MLK/FBI (2020)

I enjoy watching documentaries, but I rarely review them. This may be because docs are either great or terrible, there really is not in between. This year, on Martin Luther King’s birthday, I was able to watch MLK/FBI (2020) through Woodstock Film Festival. The film discussed topics that I knew nothing about and now I feel well informed and want to learn more.

from IFC Films on YouTube

What is the film about?

MLK/FBI tells the story of the FBI listening in on MLK’s life. Recording phone calls, putting microphones in his rooms and recording his conversations, following him as he traveled, and keeping an eye on him always. The FBI saw him as a threat and this film shows to what extent they were willing to undermine MLK’s privacy, in order to get the information that they wanted.

Tell me more.

The film was directed by Sam Pollard, who is known for many other well regarded films. He was even nominated for an Oscar. I think that the choice to make this film during this time period is very important. I watched an interview of Pollard and he explained how the final shots of this film were done just before the COVID shutdown. Literally, the last shots were filmed the day before everything shut down. All of the editing was done remotely, and I think this is an incredible story that was worth peacefully fighting for. Everything in the film feels so relevant and important for today’s reality.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Rating: 8.5/10

I would recommend watching this film. It is eye opening, especially if you are like me, and had no idea that the FBI was watching MLK. The film is very interesting for the most part, but sometimes it is slow. However, this is common for historical documentaries because they tend to be loaded with information. Videos, voiceovers, and photos make this film visually intriguing and kept my attention for most of the 104 minute running time.

You can read more about the film on IMDb here.

Sentence Summary

When Martin Luther King Jr.’s actions interest the FBI, everything he does starts to get monitored by the government, without his knowledge.

JFK! FDR!

I watched all of the seasons of New Girl (2011-2018) while quarantining in my room to protect my family. This is the result of that brief obsession. The characters and situations made me laugh even when I was stuck alone during the holidays confined to my bedroom. Let’s laugh. Because laughing is great. AND I CAN’T FIND MY DRIVING MOCCASINS ANYWHERE!

1. When you finish the toilet paper and don’t get a new roll…

2. When someone’s breath stinks…

3. When you finally get a real, adult job…

4. When you’re doing a group project alone…

5. When we can finally stop wearing masks…

6. When we can travel again…

7. Quarantine life…

8. I was supposed to be in Maui right now…

9. When someone wants to do a Zoom call…

10. When someone doesn’t wear a mask.

Thanks for putting up with my much needed, very necessary, New Girl dedication post. I dedicate this post to Nick Miller. Ferguson. The douchebag jar. And Liz Meriwether for creating a show that is genuinely funny and not stupid funny.

Favorite Movie Tag

On the old YouTube, people used to make “tags” where people answered questions and encouraged others to post a video answering the same questions. I miss this concept because it creates a sense of community. So, I wanted to create my own movie tag. If you choose to answer these questions and make a YouTube video or a blog post, or even an Instagram post, tag me and I would love to check it out and support you.

All of these questions I compiled from my mind. These are the questions I wished people would ask me, so I would have a chance to talk about my favorite stories and characters. Let’s get into it!

1. What movie is your all-time favorite?

Gosh, this one is easy, even though it took me a few years to get to this conclusion. Some good contenders were Interstellar (2014), Shutter Island (2010), and Cinderella 2 (2001), but in the end, the winner is Good Will Hunting (1997). If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend that you watch it right now. It will make you laugh, cry, and contemplate some important aspects of life. The story follows Will Hunting who had a hard childhood, lives in Boston with his friends, and works as a janitor at MIT. This brilliant film stars Robbin Williams (Sean), Ben Affleck (Chuckie), and Matt Damon (Will).

2. What is the worst movie you ever watched?

I don’t usually mention movies that I did not like because I know how much work goes into a movie. From writing the script, to choosing the actors, directing, editing, and producing. It is a lot of time, effort, and money. But all that being said, there has to be some bad movies, so you can appreciate the good ones even more. The worst movie I have ever seen *drum roll please* is Warcraft (2016).

Why was it so bad? Well, there are so many loop holes that the film actually made me angry. I could not finish watching it because the loop holes were never-ending. Also the story was very flat and not interesting. The lack of plot points and the loop hole list puts this film on the top of my least favorite films I have ever watched. Sorry Warcraft, but maybe I just don’t understand the story because I am not the biggest fan of video games?

3. What film makes you cry the most?

I cry at most films if I watch them alone. If I watch something with a group of people, I tend not to cry because I am not as absorbed in the story as I would be if I watched the film alone. A few films that made me cry a lot were What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Saving Mr. Banks (2013), and Infinitely Polar Bear (2014).

In What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp) has to care for his younger brother (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his mother, while also trying to live his own life separate from them. The story is heart-felt and beautifully acted. In Saving Mr. Banks, the author of Mary Poppins (Emma Thompson) meets with Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) who wants to buy the movie rights to her story. However, P.L. Travers does not want to sell her rights for personal reasons that reach toward her childhood. In Infinitely Polar Bear, a father (Mark Ruffalo) with some internal struggles is trying to be better, so he can take more responsibility and support his go-getting wife (Zoe Saldana). This story will make you cry, laugh, and want to run and hug the people you love. Family is a beautiful thing.

from YouTube

4. What film makes you laugh the most?

I rarely watch comedies because they do not usually make me laugh. Weird, I know. I love to laugh but I guess that I have a comedic taste that is “unique.” The movies that make me laugh the most are probably any Disney channel movie from my childhood. When I watch the movies now, I realize how silly they are. Ahem, the Luck of the Irish (2001), Camp Rock (2008), Smart House (1999), Zenon (1999), the Thirteenth Year (1999), Santa Clause (1994), and last but not least, The Even Stevens Movie (2003).

A newer film that make me laugh is Kingsmen: The Secret Service (2014), which stars Taron Egerton as Eggsy, Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, and more. There is also the sequel, The Golden Circle (2017) that is pretty great, as well. Much of the comedy is satire and I find the movie highly amusing and extraordinarily creative. The directing and timing is next level. The films are also visually beautiful, which is unique for an action/comedy film.

Here is one of my favorite scenes. It is even better in the context of the film. WARNING: It has major spoilers, so if you have not watched the film yet, maybe don’t watch this clip.

from YouTube

5. What movie do you wish was never made?

I know to some people this might seem a little over dramatic, but after watching a plethora of movies, you come across a few that would have been better left in the screenwriter’s brain and never (ever) brought to life. The film that I have in mind for this question is crystal clear. I wish I never watched this film. I do not think it needed to be made. It made me feel uneasy and I wish that I did not watch it, especially the ending. It made me unsettled and sat with me for weeks after watching it. That film is called The Killing of the Sacred Deer (2017).

If you have watched this movie, you know what I am talking about. The dialogue, the topics of discussion, the characters, the setting, the personalities, and the plot all make me want to run away from whoever came up with the idea for this movie. It made me want a hug. I would not recommend watching this film. Seriously. I am not saying that to make you want to watch this movie even more, I am saying that because I truly hope you do not watch this film because there is so much wrong with it. Watch another Colin Farrell film, skip this one.

6. What is your favorite feel-good film?

I have a long list of feel-good films because these are the films that I gravitate towards and watch the most. Some of these films have nostalgic roots and others I feel connected to in a way that is hard to describe. My feel-good films include Dirty Dancing (1987), any Harry Potter, Princess Diaries (2001), High School Musical (2006), Point Break (1991), Stuck in the Suburbs (2004), and The Martian (2015). Of all those films, I probably watch Harry Potter the most. Who knows how many times I have watched those films! I have seen most of the films around 20 times (at least). That’s dedication.

from YouTube

7. What film do you wish you made?

I want to make films that are funny, full-of-heart, and over encompassing, making an important statement on life, providing a deeper value to its audience. One of the films that I think fits all of these requirements is The Outsiders (1983). It is directed by Francis Ford Coppola and is an adaptation of the novel with the same name. The films stars Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, and more.

I remember reading this book in 6th grade and everyone loved it, but I was unamused. As an adult, I found myself appreciating the story on a whole new level. Following its battle between “bad” and “good,” “kind” and “mean,” me and other. Some important lessons can be learned through the characters in this film.

8. What is a movie that surprised you in a good way?

One movie that I love is Gifted (2017). It stars Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace. The story of family is beautiful and the complex characters kept me intrigued. I never hear people talk about this film, but it is one of my favorites. I am glad that I watched it a few years ago when it was on T.V. But, I have to be totally honest, I probably like this movie so much because Evans is in it. And because of Fred, the one eyed cat.

Another movie that surprised me is Honey Boy (2019). It is directed beautifully and tells a hard story. Shia has had some internal struggles, but no one is perfect. This movie gives a look into his life and shows that everyone is dealing with something, even if their life looks great from the outside.

9. What is a movie that surprised you in a bad way?

This one is easy: La La Land (2016). I heard great things about this movie, but when I watched it, I was left asking myself if I watched the same movie that everyone else did. Maybe the genre just isn’t for me, or maybe I am not the key demographic, but I was genuinely let down. Maybe that was because I had such high hopes. However, I do appreciate the great music.

10. What film is most visually stunning?

Ok, this might be controversial but, It (2017). I know that it’s technically a horror film, but the visuals were stunning. What other horror movies is so visually beautiful? Another, great contender for this category is Crazy Rich Asians (2018). The wedding scene is beyond beautiful. I also admire the look of the Avengers films and the Harry Potter films. They both do a great job of showcasing the world of the characters and are very immersive for the audience.

See ya!

Thank you for reading all of my answers, some long-winded and others are straight to the point. If you want to check out more of my opinions on movies, you can head over to my YouTube channel where I post some movie reviews and favorites. Some of my old videos need a lot of work, but they show where I started, so I am still proud of them. Here is the link to my movie playlist on my YouTube channel if you want to check it out.

Let me know if you want me to create a T.V. show tag as well! I would love to do that.

Thanks for being here,

Arianna

P.S. Some other movies I enjoy are Hairspray (2007), I used to be obsessed with this film because of Zac Efron, but now I see the deeper, more mature themes of the film, and The Greatest Showman (2017) because it has great music with deep meaning.

from YouTube

76 Days (2020)

The world has been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic, yet some people still refuse to wear masks because ‘they are uncomfortable’ or ‘they look weird’ or they ‘don’t match my outfit’. Today, MTV is allowing you and everyone you know to view their film, 76 Days, for free and they will even donate $5 per viewing to a local theater of your choice. You can check that out here.

The film is a documentary on Wuhan as they battled the pandemic. I am sending this documentary to everyone I know who does not feel the need to wear a mask and anyone who thinks that the coronavirus is nothing more than the common cold. This film proves them wrong. Very wrong. Very quickly. Very efficiently. This film shows an intimate look at how the virus affects the sick and the hospital staff.

It can be easy to think that the virus is not bad if you have not seen its effects on people, but this film makes it very clear that this virus is not something to ignore, it needs to be taken seriously. Yes, everyone is so tired of wearing a mask, taking precautions, my family even wipes off every food item when we get back from the store, but the pandemic is not over just because we have grown tired.

It is important to still take precautions and try to be as safe as possible to protect ourselves and everyone we come in contact with. If you have lost someone to the virus, or for any other reason, I am thinking about you. It is hard not being able to see the people we love, but this will end eventually and we will appreciate each moment with loved ones even more. Keep going. Keep fighting. This will end soon. Don’t give up.

Once again, click here if you want to watch 76 Days for free. Please keep in mind that this is for today only. The film is very emotional and some parts are graphic, so keep that in mind when you decide to watch it. In my opinion, it is not suitable for younger kids.

I wrote a book!

A few days ago, I published my first book and it is available on Amazon worldwide! I know that my posts are usually centered around movies, but this book is very similar to movies in many ways. First, there are doodles inside that correspond to the poems. Second, the poems chronicle my journey with a concussion and how it took me over 5 years to recover. Third, this book took over 4 years to make, which is similar to how long many movies take from idea to completion.

Today I will talk about my experience with my concussion, it was lonely and educational in so many ways. I would appreciate it so much if you check out the book here, or visit the book’s Instagram here, or share the book’s link on your social media to help spread the word. Thank you so much for supporting me, it means more than you will ever know.

What is a concussion?

There are so many fancy definitions, but a concussion is a type of head injury. There are varying degrees of concussions and some are more severe than others, but so much is still unknown about the length of recovery required. Different people are affected with different concussion symptoms and it is not uncommon for a person to take years to recover. Sometimes people never make a full recovery. This is a very serious injury that needs to be treated with respect.

My experience

I have been to countless doctors and none of them helped me. Yes, you read that right. No doctor significantly helped me during my concussion journey. So little is still known about concussions and I saw that firsthand. I can confidently say that I know more about how a concussion affects the body than any doctor that I have come in contact with.

A concussion not only affects your brain, but your social life, your eating habits, your ability to go to school and leave the house. A concussion has the ability to effect every single aspect of a person’s life. I wish doctors knew more about concussions, so they could have helped me and other concussion warriors recover faster. And if you are reading this and have suffered a concussion yourself, or know someone who has, I am apart of a Facebook Group that shares their concussion journeys. I would highly recommend finding a support group if you feel like you need to find people who you can relate with (because I know that it is extremely hard to go through this alone).

Why did you write a book?

Well, I did not go into this thinking that I was going to write a book. While I was healing from my concussion, I began to write because I was having a hard time expressing my emotions verbally. I did not think that anyone would ever read my writing but me. I had no intention of creating a book. But once I recovered more, I realized that I had so many poems that I had to find something to do with them.

I decided to try to compile a book and eventually that journey led me here: finally publishing the book and sharing it with all of you. I know that many of you are subscribed to this blog for the movie reviews and indie filmmaker interviews, but I think that it is also cool for you to know a little more about me and what led me to this career path. (FYI: There are quite a few poems about films.)

Where can I find the book?

The book follows my journey through the worst days, to the best days. From the horrible pain, to finding a passion in film and allowing it to help me get back into the world.

The book is available online on Amazon here. It is available worldwide and has free Prime shipping in most places! I am so happy to finally share this book with you and I thank you so much for supporting me on this journey. If you share the book on your Facebook or Instagram, that would mean so much to me and would help me so much. I want to help raise awareness for concussions and how they can indefinitely effect a person’s life. My concussion prevented me from going to high school junior and senior year, made me miss prom and graduation, and led me to loose many friends because I was left behind. I hope this book raises awareness and I thank you so much for taking the time to learn more about concussions.

*Some links in this post may be affiliate, which means that I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my creative work! The support never goes unnoticed.

My YouTube Channel

I have been working on so many exciting projects! I have a poem book coming out very soon and have been working hard on my YouTube channel. I found my love for editing videos again and have been spending any free time I have editing and filming videos. Slowly but surely, I am getting better and I definitely see an improvement in my editing. In case you need some creative ideas or motivation, here are some of my recent videos. All of the time I spent at home this year has started to weigh on me, but I am lucky to have a hobby and passion that allows me to express myself and meet others with the same interests. Thanks for being here.

1. Film Festival Internship

I had the opportunity to interview for a competitive internship position at a film festival and I ended up getting it. I went to work one day, went to the internship party, and then the internship was paused because of the pandemic. I was not sure if I would be able to do the internship, but I ended up being lucky and was able to still participate from the comfort of my home. It was a great experience and I learned a lot.

from alohaarianna on YouTube

2. Reacting to Robert Pattinson as Batman

PATTINSON IS MY MAN! He is weird and I like that. He is awkward and I like that. His acting abilities are endless and I am so excited to see what he does with the character of Batman. He is insanely talented, modest, and just a funny guy. I personally would love to see this man in a comedy ASAP. If you are not familiar with Mr. Pattinson, I would suggest watching: Good Time (2017), Lighthouse (2019), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Water for Elephants (2011), Remember Me (2010), The King (2019), and Cosmopolis (2012). After you watch those films, you should see how versatile he is as an actor. Additionally, if you watch some of his interviews, you will quickly see how likable and relatable he is for any fellow sensitive introverts like myself.

from alohaarianna on YouTube

3. Halloween/Spooky Movies

I don’t normally gravitate towards scary movies, but when I do, I have some favorites. I have some childhood favorites that are great for children and I also have some creepy favorites that would have scarred me if I watched them when I was a child. Are my top spooky picks great choices? Or should I find some new favorites to add to my scary movies rotation? Let me know in the comments of the video so I can add your favorites to my list for the next spooky season.

from alohaarianna on YouTube

4. Witches Movie Trailer Reaction

I saw an ad for this movie and it intrigued me. I have been a fan of Anne Hathaway’s since Princess Diaries, so I wanted to check out this new movie of her’s. Was I disappointed? Or do I want to watch it on HBO? I have been reacting to trailers of new, highly anticipated movies and it has been pretty fun. I also find the videos fun to edit. What trailer should I react to next?

from alohaarianna on YouTube

5. How to Reverse Tie Dye

Need a fun activity to do while stuck at home? I was really happy with the result of this DIY even though it was my first time using bleach on a shirt. I have been tie-dying shirts, socks, and pants for as long as I can remember and it was fun to add in an extra step to add something special to an all black shirt of mine. If you try this out, send me a photo of your final result! I love a good DIY. LaurDIY who? (jk I love her and her dog Moosie)

from alohaarianna on YouTube

If you have a video recommendation that you want to see me do in the future, leave it in the comments in one of my videos! I always read my comments and I respond 90% of the time. I am having so much fun doing YouTube and I plan on continuing to upload as much as possible. Currently I upload multiple times a week and make a variety of content, so there is probably something that you will enjoy!

In the future, I plan on uploading at least once a week, but until then, I will continue to make as much content as I can. I would appreciate it so much if you take the time to watch any of my videos, like them, or subscribe. That truly means the world to me. Hope you have a fantastic day and rest of the week!

Black Bear (2020) Review

Starring Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Gadon, Alexander Koch and written and directed by Lawrence Michael Levine, Black Bear (2020) had its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival back in January 2020. This brilliant piece of work is set to be released to the general public on December 4, 2020, but that date could change because of the extenuating circumstances of the current world. Today, let’s get into the incredible story woven into this film and why you should watch it if you get the chance.

Let’s get into the story.

When a young, artistic couple invite a filmmaker friend to their isolated lake house, they engage in a complicated series of mind games that challenge their relationships and creativity, and call into question the barriers they have constructed between their art and their lives. Lawrence Michael Levine’s Black Bear is a thriller, a comedy, and a meta-commentary on filmmaking and desire. Levine’s film is a swirling showcase for his actors, who fully inhabit their characters in surprising ways, constantly shifting the ground beneath the viewer’s feet. (Montclair Film)

from Momentum Pictures on YouTube

My thoughts.

This film took me on a rollercoaster of emotions. In the beginning, I felt that I could easily relate to Allison (Aubrey Plaza) because I am also a creative that can feel lost. But by the end of the film, Allison is someone completely different. As a viewer you question: What is real? What is a lie? What should I believe and who should I trust?

The many long shots make the story seem even more realistic, almost as if you are watching a real conversation between three people and you are just the outsider looking in. The dialogue is well-thought out and profoundly interesting. The music dramatically adds to the tone of a scene and can make an interaction lean towards being more suspenseful or comedic.

My opinions on Blair (Sarah Gadon) and Gabe (Christopher Abbott) shifted dramatically through the film. In the first half of the movie, Blair annoyed me, but then I started to become more empathetic towards her. As for Gabe, I understood his feelings, but that does not mean that they justify his actions.

However, the second half of this film throws all of those judgements to the corner and made me have an underlying dislike for Blair and Gabe. Near the ending, I thought that Gabe redeemed himself, but I was proven wrong. Without giving away spoilers, character traits change drastically throughout this film and it is interesting how you can empathize for a character in one scene and despise the character the next. That being said, these extreme emotions can only be felt with incredible acting and writing. Everyone working on this film did such a great job.

One comment that I do have to make is about a scene toward the end of the film. There are a few cuts in the edit that took me out of the story. I am not sure if they were done purposefully to make the audience feel what the characters were feeling, or if they were done to comment on the intersection of film and real life, but they could also be a glitch in the editing.

Once again, well done to all the actors for making me believe in their completely different characters, the underlying manipulation, the genre-defying suspense, the repeating scenes of reality, and the dialogue that seemed so real and improvised that I cried because I felt so deeply for the characters. I also really like the title of the film. When I choose titles for my films, I like to choose words that draw attention to the overall meaning of the work and I think that is what “Black Bear” does for this film. The words “Black Bear” point the viewer in the right direction when they start to ponder the meaning of the film, and I really enjoy that aspect.

Sentence Summary

When art mimics life, where is the line drawn between the two?

Rating: 9/10

I have not watched a film that was this great in a long time. If I was in film school, I could easily write an essay about this film and still have more I would want to talk about. The acting and direction is great. The story kept me interested and kept me guessing at what would happen next. The reason I gave this film a 9 and not a 10 is the ending and the somewhat slow beginning, but both can be expected for more indie film like this one.

Although I found the ending creative and open-ended, it left me wanting more. Maybe that is a good thing and compliments the director, actors, and everyone involved, but I felt like I needed some type of closure. Many indie films have open-ended endings like this one and I guess that I just need to learn to live with not having the answers to all of my questions. Maybe I should have given this film a 10/10, or a 9.5/10. Watch the film and let me know what you think!

Check out Black Bear:

Read more about the movie on IMDb or keep an eye out for when it is available for viewing online. Currently this movie is available to view online (for NJ and NY only) through Montclair Film Festival, but that is just for a limited time until October 25, 2020. If you watch the film through Montclair Film, there is also a Q&A after the movie with the director and writer Lawrence Michael Levine and the star Aubrey Plaza.

*Also, thanks to Montclair Film for allowing me to use their brilliant summary of this film. They are great at briefly describing a film without giving away important spoilers.

What a Girl Wants (2003)

During this questionable time, I have found comfort in watching classic films that bring me back to happier times. The last time I watched What a Girl Wants (2003), I was probably in 2nd grade. So, I decided it was time that I watch it again. I just barely remembered the plot. But after rewatching the movie, I instantly remembered all of the music, characters, and the funny jokes. I definitely do not regret giving this movie a watch. It is available on Netflix as of right now!

from Warner Bros on YouTube

Let’s talk about it.

First, I need to start off by talking about Colin Firth. One word. Wow. Now onto the story. Daphne (Amanda Bynes) is a normal American teenager. She lives with her mom in New York, but always dreamt of meeting her father. One day, she decides to buy a plane ticket to go and visit him. Things do not go as planned, there are ups and downs, but in the end Daphne is left fulfilled and whole.

Part of the reason I like this story so much is because I always dreamt of traveling. Going to London and exploring sounded incredible when I watched this as a child. Daphne is fearless and fun, and part of me wanted to be like her. I like the message behind this film that encourages the audience to be themselves, regardless of what others think. The story emphasizes that giving up part of yourself to be with someone else is not worth it. I think that is a good lesson to learn.

Although this film is not on the caliber of a James Cameron movie, there is a lot of heart intertwined with the story. Watching this as an adult, I see some of the sweet moments that I missed as a child. I know the significance of being with the people you love and getting to know them on a deep level. Thus, I think this film aged well. The themes are still relevant, the story is still light-hearted and moving, and Colin Firth aged like fine wine. The story focuses on the amazing reunion of a father and daughter, and how their family is forever changed.

Sentence Summary

When a high school graduate yearns to meet her father, she does whatever she needs to do to make that happen, even if that includes boarding a flight to London and disobeying her mother’s wishes.

Rating: 8/10

Rating: 8 out of 10.

I rated this film so high because I rated it from my perspective as a child. When I watched this for the first time in childhood, I loved it. Thus, I thought it was only fair to rate it from my childhood mind. You cannot compare this film to a Chris Nolan film, you can only compare this film to stories that you find so nostalgic and memorable that you cannot think about them objectively because they are so entangled in your memories. This is one of those movies.

See ya!

I like getting sentimental and nostalgic. I am that friend that always brings up stories from 10 years ago and recites them like they happened yesterday. What can I say? I value my memories dearly.

What is your favorite film from your childhood? I would love to watch it and potentially review it. 90’s and 00’s films are far different than the films that are made today. Now, there are more special effects, but less heart. Which is saddening.

Thanks for reading,

Arianna

P.S. You can get the DVD here if you do not have Netflix. (This is an affiliate link. Thanks for supporting my channel at no extra cost to you.)

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