Thursday, June 21, 2018

Tag: Jake Gyllenhaal

Stronger (2017)

Title: Stronger
Rating: R
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Written by: John Pollono
Based on the book by: Jeff Bauman, and Bret Witter
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, and Clancy Brown
Release Date: 9/22/2017
Running Time: 116 minutes

Official Site

What did you think of this film?
Inspired by a true story and based on the New York Times bestseller, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the working-class Boston man whose iconic photo from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing captured the hearts of the world. Stronger is the deeply personal account of the heroic journey that came after that photo – defining a man’s inner courage, a community’s pride, a family’s bond and an unexpectedly tenacious love.

Are There Any Extras During The Credits? No

Are There Any Extras After The Credits? No

Okja (2017)*

Title: Okja
Rating: NR
Directed by: Bong Joon Ho
Written by: Bong Joon Ho, and Jon Ronson
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, Lily Collins, and Seo-Hyun Ahn
Release Date: 6/28/2017
Running Time: 118 minutes

Official Site

A gentle giant and the girl who raised her are caught in the crossfire between animal activism, corporate greed and scientific ethics.

Are There Any Extras During The Credits? No

Are There Any Extras After The Credits? Yes

Click to see whats: after the credits

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Memoriam: In Memory of Kat Donahue

Nocturnal Animals (2016)


Title: Nocturnal Animals
Rating: R
Directed by: Tom Ford
Written by: Tom Ford
Based on the novel by: Austin Wright
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon
Release Date: 12/9/2016
Running Time: 117 minutes

Official Site

Susan Morrow (portrayed by Ms. Adams) lives an incredibly privileged yet unfulfilled life with her husband Hutton Morrow (Armie Hammer). One weekend, as Hutton departs on one of his too-frequent business trips, Susan receives an unsolicited package that has been left in her mailbox. It is a novel, Nocturnal Animals, written by her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Mr. Gyllenhaal), with whom she has had no contact for years. Edward’s note accompanying the manuscript encourages Susan to read the work and then to contact him during his visit to the city. Alone at night, in bed, Susan begins reading. The novel is dedicated to her…

…but its content is violent and devastating, as Edward tells the tale of Tony Hastings (also portrayed by Mr. Gyllenhaal). Driving across a lonely stretch of Texas one night, Tony and his family are harassed by a trio of joyriders, and forced off the road into a confrontation initiated by the gang’s ringleader, the disturbingly insinuating Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Tony is all but powerless to act as his family is kidnapped and he is left stranded. When day breaks, Tony manages to reach the police for help, and laconic Lieutenant Bobby Andes (Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon) takes on the case. Andes forges a strong connection with the distraught Tony, and dedicates himself to pursuing the suspects once Tony’s worst fears are realized…

Moved by Edward’s writing, Susan cannot help but reminisce over the most private moments from her own love story with the author. Trying to look within herself and beyond the glossy surface of the life and career that she has made, Susan increasingly interprets the book as a tale of revenge, a tale that forces her to re-evaluate the choices that she has made, and re-awakens a love that she feared was lost – as the story builds to a reckoning that will define both the novel’s hero and her own.

What did you think of this film?

During Credits? No

After Credits? No


Demolition (2015)*

Title: Demolition
Rating: R
Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée
Written by: Bryan Sipe
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper
Release Date: 4/8/2016
Running Time: 100 minutes

Official Site
Buy on Amazon

Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal), a successful investment banker, struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father in law, Phil (Chris Cooper), to pull it together, Davis continues to unravel. What starts as a complaint letter to a vending machine company turns into a series of letters revealing startling personal admissions. Davis’ letters catch the attention of customer service rep, Karen Mareno (Naomi Watts) and amidst emotional and financial burdens of her own, the two form an unlikely connection. With the help of Karen and her son, Chris (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.

What did you think of this film?

During Credits? Yes

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After Credits? No

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Everest Review – 2.5 out of 5 Stars

I should start off by mentioning that I set myself up to love the latest, big budget adventure flick Everest. After the great early buzz the film received, I almost immediately bought tickets for the opening day screening at the local Cinerama in Seattle. This 70 mm screen is the ultimate place to go see big movies spectacles so believe me when I say that I was prepared to go along for the ride. So when I finally sat down to watch it, the visual effects were as stunning as I expected them to be. The sound design and the cinematography and the way they recreated the setting all felt breathtaking. But for as spectacular as those things were, everything else about Everest is equally abysmal. There’s no way around it, this movie is a pretty looking mess that contains flat characters and a sloppy story.

The movie focuses on the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest which resulted in multiple fatalities. In particular, the movie focuses on the expedition led by Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) to make it up to the peak. Among the people in his crew are mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), Texas native Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) and author Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly). The movie follows them as they train and eventually begin there fateful journey up the mountain.


The sad thing about the awful script for this movie is that in some way I can at least sympathize with what the writers and the director were trying to do. It’s clear that they cared very deeply about this incident and wanted to respectfully present every person affected by this disaster from the victims to the families. In some ways, this is a positive attribute because it leads to them putting as much detail as they can into the accuracy of everything from what the climbers are wearing to the design of the base to the ways in which they prepared. Say what you will, this movie at least seems well informed about its subject. Unfortunately, this is the thing that also kills the movie. The movie wants to cover every single person affected and while there’s a level of integrity to doing so, it makes the movie basically unintelligible.

It’s somewhat manageable at first when everyone is at base camp but once disaster strikes, the movie goes totally off the rails. These moments when they’re getting hit pretty bad by snow storms and avalanches should be thrilling and intense like the flood in The Impossible or the opening space station destruction in Gravity. If you see these scenes as successful because they managed to add clarity and perspective to these moments of pure madness, prepare to be let down by what Everest does.

What we instead get is this big moment of chaos where you’re cutting back and forth really quickly between around ten different perspectives. They take this huge moment of mayhem and they poorly shift between what’s happening to all these different people. What’s going on in the last hour and 30 minutes tries to follow so many different things that these disaster scenes go from heart pounding to disappointingly boring. The storyline becomes so indecipherable that you stop caring about what’s going on because the movie gives you no time to worry about anything that’s happening to anyone. The disaster sequences feel like a confused montage of underdeveloped characters doing things that are weakly explained or too abrupt to receive any form of response from its audience.

There are so many things in this movie that happen so fast and then end up feeling so unresolved by the ending. There are multiple sub-plots that they try to take on and in the process they put quantity over quality. Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a pure example of a character where I can see why they added him but they put him in so poorly that his entire character arc can be summed as frustrating and useless. They set him up as one of the more important characters and by the end of the movie he’s dispatched in way that’s never fully explained and makes no possible sense. In real life there’s probably an explanation for what he did but in the movie they have no room to go into detail with what exactly happened to him. He’s one of several people lost in the need to note the entire event at whatever cost. Everest never seems intelligent or bold. Even the things the movie does well enough in its story have been performed far superior in even more recent adventure movies. I wanted the spectacular visual effects to absorb me like Gravity did but this movie is so choppy that it’s almost as if the directors daring you to not get involved with what’s going on despite how big and epic its story is. By the last act, I was fully able to take him up on that dare.

It’s so upsetting to see the movie end up this bad because there’s so many ways in which this could’ve worked. The movie has a really fascinating story that makes me want to actually seek out the book Into Thin Air by survivor Jon Krakauer. If they had just focused on a few people and done it in a smarter way, I would have no problem praising this movie. As previously mentioned, the film shows off some of the best visual effects I’ve seen all year for a film. At its best moments, Everest captures the sheer scale and the majesty of this natural wonder. This movie is an example of the ways in which visual effects can be used to put you into this strange, unique world that seems absolutely believable. I will give this film that it is pretty much great when you only look at it for its music and its visuals.


When you just see who’s in it, Everest has one of the best casts of the year. Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kiera Knightly, John Hawkes, Emily Watson, Robin Wright and Sharlto Copley are a pretty impressive lineup and it’s pathetic when you find out that Josh Brolin and Emily Watson are the only ones who deliver anything beyond sup-par. At best, most of the cast is wasted like Sharlto Copley or John Hawke. At worst, you end up with a poorly casted Robin Wright doing an awkward southern accent as Brolin’s wife in scenes that feel totally out of place in comparison to everything else that’s going on.

The story of Everest is an impressive challenge that nobody came to the occasion for. The storyline ranges from unambitious to lost in adaptation. The characters are one note and forgettable. This movie contains some strong, recommendable visual effects and 3D but there are too many areas of this that feel so unsatisfying and poor that I have to count this one as a strong disappointment. Something so big and compelling shouldn’t equal something that feels so tame and forgettable.


Review by: Ryan M.

Release Date: 9/25/2015

Rating: PG-13

Cast: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kiera Knightly, John Hawkes, Emily Watson, Robin Wright and Sharlto Copley

Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur

Screenplay by: William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy

Everest (2015)


Title: Everest (aka. Everest: An IMAX 3D Experience)
Rating: PG-13
Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur
Written by: William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy
Starring: Jason Clarke, Ang Phula Sherpa, Thomas M. Wright, Martin Henderson, Tom Goodman-Hill, Charlotte Bøving, John Hawkes, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Josh Brolin and Jake Gyllenhaal
Release Date: 9/25/2015
Running Time: 121 minutes

Official Site

A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm.

What did you think of this film?

During Credits? No

After Credits? No

Was seeing Everest in IMAX worth the cost?

Southpaw Review – 2 out of 5 Stars

Predictable is a term I happen to use a lot on this website. I think it’s a complaint I can use for the majority of mainstream films from the romantic comedy to the found footage horror movie. It’s worth mentioning to these movies credit though that when I use this phrase I usually don’t literally mean that the entire film from start to finish was totally predictable. Most of these movies I have that criticism for at least have one or two things they add that make them at least a tad original. It’s rare that a find an actual movie where I am able to call every single plot point before it happens. The latest boxing drama Southpaw has the distinction of being one of those rare occasions. Aside from an as expected fantastic performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, every aspect of the movie is contrived and uninspired. The movie tries to get the audience to cry and feel moved but it ends up trying to such a hollow, ridiculous degree to do this that there were some scenes where I couldn’t help but laugh at how pathetic and lazy it all felt.

If you got a quarter for every part of this synopsis that seems clichéd, you’d probably have enough money to just rent The Fighter instead. All I have to say is the name of the main character for you to know what type of film this will be. The name of our hero is Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal). The movie makes absolutely sure that you know this wasn’t some odd coincidence. It does make you wonder if the sportscasters cracked up delivering such golden lines as “Hope is back” and “Hope wins”. Anyways, Billy Hope is greatest fighter in the U.S. and he gets the support he needs from his also orphaned wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) as well as his daughter Leila (Oona Laurence). On the verge of retiring, his wife is accidently shot and killed during a fight between Billy and his rival Miguel (Miguel Gomez). A downward spiral leads to him losing everything including his daughter after she gets taken away by child protective services. To get his daughter and go back on to the right path, he receives training from a washed up fighter (Forest Whitaker) so that he can go up against Miguel for his dead wife.

This is one of those movies where the logic is that everything has to be dark and gritty every second for it to be taken seriously. Not a single joke is cracked in the film and every conversation and every action that takes place in the film feels there just to bully the audience into having a reaction. The movie is just scene after scene of the writer betting himself that he can’t put the main character into a worse situation. Do you think it’s his low when his wife dies? Nope. Do you think it’s his low when he’s taking cocaine and threatening to kill his best friend? Nope. Do you think it’s his low when he loses his house? Nope. It’s come to a point where the movie transforms its protagonist into a prop that other characters can hit around in the name of eliciting something out of audience members. Maybe a few of these moments would feel moving or unforgettable if it was thrown in with character development or an interesting story but it’s just scene after scene of these manipulative moments and it ends up feeling more ridiculous than edgy. 12 Years a Slave and Prisoners are two very dark dramas that I love but these films still make room for wit, complex themes, fascinating characters and compelling stories. These movies understand that for dark aspects like slavery or child abduction to mean something, you have to revolve these things around something that is relatable and sympathetic. Southpaw only understands the dark visceral scenes in these films and then it decides to play that stuff on repeat for two hours instead of featuring any of the other stuff that made those films so great.

His name isn’t the only thing about him that feels hacky. Rid of the nuance and intensity of Gyllenhaal’s performance, Billy Hope is about as unrelatable as protagonists go. As I mentioned above, Hope is a punching bag (pun totally intended) who’s just there to get beaten up by life so that the audience can cry. Besides these loud and jarring moments, we never see any charm or evolution in him as he moves on. The movie tells us that we’re supposed to be watching this big transition but the movie presented his change and his backstory with so little authenticity that it’s challenging to feel any sense to root for him in the final fight. Forrest Whitaker plays the stereotypical coach whose a washed up eccentric with a heart of gold and Rachel McAdams is the wise, angelic wife whose just there to die in the first quarter of the film. Miguel is nothing more than a one note 80’s style jock character who’s given nothing. You’ve seen these characters hundreds of times before and the movie gives you no reason to see this as anything bigger than that.

Hope’s daughter Leila takes the cake though for the most contrived character. I would call the films attempts to make her look like anything more than an object to emotionally manipulate the audience pathetic but they’re frankly non-existent. I dare you to find one scene in the film where she isn’t being used painfully obviously to cry or scream or basically be the films equivalent of blatantly punching you to get a feeling out of you. There is this scene in the film where Leila tells her father that she wishes he’d died instead of her mother just because he doesn’t want her to watch a fight he’s going to be doing. It’s such an out of place moment that perfectly captures the forced grittiness of the film and the shamefully emotionless manipulation done through the daughter that I couldn’t help but openly laugh in my theater. I can see how one of the moments with her could work if it was mixed with some points of humor or at least normality with the character but if every scene is her slapping her father or praying at her mom’s grave it all ends up feeling like this shameless joke. In a film of forced, uninspired aspects, the father-daughter relationship was by far the worst.

The film so far seems like the worst drama you could end up watching and you may be wondering why I’m not going any lower with the score. The easy answer to that is that for some inexplicable reason, a set of amazing actors took a look at this script and decided it would be a great idea. Jake Gyllenhaal has quickly proven himself to be one of the best actors working in cinema today. His part in Nightcrawler should be remembered for decades to come. For a bland as the character is, Gyllenhaal gives the part everything he can give it in one of the best performances of the year so far. He takes his nothing part and he breathes life into it and makes Billy Hope feel like a real person for a few moments. The scene where he is reacting to his wife’s death is a little devastating mostly because of how much passion he has. For what it’s worth, this movie at least proves that at this point Jake Gyllenhaal can add heart to even the worst films.

In a film where he also didn’t have to try very hard, Forest Whitaker is also really impressive and he manages to make the trainer to Billy Hope the most well rounded person in the film. I’ve seen Whitaker half ass it in some recent films so it’s pleasantly surprising to see him taking this weak part and making the most out of it rather than simply not giving anything when it’s an uninteresting part. Mostly due to their talent, the moments between Whitaker and Gyllenhaal are hands down the best moments in the film because they’re the scenes where the film feels the most sincere because they’re being carried by the talent of the actors.

As is, Southpaw is bad on almost every level in terms of how to write a screenplay. This film is scene after scene of stock, melodramatic moments that feel cheap and insincere. The movie is a joke otherwise saved by the talents of the actors on board and it should have no problem being quickly forgotten. I’m happy to say we have found this year’s first Oscar failure.


Review by: Ryan M.

Release Date: 7/24/2015

Rating: R

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence, Forest Whitaker, 50 Cent, Miguel Gomez and Naomie Harris

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Screenplay by: Kurt Sutter

Southpaw (2015)


Title: Southpaw
Rating: R
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Written by: Kurt Sutter
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams and Oona Laurence
Release Date: ReleaseDateGoesHere
Running Time: RunningTimeGoesHere

Official Facebook

Boxer Billy Hope turns to trainer Tick Willis to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife in a tragic accident and his daughter to child protection services.

What did you think of this film?

During Credits? No

After Credits? No

Memoriam: In Memory of our Friend James Horner

Special thanks to Frank S. for this submission

Nightcrawler (2014)


TITLE: Nightcrawler

RELEASE DATE: 10/31/2014


When Lou Bloom, a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.

What did you think of this film?

Official Site


During Credits? No

After Credits? No

Note: We hear indistinct audio from a police scanner while footage of the moon over Los Angeles is shown during the credits.

Nightcrawler Review – 5 out of 5 Stars

Today, I am going to be doing something with Nightcrawler that I’ve not done for quite a long time; I am giving a movie a 5 star rating. Sometimes a movie comes along that’s so perfect on so many layers that you really can’t point out a weak spot; this is that kind of movie. Nightcrawler is an absorbing, incredibly written, incredibly directed and incredibly acted character study that blew me away.

Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a demented, drifter who dives deep into the world of LA crime journalism. He becomes one of the people who record murders, cars accidents and robberies in the area and then sell the footage to local news channels. Lou and his intern Rick (Riz Ahmed) go to the limit to get the crime scene footage they want for an aging morning news director named Nina (Rene Russo) in ways that range from possibly questionable to extremely illegal.


Usually with sociopaths and other villains in movies, you’ll at least be able to see empathy or a moment of humanity or passion. In a good way, Lou Bloom is one of the most robotic and lifeless characters I’ve seen. The first moment in the movie is him stealing from a construction site as he drifts aimlessly looking for any kind of job. Much like Daniel Plainview in There will be Blood or Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs, we never get to see a backstory or a hint or a sincere explanation from him for what he does. Lou is a straightforward, heartless sociopath born from the culture around him.

Lou is because he is the dark, personification of the artificiality and commercialism of the 21st century. He hides his inner emptiness in phony and fake lines picked off of motivational posters used by bosses and advertisements. He has read every inspirational book, tracked every article relating to the things he wants and has studied every lesson that will help him destroy or overpower you psychologically and physically. He encompasses all of the insecurities and fears of the people around him to get the things he desires. The people he records are no more than things he exploits to receive fame, money and power. He doesn’t comprehend the sheer sadness of the things that he is recording. He is an insomniac who has scrolled upon hours of information to find the best ways to be human and both the tragedy and horror of Lou Bloom is that beneath the false, monotony of his well thought out words, he is mankind at its most soulless. He is the empty eyes fascinating and driving us to destruction.

Nightcrawler goes the extra level because of its equally gigantic focus on the characters that Lou uses and schemes against. Nina is in charge of one the least successful local news channel in LA and she is willing to break giant moral codes to get the ratings she can to survive. She succeeds whenever she finds the dark, violent stories that capture the attention the average LA person on the street. In Lou, she gets the thing that will do her dirty work. Her desperation and knowledge of the shallowness of many of the citizens of the city is what drives Lou to become the master of the trade. By the time the movie ends, Nina seems to fully understand the sheer sickness of him and she is ultimately powerless to stop the monster she shed a light on. There grows a sort of mutual relationship between these two flawed people, Nina gets rating and attention from people and Lou gets a job that allows him to be twisted and obsessive. It’s with Nina that we get a glimpse of why Lou isn’t thrown away as an outcast and why he is actually taken seriously. He presents to us the visceral, clearly manipulative things that we all privately want to see and believe regardless of actual truth or morality. That is the ideal that builds every aspect of his mind.

The other big character is Rick, the protégé/intern to Bloom. Rick is easily tricked by Lou because of the fact that he is homeless. He wants to get paid and find a good job and in Lou he wants to get on his feet again. Of all the people in the movie, Rick is far and away the most likable character. He is portrayed as a dumb but also sincere and nice person who just wants to have a peace of mind. He doesn’t mean to do the things he does but he only wants to make some money. Lou doesn’t view Rick as more than just a tool he can use to increase his options and he constantly puts him in danger in the name of his own credibility. Because of the increasingly, dangerous things that they go up against, Rick ends up becoming the only character to try to stand up to what Lou does and that strange, compelling teacher/student relationship results in an unforgettable, breathtaking climax that is surprisingly heartbreaking. Rick brings to Nightcrawler the needed kindness and heart to make it that much more affecting.

So the movie is brilliantly written, has master characters and clear, vast themes, but what about the performances. Nightcrawler has the best cast I’ve seen this year. Gyllenhaal’s performance as Lou is a masterpiece of cinema. You can’t take your eyes off the screen whenever he’s present. He captures of the crazed anger as well as the hollow inanity of everything he says. He is hilarious and horrifying and he makes the movie what it is. Many references with the two have been made but personally, Gyllenhaal’s performance here is just as good as Daniel Day Lewis’s performance as Plainview in There will be Blood. Jake dives into the madness of Bloom and creates an iconic character with a performance that will probably be one of the best of the decade. I’m being fully honest right now, Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in Nightcrawler is one of the best I’ve seen not just this year but of the past decade, he’s that powerful in the role. If he doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for this movie then that deserves to go down as one of the bigger snubs of recent memory. I would even argue that him not winning best actor would be one of the bigger snubs of recent memory.

Rene Russo also deserves credit for playing Nina with a very sleazy yet human quality. She does a great job playing off of Gyllenhaal and it’s about as great a performance as you can get with the character. Riz Ahmed won’t get a lot of attention as Rick in comparison to the more larger than life performances of Jake and Rene but in a better world he’d be just as much on the awards table with Gyllenhaal even if he’s not technically as good. Riz plays Rick very humbly and down to earth. Especially in the third act, Riz gets a lot of moments to be the shining light in a movie of shallow and self-interested people. The cast is fantastic and Jake Gyllenhaal builds one of the more unforgettable and important characters of late.


For his directorial debut, Dan Gilroy shows a ton of promise. He made a great choice in getting Paul Thomas Anderson cinematographer Robert Elswit for the movie. Elswit captures a night in Los Angeles with an intense, vivid glow that is hard to look away from. The city feels alive and electric and it helps build the intensity of all that is happening. The movie is efficiently edited, there isn’t a single moment in the movie that’s wasted and you feel you’re on this ride with the main character. The soundtrack by James Newton Howard has this very sleazy, techno/rock vibe that’s reminiscent of late 80’s/early 90’s cinema. A lot of the stuff near the climax is very well shot and edited and it’s impressive to me that on a budget of 8 million dollars, Nightcrawler makes a chase scene that’s better than that of most big, blockbusters. Nightcrawler is a technically great movie and Dan Gilroy is obviously now a filmmaker I look forward to seeing more of in the future.

In the future, people will remember The Joker, Anton Chigurh and Daniel Plainview as 21st century film icons. I truly believe we have found with Lou Bloom another name in that category. Nightcrawler is a truly modern psychological thriller and Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance is why we go the movies. Run; don’t crawl to go see this phenomenal, layered satire that is well deserving of its grade that’s the first of 2014.


Review by: Ryan M.

Release Date: 10/31/2014

Rating: R

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton and Riz Ahmed

Directed by: Dan Gilroy

Written by: Dan Gilroy

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