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Hollywood hopes to rake it in

Category: Beowulf & Grendel News
Article Date: September 2, 2005 | Publication: DailyBreeze.Com | Author: CHARLES BRITTON
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Redford-Lopez drama opens a season that includes international intrigue with Nicolas Cage, airline thrills with Jodie Foster and more Tim Burton weirdness

After an unseasonably chilly summer -- bottom line: attendance down more than 11 percent -- Hollywood's optimists are looking forward to what they hope will be a nice warm fall.

As before, the new season will start slowly, with a lot of odds and ends. But activity will build quickly.

So far, the September and October schedules are far more crowded than the holiday months. This is largely due to the earlier date for awards shows -- for example, the next Golden Globes presentation will be Jan. 16 -- so many producers won't wait until late in the year to get their movies out there.

Here we cover general releases and indie films for September and October. A glance ahead at the holidays is in an accompanying story. We'll cover forthcoming documentaries and foreign films in the Sept. 9 issue of RAVE!

Release dates are those currently quoted by distributors or by reliable industry sources. All are subject to change. A major uncertainty is Miramax. The founders, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, are leaving after a dysfunctional relationship with Disney, to which they sold the company 12 years ago. Now they're hanging out their own shingle -- the Weinstein Co., logically enough -- but won't be out the door until the end of the month.

Disney intends to keep Miramax going but hasn't announced any releases beyond that point.

We begin with the major productions, including a few limited releases that look exceptionally interesting; then we continue with other big-studio productions and independent films.

THE SEASON'S TOPPERS

"An Unfinished Life": We can only hope that Miramax is actually going to release this movie, made as a high-profile holiday 2004 entry and moved here and there on the schedule since. Dutifully, we've listed it in preview after preview. So, for what may be the last time, we'll tell you that this film is about an aging Wyoming rancher still grieving for the death of his only son 10 years before. One day, the very person he blames for his loss, his daughter-in-law, turns up on his doorstep with a girl she claims is his granddaughter. With Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez and Morgan Freeman. Lasse Hallström directs. Sept. 9.

"Lord of War": Yuri Orlov, an international arms dealer, has to move fast to keep ahead of an Interpol agent, his business rivals and some of his own customers, who include notorious dictators. His greatest adversary, though, is an increasingly active conscience. With Nicolas Cage, Ethan Hawke and Bridget Moynahan. Sept. 16.

"Proof": Here's another movie that's been gathering dust in a Miramax closet. A young woman has devoted herself to caring for her father, a brilliant but mentally unstable mathematician. In addition, she has to deal with the arrival of an estranged elder sister and the attentions of one of her father's students -- plus the worry that she may have inherited her old man's condition. With Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal and Hope Davis. John Madden ("Shakespeare in Love") directs. Sept. 16.

"Tim Burton's Corpse Bride": Burton goes in for creepy subjects, so here, using stop-motion animation, he has a story of a shy young fellow in a 19th-century European village who flees his living fiancée and finds something much spookier. With the voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Emily Watson. Limited Sept. 16, wide Sept. 23.

"Flightplan": On a trans-Atlantic flight aboard an immense new airliner, a newly widowed mom suddenly finds her little girl missing. No one else will believe that the child was even aboard. With Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard and Erica Christensen. Sept. 23.

"Capote": Philip Seymour Hoffman plays famed writer Truman Capote during the period when he was researching and writing his huge success, In Cold Blood. The film looks at his relationship with the Kansas murderers Perry Smith and Dick Hickock and on the ethical issues that raises. (Another movie covering the same territory, "Have You Heard?," is near completion, but won't be released for about a year.) With Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr., Mark Pellegrino, Bruce Greenwood and Chris Cooper. Limited Sept. 30.

"Duma": The film has been showing around the country and has won praise from critics. Now it gets an L.A. run. Duma is the name of a cheetah in South Africa, friend with a young boy. Together they cross the continent so that the animal can return to its true home. With Alexander Michaletos, Campbell Scott and Hope Davis. Carroll Ballard directs. Sept. 30.

"A History of Violence": One of the most admired films from this year's festivals is David Cronenberg's story of a family man who leads a quiet, small-town life. This is shattered when he thwarts an armed robbery. He becomes a media hero, thereby attracting the attention of mobsters who believe he's someone else. With Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris and Maria Bello. Sept. 30.

"The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio": Julianne Moore plays a mother of 10 in the '50s whose husband just doesn't earn enough. Forced to make ends meet, she starts entering the advertising-jingle contests popular in the era. With Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern. Limited Sept. 30.

"Good Night. And, Good Luck.": The title, punctuation and all, uses the sign-off line of legendary radio and TV journalist Edward R. Murrow for this story of his famous broadcast attacking Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, then at the height of his power as a Red-hunter. David Strathairn plays Murrow. With George Clooney, Patricia Clarkson and Robert Downey Jr. Clooney writes and directs. Oct. 7.

"In Her Shoes": Two sisters are opposites, one free-spirited and gorgeous, the other conventional and dowdy, a situation that's not improved when one sleeps with the other's boyfriend. Following a rupture, they discover the grandma they didn't know they had. With Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine. Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential," "Eight Mile") directs. Oct. 7.

"Two for the Money": A former small-time college football star becomes the protégé of a high-rolling consultant. A who's-conning-who? plot develops with millions on the line as they bet on games. With Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey and Rene Russo. Oct. 7.

"The Wallace & Gromit Movie: the Curse of the Were-Rabbit": Brilliant stop-motion animator Nick Park brings his most famous characters to a feature film. The pair -- Wallace, the inveterate gadgeteer, and his sensible dog, Gromit -- go into the pest-control business, to rescue neighborhood veggie plots from a plague of rabbits. One rabbit will test their mettle. Oct .7.

"Domino": Keira Knightley stars in a "wild" action adventure based on the life of Domino Harvey, daughter of actor Laurence Harvey, who threw over her Beverly Hills life to become a bounty hunter. The film, originally set for summer, had to be revised after the sudden death of the subject. A diverse cast includes Lucy Liu, Christopher Walken and Mena Suvari. Tony Scott directs. Oct. 14.

"Elizabethtown": A young man, down on his luck, returns to his home town in Kentucky for his father's funeral and finds his roots and a renewal. With Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst and Susan Sarandon. Cameron Crowe directs. Oct. 14.

"North Country": The first major U.S. sexual-harassment case is the basis of a story about a woman who has to undergo abuse when working in a mine. With Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek and Woody Harrelson. Oct. 14.

"Doom": The hugely popular computer game makes a leap onto the big screen, where similar ventures have not prospered. But maybe Universal will have better luck with what it promises is a "hyperkinetic, kamikaze-style" story, set in the distant future when menace abounds. With Karl Urban, the Rock and Rosamund Pike. Oct. 21.

"Dreamer": The subtitle of this movie is "Inspired by a True Story." So here we have an account of a once-great horseman who now trains mounts for other people. His young daughter wants him to give up everything to save the life of an injured racehorse and return it to its former glory. With Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning and Kris Kristofferson. Oct. 21.

"Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang": The story, if we follow it correctly, is about a small-time crook who gets a gig playing a detective in a movie, but then is involved in a real murder with the real detective who ... Well, we're pretty sure Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan are in it. Shane Black, who made his scripting rep with the "Lethal Weapon" movies, debuts as writer-director. (The title comes from noted critic Pauline Kael, who said that American movies can be summarized as "kiss kiss, bang bang.") Oct. 21, wide Nov. 11.

"Shopgirl": Relegated to the glove counter in a fancy Beverly Hills department store, a "plain Jane" nevertheless catches the eye of a wealthy man. Steve Martin's screenplay is based on his novella. With Martin, Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman. Oct. 21.

"Stay": A psychiatrist's patient announces his intention to commit suicide in three days. The effort to prevent this leads the therapist on a nightmarish trip through the city. With Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling. Marc Forster ("Finding Neverland," "Monster's Ball") directs. Oct. 21.

"The Legend of Zorro": Antonio Banderas reprises the role of the dashing caballero in this follow-on to the 1998 hit. Come to think of it, he did the same in "Shrek 2." Anyhow, he's now married to Catherine Zeta-Jones' character and has promised to live as plain old Don Alejandro de la Vega, but -- well, you know how those things go. With Rufus Sewell. Oct. 28.

"Prime": When a 37-year-old Manhattan divorcée meets a passionate 23-year-old painter from Brooklyn, it's up to her shrink to help them pick up the pieces and put them together -- especially since the shrink is his mom. With Uma Thurman, Meryl Streep and Bryan Greenberg. Oct. 28.

"The Weather Man": Professionally, TV weatherman Dave Spritz is thriving, with a shot to become a regular on a national morning show. Personally, his life is falling apart, as uncontrollable as ... well, the weather. With Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine and Hope Davis. Gore Verbinski ("Pirates of the Caribbean") directs. Oct. 28.

EXTRA ADDED ATTRACTIONS

These movies also will be given wide openings:

"The Exorcism of Emily Rose": In a rare move, the Catholic Church recognizes the demonic possession of a young woman. When she dies, the officiating priest faces trial for negligence. With Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson and Campbell Scott. Sept. 9.

"The Man": A federal agent walks the walk and a dental-supply salesman talks the talk in an odd-couple action comedy. With Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy. Sept. 9.

"Just Like Heaven": A fellow in San Francisco subleases an apartment, then finds that a woman claims the place is hers. She's charming, beautiful and not exactly your every-day love interest. Among other things, she can walk through walls. With Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo. Sept. 16.

"Venom": From the producer of "Scream" and the director of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" comes a voodoo horror tale set deep in the swamps of Louisiana, centered around a group of teenagers fighting for their lives against a mysterious evil force. With Agnes Bruckner, Method Man and Bijou Phillips. Sept. 16.

"Oliver Twist": Roman Polanski directs this version of what has become Dickens' most popular work (except for A Christmas Carol, of course). Here, young Barney Clark is the boy who wants more, Ben Kingsley is Fagin and Harry Strong (so impressive in the recently released "Pure") is the Artful Dodger. Limited Sept. 23, wide Sept. 30.

"Roll Bounce": In the late '70s, when roller skating is a way of life, X (Bow Wow) and his pals rule supreme. But the local rink closes, so they have to take their act uptown. With Chi McBride and Wesley Jonathan. Sept. 23.

"The Greatest Game Ever Played": A true story goes back to 1913, when Francis Ouimet, a young golf amateur from a working-class family with a 10-year-old caddie, defeats the reigning champion, Harry Vardon, at the U.S. Open. With Shia LaBoeuf ("Holes"), Stephen Dillane and Peter Firth. Bill Paxton directs. Sept. 30.

"Into the Blue": Buff bods are on ample display in this story about divers who discover a legendary shipwreck off Bermuda that promises riches ... (dramatic pause with a menacing chord on the music track) ... and danger! With Paul Walker, Jessica Alba and Scott Caan. Sept. 30.

"Little Manhattan": The Big Apple becomes the most romantic place in the world when two youngsters are smitten by first love. With Josh Hutcherson (who's 13), Charlie Ray (ditto, and a girl, by the way) and Cynthia Nixon (the redhead from "Sex in the City"). Sept. 30.

"Serenity": Writer-director Joss Wheldon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel") makes his feature debut with a story set 500 years from now. The captain of the spaceship Serenity was on the wrong side of a civil war and so now ekes out a living with shady deals, in company with his varied crew. (Did anyone mention Han Solo?) This is an adaptation of Wheldon's short-lived TV series "Firefly." With Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres and Alan Tudyk. Sept. 30.

"Waiting": A comedy set in Shenanigan's, a chain restaurant, may dissuade you from dining out. Besides "stoned busboys, unsanitary kitchen antics and lots of talk about sex," the script has its young waiters face up to their dead-end jobs. With Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris and Justin Long. Oct. 7.

"The Fog": For a remake of John Carpenter's 1980 scare fest, we go back to the Northern California town where, just 100 years before, a terrible shipwreck took place in a spooky fog. Now the mist is rolling in again. This time Tom Welling, Maggie Grace and Selma Blair are caught in it. Oct. 14.

"Saw 2": In this follow-up to last year's horror hit, the devilish Jigsaw traps eight people in a room for a deadly game. With Donnie Wahlberg. Oct. 28.

AN INDEPENDENT ATTITUDE

These independent films will receive more limited distribution:

"Green Street Hooligans": A young American goes to London and is drawn into the world of soccer fanaticism, brotherhood and rowdiness of the Green Street Elite. With Elijah Wood, Claire Forlani and Charlie Hunnam. Sept. 9.

"The Outsiders": Francis Ford Coppola's 1983 movie about youth gangs gets 20 minutes of added footage and a limited release, immediately prior to coming out in a new DVD edition. With Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, Tom Cruise and Emilio Estevez. Sept. 9.

"Cry Wolf": When a young woman is found murdered, some high-school kids decide to spread online rumors that a serial killer is on the loose. Then the future victims they name as part of the prank start turning up dead. With Julian Morris, Lindy Booth and Jon Bon Jovi. Sept. 16.

"Everything Is Illuminated": For his writing-directing debut, Liev Schreiber turns to the best seller by Jonathan Safran Foer, about a young American, searching for the woman who saved his grandfather when a small Ukrainian town was wiped off the map by Nazis. With Elijah Wood and Eugene Hutz. Sept. 16.

"Hellbent": The producers say they are making history with the first gay slasher movie. Five guys seek to survive -- literally -- during Halloween in West Hollywood. With Dylan Fergus and Bryan Kirkwood. Sept. 16.

"Keane": A portrait of a man coping with a profound loss, the movie follows a father who compulsively visits the New York Port Authority bus terminal, from which his young daughter apparently was abducted months before. With Damian Lewis and Amy Ryan. Sept. 16.

"The Thing About My Folks": Comic Paul Reiser turns writer for a semi-autobiographical script about a befuddled fellow and his loose-cannon dad, thrown together on a road trip. Reiser wrote the father's role for his all-time favorite actor, Peter Falk. Also with Reiser, Olympia Dukakis and Elizabeth Perkins. Sept. 16.

"Thumbsucker": A 17-year-old (Lou Pucci) does, indeed, still suck his thumb. When his New Age orthodontist uses hypnosis to cure him of the habit, his problems are only beginning. Pucci won a special jury prize for acting at Sundance. An ensemble cast includes Tilda Swinton, Vince Vaughan, Vincent D'Onofrio and Keanu Reeves. Sept. 16.

"Walking on the Sky": Six friends, dealing with the mysterious death of a seventh, make unexpected discoveries. Carl T. Evans writes, directs and stars. Sept. 16.

"Dear Wendy": A young loner finds an antique pistol and is strangely drawn to it despite his pacifist views. The script is by Lars Von Trier ("Dogville"); fellow Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg directs. With Jamie Bell, Bill Pullman and Mark Webber. Sept. 23.

"Dirty Love": A photographer, jilted by her handsome boyfriend, goes in search of true love, with comical results. With Jenny McCarthy, Carmen Electra and Eddie Kaye Thomas. Sept. 23.

"Daltry Calhoun": A Tennessee man who's struggling to keep control of his golf club has his life driven further into the rough when his estranged 14-year-old daughter suddenly shows up. With Johnny Knoxville and Sophie Traub. Sept. 23.

"Steal Me": When an adolescent Lothario is caught stealing a car radio, the owner takes him home to meet the family. With Cara Seymour and Danny Alexander. Sept. 23.

"Going Shopping": Filmmaker Henry Jaglom presumably continues to follow his own path with a film that depicts "pertinent issues contemporary women face," in this case the heartbreak of shopping. Victoria Foyt (Mrs. J and a frequent star of his films, also co-writer) spends "a tumultuous Mother's Day weekend (at her boutique) ... confronted with deceit, desperation, kleptomania, rebellion, addiction and passion." With Lee Grant and Rob Morrow. Sept. 30.

"Mirrormask": Two "graphic novelists," Neil Galman and Dave McKean, writer and director of this film, respectively, create a computer-animation world in this story of a 15-year-old girl who was raised in a circus but wants to run away and join the normal world. After a family crisis, she dreams that she is in a doomed land where only she can restore the balance. Sept. 30.

"Separate Lies": Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes ("Gosford Park") makes his writing-directing debut with a story of a prosperous and seemingly happy British couple. But the wife is having an affair, a fact that comes to light when she and her lover are involved in a tragic accident. With Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson and Rupert Everett. Sept. 30.

"Sueño": John Leguizamo plays a talented young musician from Mexico, trying to make his mark in Los Angeles. He's entered in a talent competition and simultaneously is being attracted by two very different women. The film is a musical, too, with Latin rhythm in a starring role. With Elizabeth Peña and Nestor Serrano. Sept. 30.

"A Wake in Providence": In another of the comedies about interracial dating that we've been seeing lately, a young man returns to his Italian-American family for his grandfather's funeral, bringing his African-American girlfriend. Sept. 30.

"The Chumscrubber": The ills of suburbia are again on display in an account of an alienated teen who discovers and keeps secret his best friend's suicide. The friend was the town drug supplier, so repercussions are quick to unfold. The title, by the way, refers to a video game. Jamie Bell heads a large ensemble cast that includes Glenn Close and Ralph Fiennes. The film encountered violently adverse reaction from major critics at Sundance and generally unsuccessful runs in test markets. October undated.

"Dandelion": A young man who serves time in prison because of a tragic accident returns to his family and community, adding to unresolved tensions. His falling in love only adds to the problems. With Vincent Kartheiser (TV's "Angel") and Taryn Manning. Mark Milgard makes his writing-directing debut. Oct. 7.

"Forty Shades of Blue": A beautiful Russian woman is brought to Memphis as a trophy girlfriend of an irascible man. Then the guy's grown son arrives in town. With Rip Torn, Dina Korzun and Darren Burrows. Oct. 7.

"The Gospel": An R&B singer who once turned his back on his father's church returns to find the congregation in disarray. A number of gospel-music stars appear in the film. With Boris Kodjoe, Yolanda Adams and Clifton Powell. Oct. 7.

"Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave": A summary of the plot begins: "Uncle Charles is killed by one of his test subjects during an underground transaction to get rid of the rioxyn-5." We didn't understand the rest of it either. Apparently, kids who survived Necropolis, whatever that is, are now in college, where their classmates are overdosing on something called Z and thereby turning into blood-thirsty zombies. Just as we've always said: College can be the best time of your life. With Aimee-Lynn Chadwick and Cory Hardrict. Oct. 7.

"The War Within": A Pakistani student, roughed up when mistakenly arrested as a terrorist, seeks revenge by becoming a terrorist in earnest. In the United States, most of his group are arrested, forcing him to turn to a former best friend in New Jersey who has a comfortable life and no idea of his intentions. With Ayad Akhtar (who co-writes) and Firdos Barnji. Oct. 7.

"Where the Truth Lies": In the '50s, Vince and Lanny are America's top comedy duo. Then a young woman's body turns up in their hotel suite after a night of wild partying. They're cleared of any wrongdoing but their careers are ruined. Fifteen years later, an ambitious reporter starts poking around in the still notorious case. With Colin Firth, Kevin Bacon and Alison Lohman. Atom Egoyan directs. Oct. 7.

"Dorian Blues": A small-town teenager destined for a big-time college finds that being gay is hard to do, in a coming-out comedy distinguished, according to Variety, by sharp performances and writing. With Michael McMillian, Lea Coco and Steven C. Fletcher. Oct. 14.

"Loggerheads": A young man's birth mother and his adoptive parents figure in a drama that takes place in North Carolina. The title comes not only from the situation in the plot but from the obsession of the young man to save the loggerhead sea turtle. With Bonnie Hunt, Kip Pardue and Chris Sarandon. Oct. 14.

"NBT: Never Been Thawed": Being touted as "subversive," "politically incorrect" and a successor to "Napoleon Dynamite," the film includes a hobbyist who collects frozen dinners, a raunchy punk band recently converted to Christianity for pay and an antiabortion restaurateur who operates the No-Choice Cafe. Sean Anders writes, directs and stars. Oct. 14.

"Nine Lives": Filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia won strong reviews for "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her," although the film went direct to video. Now he has an impressive ensemble cast in a story about nine women, told in as many unbroken takes. For example, Holly Hunter's character has to deal with the fact that her boyfriend told others about intimate details of their relationship. With Kathy Baker, Glenn Close, Dakota Fanning, Mary Kay Place, Sissy Spacek and Robin Wright Penn. Oct. 14.

"The Squid and the Whale": In '80s Brooklyn, two young brothers (Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline) deal with the divorce of their parents, both literary intellectuals. It's based on the experiences of writer-director Noah Baumbach. With Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney. Oct. 14.

"Streets of Legend": A tale of love and betrayal is set in the illegal, multiethnic car-racing subculture of Southern California. Writer-director Joey Curtis doubles as lead stunt driver. With a nonprofessional cast. Oct. 14.

"Barely Legal": Three young fellows deal with their hormones by attempting to make an "adult" flick on their own. It's not as easy as it seems. With Amy Smart, Erik Von Detten and Riley Smith. Oct. 21.

"Kids in America": High-school students and a dissident teacher mount a campaign against a principal intent on infringing their rights of free expression. With Gregory Smith and Stephanie Sherrin. Oct. 21.

"Left Behind: World at War": In an example of new viewing patterns we're likely to see more of as time goes on, Sony will release this evangelical film in hundreds of churches, immediately ahead of the appearance of the DVD. It's part of the "Left Behind" series, based on novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, about a new apocalypse. The screenings will be for pay. With Lou Gossett Jr., Brad Johnson and Chelsea Noble. Oct. 21; the DVD comes out Oct. 25.

"The Roost": Four friends en route to a wedding are stranded on a mysterious farm where ... strange ... things ... happen. (Ghoulish laughter.) With Tom Noonan and Karl Jacob. Oct. 21.

"Guarding Eddy": A mentally challenged young man comes to Los Angeles with the dream of trying out for a pro basketball team. Brian Presley (TV's "Port Charles") writes, produces, stars. Oct. 28.

"Somersault": When a teen girl runs away from Canberra, she meets the son of a wealthy farmer. A budding romance leads to complicated social issues. With Abbie Comish and Sam Worthington. Oct. 28.

"Wasabi Tuna": What's a bunch of drag queens to do but rescue Anna Nicole Smith's beloved pet, Sugar Pie, from kidnappers? Oct. 28.

"Down to the Bone": Vera Farmiga won a special jury prize for acting (and has gone on to bigger roles) and Debra Granik was named best director at Sundance for this movie. A working-class mom in upstate New York tries to keep a family together while being addicted to cocaine. Finally determined to kick the habit, she enters rehab but finds more problems. With Hugh Dillion. October undated.

"Show Me": Two reckless teens carjack and kidnap a young woman and force her to take them to her secluded mountain cabin. She uses her wiles to turn the tables on her captors. With Katharine Isabelle. October undated.

"Beowulf and Grendel": The venerable Anglo-Saxon epic provides the story for this film about Beowulf, the Norse hero, who pits himself against the murderous Grendel, a troll (meaning that he hardly get any dates). With Gerard Butler, Stellan Skarsgård and Sarah Polley. Iceland plays itself. Fall undated.


"Crazy Like a Fox": A member of an old Virginia family refuses to leave his ancestral land, even though real-estate operators have bought it. With Roger Rees and Mary McDonnell. Fall undated.

• Charles Britton is a freelance entertainment writer based in Manhattan Beach.

 


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