THE CASTLE--Broadway Market


THE LOVE LETTER--Grand Alderwood, Metro, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center


TREKKIES--Meridian 16



CHILDREN OF THE CAMPS--North Seattle Community College

FRENCH FILM NOIR--Seattle Art Museum


JAZZ ON A SUMMER'S DAY--The Little Theater

LE PETOMANE--The Little Theater


THE ORGANIZER--The Seattle Musician'sUnion Hall







MAY 28--The 13th Floor, This Is My Father, The Swindle, Notting Hill

JUNE 4--Limbo, Instinct


ALASKA: SPIRIT OF THE WILD--More of a nature documentary than a ghost story. Omnidome

AMERICAN MESSIAH--With a shoestring budget and only four days, Northwest director Taso Lagos and his kooky Seattle film crew created a Spinal Tap-ish "behind-the-scenes" film about an ex-porn star who thinks she's the Messiah. Thurs May 27 at 8, $4. 911 Media Arts

ANALYZE THIS--Paul Vitti (Robert DeNiro) is a New York mobster with problems: the pressure is killing him! With a big meeting of all the New York families coming up, he needs to get rid of his anxiety about [insert Italian stereotype here]. Enter Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal), a Jewish family therapist with [insert Jewish stereotype here]. Vitti wants Sobel to help him. Sobel just wants Vitti to leave him alone. What are they both to do? Analyze This is a [insert sarcastic film reviewer comment here], with a few laughs, but never anything special. Basically, it's exactly what you'd expect. (Bradley Steinbacher) Grand Alderwood, Pacific Place 11

BLACK MASK--Jet Li stars in this wacky, action romp. Lewis & Clark, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center, Varsity

THE CASTLE--Australian comedies can be charming (Strictly Ballroom), but most of the time they are patronizing verging on offensive. Such is the case with The Castle, an unreliably optimistic film about low-rent neighbors trying to save their houses from the ever-expanding airport. Isn't it cute that these folks love living on poisoned ground, under buzzing high-tension wires, amid airport noise pollution? Let's cheer for these simpletons as they go to court to fight for their land! On the other hand, let's wait for the remake starring Jeff Foxworthy. (Andy Spletzer) Broadway Market

CHILDREN OF THE CAMPS--An hour-long documentary about the 120,000 Japanese-Americans who were forced into internment camps throughout the United States during WWII. Over half of those in the camps were children. This film examines one of the lowest (and most embarrassing) points of U.S. Government history. Sat May 22 at 1, FREE. Baxter Student Center. North Seattle Community College

COOKIE'S FORTUNE--Robert Altman has taken a slight but enjoyable story and applied his familiar techniques of oblique angles, ragged narration, and busy ensemble casts. A suicide is covered up, and a man is imprisoned because of it. Other stories play out about the small town of Holly Springs. Plot, however, is not the main concern of the film. If you want them, there are plenty of rueful themes flamesoating around the movie: idealized, hypocritical notions of the past and of honor, and the way family secrets hurt the person keeping them even more than the person who ferrets them out. (Bruce Reid) Metro, Uptown

*THE DREAMLIFE OF ANGELS--Isa (Elodie Bouchez) is a 20-year-old drifter, traveling from town to town picking up odd jobs and selling postcards that she makes out of magazine pictures. At a factory job she meets Marie (Natacha Regnier), a girl living alone who's about her age. The girls are opposites--Isa disarms people with her smile, while Marie puts people off with a frown--and they end up complementing each other perfectly. Being a French film, the story has a loose, life-like, "unstructured" structure, which I have to admit is refreshing after so many canned Hollywood films. Characters take center stage here, and they are well-rounded enough to hold everything together. (Andy Spletzer) Metro

*ELECTION--This brilliant dark comedy--about an unctuous overachiever's campaign for student council president, and the high school teacher determined to foil her--will undoubtedly be seen by many as the prosaic cousin of Rushmore. But where that film's dazzling style spoke primarily of its maker's skill and ambition, Election's style serves to plunge us completely into its characters' tiny, highly-charged world, rendering pathetic human pettiness on a nearly operatic scale. Director/co-writer Alexander Payne has infused his miniature world with enormous creativity and meticulous attention to detail: every character is unnervingly humane, the supporting cast is uniformly perfect, and you've never seen a contemporary high school so uncannily rendered. As the charmingly atrocious Tracy Flick, Reese Witherspoon gives an indelible performance; finally she has a role to compete with her star-making turn in the little-seen Freeway. And Matthew Broderick lays the ghost of Ferris Bueller to rest once and for all with his lovely portrayal of Tracy's beleaguered, would-be nemesis. (David Schmader) Factoria, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

ENDURANCE--It was the 19th German philosopher Schopenhauer who wrote that all art aspires to the condition of music; meaning, all art is moving, evolving toward the perfection of form that is music. In this docudrama, we have a wonderful example of cinema coming as close as it ever can to this perfection, where form has total precedence over content. Set in Ethiopia, the movie's about the life of the great long distance runner Haile Gebrselasie, who broke a world record for 10,000 meters in the 1996 Olympics. Endurance is crafted and shaped like a grand orchestral piece, but despite its very European structure, the photography of the film manages to capture an authentic image of the African landscape. This is an African landscape with people, with huts, with crops, and not with hoards of animals doing that "cycle of life" thing. In this film, the unaccustomed eye comes to realize that animals don't roam the African countryside (as most of them are national parks) but people, farmers, trucks, and buses do. (Charles Mudede) Varsity

ENTRAPMENT--Sean Connery is an ass man. His "character" spends the whole movie looking at the ass of Catherine Zeta-Jones (The Mask of Zorro). Not that there's anything better to do. Entrapment is a high-tech crime thriller chock full of double-crosses but short on thrills. Everybody's a master thief or a federal agent... or both! The information for every crime is flawless, the gadgets never fail, nothing ever goes wrong. Boring! Connery coasts through his role, as does Ving Rhames, but Zeta-Jones turns out to be a real disappointment. How can she be a master thief if she's so prone to temper tantrums and breakdowns? She does have a nice ass, though. (Andy Spletzer) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

THE ERUPTION OF MOUNT ST. HELENS--The mountain blew up in 1980, and has been blowing up on film ever since. Omnidome

EVEREST--The first IMAX footage ever shot on top of the world. Pacific Science Center

*EXISTENZ--Like all the best science fiction, eXistenZ seems to be taking place about five minutes from now. Cronenberg's is a world where virtual reality games have become so commonplace that most people think nothing of drilling a "bioport" directly into their spine in order to plug in. The games run off of a flameseshy, biomechanical pod, and once a game starts, the player becomes a cast member in an artificial world where everything looks and feels "real," where some actions are preprogrammed and others are not. The biggest celebrities of the day are game designers, and none is bigger or more brilliant than the reclusive Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), whose latest, greatest achievement, eXistenZ, has inspired somebody to put a death sentence on her head. David Cronenberg is working from his first original script since Videodrome, and what he's come up with is, in some ways, a revisitation to that movie's themes, and this is one of the wittiest, most perceptive movies about movies and how we think they affect us since Videodrome. (Bruce Reid) Pacific Place 11

FRENCH FILM NOIR--Seattle Art Museum's tribute to the French masters of ironic fatalism and atmospheric, poetic realism. The series continues with The Clockmaker, Bertrand Tavernier's father-son drama (Thurs May 20 at 7:30), and I Married a Shadow (Thurs May 27 at 7:30), Robin Davis' tale about a fateful train wreck, mistaken identity, and its effects on a pregnant woman. Call 625-8900 for more info. Seattle Art Museum

GO--I don't know why movies that intertwine a number of disparate stories (Mystery Train, Pulp Fiction) so often pick three as the magic number, but here we go again. Three successive tales: a teen grocery clerk takes a stab at dealing ecstasy; a fellow clerk and his rowdy buddies head out on a road trip; and two actors agree to take part in a drug bust to clear their record. There's some funny scenes, though none of them manage to avoid either cliché, or a hip, ironic take on a cliché. Zero points for originality, then, but don't write the movie off entirely. There's a clutch of good performances (especially Sarah Polley as the would-be dealer, and William Fichtner as a cop), and a few moments do an excellent job capturing the madcap rush of adrenaline when you're young and stupid enough to think you can get away with anything. (Bruce Reid) City Center

HIDEOUS KINKY--Set in the early 1970s, Julia (Kate Winslet) is a Londoner living out the hippie dream of "getting your head together" by dragging her kids to Marrakech, Morocco. She searches for spiritual enlightenment, but what she finds is a life of near-poverty and an on-again/off-again affair with a hunky street performer (Said Taghmaoui), while her relationship with her children nearly disintegrates. This is the type of film where you say, "Well, at least it was beautifully photographed." (Gillian G. Gaar) Metro

*INDEPENDENT EXPOSURE--Did you see "Hardware Wars" 20 years ago? I think it played on HBO. It was a parody of Star Wars made with vacuum cleaners, irons, and other household appliances. In celebration of Star Wars: Episode I, Joel Bachar's Independent Exposure series is showing "Hardware Wars: The Special Edition." It's often dumb, but so enthusiastically dumb that it works, and the special edition adds a couple of pointless bits of computer animation. "Modern Relaxation Techniques" and "Footprints" are also amusing. "Men Are From Moon" is a collection of on-the-street interviews asking men what they know about menopause. "Edgeways" is a good-looking experimental film, and on a more serious note, "Attic Secrets" is a well-written, well-conceived semi-experimental piece about being the daughter of an incest survivor. An alternative to SIFF? Heck, this is an alternative to the new Star Wars movie! Thurs May 27 at 7:30, $4. There will be no Independent Exposure screening in June. (Andy Spletzer) Speakeasy

INTO THE DEEP--An IMAX film in 3-D, putting you right into the aquarium. Pacific Science Center

JAZZ ON A SUMMER'S DAY--A new 35mm print of concert footage taken from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. Highlights that are sure to impress jazz purists include performances by Thelonius Monk, Dinah Washington, Louis Armstrong, and Mahalia Jackson. Thurs-Sun May 20-23 at 5:30, 7:30, 9:30. The Little Theater

THE KING OF THE MASKS--Zhu Xu stars as the title character, a street performer whose act involves rapidly removing a series of brightly colored masks. Old and childless, he's desperate to pass on the secrets of his art, and thinks he's made quite a wonderful match when he adopts a young boy. But the boy turns out to be a girl. The third act--which trots out some irrelevant child kidnappers and the police--goes on way too long; but story flaws aside, the acting of the two leads is perfect, and the side streets and mighty rivers of China are as lovely as always. (Bruce Reid) Harvard Exit

LE PETOMANE--Documentary about vaudeville performer Joseph Pujol and his "musical anus," playing with "Vaudeville Deluxe," a half-hour program of rare vaudeville acts curated by the once and future Dennis Nyback. Brett Fetzer, associate producer of Le Petomane, will introduce it on Thursday. Thurs-Sun May 27-30 at 5:30, 7:30, 9:30. The Little Theater

LIFE--Martin Lawrence plays a young and stuck-up bank teller with a promising future until, on one fateful night, he crosses paths with a petty criminal (Eddie Murphy), and both end up in prison for life. This is Lawrence's best work since Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing. Murphy seems to step back and give him all the room he needs to expand and explode. Unfortunately, Life falls apart late in the movie. One gets the sense that director Ted Demme shot a much longer film, which he had to cut down to under two hours, leaving huge holes in the plot. (Charles Mudede) Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL--Like any good comedian, Roberto Benigni (and his co-writer Vincenzo Cerami) knows how to plant the seed for a gag early on, let it sit, then return to it much later for the payoff. The opening, which seems so frivolous, is all groundwork for what Benigni knows will be the toughest sell of his life: comedy in the Nazi camps. Employing the understatement and flamesair for timing that comedy requires, Benigni captures detail after detail in a far more devastating way than more earnest films on the subject could manage. (Bruce Reid) Broadway Market

THE LIVING SEA--It's alive! See fish and waves and whales and jellyfish, all in that big-screen IMAX format. Omnidome

*LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS--Set in the East End of London, it's a fast, frantic, and frequently flamesippant ride through the social strata of gangland as four wide boys send one of their number, cardsharp Eddie (heartthrob Nick Moran), to take on local crime boss Hatchet Harry (P. H. Moriarty) at poker. They soon find themselves in debt, and Harry puts his debt collector Big Chris (soccer hardman Vinnie Jones) on their tails. It's a tidy movie--all the dead bodies are shot and accounted for--and it's also got a wicked, very English sense of humor. (Everett True) Metro

THE LOVE LETTER--An anonymous love letter to an anonymous recipient electrifies a sleepy New England town. Kate Capshaw becomes determined to find the letter's author. With Tom Selleck, Ellen DeGeneres, and Gwynneth Paltrow's mom. Grand Alderwood, Metro, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

THE LOVERS OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE--This movie should win an award for its name alone. As for substance, the plot is complex in that metaphysical way, and its content is very provocative (a beautiful incestuous love affair starts one windy Spanish night and ends many years later in Scandinavia, just above the Arctic Circle, on a sempiternal summer day). The film falls short because, honestly, no film could live up to such a great name. In fact, it would be better if no film were shown and all we had was just the name across a grand marquee. Really, why show a film when the words say it all: "Lovers of the Arctic Circle." (Charles Mudede) Broadway Market

*THE MATRIX--Morpheus (Laurence Fishburn) has been searching for the One, a cyber-Christ who will destroy the Matrix and wake people out of their preprogrammed idea of life. He thinks he has found Him in Neo (Keanu Reeves). With the knowledge that the Matrix is a computer-created dream, Morpheus and his rebels (with equally stupid names: Trinity, Cypher, Switch, Apoc, etc.) can run and jump and fight with superhuman power, but are hunted down by super-agents who want to cleanse the system. Sure, the character names are stupid, the barroom metaphysics ("Hey, what if life is just a dream?") are simplistic, and the cyber-Christ story is predictable, but the action scenes--even the ones that use that 180 degree near-freeze frame--make this otherwise boring movie worth seeing. From the directors of Bound. (Andy Spletzer) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center, Varsity

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM--Apart from its small successes and larger failures, the question looming above the latest screen version of A Midsummer Night's Dream has to be: what is Stanley Tucci doing playing Puck? I like Tucci, but he's not a mischievous sprite. Actually, most of the fairies and follies of this Midsummer are strangely earthbound. Director and adapter Michael Hoffman has an intensely melancholy take on the material; his idea of whimsy is to have Tucci take a piss against a cave like some mythical barfly. The rest of the great cast deliver uneven results. Following Hoffman's lead, Kevin Kline is too somber as Bottom. Michelle Pfeiffer's Titania is fine, if a bit too grand. Calista Flockhart as Helena is, surprisingly, the only actor who consistently manages to hit the right tone (despite some McBeal-type pouts); she's as airy and just as sweetly heartstricken as the rest of this well-intended but plodding film should be. (Steve Wiecking) Factoria, Guild 45th, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

THE MUMMY--Neither a horror film or an action epic, The Mummy is actually a flat-out comedy. This latest retread of a horror icon throws itself into its period (the '30s) with gusto, with derring-do, screwball comedy, and wisecracking sexual flirtation among the leads, and even cheerful sexism and racism. Except for the special effects, this movie may as well have come out in 1935. The very things that make The Mummy initially entertaining, however, begin to grate as the movie goes on. When Imhotep the mummy finally appears, he starts as a dull computer-generated corpse and becomes the even duller Arnold Vosloo. Despite the lack of a good villain, or even a good heroine, The Mummy remains a perfect matinee. Directed by Stephen Sommers, creator of the vastly underrated Deep Rising. (Bruce Reid) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree

NEVER BEEN KISSED--The basic premise is this: Drew is 25, she's never been kissed (yeah, right), and she works at the Chicago Sun-Times. She needs a break, so she's sent as an undercover reporter to her old high school where... no, you must have peeked! She gets kissed! (Everett True) Grand Alderwood, Pacific Place 11

THE OLYMPIA TRANSGENDER FILM FESTIVAL--The Evergreen Queer Alliance presents the first Northwest Transgender Film Festival at the Evergreen State College campus. The event lasts all day, and will feature films (including tranny porn), speakers, and discussions about transgender-intersexual issues. Sat May 22 at 10 am. For more info. call (360) 866-6000, ex. 6544. Evergreen State College

THE ORGANIZER--The Seattle Musicians' Association and The Labor Party Seattle Chapter are teaming up for their Spring Labor Video Series. The first FREE screening will be The Organizer, a 1964 Marcello Mastroianni flick about the early years of the Italian labor movement. Fri May 21 at 7, FREE. Seattle Musician's Union Hall, 2620 3rd Ave. For more info. call 297-1844. Seattle Musician's Union Hall

PUNK FILM FESTIVAL--Enjoy a hot slice and a free movie at 2nd Ave. Pizza, where this month's film theme involves all things punk rock. Videos to be shown include Tim Hunter's The River's Edge (with creepy Dennis Hopper), a handful of gay/lesbian punk shorts (Radical Queer Filmfest), and the Super-8 Punk Rock Movie, which features The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the Sex Pistols. 2nd Ave. Pizza

PUSHING TIN--This is a therapy film for guys in the same way that Good Will Hunting was. John Cusack plays a married air traffic controller with the emphasis on "control." He's the best there is, at least until Billy Bob Thornton shows up. The movie has a perfect opportunity to branch into comedy, but it decides to do drama. Cusack's wandering eye and overblown expectations of self-control ultimately lead to trouble with his wife and a breakdown. You see, men need to give up control in order to find themselves. Or they just need therapy. (Andy Spletzer) City Center

RADLEY METZGER'S EROTICA--"Arthouse erotica," "tasteful stag films," or "artistic porn"--call it what you will, but the two-week Radley Metzger retrospective at the Grand Illusion will satisfy your craving for "classy" smut. Week two features screenings of Therese & Isabelle (Fri-Thurs May 21-27 at (Sat noon), 4:30, 9:30) and Carmen, Baby (Fri-Thurs May 21-27 at (Sat 2:30), 7)--both of which are brimming with camp and style. Who can resist nubile girls, velvet, and polyester in 35mm Ultrascope? Grand Illusion

REVELATION--Apparently this is one of those Christian action films about the End Times™. It features Jeff Fahey, star of many straight-to-video action films. (Andy Spletzer) Pacific Place 11

*ROBERT BRESSON FILM SERIES--Bresson's The Devil Probably (previously unavailable in the U.S.) tackles the timeless issue of teen suicide and rebellion against Church and State far better than any modern-day talk show. Part of the Bresson series at the Grand Illusion. Sun May 23 at 1, 3. Grand Illusion

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE--Certainly the idea is appealing: one of history's immortals, shown in his still-struggling youth, with eye-catching period details and a cast uniformly professional enough to carry it off with whimsy. But the film strains too much to flatter and please the audience, setting up predictable conflicts and getting out of them through the easiest ways possible. It's clever in a very simple way, content to show its hero as a great-man- in-waiting and its heroine as so improbably perfect she could only be a muse. (Bruce Reid) Grand Alderwood, Metro, Redmond Town Center, Uptown

STAR WARS: EPISODE I--The adventures of Feng-Shui (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor), as they traipse around the universe collecting little boys and computer-generated creatures. Reviewed this issue. Cinerama, Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Neptune, Northgate

THE SUPER 8'S ILLITERATE BALL--Super 8 movie adaptations of classic novels. Strike that! Super 8 movie adaptations of the "Cliffs Notes" versions of classic novels, including Camus' The Stranger, Melville's Moby Dick, and Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Sat-Sun May 22-23 at 8, $4. Cinema 18

TEA WITH MUSSOLINI--Franco Zeffirelli's autobiographical film, set in Florence on the brink of WWII, is about a little Italian boy who was born out of wedlock. A bastard. His father doesn't want him, so he ends up adopted by his father's English secretary, who shares babysitting duties with her female friends, also English. The ladies don't want to leave Florence, even after the war breaks out, thinking Mussolini won't want to hurt them. Turns out (surprise, surprise) that Mussolini doesn't care about them. Zeffirelli has never been a subtle filmmaker, but here he is so enthusiastic about stereotypes and manipulating emotions that the film is interesting until it becomes tiresome. Tea With Mussolini sentimentalizes the war years in much the same way as Life Is Beautiful did, never really acknowledging the atrocities of that--or any--war. As the wealthy American debutante, Cher sings one song. (Andy Spletzer) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Seven Gables

THREE SEASONS--This movie interweaves four thin short stories: a flower picker who meets her leperous master; a cyclo driver and deluded prostitute; an American ex-soldier (Harvey Keitel) looking for his long-lost daughter; and the last, the meanderings of a little boy who peddles cigarettes and lighters at local night clubs for his father. Why has this film been popular at festivals? Because it is virtually content-free. There's no action, no hunks, one prostitute with a heart of gold, no sex, and above all no plot. Tony Bui's film is not about the "new" Vietnam (as is supposed), but instead glorifies Vietnam's poverty from the point of view of an American tourist. (Charles Mudede) Broadway Market

*TREKKIES--Everybody has an obsession. What separates the fan from the fanatic is how far you take your obsession. Trekkies looks at Star Trek followers on both sides of the fan/fanatic fence. It's all too easy to make fun of the truly hardcore fanatic, and Trekkies wisely avoids this approach. Denise Crosby (Lt. Tasha Yar on The Next Generation) interviews the film's subjects, which encourages both fans and fellow cast members to open up, knowing she won't be condescending. But let's face it, it's the wacky fans that are the most interesting. The man who had his ears surgically altered into pointy Vulcan ones. Dr. Denis Bourguignon, who transformed his dentist's office into "Starbase Dental." Barbara Adams, who made the national news for wearing her Starfleet uniform while on jury duty in the Whitewater trial. Trekkies is a fascinating look at an often bizarre phenomenon. (Gillian G. Gaar) Meridian 16

TRIPPIN'--Even within the debased realm of teen sex comedies, Trippin' is pretty weak. Its young hero, about to graduate high school, naturally spends his time hounded by his parents and teachers to apply himself and figure out what he wants to do with his life. The answer, even more naturally, is hang out with his friends, try to date the girl he's had a crush on since sophomore year, and daydream a bunch of silly fantasies where he's a rap star, a ladies' man, or the definitive Big Man On Campus. The African American setting, of course, changes nothing from all the other bad movies like this, except the catchphrases: if just one more person at the movie's finale at the prom went on about "keeping it real," I swear I would have screamed. (Bruce Reid) Grand Alderwood, Pacific Place 11, Southcenter

A WALK ON THE MOON--A Walk on the Moon tries desperately to draw parallels between its everyday characters and the seemingly momentous changes going on in the nation. It doesn't work, mostly because neither the characters we're watching nor the times they live in ever feel anything more than a superficial rehash of everything you've heard and seen before. As with most actors-turned-novice directors, Tony Goldwyn does a nice job with his cast, but lets the narrative meander, even stall out at times. (Bruce Reid) Uptown

WHALES--An up close and personal look at the largest mammals on earth. Omnidome

THE WINSLOW BOY--David Mamet adapts a play for the screen that was written long before cursing tirades were acceptable, and does an "okay" job with it. A young boy gets kicked out of military school when he's accused of stealing. We never really know if the boy, this "Winslow" boy, did it or not, but the boy maintains his innocence. The father decides to trust the boy and sue the school, causing a big public uproar in a case that nearly sinks them financially. Mamet tones down the actors' deliveries to such a point that it seems everybody is speaking in a monotone; that wouldn't be so bad if the underlying emotions were strong enough to make up for it. Ah well, it's a diverting and often dull time in the theater--kind of like seeing a play! (Andy Spletzer) Guild 45th

A WOMAN CALLED SADA ABE--The shocking Sada Abe is based on the same true story as Oshima's In the Realm of the Senses. A young woman, shamed by rape, involves herself in an affair with a married man, culminating in fourteen continuos days and nights of sado-sex and, ultimately, murder. Grand Illusion

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