2003
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Tue Nov-15-11 01:34 PM

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9. "Word?"
In response to Reply # 5


  

          

The voice-over narration that tells you people in Hawaii don't hang out and go to the beach all day - then they spend the majority of the movie hanging out and going to the beach?
The voice-over narration that tells you about scenes that you then see? As in, "I'm the backup parent, I don't know what to do" then see the scene that shows that; "I've got all this land to do something with" then the scene that shows that.
The voice-over that disappears for the entire second act, only to reappear for five minutes in third act?
The lack of anyone's concern for the wife when she's in a coma during the first act? I'm sorry, but that whole "we're Hawaiians, we're laid back, we're real casual with our concern" shit don't work.
The movie's lack of focus between the wife dying, Clooney looking for the other man, Clooney dealing with his kids, the land sale. It really couldn't decide until the third act what it was gonna be about, which is lame 'cause you know the end of the movie is going to be about the dying wife.
I'm a big fan of Clooney's, but it really is him just looking sad for 2 hours. He's got one look on his face the entire time.
Taking your family with you to track down the other man? I'm hard pressed to blame that solely on "well, he doesn't know how to be a parent."
The oldest daughter definitely steals the show, but she's also the only character we see actually go through anything emotionally.
The "something funny during something sad" shtick is just that - a shtick.



"Your current frequencies of understanding outweigh that which has been given for you to understand." Saul Williams

  

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ZooTown74
Member since May 29th 2002
43582 posts
Tue Nov-15-11 06:07 PM

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10. "You must have seen the director's alt cut or something. (SPOILERS)"
In response to Reply # 9


  

          

>The voice-over narration that tells you people in Hawaii
>don't hang out and go to the beach all day - then they spend
>the majority of the movie hanging out and going to the beach?

This is the hill you're choosing to die on? The "he said they weren't gonna be on the beach but now they're on the beach" hill? Really?

You are aware that stuff happens during the course of the story that might lead this guy to the beach, right? That for a person who starts out saying shit like "no one goes to the beach" but ends up going to the beach is something along the lines of, like, story progression, right?

I mean, we could waste further valuable time on this particular nitpick by making a minor argument if we needed to that the guy could be considered an unreliable narrator, but fuck that, the voice over's inconsistent and therefore some bullshit, so we'll move on.


>The voice-over narration that tells you about scenes that you
>then see? As in, "I'm the backup parent, I don't know what to
>do" then see the scene that shows that; "I've got all this
>land to do something with" then the scene that shows that.

My memory may be bad cause I'm old and shit, but it sounds like you're describing, like, the first 20 minutes or so of the movie. You know, when things get discussed (ie, ideas get introduced) then we see what he's talking about. Which, like, helps establish the world that we're in. But hey, I mean, the "they're telling and not showing" note is fine if you're trying to take a misleading tack and say that the movie did more telling than showing, which is actually not the same movie that I saw.


>The voice-over that disappears for the entire second act, only
>to reappear for five minutes in third act?

Again, this is the hill you choose to die on? The voice over hill? Really?


>The lack of anyone's concern for the wife when she's in a coma
>during the first act? I'm sorry, but that whole "we're
>Hawaiians, we're laid back, we're real casual with our
>concern" shit don't work.

"Lack of concern?" Were we supposed to spend the first 30 minutes of the movie with CLOONEY and the kids holding vigil around the hospital bed? The characters have shit to do. CLOONEY has to rustle up his kids, go over his wife's will, talk to her friends about having a gathering, talk about the land development that's up for sale, as well as talk to the father-in-law... and that's all BEFORE he finds out about the affair. There's, like, a story being told here, and it's not about showing concern for the wife in the first act.

And even if there was a mysterious "we're Hawaiians, we're laid back, we're real casual with our concern shit" (as you're arguing) that is seen in the first 30 minutes of the story, that whole notion is COMPLETELY OBLITERATED by the final half of the movie.


>The movie's lack of focus between the wife dying, Clooney
>looking for the other man, Clooney dealing with his kids, the
>land sale. It really couldn't decide until the third act what
>it was gonna be about, which is lame 'cause you know the end
>of the movie is going to be about the dying wife.

Did you not understand how each of those ties into the dying wife? Clooney looking for the other man is the direct result of finding out that he was having an affair with... wait for it... his dying wife! Oh shit! Clooney "dealing with his kids" is the direct result of... wait for it... his dying wife! ZOMG! Everything that happens is the result of his wife being put in a coma. She's clearly the rock of the family. She's the one who apparently has handled everything up to this point. Her coma throws everything into chaos, especially for her husband, who up to this point thought all he had to do was provide and keep the lights on. NOPE! This man's busy-ness has caught up to him, his aloof-ness when it comes to his wife and his daughters has caught up to him, and now he suddenly has to juggle and make major adjustments to his life, now he is finally forced to make room for his family -- including the family that will hate him for literally not selling out. And now this man ultimately has to ask for forgiveness from all involved, especially the wife, who, in an ironic/tragic twist, can't do it.

I honestly have no idea why you're harping on "care for the dying wife," because that is not what this story's about.


>I'm a big fan of Clooney's, but it really is him just looking
>sad for 2 hours. He's got one look on his face the entire
>time.

Yeah, but except he wasn't, because in the movie that I saw and described, CLOONEY's face showed more of a range of emotions other than "sad." Especially when he had to deal with one daughter who took several pictures of her comatose mother and put them in a scrapbook then tried to call it art. And when he had to grit his teeth and listen to Laird Hamilton, the guy who drove the boat, talk about how racked with guilt he was, in the presence of that same daughter. And when he had to deal with another daughter who simply told him that she was bringing along her friend (she didn't ask him, she told him, which really set off my Negro Parenting Alarm), and when he had to interact with that friend. And when he found out about his wife's affair from said oldest daughter. And when he had to take shit from his father-in-law, who chastised him for being a bad husband and said that "she never cheated on you, Matt, and she deserved better." And when he ran into his wife's sidepiece on the beach (uh-oh!). Then showed up at the jumpoff's house (with his daughter -- WHAT?!?!?!?!!) and talked to his wife...

If you could only find a sad face in all of those scenes, then you're a better dude than me, because it simply wasn't there in the movie that I saw.


>Taking your family with you to track down the other man? I'm
>hard pressed to blame that solely on "well, he doesn't know
>how to be a parent."

Well, who else was going to watch them? His wife's friends? And plot-wise, if the teenage girl knows more about the man her mother was having an affair with, if I'm Matt, I probably want to get that info from her and bring her along. And besides, who's to say that they're just there to help Matt "track down the other man?" Who's to say that they're not, I dunno, bonding more with him on the trip, and, I dunno, helping him heal and cope with everything that's going on? Since they're, like, his daughters and shit? Nah, fuck that, yo, let's just blame the disappearing (and lying!) voice over for that plot contrived bullshit.


>The oldest daughter definitely steals the show, but she's also
>the only character we see actually go through anything
>emotionally.

Hmm. Not really. Because in the movie that I saw, she's about the only character who, despite showing up drunk in her first scene, actually appears to have her shit together emotionally. And yes, that even includes when she dunks herself in the pool to cry about her moms. That's about the only time that she goes through anything emotionally. Oh, wait, it was also done out of view from everyone else.

Hmm. Seems to me that if she "were going through anything emotionally" -- aside from acting like a fuck-up until she finds out about her mom -- it would have happened outside of the pool, wouldn't it?

And in the movie that I saw, she's actually kind of, like, I dunno, a ROCK for her father as he goes on this mad quest to find out who's been boning his wife, a wife that he was neglectful of.

Hmm.


It baffles me that you could type, "she's also the only character we see actually go through anything emotionally" when you have SETPIECES like CLOONEY angrily yelling at his wife after he finds out about her affair, and his last scene in the hospice (not the beach!!!!!!) when he cries and apologizes and kisses his wife on her crusty-ass lips. And when you have Robert Forster going in on CLOONEY's failures as a husband and father in both of the scenes that he was in. And when you have Judy Greer show up and tearfully talk to/yell at CLOONEY's wife.

I mean, seriously.


>The "something funny during something sad" shtick is just that
>- a shtick.

And in the movie that I saw, the "shtick" worked.


You're much better than this, man, I'm disappointed... you didn't have to dig the movie, but gotDAMN...

_______________________________________________________________________
Scared money don't...

  

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Frank Longo
Member since Nov 18th 2003
85547 posts
Tue Nov-15-11 11:51 PM

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11. "The movie's extremely focused on its predominant theme."
In response to Reply # 9


  

          

Family. All of those things directly relate to the importance of, and the difficulty of, family and the things we inherit from our parents, their parents, etc. The wife stuff is primarily important not because of the need to resolve marital issues, but how the wife stuff relates to the children, their development, and his ability to help them develop.

I'm surprised you missed it, since he more or less announces this theme with the narration at the beginning, all of the shots of the family members hanging on the wall, and the title of the film itself.

For beer lovers: http://thebeertravelguide.com
For movie lovers: http://russellhainline.com

  

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Frank Longo
Member since Nov 18th 2003
85547 posts
Tue Nov-15-11 06:55 AM

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6. "Skipping the Duke game for a screening of this tonight."
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

That should tell you how excited I am about this movie.

For beer lovers: http://thebeertravelguide.com
For movie lovers: http://russellhainline.com

  

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blue23
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8341 posts
Tue Nov-15-11 11:23 AM

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7. "Good not great"
In response to Reply # 0


          

Quality writing, capable directing and some strong performances. I wasn't overly impressed and never really felt challenged by it. A little bit spoon-fed. Not even sure it will make my Top 10 for the year but I can see Oscars voters eating this up.

  

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blue23
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Tue Nov-15-11 11:24 AM

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8. "Also, fair warning to people who have had similar life experiences"
In response to Reply # 7


          

My wife was pretty much crying the whole movie and was very upset afterwards. If you have lived through this kind of thing (she did very recently) it's going to drag up all kind of emotions.

  

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Frank Longo
Member since Nov 18th 2003
85547 posts
Tue Nov-15-11 11:56 PM

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12. "Easily the most heartfelt Payne film to date."
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

I don't want to necessarily say "gentler," because classic Payne pops up here and there, but it's very palatable.

I didn't have a strong emotional reaction to the film, which may have been a result of how lowkey, subtle, and internalized the emoting was for the majority of the film, but I really appreciated the execution of the story. It never felt "wacky" and it certainly never got melodramatic, which is a rare feat in a coma film.

Clooney was outstanding, as was the daughter. I also loved the guy who played Sid, who now belongs as a great classic-Payne character.

I find myself thinking about it still... I agree with those who say they weren't themselves moved or personally challenged, but there's nothing wrong with a very palatable, very tastefully done film that captures accurately the essence of legacy better than the overwhelming majority of Hollywood films about families.

It's a strong 3.5 out of 4 kernels for me.

For beer lovers: http://thebeertravelguide.com
For movie lovers: http://russellhainline.com

  

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blue23
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Thu Nov-17-11 01:59 PM

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14. "This is a fair point"
In response to Reply # 12


          

>I find myself thinking about it still... I agree with those
>who say they weren't themselves moved or personally
>challenged, but there's nothing wrong with a very palatable,
>very tastefully done film that captures accurately the essence
>of legacy better than the overwhelming majority of Hollywood
>films about families.

I would agree with that 100%. It's a 3 out of 5 for me but it's a thoughtful, well executed project that avoided taking short cuts to make its points.

  

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bwood
Member since Apr 03rd 2006
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Thu Nov-17-11 10:01 PM

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15. "Fuck what the OP said. See this shit"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

Seriously a heartfelt movie that does what Payne does best, balance comedy and drama. Really entertaining.

------------------------------------------
America from 9:00 on: https://youtu.be/GUwLCQU10KQ

  

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raptor44
Member since Dec 11th 2004
1161 posts
Thu Dec-01-11 12:39 AM

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16. "liked it, didn't love it."
In response to Reply # 0


          

I thought it was funny, and I really enjoyed the Alex character... I actually thought the problem with the movie was that she was underused. I liked the idea of her dealing with hating her mom because she felt like they were a lot alike, and she couldn't deal with the idea of herself cheating like that.

The land part was a huge issue for me. I thought it was so heavy handed and only made everything seem so much more obvious that it really hurt the movie. Taking it away might have removed the idea of how long these things can affect our descendants for, but I think the movie would have generally felt stronger without it.

That being said: funny movie, good movie, but I don't think it was great if only for that reason.

  

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Ryan M
Member since Oct 21st 2002
42443 posts
Sun Dec-11-11 11:18 PM

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17. ""I'm gonna hit you.""
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

That shit cracked me up.

I loved this one. A lot. Clooney was great.

------------------------------

17x NBA Champions

  

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dunk
Member since Aug 05th 2006
8024 posts
Sun Dec-11-11 11:49 PM

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18. "I'm surprised how much I enjoyed this movie"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

I don't think enjoy is the right word, seeing how most of it was depressing but it was pretty great. Both actresses playing the daughter were spot on. I've seen too many movie with the bratty daughters who fall into the same ole cliche but both their parts were written and played extremely well, especially the older daughter.

Clooney was perfect throughout. Out of all his films, I think Clooney showed his range extremely well with this one. He's far more emotionally vulnerable in this role than he's ever been before. With The this film and Up in the Air, I appreciate the recent direction he's taking with his acting career, balancing the charming, poker face big shot with the everyday man trying to make all the loose ends meet.

  

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CyrenYoung
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Sat Jan-28-12 12:50 PM

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19. "its a good film..."
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

..but i'm not sure i'd give this an academy nod

the story is simple enough to allow the cast to stretch, but it never really happens. solid performances, but nothin' i would consider extraordinary.

after watchin' this film, i understand why the director refused to give clooney the lead in sideways. even though we all know he's a great actor, he just doesn't fit the aesthetic of the common man.

his weeping scene was simply not very believable. at the same time, he's perfect at executing the awkward timing and off-beat humor.




..and miles to go before i sleep...

  

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