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Thread: Criterion Challenge 2022

  1. #26
    29. Watch a film that has an out of print physical release -- Claire's Knee. I loved this but don't know how to talk about it. Four stars. I've been sleeping on Rohmer.

    30. Watch a film from the "America Lost and Found: The BBS Story" collection -- The Last Picture Show. "Youth Is Wasted on the Young: The Movie." Maybe I'm at the exact wrong age to appreciate its point of view (neither old enough to romanticize my skinny-dipping days nor young enough to experience their awkwardness in real time), but I don't think I'll ever come around on the decision to have a total of two blameless characters in an ensemble just to kill them both off because... well, isn't that the saddest thing that could happen? Isn't life hard? Isn't it ironic that parents do everything they can to keep their kids from getting frisky in the back of a pickup, but secretly feel they were happy only when they themselves were young and horny? There are nuggets of wisdom in every scene and the performances are good, but jeeze-louise am I skeptical of this fetishization of sadness, as if it's oh-so-deep to say "let's never forget how cruel we are to each other." It's the opposite of nostalgia, like a Norman Rockwell illustration of a barber giving the highschool QB his first beard-trim while we know full and well they're both screwing the same lonely housewife. I may sound overly harsh, but the movie's reputation as an all-time classic deserves at least a little push back. Definitely moving down my list of favorite modern black and white movies, if not falling off completely. Three stars.


    Up next:
    31. Watch a film with a spine #1-100 -- Hard Boiled or The Blood of a Poet

    32. Watch a film with a spine #500-600 -- Still Walking, Kiss Me Deadly, or Vanya on 42nd Street. Will I ever be able to find/watch KMD? Feels unlikely.

    33. Cannes Film Festival Winners -- Viridiana
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 09-21-2022 at 04:32 AM.

  2. #27
    Quote Quoting Idioteque Stalker (view post)
    30. Watch a film from the "America Lost and Found: The BBS Story" collection -- The Last Picture Show. "Youth Is Wasted on the Young: The Movie." Maybe I'm at the exact wrong age to appreciate its point of view (neither old enough to romanticize my skinny-dipping days nor young enough to experience their awkwardness in real time), but I don't think I'll ever come around on the decision to have a total of two blameless characters in an ensemble just to kill them both off because... well, isn't that the saddest thing that could happen? Isn't life hard? Isn't it ironic that parents do everything they can to keep their kids from getting frisky in the back of a pickup, but secretly feel they were happy only when they themselves were young and horny? There are nuggets of wisdom in every scene and the performances are good, but jeeze-louise am I skeptical of this fetishization of sadness, as if it's oh-so-deep to say "let's never forget how cruel we are to each other." It's the opposite of nostalgia, like a Norman Rockwell illustration of a barber giving the highschool QB his first beard-trim while we know full and well they're both screwing the same lonely housewife. I may sound overly harsh, but the movie's reputation as an all-time classic deserves at least a little push back. Definitely moving down my list of favorite modern black and white movies, if not falling off completely. Three stars.
    Eh, I can't think so; while TLPS is a very sad movie on the whole, it still felt very genuine in such, as opposed to the actual pointless "misery porn" of something like It Comes At Night, especially with moments like these helping to keep the film well-balanced, IMO:


  3. #28
    31. Watch a film with a spine #1-100 -- The Blood of a Poet. Imagine if Un Chien Andalou were twice as long and had a boring second half. First twenty minutes were dope though. Three stars.

    32. Watch a film with a spine #500-600 -- Still Walking. A little disorienting at first, as Kore-eda takes his time revealing the particulars of the family tree. But once we understand the basics (who's there, who isn't), Still Walking is an ever-deepening well of miniature revelations. It's a movie that understands how a million tiny moments of joy, pain, awkwardness, boredom, and everything else can shape one's life -- or even an entire bloodline. Like its wonderful fingerstyle guitar score, the movie gains power from the the fact that it is wholly unadorned. We don't need fancy camera tricks to tell us it's beautiful for a child to admire flowers -- the beauty is inherent in the thing itself. In this way Still Walking feels like the work of a master (and a worthy successor to Ozu in particular): who needs a flashy epic when you can understand an entire family just by eavesdropping on their dinner? Four stars.

    33. Cannes Film Festival Winners -- Viridiana. Imagine getting complete artistic freedom at 60 years old and deciding THIS is the story you want to tell. In addition to everything else, Bunuel is possibly cinema's greatest cynic. Three stars.


    Up next:
    34. Midnight Madness: Watch a cult classic (Midnight Madness). Eve’s Bayou, Pink Flamingos, Two-Lane Blacktop, Brand Upon the Brain, or Jigoku. Leaning Two-Lane Blacktop.

    35. Growing Pains: Watch a coming of age film (Growing Pains). Minding the Gap, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Ice Storm, Rumble Fish, The Promise. Leaning Ice Storm.

    36. Stage to Screen: Watch a stage adaptation (Stage to Screen). Hamlet, The Heiress, Gertrud, Master of the House, or Vanya on 42nd St. Leaning Vanya.

  4. #29
    Ha, you fools thought I'd fail the challenge. December is going to be Criterion heavy.

    34. Midnight Madness -- Two-Lane Blacktop. If I were more of a car person, this would easily go in the love column. As a car movie, it is 100% pure. No hyper-macho bullcrap, just driving, hitchhiking, fueling, maintenance, etc. Automobile lifestyle as transcendentalism. I have a friend who only likes 70s stuff, and I could see this becoming his favorite movie. The girl providing a smidge of conflict near the end was a bit of a let-down, but the way the movie ends makes up for it. Three stars.

    35. Growing Pains -- The Ice Storm. I am confounded by the sterling reputation of this feel-bad ensemble drama, in which each character gets their own special moment to engage with heavy-handed metaphor before acting on some irrational impulse that ruins their life. In some parallel universe (or something like Solondz's Happiness), these characters' inability to make even one good decision would be the building block for something darkly hilarious. Alas, this Very Serious Movie is not a black comedy, but rather a meandering lecture detailing the myriad ways we can be cruel to one another, as if needless and avoidable suffering is inherently profound. Here are a few of the things that made me roll my eyes:

    -- Tobey Maguire's Fantastic Four bookends, or "Webster's Dictionary defines 'family' as..."

    -- Wow, with all these marital issues bubbling up under the surface, I wonder how this will reach a breaking point? Oh, the get-together with all their friends turns out to be a swinger party, yet somehow they didn't know. Free crisis!

    -- I don't care if there's a little vodka involved, it's literally impossible for a pubescent boy to get naked with his crush just to fall asleep five seconds later. Also, no young people would ever sleep through the night like that, if for no other reason than the fact their parents might find them.

    -- Not one single thing about the Elijah Wood character works, with the ending in particular being one of the most preposterously manufactured moments of gravitas I can remember.

    This winning Best Screenplay at Cannes is like Hulk winning the Palme d'Or. If this were the first-ever book adaptation I would say, "Whoa, let's never do that again!" One star. Didn't know Ang Lee had it in him. Christina Ricci innocent.

    36. Stage to Screen -- Vanya on 42nd St. Here's an odd one. There's a lot to be said about what this movie is and how it came to be. I'll keep it brief and simply say Julianne Moore is next-level, and it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling to see Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory together again. Three stars.


    Up next:
    37. Out at Criterion: Watch an LGBTQ film (Out at Criterion). Mala Noche, Fox and His Friends, Naked Lunch, or something from Marlon Riggs. Probably Naked Lunch because I happen to have the DVD from Netflix at the moment.

    38. Watch a film on the Summer Travels list (Summer Travels). Alice in the Cities, Il Sorpasso, or Summer with Monika. Also past due for rewatches on Y Tu Mama Tambien and Mystery Train. Leaning Alice in the Cities.
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 12-03-2022 at 07:31 PM.

  5. #30
    Quote Quoting StuSmallz (view post)
    Eh, I can't think so; while TLPS is a very sad movie on the whole, it still felt very genuine in such, as opposed to the actual pointless "misery porn" of something like It Comes At Night, especially with moments like these helping to keep the film well-balanced, IMO:]
    I haven't seen It Comes at Night so I can't address that, but for me the moment you posted only makes the film MORE sad. No balance, just more tilt in one direction. Old people reminiscing about better days is bittersweet at best, horribly depressing at worst. And of course it doesn't help that [
    ]
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 12-03-2022 at 07:46 PM.

  6. #31
    37. Out at Criterion: Watch an LGBTQ film -- Naked Lunch. Gotta remember to put this on the next time one of my friends gets too high. It approaches Holy Mountain levels of bizarre-ness. Somehow manages to be semi-coherent and even funny despite the... well, you wouldn't believe me if I told you. Suffice to say, impressive practical effects. Getting Ornette Coleman to score this junkyard noir was a stroke of genius. Much respect to Cronenberg for attempting/succeeding with this adaptation. Three stars.

    38. Watch a film on the Summer Travels list -- Alice in the Cities. Yet another one of those "child and reluctant caretaker manage to form a meaningful bond" movies. While it's not my favorite story template, Wenders and the leads keep it low-key enough that it never becomes cloying. The real MVP, however, is Robby Muller. This has to be one of the best-looking 16mm films I've seen. He was truly one of the goats. The score was fine, but one expects more from Can. Three stars.


    Up next:
    39. Watch a film on the Hollywood Classics list (Hollywood Classics). How Green Was My Valley, Body Heat, or The Long Goodbye. Leaning Body Heat.

    40. Watch a film from the Animation Before the 2000s list (Animation Before the 2000s). The Last Unicorn, Watership Down, or Son of the White Mare. Leaning Mare.
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 12-06-2022 at 09:55 PM.

  7. #32
    I'm the problem it's me DFA1979's Avatar
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    1. Movie from the Year I Was Born: Something Wild (1986, Jonathan Demme):



    The first time I viewed Something Wild it was on cable, I believe, so they didn't edit anything out. Years later I got my hands on a Criterion DVD copy and watched the movie again, and I appreciated it a lot more. Is it a great movie? Nah, but it's a very good one, utterly delightful and just one if those nicely put together flicks from the 1980s. Jonathan Demme had this rare ability to make a picture in that he made it look easy, and his movies always had someone to root for, usually an everyman of sorts.

    This everyman in this case is played by Jeff Daniels,, who for some reason never really became as big of a star as he should have been. Maybe he's fine with that, I mean he has awards and nominations so that evens it out. His likable straightman character Charles is kidnapped by Melanie Griffith, who by the 1980s had become a big star-a year later she was nominated for Working Girl. I love her free spirited character Lulu, who basically kidnaps Charlie and turns the movie into one of those road pictures I always enjoy.

    The movie plays with conventions a bit, and is half comedy, half serious drama. Ray Liotta's fittingly named character, Ray, turns the movie into a darker melodrama and challenges Charlie to actually well, man up and take charge for once in his life. If this is a bit cliche it is, yet this element fits in well with Demme offering both a happy albeit fictional version of the American dream vs the bleaker, nastier side.

    I mean how obvious can you get with a high school reunion dance scene with an American flag in the background? Something Wild has stuck in my brain the few times I've viewed it, and I may eagerly do so again. Demme over the years became one of my favorite American directors, and it's a shame he's no longer around to offer up more unique takes on Americana. Also that final scene is marvelous and leaves me with a nice grin on my face. "Remember, no matter what, it's better to be a live dog than a dead lion."
    Blog!

    And it's happened once again
    I'll turn to a friend
    Someone that understands
    And sees through the master plan
    But everybody's gone
    And I've been here for too long
    To face this on my own
    Well, I guess this is growing up

  8. #33
    I'm the problem it's me DFA1979's Avatar
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    2. 1920s (gonna cheat and post a link to the blog here if you all don't mind, but I did watch this one back in October hehe):

    Häxan (1922, Benjamin Christensen)
    Blog!

    And it's happened once again
    I'll turn to a friend
    Someone that understands
    And sees through the master plan
    But everybody's gone
    And I've been here for too long
    To face this on my own
    Well, I guess this is growing up

  9. #34
    DFA if you start and finish the challenge in December then I will give you rep.

  10. #35
    For some reason I went against my gut for these two (was leaning Body Heat and Son of the White Mare). I really shouldn't do that.

    39. Watch a film on the Hollywood Classics list -- The Long Goodbye. I figured this was an ace in the hole, but really it's just a less funny version of Inherent Vice, Under the Silver Lake, or The Big Lebowski. And of the nine Altman movies I've seen it is easily the ugliest. Elliott Gould as the mumbling, chainsmoking Philip Marlowe is the only real thing it has going for it. All the variations on the theme song, as if this is the only tune that exists no matter where you go, was an amusing concept. Love Altman but this one gets a shrug. Two stars.

    40. Watch a film from the Animation Before the 2000s list -- Watership Down. Did Seth Rogen come up with the idea for Sausage Party after watching this? That idea being "What if we gave hot dogs/rabbits sentience and advanced language skills, then killed them off in all sorts of horrible ways?" I mean, these bunnies are seriously put through the wringer! The structure of the film is essentially a string of life-threatening perils, including but not limited to: dogs, cats, badgers, hawks, fascist bunnies, automobiles, trains, snares, shotguns, toxic gasses, and divine judgment. It's downright sadistic, and toward what purpose? At least Sausage Party made me laugh. This just has an annoying seagull. Two stars.


    Up next (going with my gut edition):
    41. Starring Catherine Deneuve -- Could do The Young Girls of Rochefort. Will do A Christmas Tale.

    42. Starring Anna Karina -- A Woman Is a Woman. I get this one confused with Masculine/Feminine. Fairly certain I've seen the latter and not the former.

    43. Starring Jeanne Moreau -- The Immortal Story or The Lover. I would rather see The Lover, but if I'm feeling something 65-minutes long then The Immortal Story may take over. I also haven't seen Jules and Jim in nearly two decades. (The Lover is not a Criterion movie, so technically it would be cheating. And Moreau doesn't seem to have a huge role. Whatever.)
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 12-10-2022 at 01:50 AM.

  11. #36
    I'm the problem it's me DFA1979's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Idioteque Stalker (view post)
    DFA if you start and finish the challenge in December then I will give you rep.
    I will not lol I'm a notorious procrastinator it's a miracle l even commit to a Horrorfest every year.
    Blog!

    And it's happened once again
    I'll turn to a friend
    Someone that understands
    And sees through the master plan
    But everybody's gone
    And I've been here for too long
    To face this on my own
    Well, I guess this is growing up

  12. #37
    I'm the problem it's me DFA1979's Avatar
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    The Long Goodbye rules so much. I forgot it was a Criterion though.

    I just bought Watership Down. I'm a fan of the book, I'm assuming the movie is equally depressing at times haha.
    Blog!

    And it's happened once again
    I'll turn to a friend
    Someone that understands
    And sees through the master plan
    But everybody's gone
    And I've been here for too long
    To face this on my own
    Well, I guess this is growing up

  13. #38
    41. Starring Catherine Deneuve -- A Christmas Tale. I was unable to find my footing with this. It's 2.5 hours, yet nothing happens for more than five seconds at a time. Visuals, music, characterization, editing, and more were wildly inconsistent. 2000s-era MTV had more continuity and patience than this. Who knows, maybe Desplechin's signature IS tonal inconsistency. Despite the fact he's been in competition at Cannes seven times, I won't be watching any of his other movies to test that theory. Oh, and all these characters are despicable. Selfish, rude, with zero compassion or filter. Characters don't have to be likable, but they do need to be believable. People don't speak to each other this way. There's no moral center. Two stars.

    42. Starring Anna Karina -- A Woman Is a Woman. Not a movie I would watch over and over (the music start/stopping constantly is one of the more... disruptive... Brechtian techniques in Godard's toolbox), but still undeniable in terms of the playfulness, vibrancy, and Anna Karina-ness of it all. There's something heartwarming about Godard blowing up the art world with good instead of bad vibes. Coloring outside the lines is fun! Three stars.

    43. Starring Jeanne Moreau -- The Immortal Story. Minor Orson Welles is still Orson Welles. Melancholy and frequently gorgeous, perfectly suited to the Erik Satie piano pieces that Welles liberally employs. It's the Citizen Kane of ugly old people watching pretty young people bone. Three stars.


    Up next:
    44. Paul Dano's Closet Picks. The Young Girls of Rochefort. Not a lot to choose from. Dano taking the Demy box set was a bold move. Like someone offered you an item from their dinner plate and you chose the filet instead of the potatoes or greens.

    45. Ethan Hawke and Jonathan Marc Sherman's Closet Picks. Either Rumble Fish or Ace in the Hole. Another One-Eyed Jacks pick? Is this a movie I should see? Hawke riffing on the Before Trilogy was cute. And Sherman pulls a Dano at the end and takes another Demy box set lol.

    46. Michael K. Williams’ Closet Picks. Respect to Williams for not abusing his privilege, but damn only six movies to choose from! The two I haven't seen are Gommorah and The Fugitive Kind... Gonna cheat a little here and go for a much-needed rewatch of The Night of the Hunter.
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 12-12-2022 at 09:49 PM.

  14. #39
    44. Paul Dano's Closet Picks -- The Young Girls of Rochefort. Quite possibly the most musical musical to ever musical! A game of basketball is actually a dance. Three cops serenade a crowd with instructions to step away from a crime scene. The camera tracks alongside Gene Kelly to reveal an alleyway full of dancers, as if the entire town is in step even when the camera is elsewhere. The one scene that doesn't feature music (cutting the cake) is stopped short because everyone gets bored and leaves. Demy knows what we came for, so he creates a world in which people breathe music and suffocate otherwise. Legrand's melodies are intricate patterns, bouncing unexpectedly around a chord before shifting up or down to repeat again and again. It's a mesmerizing style that to my ears sounds distinctly French. Hats off to anyone who can sing these songs -- in addition to a nice voice, one must have years of training to do them justice.

    ... which leads me to the reason why -- despite the wonderful music, colors, camerawork, and every other magical aspect of this movie -- it will never be my favorite musical. Nobody's singing voice is actually their voice (well, except for Danielle Darrieux, who absolutely crushes her songs). And you can tell! I felt it long before the internet confirmed it. Sorry if this is nit-picky but if you must fake it, at least fake it well. The instrument-playing is particularly hard to accept. There's a number half-way through in which four people "play" about a dozen instruments by hopping around the room. It's a great moment but it could've been transcendent if the illusion of real-time music-making were stronger. For instance, there's a close-up of fingers traveling up the piano keys as the notes go down... like, we know she's not actually playing but come on! It would've been so easy to do another take in which the hands travel the same direction as the notes. And Catherine Deneuve's "trumpet solos" are hilarious. It should be noted that Gene Kelly is also faking, but he's much better at it. Four stars.

    45. Ethan Hawke and Jonathan Marc Sherman's Closet Picks -- Ace in the Hole. Kirk Douglas' big speech to the writers' room is too much too early, but otherwise this is a feature-length crescendo of poor ethics and deeply cynical social commentary. By the time I saw train-fulls of people rushing toward a pop-up ferris wheel to the tune of "We're Coming, Leo," I was actually shaking with excitement. Every scene with Jan Sterling is pure gold. It's been a long, long time since I saw a Billy Wilder movie for the first time. Felt good to be reminded of his awesomeness. Four stars.

    46. Michael K. Williams’ Closet Picks -- The Night of the Hunter. Pretty sure this has the highest average rating of any movie in my LB network. To properly justify a non-glowing rating would take a lot of evidence, but James Agee and I are from the same place so I'd rather not go into great detail about what turns me off about this movie. The visuals are amazing, and it was very bold for its time. The boat ride song was particularly awesome. Three stars.


    Up next:
    47. Sean Baker's Closet Picks. Good selections here. Sean Baker is very likable. I Married a Witch, Love in the Afternoon, or The Meetings of Anna. Leaning Anna.

    48. Amy Heckerling's Closet Picks . I've already seen all these! Well, except for Shoah, but that's not gonna happen here in crunch time. I could do a re-watch of Tokyo Story. Or I may go off-script and watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High for the first time. It's not one of her picks, but it IS one of her movies. And it's also on Criterion.

    49. Agnes Varda's Closet Picks. Only options are Tiny Furniture or La Promesse. So yeah, La Promesse.
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 12-18-2022 at 11:06 PM.

  15. #40
    Here is the 2023 challenge. Yep, I'm doing it again.

  16. #41
    Kept out of sunlight Gizmo's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I'd be able to do this challenge if it was "any movie" much less Criterion! Had a hard time finding films I could stream last year, when I think I got 4 films completed?
    *coming soon*

    Top 100

  17. #42
    I'm the problem it's me DFA1979's Avatar
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    I might do it this time, ha ha.
    Blog!

    And it's happened once again
    I'll turn to a friend
    Someone that understands
    And sees through the master plan
    But everybody's gone
    And I've been here for too long
    To face this on my own
    Well, I guess this is growing up

  18. #43
    47. Sean Baker's Closet Picks -- Love in the Afternoon. Eric Rohmer is my biggest (re)discovery of 2022. The characters! The craft! Everything is so precise. I'm probably overrating this one a tad. Got the Six Moral Tales BR box set. I'm all in. Four stars.

    48. Amy Heckerling's Closet Picks -- Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Shows its age, primarily through the editing. I presume audience laughter is meant to help smooth the transitions of otherwise abrupt scene breaks, but a fair amount of these jokes fall flat forty years/a million cinematic copycats later. Nevertheless, a cut above your run-of-the-mill horny teen movie due to a solid soundtrack and an ensemble approach with Jennifer Jason Leigh as its searching, beating heart. Three stars.

    49. Agnes Varda's Closet Picks -- La Promesse. Did nothing for me. Two stars. Moving on.

  19. #44
    Finished! I have nothing enlightening to say about any of these! Awards to come!

    50. Random number generator -- First I got Swing Time, which I've seen a bunch, then I got Dressed to Kill. Incredible craft in service of a moronic plot. I had a great time and rolled my eyes a lot. The cops were the worst. My mom didn't fall asleep, which is saying something. Three stars.

    51. Watch a film featured in any of the Essential Art House box sets -- Red Desert. Another expertly crafted Antonioni movie about alienation and modern malaise. Very abstract. Monica Vitti might be the most beautiful woman who ever lived. You don't see this type of super-industrial setting very often, and I'm not sure why. My mom slept through the whole thing. Three stars.

    52. Any Criterion film on your watchlist -- Girlfriends. Is this the original mumblecore movie? So real, so warm. Susan is the coolest. Great cast. I loved it. My mom slept through some but not all of it. Four stars.


    Full list:
    [
    ]
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 12-30-2022 at 05:53 PM.

  20. #45
    Stalker's Second Annual Criterion Challenge Awards!

    Last year's awards.

    Best movie: [
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    Worst movie: [
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    Best performance: [
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    Worst performance: [
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    Best director: [
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    Worst director: [
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    Best editing: [
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    Worst editing: [
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    Best writing: [
    ]
    Worst writing: [
    ]

    Best music: [
    ]

    Best visuals: [
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    Best SFX: [
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    Favorite scene: [
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