Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

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Yoda: The greatest teacher, failure is.


Starring: Daisy Ridley. Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels and Gwendoline Christie, dir. Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper)

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Cinematographer: Steve Yedlin (Looper, Unknown, Brick)

cinemagraph source: benlmc on r/Cinemagraphs
The Last Jedi distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Click here for my review of The Last Jedi.

Call Me By Your Name (2017): A Beautifully Executed Picture Led By The Equally Brilliant Pairing Of Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet (Review)

 

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[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media]
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Based on the 2007 novel of the same name, Call Me By Your Name follows 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) as he spends the summer with his family in their 17th Century Italian villa along with his father’s doctoral student, Oliver (Armie Hammer). The film also stars Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, and Victoire Du Bois and is directed by Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love, A Bigger Splash).

“But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste.”

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

Set in the summer of 1983 when the Sony Walkman was all the rage and people just showed up at your house without prior cell phone confirmation, Call Me By Your Name delivers on a gorgeously heartfelt, emotional witty punch in the gut that I absolutely adored watching. Following my watch on a Tuesday night and expressing my adoration for it on Instagram, my best friend who I was planning on meeting up with the next day proved that fate exists by stating she was going to ask whether I wanted to watch the film when we went out. After thinking about it for about a morsel of half a second, I sent the showtimes for Wednesday and basked in the glory of this phenomenal film for a second time less than 24 hours after my initial watch. It is a surprisingly rewatchable film although I must warn you that frequent bouts of tears will endure on subsequent watches, similarly to when you watched it for the very first time. 

Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet excel in every scene they appear in. As the story mostly follows Elio’s perspective, Chalamet shines as a young man struggling to understand the flood of feelings that plague him. And honestly, if you encounter a human being who possesses even an ounce of charisma that Armie Hammer has, who wouldn’t briefly picture what their lives would look like together? The acclaim Chalamet is receiving (particularly with his recent Academy Award for Best Actor nomination) is infinitely well deserved. I do think it’s quite a travesty that Hammer is not receiving similar awards consideration for the Best Supporting category. He not only works incredibly well with Chalamet on screen, his presence is known and felt throughout the film – I felt a jolt of excitement every time he appeared because I knew he brought his A game to this role and his character is elevated immensely because of it. 

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[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media]
There are also no weak links in the supporting cast, Amira Casar and Michael Stuhlbarg execute virtually flawless performances as the Perlman parents. The refined monologue you’ve probably heard of that caused Frank Ocean to declare a new change in parent will seep into your very core with how eloquent the words are and how gentle Stuhlbarg’s approach is. While discussing the scene, he provided some insight into what he believed his character was thinking at that moment and how he wanted to “be honest as a parent”:

“… I think he’s offering up a part of himself to his son at a time when his son needs it. I understand that his father is not just a father, he’s a person and had a life before he met Elio’s mother. He has some, perhaps, joy at the fact that his son has felt something so deeply and perhaps a sense of regret from his own past that he didn’t take a road that he wanted to. Or maybe a road he wanted to take and did take and it didn’t workout. I think he’s offering up a part of himself to his son that his son needs at that moment.”

As someone whose favourite films revolve around the concept of characters in minimal locations simply talking to each other (see: Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy or 12 Angry Men), Call Me By Your Name provides a captivating look at sexuality and the internal struggles/complexities involved with it. The film takes its time to develop the characters, provides a mesmerizing sense of location and allows the audience to feel as though they are present within every scene. They are a fly on the wall, watching how these individuals with their own difficulties and joys communicate with one another verbally and through gestural actions. The various symbolic motifs present provide a further layer of depth to the film that anyone whose interested in analyzing film will have a field day with. Yet it does well in not bogging the actual film down with heavy-handed imagery, the nuances present will give those interested in further watches something to look out for. On my second watch, I paid close attention to Guadagnino’s use of flies and the various colours worn by the characters because, as Breaking Bad has taught us, everything means something.

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[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media]
Besides the obvious emotional components that make up Call Me By Your Name, it is remarkably funny. I found myself laughing more than I anticipated going into a film centered around lovers who will probably never be because thanks society. If the press circuit for the film has shown anything, it’s that Hammer and Chalamet genuinely care about each other and appreciates the talent one another brings to the film. It’s an absolute joy seeing them work together and, most importantly, their relationship feels like a true progression of a same-sex relationship between two compelling individuals. 

How Were The Other Aspects Of Call Me By Your Name?

The work of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom as cinematographer is nothing short of fantastic. Not a single frame is wasted in the film, every sequence is meticulously crafted by Guadagnino and his DP, taking the time to develop not only the characters but the various astounding landscapes present absolutely everywhere

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[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media]
The soundtrack is also a vital aspect of the film that I’ve listened to on repeat since my watches as it contains the toe-tapping talents of The Psychedelic Furs, Loredana Bertè, Bandolero, Giorgio Moroder and Joe Esposito. The clip of Hammer dancing to The Furs’ “Love My Way” was how I originally found out about the film and the way the song is utilized is honestly one (or 2) of the major highlights of the film for me.

Sufjan Stevens composed two songs featured prominently in the film, “Visions of Gideon” and the Oscar nominated for Best Original Song, “Mystery Of Love.” I cannot wait for the upcoming Blu-Ray release so I can constantly remain in awe of everything about this masterpiece… Also for any Canadians out there, in certain sequences Chalamet looks identical to a young version of our current radiating specimen of a Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. 

[Credit: Sony Pictures/Mongrel Media] | Made with Giphy

If you’re looking for a heartfelt, witty and aesthetically gorgeous drama featuring two phenomenal lead actors, check out Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name receives a coveted 5/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image credit: sony pictures/mongrel media

The Terminator (1984)

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Sarah Connor: What’s it like when you go through time?
Kyle Reese: White light. Pain. It’s like being born, maybe.

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Earl Boen and Bill Paxton, dir. James Cameron (True Lies, Titanic, Avatar).

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Cinematographer: Adam Greenberg (Ghost, T2, Rush Hour)
cinemagraph source: tech noir
The Terminator distributor: Orion Pictures

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017): This IS The Star Wars I’m Looking For (Non-Spoiler Review)

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[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]
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Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the eighth installment of the Star Wars franchise and follows Rey (Daisy Ridley) as she develops her newly discovered powers of the Force while the First Order does battle with the Resistance. The film stars Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro and is directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper).

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

When it was initially announced that director Rian Johnson would helm a new Star Wars trilogy before Episode VIII released, excitement and hesitation simultaneously settled in for me. Clearly, Lucasfilm and Kathleen Kennedy herself adored what Johnson did with The Last Jedi which translated to them entrusting a brand new trilogy to him, however the uncertainty arose because I thought, “man what if I hate what he does with Last Jedi?!” I’m in the camp that firmly believes the more, the merrier – If I hear they want to release 3 new Star Wars flicks a year I say hey, that’s great! Would we possibly get some films set during the KOTOR era? The one goddamn era every single fan has been pining for since the release of those legendary video games….

Coming out of my screening of The Last Jedi, I am ecstatic to say I officially cannot wait to see what Johnson brings to a new trilogy because I absolutely adored Star Wars: The Last Jedi

[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney] | Tenor.com
As someone who liked The Force Awakens very much, there was something lacking within it. Last year’s Rogue One was actually my favourite recent SW installment of the two because it felt like a Star Wars film that I’ve never seen before. It pushed buttons that have never really been pushed before and, after watching it twice in theatres and once at home since, I wondered whether another Star Wars film would have a similar effect on me. I still need a few watches of Last Jedi to see whether it definitively surpasses Rogue One in my rankings but one of the first things I said when I exited the theatre was “… I think I liked that more than Rogue One.” 

From its stellar opening sequence to its final moments, I was hooked throughout. I appreciated the fact that there were actual space battles occurring utilizing some of the best digital effects the industry has to offer. Although the usage of the beloved lightsaber is used sparingly, it is depicted effectively. When the humming of the saber penetrated my ear holes, I felt it. I savoured it. There are certain instances where characters are using the sabers and I wanted to slow down time to properly ingest everything I was witnessing. It’s one of those instances where, as you’re watching it, you make an addition to your internal checklist saying “remember to check YouTube every single day to see if someone upload this scene on there.”

The implementation of the humour was actually one of my favourite aspects of the film. What is commonly seen in the additions to the MCU (Thor: Ragnarok being the latest), many of the jokes featured in their superhero story fall flat during the more dramatic moments of the films which undercut the emotional impact certain scenes have. The Last Jedi features a number of comedic beats inserted throughout that I felt worked effectively in the scene. I found there being a perfect balance (wink, balance) between the humour and dramatic moments particularly during one instance where we’re introduced to a crew of Judgmental Fish Nuns who are basically the embodiment of myself. 

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[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the arcs of all the main crew progress and I absolutely adore the route they went with the iconic Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Learning more about why he became the person he is in Episode VIII, 30+ years following Episode VI and the effect the Jedi/Force had on him was spectacular to see. He is an embattled, melancholic and agonized individual who has experienced some major shit throughout his journey that started him out as a simple farm boy destined for greatness. How he chooses to “train” Rey (Daisy Ridley) only furthers my excitement for seeing how the next generation of Star Wars characters handles their respective responsibilities within the galaxy. Rey is easily my favourite character of this new trilogy and I love how Ridley embodies her vigor and spirit. Of course, it’s always an emotional roller coaster seeing anything related to the late, great Carrie Fisher and I thoroughly enjoyed the decisions made for her legendary character, Princess Leia.

There isn’t really anything critical I can say about the rest of the stellar cast – Oscar Isaac as Poe DAMNeron will forever be my favourite thing ever. John Boyega‘s Finn matures exponentially in Last Jedi and I just love seeing it. An issue I originally had with The Force Awakens was Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and I wondered how he would do as he grew more comfortable in the role 2 years later. He is definitely better in Last Jedi particularly toward the beginning of the third act but, again, I wasn’t too much of a fan of his portrayal during the first two acts. Domhnall Gleeson AKA The-Guy-Who-Is-Starring-In-Everything returns as the ambitious General Hux and I very much enjoyed watching him gleefully express both his joyful moments and immense frustrations when dealing with the Resistance. Kelly Marie Tran makes her debut as Rose Tico who was a charming addition although certain components of her relationship with a character felt a bit forced. Laura Dern also made a fantastic addition to the Star Wars crew as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. She can honestly have amazing chemistry with a potted plant so I thoroughly enjoyed every time she was on screen and I adored the lore of her character. I took issue with a particular decision Holdo makes that could’ve easily been avoided, although I understand why she felt the need to make it. Overall I felt the relationships developed between certain characters were executed well.

[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

How Were The Other Aspects Of The Last Jedi?

Johnson knows how to film the sweeping, epic shots that make an impact watching it on the big screen. The Snoke room and everything that happens in that red room of terror is absolutely marvelous. I enjoyed the inclusion of the music much more in Last Jedi than I did Force Awakens; a brief, fleeting moment involving just Rey as her Theme plays in the background is one of my absolute favourite moments of the entire film. There’s also a fantastically killer sequence involving her and another character toward the end of the film that I cannot say more about for fear of spoiling! There is also a disgustingly wonderful tracking shot inspired by the very first Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Wings (1927) that made me way too giddy when I initially noticed it. 

As we all know, The Last Jedi‘s divisive has been known in the online world and I am in the camp who thoroughly enjoyed where the story went and how they chose to develop these characters. While it isn’t without flaws, the ultimate enjoyment and pure satisfaction I felt coming out of the theatre and writing about it now makes me ecstatic for Episode IX and the Johnson-helmed trilogy.

Side note that doesn’t really pertain to the filmCan we PLEASE though, real talk, f’real be blessed with a “Duel Of The Fates“-esque pulsating, orgasmic-inducing song for at least one of the upcoming Star Wars? While I hold a genuine disdain for a number of components of the Prequels, every human on Earth can agree that that song is one of the best things to have come out of it. You’re welcome for my great suggestion, Disney.


Star Wars: The Last Jedi receives 4.5/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image source: Lucasfilm/Disney

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REBLOG: MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur – Spaceballs (1987) – Ghezal Plus Movies

For MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur this month, we’re taking a look at our favourite spoof/parody movies.

Read my thoughts on the brilliantly spectacular film that your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate probably loves as well, Spaceballs!

MovieRob

For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Spoof/ParodyMovies, here’s a review of Spaceballs (1987) by Ghezal of Ghezal Plus Movies

Thanks again to  Ashleigh of The Movie Oracle  for choosing this month’s genre.

Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Simon of Moustache Movie News and it is Road TripMovies.

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of December by sending them to roadtripsimon@movierob.net

Try to think out of the box! Great choice Simon!

Let’s see what Ghezal thought of this movie:

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Genre Grandeur: Spaceballs (1987)

Starring: Bill Pullman, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, Mel Brooks and Joan Rivers.

Directed by: Mel Brooks.

When I think of some of my favourite spoof/parody movies, a handful of films immediately pop into my mind: the Austin Powers trilogy for one, the disgustingly brilliant Airplane! for another and the 1987 flawless…

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Lady Bird (2017): This Remarkably Witty Coming-Of-Age Story Will Have You Fill The Six Inches Left Open For The Holy Spirit With Laughs And Tears (Review)

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Lady Bird | A24
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Lady Bird tells the story of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) as she maneuvers her way through the beloved high school experience and explores her various personal relationships with family, friends and college. The film also stars Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Lois Smith and is the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig.

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

There are certain films where you find yourself immersed entirely with everything occurring on screen and when it concludes, you’re left genuinely disappointed because you enjoyed it that much and are craving for more – Lady Bird is one of those movies. 

From the talented mind of actress and screenwriter Greta GerwigLady Bird starts at a high and continues through its 94 minute run time, providing witty quip after another and depicting compelling characters who are delightfully fleshed out. With a coming-of-age story set in a high school, filmmakers always run the risk of featuring tropey teen after stereotypical mean girl in a universe of perpetual eye-rolling courtesy of the out-of-touch adults who are dopey because the script calls for it. This film encompasses what I love about certain films of the genre (particularly Mean GirlsNapoleon Dynamite and The Edge Of Seventeen) and adds a new perspective through the eyes of Lady Bird (the name was given to her by her, in case you were wondering). 

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Lady Bird | A24

Referring to Lady Bird as simply “enjoyable” is doing it a major disservice. It encompasses virtually everything I want to see in this kind of movie: compelling characters, a simple story, witty dialogue, killer soundtrack/score and an overall feeling of… just… somethingSaoirse Ronan is perfect in this role. She works so unbelievably well with every single person in the film whether they are a vital component of it or the extraest of extras. Her camaraderie with Beanie Feldstein’s “Julie” and Feldstein’s incredible delivery of her sharp dialogue was delightful to watch. Laurie Metcalf gives a heartbreakingly spectacular performance as the matriarch of the McPherson household. There were a number of mother/daughter instances that resonated with me so hard. Lest we forget Tracy Letts’ portrayal of the remarkably sweet Larry McPherson. Lucas Hedges and this year’s breakout star of Call Me By Your Name, Timothée Chalamet, provided some stellar performances as well.

I also thoroughly appreciated the lack of monstrously exaggerated sequences that aren’t within the realm of belief. The moments of conflict feel real because these characters are so well written, you genuinely believe and sympathize with what has transpired. One particular moment actually had me cover my eyes because I was terrified at what was going to happen (it involved a friend telling someone they were coming over).

“Thank you, Greta Gerwig, for terrifying me more than many horror films can accomplish.”

I placed myself in the respective person’s shoes and wanted to shove my head into a computer because the embarrassment was overwhelming and it honestly wasn’t that big of a deal – That is what teenagehood is. Man, that’s what being a human is but particularly when you’re on the cusp of adulthood and want nothing more than to be accepted amongst your peers so the little white lies come out. Thank you, Greta Gerwig, for terrifying me more than many horror films can accomplish. 

How Were The Other Aspects Of Lady Bird?

Lady Bird‘s 2002 setting provides an interesting backdrop as there is a sense of simplicity to it since we’re still a few years away from total technological control, however this is a post-9/11 world. Like, a few months post. The societal innocence we became accustomed to was shattered with heightened security beginning to be implemented and the barrage of bombings occurring in the Middle East. The insanity the world was experiencing at the time is referenced in the quiet, sereneness that is Lady Bird.

Lady Bird | A24

For every threat of mind controlling chips in cell phones, there is a pool party where former *NSYNC member, Justin Timberlake’s modern classic “Cry Me A River” plays in the background. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. There isn’t anyone I’d want to experience it with (again) than Lady Bird. 

The film’s gorgeous-looking aesthetic is also positively wondrous. There truly isn’t a dull scene throughout its entire duration, I was genuinely enthralled with not only what the characters were saying but the mesmerizing cinematography that accompanied what was on screen. I had no idea what I was expecting with Lady Bird and what I got out of it was a phenomenally entertaining film that spoke to me entirely. 

Lady Bird | A24

If you’re looking for a sharply written coming-of-age film with characters you actually care about, check out Lady Bird.

Lady Bird receives a coveted 5/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image credit: a24

Wind River (2017): As If You Need More Of A Reason To Love Taylor Sheridan’s Work, Here Comes ‘Wind River’ (Review)

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Wind River tells the story of Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker, and FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) as they attempt to figure out who raped and murdered a young Native woman (Kelsey Chow) on a Native reservation. The film also stars Gil Birmingham and Graham Greene and is directed by Taylor Sheridan (writer for Sicario, Hell Or High Water).

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

My initial thought immediately after watching this movie: we really need more heavy movies like Wind RiverTaylor Sheridan knocks another brilliant script out of the park with his second foray into directing as it is one of the most engaging films I have seen this year – the dialogue and characters being worthy of the most praise. You are immediately placed into the world of the Wind River reservation from the very getgo, the brutal cold is depicted effectively on screen with the vast snowy landscape being the cherry on top of this tragic mystery.

The murder mystery aspect of the film is intriguing enough, however it’s the connection you feel with the characters that truly makes it as enjoyable as it is… Even though the subject matter and circumstances surrounding it is incredibly heavy.

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‘Back To The Future’ | Universal Pictures

The various relationships Cory (Jeremy Renner) has with the people living on this reservation is showcased efficiently enough to where the audience deduces certain aspects of their relationship without needing the film to hold your hand. I thoroughly enjoyed the actual character of Cory and what he meant to certain individuals and Renner gives a serviceable performance as the tracker-who-sees (and knows)-all. His character does seem to have a cowboy hat in virtually every single subject on Earth –  from his vast knowledge of virtually everything Arapaho to the numerous moments where he’s spewing off inspiring discourse that applies perfectly to whatever situation arises, I understand why Cory is knowledgeable in certain areas, however he became somewhat of a deus ex machina at certain points. I do like Jeremy Renner’s performance, however of all the main players in the film, he is probably toward the bottom of my list in terms of the performances I adored.

The dynamic between he and Elizabeth Olsen‘s Jane was definitely one of my favourite aspects of Wind River; crafting these characters to work with each other is difficult because you always run the risk of potentially bogging down the relationship with overt strictly-professional-relationship tropes. Their flourishing friendship and respect for each other gradually increase as the film progresses was incredibly refreshing to see. Olsen is also unsurprisingly incredible in the film, she’s one of my favourite actresses working today and I truly look forward to seeing her in whatever independent role she excels in and the more mainstream Hollywood pictures a la the various juggernaut installments of Marvel.

We learn as much as we need to learn about Cory and are given insight into what Jane’s position is as an FBI agent (Florida… Las Vegas?) Speaking of the parenthesis, I particularly enjoyed the occasional banter between Jane and Graham Greene‘s Police Chief Ben, the latter knowing all too well how these situations usually end up, falling on deaf ears. 

How Were The Other Aspects Of Wind River

I’m not sure that this is technically a subgenre, but movies that effectively utilize a wintery landscape is one of my favourite subgenres. I can’t praise its utilization enough because with Wind River, you feel the immense cold of Wyoming since everyone is wearing the appropriate clothing to assist one’s bodily temperature when it’s 40 below. Nobody is walking around with a light sweater and shorts saying, “huh, it’s pretty nippy out” because that attitude will give you grade A frostbite in about 15 minutes.

The murder mystery aspect of the film is incredibly compelling and because of the connection you feel with many of the characters, you want to see justice be brought to an area where many are not granted a similar justice. 


If you’re interested in an intriguing murder mystery featuring a talented cast and sensational atmosphere, check out Wind River.

Wind River receives 4/5 Matt Damon heads.

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