Thursday, April 26, 2007


True, we'd probably have to take a plane, at the very least a boat, but I feel like cars would be involved at one point or another, so... roadtrip. It still counts damn it. Where are we going you ask? Dickensworld! What is Dickens World you ask? Let's let the fine English folks explain:

"Dickens World is a brand new, innovative and exciting indoor visitor complex themed around the life, books and times of one of Britain’s best loved authors, Charles Dickens. It will take visitors on a fascinating journey through Dickens’ lifetime as they step back into Dickensian England and are immersed in the urban streets, sounds and smells of the 19th century.

With a host of captivating attractions, Dickens World features one of Europe’s largest dark boat rides, the Haunted house of Ebenezer Scrooge, a state-of-the art animatronic show, Victorian School Room, 4D high definition show and Fagin’s Den. Offering a unique showcase for one of the world’s best loved storytellers, Dickens World will truly offer visitors the ‘day out of a lifetime’. Dickens World is based on a credible and factual account of Charles Dickens works and the world in which he lived. Working with The Dickens Fellowship great attention has been paid to the authenticity of the time, characters and story lines. It offers a new and entertaining way to enjoy Dickens and his characters as well as gaining an understanding of the times and conditions people experienced living in England in the early 19th century.

You're already packing your bags, aren't you? I mean, ghosts, urchins, crazy old women in wedding dresses? You don't get that at Disney World my friends, not even on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. And that description just begins to whet my appetite - whats in store for Europe's largest dark boat ride? What was Europe's largest dark boat ride before this? Who is going around measuring the length of dark boat rides? And what is a dark boat ride? I mean... the title sounds self explanatory, but, is the boat riding through something dark? Is it just dark inside of the boat? It's vague, that's all I'm saying. Do you come out of Scrooge's Haunted House with a new optimistic outlook on life, like the way you come out of It's A Small World with a deep paranoia that children are slowly starting to raise an army up against you? And who doesn't want to go into a Victorian School room? It's like school now, but back when they could still hit you. You know, when learning was fun. And Fagin's Den? Oh God, I hope thats a theme restaurant. All the waiters are small pickpockets. And a 4D HD show? Of what? Is that just going to be a 3D production of the life of David Copperfield where they just throw dirt at you to make you feel like you're there? If so, awesome.

The only thing I could think of that would be better than going to Dickens World is to work there. I mean, their help wanted section of the site is labeled "Can you meet our 'Great Expecations'?" I think I just shed a tear, it's so beautiful. Spending the whole day trying to convince a family on holiday from Slough that you'll shiv them unless they give you their watches - and getting paid for it! Though, I'm guessing they would have a pretty lousy dental plan, seeing how that would affect your performance and all. Though, I'm guessing English corporations, in general, have crappy dental plans. I mean, it's England. Bad teeth are as English as beans for breakfast.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Dark Knight Returns

This is all rather disheartening. They're shooting the new Batman movie in town right now - I know since every film student is simulteanously pulling their hair out/selling their bodies to get onto the set as PAs (it's all a little counterproductive if you ask me, but whatever), or they're scouring the south side in hopes of finding the mythical warehouse that supposedly houses twenty copies of the new Batmobile (Oh, goodness, that is going to end so well. "Film Student Violenty Beaten To Death In Search Of Prop Car. Grieving Mother: 'At least he died doing what he loved. I guess.'"). And of course, even if I wasn't in film school, the whole crashing buses through buildings and trying to light the city on fire again might have tipped me off a bit. But, this is all pointless now. Whats the point of making a new Batman movie when you have this?

The seemless camera movement, the flawless sound design, the breathtakingly real fight choreography. Who needs Christian Bale when you can dress up in a Halloween costume on your moms roof? Who needs Heath Ledger when you have a guy with a question mark shirt hiding in a port-o-john? Who needs Chris O'Donnell... actually that kid was probably on par with Chris O'Donnell now that I think about it. The way he just walks off getting hit in the head with a cane likes its an ice cream headache - he needs to be sitting across a table from Jame Lipton right now.

In all seriousness though, its fun to laugh at this, but then, I start to think about how blatantly bad it is, and the time they must have but into this, and... it kind of haunts me. Is it a joke? If it is it's brilliant, but, theres just... they must have had those fucking costumes, and the dialogue is the exact same stuff I would come up with when I played Batman as a kid - like line for line (I had the breast plate and everything, it was sweet). It's just... too subtle, to naive to be satire. It's like the film equivalent of a terrible American Idol audition. They can watch this over and over, and they just won't get it. So is it some wildly insightful piece of satire, like Sartre if he wrote a graphic novel, or is just, as wrestler1304 wrote, "probably the gayest thing i have ever seen"? I guess we'll just have to wait to find out.

One thing we do not have to wait to learn though, if Batman is being attacked by some anonymous hoodied thug with a big stick, and he just can't quite shake him, all Robin has to do is apparently threaten to hug him and he'll run off. Because no one wants to touch a 25 year old who walks around in public in ridiculously restrictive green underwear. No one.

(Link via ISB, via Boing Boing)

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Monday, April 16, 2007

God, You're Mean

I think theres an episode of Scrubs where they say that having a kid is basically like having a dog that learns to talk, and this short from Adam McKay and Will Ferrell basically backs that up. I mean, it's adorable to have a two year old cuss out one of the biggest box office stars in America, but won't there be some latent psychological effect of having your father's best friend call you a mean drunk? Probably, but nothing nearly as bad as what this kid has in store.

ED NOTE: Okay, Hi. So, pretty soon after I wrote this, this video became the biggest thing on the internet since that .gif of the dancing hamster, and they erased all the copies from YouTube. Pearl has been interviewed in People, and now Funny or Die, the site they launched with this little gem (seriously, I'd make some joke about if you could tie a sports theme into a potty mouthed two year old, Ferrell would have another hit on his hands, but I feel every blog and it's mother has already done it in the last week, so I'm just going to let it go) has been flooded with thousands of, really bad comedy shorts. Beauty of the internet my friends. One of these that you probably won't be hearing too much about is iGod, which was made by a kid I go to school with. It... actually isn't that funny, it's a pretty weak premise and then an anticlimatic punch line. But it looks pretty! We shoot on film, damn it! Um yeah... Hey, look, a guy jerks off in this one. Classic.

I Got A Weird Thing For Girls Who Say, "Aboot."

Speaking of things the internet has drastically changed, let's talk about music videos. You know what they are right? Cool, let's go.

Broken Social Scene member, Peaches BFF, and all around Cute Canadian Feist just released two videos to help promote her new album 'The Reminder'.

The first is for 'My Moon, My Man', which is kind of like if Mike Nichols had directed that Ok Go video. It's bad enough that I'm banned from the treadmills at my school gym, now I just know I'll be wating to board my plane one second, and then being physically restrained by airport secuirty for trying to inspire a musical dance number on the moving walkway the next. It's a criminal offense. Feist only got away with it because they filmed it in Canada. Seriously, read the Patriot Act - they covered everything.

The second is for her song '1 2 3 4', which is similiar to the 'My Moon, My Man' video, except this is a more colorful and cheerful affair. The dancing, the amazing camera work, the song itself, this video just makes me happy. Kind of like a 'GAP' ad, except I don't hate the world when it's over.

The Shin's video for 'Australia' is kind of like a some odd marriage between a Benny Hill sketch and a Learning To Love You More assignment. Baloons! Orange Jumpsuits! Marty dressed like a shrub! Wacky! It's all a big complex and enjoyable set up that in the end wasn't really about anything. So, you know, like a Shins song.

Theres a clever little story in the video for The Hold Steady's 'Stuck Between Stations' (make sure you watch it till the end), but mostly it's just a showcase for the band to look like an actual band, rather than a novelty act like the 'Chips Ahoy' video kind of made them out to be. Added bonus, ample time to Craig Finn's crazy cool hand gestures.

The Arcade Fire aren't offically releasing any videos for 'Neon Bible', which means YouTube will be littered with amateur videos of kids running through trees to 'No Cars Go' to symbolize freedom from society. But whoever did this clip for 'My Body Is A Cage' sure as hell got it right - pick one of the best shot movies ever, string some clips together, and play it out slow. I would have never of thought of Sergio Leone and Win Butler in the same breath before, but damn if I don't now. Also, Henry Fonda should have really played more bad guys.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hey, Chochachos!

It's been over a month, yipes. It's just, things have been crazy, you know? Midterms, going home, spending Easter with Jesus - it's just been a lot. I even had an idea for a post a few weeks back, I thought, yeah, I'll come back, write this up, present it like a new gift to all of my friends, it'll be a good time. Then 'Time' magazine stole my idea. Swear to God, I even had a "the only thing the Internet has had a greater impact on than comics is porn" joke in there too. It's like 'Time' magazine is in my head (which is actually a delusion I've suffered from since they hired Joel Stein, but I digress). So then, I thought, maybe I could write up the food aspect of it, but no, Salon had me beat. And you know, so did Chow (home of the most obscure drinks on the internet). And then when 'B.C.' artist Johnny Hart died, I thought, "Hey why don't I use the occasion of his death to make fun of his terrible pun based humour and simultaenously pimp Christ Onstad?". Thanks alot, Huffington Post.

So, yeah. Anyways, read Achewood. It is a good time.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

This Is How You Do It

Sure, Justin Timberlake may have a career that sells out Madison Square Garden, allows him to win multiple Grammys, and gives him the opportunity to make out with both Cristina Ricci and Scarlett Johansson; but the sad fact of the matter is the dude just got shown up by a bunch of nerds from Portland. Because, let's face it, The Decemberists are nerds. It's the natural label that comes when you base your album around a song cycle based on a Japanese folk tale about a crane. Or when your album has a twelve minute suite based on a Shakespeare play. Or when you're from Portland. Any of these things will do it.

But with their non-green screened/Colbert sabotaged video for 'O Valencia', they've shown the Alpha Dog team what it really means to be cool. The story is basically a mix of Badlands and what Wes Anderson's version of 'Smoking Aces' would have looked like, with a whole bunch of awkward, grandiose dialogue added in for good measure. The difference here being of course that when everyone in this video acts cool, they're not trying to actually be cool. Except for the Piano Wire Girls, they were kick ass, straight up, no chaser.

It's surprising too, while both videos have around the same running time, I was surprised at how quickly this one seemed to go by, while I never actually saw the end of Timberlake's video because I had gouged my eyes out with a spork by the sixth minute. The key really seems to be the acknowledgment of the fact that adding some hackneyed story onto your video is going to be cheesy, no matter what grade talent is involved (and to be fair, I saw 'Black Snake Moan' last night, and Mr. TImberlake is actually a pretty decent actor), so you might as well just embrace it. And of course a fork stabbing will help any proceeding, because honestly, who doesn't love a good fork stabbing?

Also, all of this Decemberist YouTube trolling led me back to their 'Rushmore' themed video for 'Sixteen Military Wives', which has one of my favorite lines, I think ever: "I declare war. On Luxembourg."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Live Blogging Filling Out The Ballot For My Oscar Pool

So there are the easy picks - your Whitakers, Mirrens, and Scorceses. Though, could Paul Greengrass steal it from Scorcese? If there's anyone who could upset it, it would be him - he's the films only big nomination, which kind of shows that the Acadmey saw the directing as the star of the film (which is true), and it was one of the best reviewed films of the year, and it was the first film to touch on 9/11, so they may want to acknowledge that. But most likely they won't, because I'm pretty sure the Academy is tired of smarmy film students quoting John Stewart, "For those of you keeping score at home, that's Three 6 Mafia - 1, Martin Scorcese - 0". And by the Academy, I mean me.

Did you know that the sound mixers have their own organization? It's called the Cinema Audio Society. And guess what - they have their own award. That's right. And guess what, every Society and Guild in Hollywod does the same thing. One of my production teachers is a three time "Grippy" award winner, swear to God. Anyway, my strategy? To vote along the guild awards for the technical awards. 'Dreamgirls' for sound mixing, 'Pans Labyrinth' for art direction.

Okay, you know that strategy I just talked about? It's bullshit. The Costumer Designers Guild Awards is split into three categories, for fantasy, period, and contemporary. Because they just had to be fair and reconize that all work can't be judged in one crass category of just plain 'Best', didn't they? They had to rub their noses in the Oscars face, by giving two of their awards to two of the nominees. Fuck. Is the 'Curse Of The Golden Flower' too over the top? Is 'The Queen' too minimal? Or are they impressed by that? Is that impressive though? They just wore a bunch of tweed. Fuck.

Okay, I just checked IMDb for who has won the best costume category for the last few years. 'Memoirs Of A Geisha' won last year, which shows they like the Asian things. They also gave awards to 'Return Of The King', as well as 'Gladiator', which hints that they kind of have a thing for flamboyant armor getups, again leaning in the favor of 'Golden Flower'. But they've also given awards to 'Moulin Rouge!' and 'Chicago', showing they have a tendency to go for the razamataz, so maybe a 'Dreamgirls' upser here? Damn it.

Okay, I went with 'Dreamgirls'. My theory? No one saw 'Golden Flower'. Shit. I'm sweating it, but I have to move on.

'Children Of Men' won the ASC Award. Duh. Name one movie thats used a camera better in the last ten years. Go ahead, I dare you.

Fun Fact: Click is an Oscar nominated film. For best makeup. Yeah. As much as people were amazed at how an elderly looking Adam Sandler could still make terrible poop jokes, I'm giving this one to 'Pans'.

Okay, my mother just called and said that theres an article on Berkshares in the New York Times today, so I'm going to try and track down a copy, because those things confounded me all summer.

So, apparently the article is in one of the regional sections that only gets sold in the Northeast, and it's part of the Times Select premium program online, which means I have to pay for it. I'm going to straight-up murder some one. Though, on the upside, I got a sandwich.

Are people over the Pixar thing? 'Cars' didn't create nearly the stir that their previous efforts did. I'm going with 'Happy Feet'. Penguins trump cars any day, hands down.

'The Departed' won the Eddie this year, which makes it pretty much a lock for Best Editing. Besides, no one can cut a montage to a Rolling Stones song like Thelma Schoonmaker. And cutting montages to Rolling Stone songs is really how editors judge their worth. No, really.

Any one want to make a side bet that when Al Gore accepts the Oscar for Best Documentary he'll end his speech by "raising their roof"? Any one? Five will get you ten.

I have no idea what any of the Documentary Shorts are about, but I like the sound of 'The Blood Of Yingzhou District'. Sounds snappy.

Foreign Film: This is a pickle. 'Pans Labyrinth' and 'The Lives Of Others' were both really good, and if I were being fair, I would spilt the award. But, I think more people have seen 'Pans', and theres such a big Latin presence in the nominations this year, that it'll probably get it.

Hey! That Berkshares article is in the national report section. Neat. Theres a little map in the middle of the article with Great Barrington starred off.

Score? I honestly have no idea. The academy loves their Philip Glass, but I think 'Pans' is going to take it again. And it should. And I checked off 'Listen' for best song. Because I don't care about that category at all this year (No DeVotchka love, really?), and am dreading having to sit through Beyonce's overwrought performances. Shes going to do the thing where she clenches her fist and pulls it in - three times in the course of one minute. I promise you.

I didn't get to go to the Animated Shorts program, so I'm picking 'Lifted' just because it's Pixar. I know I just said a second ago how the Pixar sheen has worn off... but I lied. As for the Live Shorts... it's probably going to 'Binta and The Great Idea', because its hart warming, has a positive message, was produced by Unicef, and is filled to the brim with cute African kids. But damn it, I'm putting down 'West Bank Story', the 'West Side Story' adaptation placed in an Israeli border town. Why? Because it was funny, entertaining, had some nice, subtle political jabs, and a man dressed in a menorah suit, that's why.

'Pirates' won almost every category at the Visual Effects awards (there are, literally five hundred awards given out), so I'm giving it best visual effects. Plus, I don't think anyone wants to give 'Poseidon' or 'Superman Returns' the vindication of being 'Oscar winning material'.

Screenplay is kind of iffy this year. Peter Morgan has won a few for 'The Queen', plus he wrote 'Last King Of Scotland'. But then Michael Arndt just won the Writers Guild Award for 'Little Miss Sunshine'. So what to do? I... I'm going with 'The Queen'. And for adaptation? Well. 'The Departed' won the Guild award, and 'Children of Men' wasn't even nominated there. But the writing awards at the Oscars have tendency to go to the more, progressive, cooler films that were actually better than the wons that won Best Picture (i.e., Eternal Sunshine, Talk To Her). So I'm going with 'Children Of Men', because as I've said before, it rocked my socks.

So the big one. Here's what I'm thinking. 'Little Miss Sunshine'. Not only that, but I'm betting on Abigal Breslin to upset Jennifer Hudson in the Best Supporting Actress. Because cute kids are just as exciting as redeemed reality show contestents, and it seems like the Academy really didn't want to give an award to 'Dreamgirls' unless it really needed to. So those are my thoughts. We'll see how I do in about two and a half hours. Oh, and want to look smart to your friends? Explain to them the reason everyone is laughing when Tom Cruise give Sherry Lansing the humanitarian award this year, its because Summer Redstone fired them both this year, and this a big kind of Fuck You to Viacom. Whee!

P.S. Try doing a Google image search for 'Dreamgirls'. It's uh... interesting.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Coming Up Next

I think its going to be a funny year. The fact that the national media is embroiled in whether or not they should be giving this much attention while they're giving this much attention to the death of a woman most of America honestly didn't care about if they had any idea who she was in the first place is a good sign of the highjinks we're in for in the near future. Also going to be funny: movies. I saw 'Reno 911: Miami' last night (Which was pretty good, basically just an hour and a half long episode of the show, except they get to say fuck and show the most awkward sexual encounter ever captured on film), and before that they showed the trailers for what I think will probably end up being the two funniest movies of the year.

The American version of the 'Knocked Up' trailer gives you a much better idea of what the story of the film is going to be, while the international trailer shoots more of the atmosphere of the movie. In a related note, I plan on using "Fuck off" as a response in all of my conversations from now on. "Would you like fries with that?" "No, fuck off."

And I am slowly dying of jealousy that people in England can watch 'Hot Fuzz' right now while I have to wait a month and a half. I hope they choke on their Marmite, though they probably will anyway since thats just the usual human reaction to eating Marmite.

Also, seeing every member of The State show up in 'Reno' last night got me excited for 'The Ten', the new movie from the Stella side of the team.

And finally, in music news, Wilco just announced that the tracklist for their new album, 'Sky Blue Sky', which is coming out in May. Sadly, songs like 'Let's Fight', that they've been playing live recently, didn't make the cut, which just means that I'm going to have be shilling out thirty dollars for the Japanese import of the disc in order to get all the B-Sides they attached to it. And by shill out thirty dollars, I mean steal from the internet.

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Clive Owen Is A Stone Cold Pimp

I've been trying to come up with a better title for Clive Owen than that; it sounds too cheesy, to played out to accurately describe the man. But as of right now, I am at loss for a better word. Clive Owen is a stone cold pimp - scientific fact. It struck me yesterday as I was watching 'Croupier' (I know, I should have seen it long ago, but I'm just getting things I put on my Netflix queue in 2003 now), and I began to think back on his career. Sure, he's had some missteps (Did anyone, anywhere, at any point see 'Broken Borders'?), but in the last three years, it's amazing how he's honed his persona in a wide range of films. If you look at the posters for films like the intimate relationship drama 'Closer', or the historical action adventure 'King Arthur', or the stylized comic porn 'Sin City', or the twisty heist film 'Inside Man', or to the dystopian sci-fi thriller 'Children Of Men' (which I'm going on record as saying was my favorite film of last year) - they all have the same pull quote - "Clive Owen Is A Bad Ass." Sure, they're all from Jeffrey Lyons, who may or may not actually exist, but still, it counts.

So I decided to stack my queue with the aforementioned films as a part of a 'Clive Owen Is A Stone Cold Pimp Film Festival'. It was going to be great - I could dress in costume for each of the films, in a tuxedo for 'Croupier', in that spiffy overalls, sunglasses, and paper mask combo from 'Inside Man', and watching 'Sin City' would finally give me a reason to visit that 'Leather Daddy' store across the street from me. But then I realized something, something horrible. The one thing that first brought Clive Owen to my attention, that took my breath away except for one small hiss that went "Daaaaaamn" every thirty seconds or so, wasn't on DVD. But then I realized, I live in a world where YouTube exists.

'The Hire' films were a series of short films that BMW commisioned in 2001 and early 2002. Each film centered around Owen as a mysterious driver, who of course drove BMWs. They then got a ton of top shelf talent to work on each of them, and then showed them on the internet. These were like, one of the main reasons I bothered to show up to school for that year, waiting to watch them on a computer with an internet speed that had been updated since 1992.

"Ambush" - This was the second to last thing John Frankenheimer ever directed, and its full of the same kind of, blunt, grey European style action that he did for the last leg of his career, especially in movies like 'Ronin'. It's fitting that this is the first in the series, since where all of the subsequent entries try to tweak the car chase formula as much as possible, Frankenheimer seems perfectly content just to do it straight, and present it to you as entertainment. It's kind of like, the other directors here would freak out if their eggs Florentine were undercooked, while Frankenheimer would just order his eggs straight with a tumbler of whiskey. Because he had a drinking problem. And... I forgot where the joke was supposed to be on that one, sorry.

"The Chosen" - Ang Lee directed this while he was still riding the wave of being a visionary action director, a time when people were still blown away by 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon' and were excited for 'The Hulk'. That would explain why the chase in this one is basically car ballet, and why the kid is Ang Lee's son. Why a mysertious holy child who appears to have been raised in some secluded monastery is able to purchase comic book character themed medical supplies, still remains a mystery by the end though. Because who needs logic when you have shamless self promotion for your next movie?

"The Follow" - Director Wong Kar Wai brings his usual mix of beautifully depressing romanticism to the least action oriented of all the shorts. Highlights include mostly likely by tomorrow night Oscar winner Forest Whitaker pulling out his best shifty agent routine (Every actor in Hollywood has a shifty agent routine, its how they entertain each other at parties), Mickey Rourke being creepy, and Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima looking sad and pretty. Clive Owen remains a badass throughout.

"The Star" - I often wonder about Guy Ritchie's motivations. He popularized this new genre of British Thug films, then married Madonna, made a movie with her that sunk his career, and has spent the last five years watching his wife slowly morph into one of those generic looking aliens that they show in the recreations in those 'Unsolved Mysteries' episodes where the trucker gets abducted and anally probed, all the while doing every thing she can to grasp onto the last shards of fame she has. I know you can probably shake off 'The Star' to being Madonna having a laugh at herself, but it's scary to see the level of loathing that Richie has towards his wife in this thing - and this is from five years ago, the early part of thier relationship. I just imagine Madonna walks through her kitchen with her fifteen person entourage and Guy Ritchie is just sitting there with one of those old stone wheels that you operate by foot petal, sharpening some sort of ancient sickle. "What are you doing Guy?" "Oh... you know... keeping up."

"Powder Keg" - 'Babel' director Alejandro González Iñárritu and his (after the tiff they've been having over the promotion of 'Babel, former?) writing partner Guillermo Arriaga throw enough of their trademark blend of third world politics and tragic familial miscommunication to create what I think might possibly be the most depressing car chase ever put on film. Instead of getting an adrenaline rush from watching Clive Owen out run a cadre of Mexican thugs, I was instead filled with the urge to call my mother and tell her that I loved her. Thanks alot, dick.

"Hostage" - The only thing thats really surprising about this one is that John Woo didn't manage to fit a slow-mo shot of doves in it somewhere.

"Beat The Devil" - I'm thankful for this for so many reasons. Mainly, I think it's probably the last piece of terrific James Brown out of his fucking mind material that we have from the recently buried Hardest Working Man In Showbiz. My guess is that they didn't even tell him that there was a script, they just put him in the car with Owen and as far as he knows, he really was racing for his soul. And it's a good thing that he won too, because I would have hated to see the Godfather Of Soul end up in Tony Scott's version of hell, where you're forced to spend eternity in an over stylized, neon colored world, where you're constantly subjected to random jump cuts and oppressive non diegetic sound. You just sit on a rock, saying "Is this really necessary?" for all of time.

"Ticker" - "Smoking Aces" director Joe Carnahan handles the last one in the series. It's pretty straight forward
as stories about heart transplants in the middle of a military coup goes. I guess. I think it says something about what I've come to expect from my entertainment, out of years of ever heightening story lines in TV shows, when I find something like this a little mundane.

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