FlixChatter: UNHINGED (2020)

Road rage can be a scary thing. From angry drivers dangerously tailgating or cutting off the targets of their fury to actually pulling weapons on them, you never know when someone is going to snap. That said, I don’t think anyone has seen the level of road rage one man brings to this latest thriller.

In Unhinged, struggling single mom Rachel (Caren Pistorius) angers a driver simply known as The Man (Russell Crowe) after she honks at him for sitting too long at green light. Unfortunately for her, this man has a hairpin temper, a terrifying violent streak, and a willingness to kill anyone in his way.

This is a solid thriller by director Derrick Borte. The tension is high throughout, and having an antagonist who isn’t afraid of getting caught or hurting people with multiple witnesses around makes the stakes feel much higher. There are some exciting car chases, although because so much of the movie takes place on the road, it starts blurring together after a while. There’s some clunky foreshadowing here and there, and the protagonist makes some unrealistically stupid decisions that even suspension of disbelief can’t get me past, but I think most people will watch this movie for the action, not the writing, so it’s mostly forgivable.

While the writing is nothing amazing, the acting from the two leads is excellent. Caren Pistorius is likable, relatable, and brings a good balance of vulnerable and badass. Russell Crowe as The Man proves what a chameleon of an actor he is, and not just appearance-wise; he’s a truly versatile performer, and this role showcases that. I’m bummed that Jimmi Simpson doesn’t get much screen time as Rachel’s best friend and divorce lawyer; I’ve enjoyed his other performances (I loved him in the Stephen King miniseries Rose Red) and was excited to see him as one of the top-billed actors, but I don’t think he has even five minutes of screen time. He does well with what he’s given, though.

While it’s not really my type of movie, Unhinged is enjoyable enough. It’s suspenseful, well-paced, and the acting is good. If you’re a fan of dramatic car chases, this one is worth a watch.

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Have you seen UNHINGED? Well, what did you think?

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FlixChatter Review – The Mummy (2017)

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Hoping to start their shared universe of monster films, Universal decided to reboot one of their earlier successful franchises with The Mummy. With Disney and Warner Bros. ranking in big dollars at the box office with their superhero flicks, Universal is hoping this so called Dark Universe will bring in big money for them as well. Unfortunately, they should’ve spent more time fleshing out better script and ideas because this latest incarnation of The Mummy is a mess.

In Iraq, military men Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) are working outside their duty, hoping to find antiquities or treasures and sell them to the black market for large sum of money. On one of their trips to a small village, they accidentally unearth a burial site beneath the sand. The men discover the remains of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an Egyptian princes from thousands of years ago who wants power and live forever, so she made a deal with the god of death and murdered her family. She was eventually captured and was mummified. Now in present day, Morton who was driven by his own greed, decided to open the tomb and released an evil force that could destroy the entire world. In terms of plot, there’s not much going on, after Ahmanet is set free, she chases our hero around London and then gets captured by Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe) and his team. Then Dr. Jekyll proceeded to tell Morton and the audience of what’s really going on. Even though it’s advertised as a non-stop action/adventure, there weren’t a lot action in the film.

Six screenwriters were credited and I don’t think none of them knew what kind of film this is supposed to be. It tried to be horror then comedy then action then back to horror. The comedy was flat, the scares were non-existent and the action was scarce. Maybe had the film been directed by a more experienced director, it could’ve been a decent action/horror. But Alex Kurtzman is not that director, with the exception of a very cool airplane clash sequence; he couldn’t put together exciting action sequences or coherent story. I hate to use the terms “plot holes” but this film was full of them. There’s a prologue at the very beginning of the film that didn’t need to be shown and motivations of the characters just didn’t make a lick of sense to me.

Performance wise, Cruise was basically playing an older version of Maverick from Top Gun and he seemed to be having a good time in the first 30-40 minutes of the film. Then you can tell he lost interest and pretty much in cruise control mode with his performance for the rest of the film. Jake Johnson is pretty much wasted here as the thankless side kick/comic relief role. Annabelle Wallis who played Cruise’s love interest, is pretty lackluster in her performance. She’s the typical damsel in distress character. Sofia Boutella is The Mummy and she’s a one note villain, she wants to destroy the world and live forever. The only interesting character to me is Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll. Maybe the film would’ve much more entertaining had they made him the lead as Crowe seemed to have a good time playing the character.

It appears Universal’s Dark Universe is over before it began, they have no one to blame but themselves. I was never a big fan of 1999’s The Mummy but it has its fun moments and didn’t try to be anything than an action film. This latest version tried to be too many things and it failed miserably.

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So have you seen The Mummy reboot? Well, what did you think?

Five for the Fifth: DECEMBER 2016 Edition

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. We’re now on the last FFTF edition of 2016, wow! Well, just this past week, Netflix Offline was trending on Twitter and it was the biggest news on Flipboard that week. I actually haven’t been desperately wishing to download Netflix movies as even when I’m on the plane where there are no Internet, I usually just watch what’s available on the airline entertainment channel. But I could see that it’s a dream come true for many of you who’ve been wanting to watch movies anywhere on their smartphone or tablet offline. I’d also think it’d have greater appeal in international markets such as Africa and Asia, where internet service is less ubiquitous than it is in the United States.

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Now, not everything on its vast library is available to download, but surely all the Netflix Original series/movies would be available. Just don’t expect any of the Disney stuff to be downloadable anytime soon, or ever.

So which films or TV shows have you downloaded or planning on downloading straight away? 

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2. Boy, James Gunn has been quite busy lately. On top of working on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, he actually had time to write the script of this action thriller. One commenter on Youtube dubbed ‘Office Space meets The Purge, yikes! The Belko Experiment isn’t exactly my cup of tea, despite the pretty good cast, but surely it’ll find an audience.

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Now, switching gear to the follow up to yet another reboot of a franchise nobody is really clamoring to see. I gotta admit though, the cast of Tom Cruise AND Russell Crowe, and the fact that Christopher McQuarrie directs it, intrigues me a bit. Behold the first trailer of The Mummy:

It might as well be titled Mission Impossible: Paranormal. Cruise is on the run once again with a pretty girl (half his age) in tow. But is Cruise the mummy?? He’s shown waking up on a morgue after a horrific plane crash with not a scratch on him! That would be a fun twist wouldn’t it? But what is Crowe supposed to be in this story?? Well I’m sure we’ll have more trailers until its June 2017 release.

Anyhoo, thoughts about either one of these trailers?

3. On Saturday mornings my hubby and I usually sleep in a bit and would watch some stuff on our iPad in bed. We ended up watching the entire episode of Variety’s Actors On Actors series featuring Taraji P. Henson and Ryan Reynolds. 

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It was really fun to watch these tête-à-têtes as various actors get candid about their struggles and triumphs in the business. There’s quite a lineup in this year’s series, so I plan on watching a bunch of them later.

Have you watched these? Which episode and/or actor pairings are your fave?
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4. Ok, for the fourth question, let’s discuss about cinematic discoveries. It’s up for debate whether 2016 has been a good or mediocre year for movies. But every year I’m always grateful for new talent discoveries… actors who either have been acting for a while (Mahershala Ali) or those who’ve made their debut (Julian Dennison).

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As you can see, I’m eternally grateful to Moonlight for introducing me to SO many great talents! I have to mention the trio of actors portraying the protagonist as well. I might do a full post on this topic later, but for now I’d like to know…

Who’s your favorite talent(s) you discovered in 2016?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Cindy from Cindy Bruchman’s Blog! It’s about a show on Netflix I’ve been curious about… and its leading man (Alexander Dreymon) sure looks very crush-worthy 😉

So here’s Cindy’s question:

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While a fan of Game of Thrones, I’m impressed with ‘The Last Kingdom.’ It simulates the historical culture of Britain circa 800 A.D., and I love the authentic touches of the filming, the plot, and the acting. It doesn’t have the magical realism of GoT, but I have to say I prefer it.

So have you seen “The Last Kingdom”? What do you like about and/or who’s your favorite character?


Well, that’s it for the DECEMBER edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Take part by picking a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 

Weekend Roundup + Quick thoughts on ‘The Nice Guys’ (2016)

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Hello all! It’s been quite a whirlwind week for me, what with the TCFF gala on Thursday and also the MN filmmakers interviews on Saturday. But it was a good kind of busy and definitely excited for the 2016 TCFF lineup this year!

me_remyOne of the filmmakers I interviewed was Remy Auberjonois, whose film Blood Stripe, starring his wife Kate Nowlin who also co-wrote the film, will have its regional premiere at TCFF. The film won US Fiction Award at 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival this past June.

I’m excited to see the film, and it’s extra special for me to meet Remy because he’s also playing one of my fave characters of all time, Col. Brandon, in The Guthrie Theater’s 2016 adaptation of Sense & Sensibility! He’s still sporting the 18th century mustache for the role 🙂

Well, I was so busy this past week I completely missed The Magnificent Seven‘s press screening last Monday, which I could’ve gone right after my dental appt. Oh well, my hubby & I will hopefully see it this Friday. I did finally watch this one…

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Ted has already reviewed it here, and I think I’d agree with the 3/5 rating. I’m not going to review it again so this is just my It’s pretty entertaining but overall it’s not a wholly memorable movie despite the competent two leads. Shane Black is known for writing the Lethal Weapon movies and his directorial debut was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, so he’s definitely got a knack for buddy action comedies. I have to admit though, this one isn’t as good as those movies.

Interestingly enough, this project was apparently proposed as a TV series but the pilot was going nowhere. I could see it working w/ the right script and cast, as buddy action comedies seems quite popular on TV at some point. Casting Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as a mismatched pair of private investigators is inspired casting, and this is perhaps the first comedic role I’ve seen Gosling do. I’d say he succeeded, though I still don’t see what the fuss is about him. I just don’t think he’s that special of an actor, both in terms of looks and talent. Crowe on the other hand, has always been a supremely talented and versatile actor, and I’d love to see him do more comedic roles!

Overall the movie wasn’t as funny as I had thought, perhaps because the funniest bits (like these below) are already in the trailer!

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The tone of the movie is very light with zippy dialog, though at times the scenarios are overly silly that it was like a spoof or something. There’s also a surreal scene involving a giant bug smoking and talking in the back seat of their car just seems weird and doesn’t work as well as it could. The shootout at the end is quite bombastic, featuring another interesting casting of Matt Bomer, sporting a giant mole and bowl haircut, as the hitman hired by Kim Basinger‘s character. Some of the scenes with him seems deliberately over-the-top. Speaking of Basinger, well it’s a rather thankless role and she barely made any impact in the movie.

That said, I’m glad I finally watched it. If you like this action comedy genre, it’s definitely worth a watch. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night!

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Oh, I also rewatched one of my guilty pleasures, the 1997 action flick The Saint w/ Val Kilmer & Elisabeth Shue. It’s preposterous and corny but I still enjoyed it 😉


So how was YOUR weekend? Seen anything good?

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FlixChatter Review: THE NICE GUYS (2016)

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Almost 30 years ago Shane Black made a name for himself when he wrote the buddy cop action comedy hit Lethal Weapon. He instantly became one of the most sought-after writers in Hollywood and one of the highest paid too. But when a couple of the big action films he wrote (The Last Action Hero and The Long Kiss Goodnight) tanked at the box office, his career stalled for a few years. After the big success of Iron Man 3, he’s now back on the good graces of Hollywood executives.

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Set in 1977, a private eye named Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is hired by a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) to get some goons off her back. One of the goons happens to be another private eye named Holland March (Ryan Gosling). March is sort of a multi-tasking investigator, along with stalking on Amelia; he’s also investigating the death of a porn star. This porn star’s death led the two private eyes to believe it has something to do with Amelia but before they could talk to her, she disappeared.

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With the help of March’s precocious young daughter Holly (Angourie Rice), the dual set out to find Amelia and got involved in deep conspiracy involving some powerful people. That includes Amelia’s mom Judith (Kim Basinger) and a ruthless hit man named John Boy (Matt Bomer). Those wondering about Crowe & Basinger’s reunion since L.A. Confidential, well Basinger has only got about 5 minutes of screen time here. Sadly she has become one of those actresses whose roles keep getting smaller as they get older, it’s unfortunate because she’s good actress.

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I enjoyed the script by Black and co-writer Anthony Bagarozzi, the dialog is witty. Even though the plot were kind of predictable, it’s still fun seeing things unfold as I predicted. Fans of Black’s other films such as Lethal Weapon and The Last Boys Scout will be pleased with all the f-bombs and shootouts. Black kept the tone of the film very light, though people are getting shot, beat up and every character loves to drop the f-bombs. The film definitely has the feel of a 70s flick. I also enjoy the beautiful cinematography by Philippe Rousselot, he really captured the look and feel of L.A. in the 70s.

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The performances by the two leads were quite good and their chemistry worked well together. Crowe gained some weight to play this out of shape but tough private eye. He beats and shoots people without hesitation. I wasn’t sure if Gosling can do comedy but he’s very funny as the bumbling and cowardly private eye. I’m glad they didn’t make his character into some kind of an action hero, he’s a weak man but very resourceful.

Despite my high praises, I still think it’s an average film. It’s an entertaining action comedy, just not a great one like I thought it’s going to be. If you’re fans of 70s flicks, buddy cop action comedy or the two lead actors, then I think you’ll enjoy this film.

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Have you seen ‘The Nice Guys’? Well, what did you think?

Thursday Movie Picks #62: Journalist/Reporters for Print/TV

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! This is another entry to the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog. Here’s the gist:

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… 

Movies featuring journalists/reporters for print/TV

I LOVE this month’s theme as I actually wanted to be a journalist growing up. I was thisclose to enrolling in Journalism major in college before I switched to Advertising. I like a lot of film that involve journalism, especially investigative journalism that continues to be an intriguing subject today. In fact one of the films I’m anticipating later this year that screened at TIFF is SPOTLIGHT, about the Boston Globe’s investigation into the child molestation scandal within the local Catholic Archdiocese. These three films also involve scandalous events that’s notable in their time.

So without further ado, here are my picks:

All The President’s Men (1976)

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Reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Nixon’s resignation.

This was one of my Blindspot picks of last year and I’m glad I finally saw it. It’s as much a detective tale as it is about journalism. I like how the story stays focused on the investigative aspect of the scandal and how the Post finally got to publish it, there’s no unnecessary subplots about the personal lives of the leads or anything of the sort. What an intriguing slice of American history, and as someone who’s not born in the US, it’s especially fascinating to see. To this day, every political scandal is tagged with the “-gate” suffix because of this, which adds to the timeless aspect of this film. Thanks to Robert Redford for acquiring the rights to Bernstein’s and Woodward’s memoir and for Mr. Pakula for bringing this engrossing political history to life. The two leads Redford and Dustin Hoffman are in top form here, but it also feature fantastic supporting performances from Hal Holbrook who played Woodward’s extremely secretive source, “Deep Throat.”

The Insider (1999)

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A research chemist comes under personal and professional attack when he decides to appear in a “60 Minutes” expose on Big Tobacco

This film (as well as HEAT) is why I will always admire Michael Mann. I was disappointed by Blackhat but I think he’s still a phenomenal filmmaker that can infuse such a compelling drama to an otherwise ho-hum story. Russell Crowe gave one of his best performances in his illustrious career, which I think deserved a Best Actor Oscar more than his role in Gladiator. I dedicated this post to highlight some of the scenes I love from this film. The relationship between Dr. Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe), the whistle blower of the mammoth tobacco company Brown & Williamson’s and Lowell Bergman, a senior producer on 60 Minutes (Al Pacino) is compelling to watch. It’s amazing how even just two people talking on the phone can be so riveting, but that’s the genius of Mann’s style. Lots of great supporting cast here too, most notably Christopher Plummer as the legendary CBS News reporter Mike Wallace, Bruce McGill as trial lawyer Ron Motley, and Michael Gambon as the top tobacco company exec.

Veronica Guerin (2003)

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Based on a true story, this is about the Irish journalist Veronica Guerin, a reporter for The Sunday Independent, who exposed some of Dublin’s most powerful crime barons and drug lords in 1996.

One of my all time favorite Cate Blanchett performances, where she totally disappeared into   her role. Cate not only portrays the feisty reporter, she embodies the journalist’s incredible valor in investigating Dublin’s drug trafficking. You immediately believe her as the character and the Aussie thespian even nailed Guerin’s Irish accent convincingly. I know some of you might be put off by Joel Shumacher as director, but it’s a good film, so give it a shot if you haven’t already. It’s one of the great examples of the danger of investigative journalism and how some of them are truly unsung heroes for their bravery to expose things that are harmful to society.

 

BONUS PICK

Philomena (2013)

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A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman’s search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.

I already had the three above locked down but I still want to include this film as I haven’t reviewed it yet. I LOVE Dame Judi Dench and she’s simply phenomenal as Philomena (hey that rhymes :D) Steve Coogan (who also co-wrote the script) played the disgraced former journalist Martin Sixsmith who ended up coming alongside Philomena Lee in her journey to find her long lost son. A lot of his acting consist of bewildered reaction to Philomena, especially the part where she basically divulges the entire plot of a trashy book she’s reading that he couldn’t possibly be more disinterested in. It’s a bittersweet story that made me laugh and cry. Dame Judi is mesmerizing here and she’s as effortlessly adept in comedy as she is in dramatic roles. I find the story to be poignant, thought-provoking, and profoundly moving.

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What do you think of my picks? Which movies involving journalism/reporting are your favorites?

Weekend Roundup: Ex Machina, more Daredevil, BORGIA (2011) & a new obsession

I thought I’d take a bit of a break from MSPIFF to give you a bit of a rundown of how last week’s been going so far, which is perhaps one of my favorite weeks so far in terms of movie-viewing.

In case you’re wondering what those three movies are… well, I’ve reviewed two of them: Clouds of Sils Maria, Girlhood and the third one is Ex Machina, which turned out to be even better than I expected.

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It’s also cool to have Ex Machina‘s director Alex Garland actually answered my question hours before I saw the screening, thanks to IMDb’s Twitter Q@A using the hashtag #ExMachinaChat.

This is Garland’s directorial debut and it’s certainly one of the best sci-fis dealing with the ‘what does it mean to be human’ theme. Visually it looks cool and the story is genuinely thought-provoking. I’ll review that when MSPIFF is over, but if you haven’t seen it yet, l can’t recommend it enough!


I also saw more episodes of Netflix’s Daredevil, we only have two more episodes to go and the waiting for second season will be agonizing! Man, episode 10 and 11 were especially phenomenal. I love the Nelson vs Murdock one as it showed the back story of how they’ve become friends since becoming room mates in law school. It’s an emotionally-gratifying and revelatory episode whilst the action scene continues to be as phenomenal as ever.

Daredevil_ep10_11The spirituality aspect of Matt Murdock’s story is intriguing as it’s perhaps the first superhero who’s faith is integral in his role and the show doesn’t shy away from it. I find the dialog between Matt and his priest/personal confidant and their discussion about whether the devil truly walks amongst earth fascinating and insightful in terms of the protagonist’s motivations. Nice to see Claire (Rosario Dawson) making an appearance again in episode 11: The Path of the Righteous. I’ve always found Charlie Cox to be a gorgeous Brit but he looks REALLY good on this show, and he’s clearly worked out a lot for this role, ehm. I LOVE Claire’s comment about seeing Matt shirtless again. Amen to that, sista 😉


Speaking of REALLY gorgeous man… I have a new obsession… some of you on Twitter might’ve noticed it 😉 It happened almost instantly when I saw Not Another Happy Ending precisely two weeks ago and ever since then I have watched that Scottish rom-com over a dozen times, I think that’s a record!

NotAnotherHappyEnding_CafeNotAnotherHappyEnding_finaleI will have to do a Stanley Weber appreciation post at some point, he’s the first French actor I’ve ever had a massive crush on … as you know I almost always go for the Brits. But the second I beheld his c’est magnifique physique (and THAT irresistible wavy hair!) and heard him speak, I was a goner [le sigh] My penchant for the criminally-underrated AND the unjustifiably-obscure actors continues… why hasn’t Hollywood discover him yet? Come on!!!

Ehm, now that I got that out of the way …. inspired by Margaret’s awesome list post of cinematic/TV gems she saw because of her actor’s crushes, I just might have to do one of my own. One of those gems is definitely this Canal+ production of BORGIA, not to be confused with Showtime’s The Borgias that’s also about the notorious Italian family in the 15th and 16th century. This is the one created by Tom Fontana (Homicide, HBO’s Oz) with John Doman as Rodrigo Borgia.

BORGIA_Canal+BORGIA_JuanBorgiaStanley plays one of Rodrigo’s son, Juan. I’ve only seen four episodes so far and oh boy, Juan Borgia is one naughty, naughty boy. Basically his character is a psychopath and a sexual predator, which is completely different role from what I’ve seen him in Not Another Happy Ending. The entire BORGIA clan is morally bankrupt all around, and the actors portray them VERY well. The most infamous chapter of the history of the Catholic church certainly made for some fascinating historical drama.


What I’m looking forward to this week:

WaterDivinerScreeningBeen waiting to see Russell Crowe’s directorial debut for ages.
I first posted the trailer here over a year ago!


So that’s what I’ve been watching & obsessing about. What about you?

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