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Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Box of Blanks
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Russian director Timur Bekmambetov harvested well deserved and definite attention via his 2004 effort Nighwatch or Nochnoy Dozor, an authentic Russian horror tale you could chew through risk freely with gratitude intact, leaving you to wonder if Bekmambetov's next delivery will remain faithful to this genre of lightweight tale-poetry written with blood. Surely, it remained as such: Nochnoy Dozor had a less successful sequel in 2006 which I did not check out yet, - meaning the sequel, I am almost entirely sure that I checked out 2006, though - while lately - as of Summer, 2008 - he was working on Wanted, a loose motion picture adaptation of the comic with the same title by Mark Millar and J. G. Jones.

This is the first mainstream occasion by which Bekmambetov relies on famous American actors to offer a cinematic output, yet he commits a "very nice series" of mistakes. The most blatant one of those is this: Wanted's protagonist turns invisible beside supportive heavyweights Angelina Jolie - SIC! - and Morgan Freeman. This transparent gentleman, called James McAvoy is a terrible, terrible actor in my opinion, and I must say that a hypothetical assumption which would let me know that I won't ever have to endure him in a motion picture statement - would NOT be the biggest strike I suffered so far. In an ideal world, James McAvoy and Michael Angarano could do battle against each other to see who the WORSTEST actor is, your Referee: The Matthew Fox!

There is little time to yest, jokes and laughter though when you are about to check Wanted out, as this here output acts as a rather angry dog that is about to ruthlessly beat your butt - yet, sadly: Wanted never bites - just barks, at best.

No reason to panic, however: as I do try to hint delicately by the image above, Wanted will give you Angelina with shotgun, will give you her with other different equipments suitable to take a toll on human existence, most importantly: she will give you the badass sista' from a video game attitude all throughout the movie. All in all: she delivers a solid performance as far as such a trite role module could let one deliver. You could tell the same qualities about Morgan Freeman, though he does not play a female character. Or at least I failed to notice that tremendously. Freeman always gives solid support as a sidekick, Wanted is no exception. Despite its risk-and thrill-free starting assumptions - see Below - the movie feels semi-acceptable when you witness the supportive cast, but it's a mild pain in the butt to watch and hear James McAvoy inventing his very next panic attack, giving you the: "oh shit! oh shit! oh shit!" all the time - a pain that is about to worsen considerably, mind you I.

Wanted starts off craving effect with high octane, delivering a very flat and rudimentary joke to gain your sympathy. It's McAvoy speaking about his dire job and his anorexic boss - and the picture shows a big woman of monumental proportions, sitorgan included. That was a haha! and even a hehe!, no doubt. This is why it is funny: so, he says his boss is anorexic - but, haha!, hehe!, in reality, she is NOT! She is FAT! Haha!, hehe! Can't help but notice when a movie redefines the term: humor, yes?

I am sorry but even McAvoy's voice is an annoyance. The dude emphasizes every single word in an unnatural fashion in order to sound more badass, (??) more convincing or more miserable, - somewhat succeeding in this regard - yet the eventual impression I end up with remains of an actor with very mild talent who struggles to deliver quality in a sync studio. Listen how he says the word "keyboard". That one gives me the creeps. As I notice, this kind of narrative overkill is a common shortcoming in recent efforts, but now it gets sorrowfully effective at shattering the illusion - especially when overkill is delivered by such a transparent canvas guy as McAvoy is.

The director would surely tell us that McAvoy Sucks with a Higher Purpose: he might even say that: "Hey! McAvoy is YOU!", while relief will surely arrive as it turns out that your heritage is much more important than you ever thought it was! You are NOT the office worker! You do NOT wait in line when you go to clubs! You are SPECIAL! YES! Like EVERYONE ELSE! What you thought was your incapacity, is in fact a HUGE, rampant POWER within you that is ready to be UNLEASHED if you learn to CONTROL it, and, to top all of that: bla, bla, bla, bla, bla and yaddiyaddida.

A woman is never safe at the Chocolate Section.

I realize I may have sounded very negative on these basic motives, I confess it was partly conscious. Let us notice that there are quite a few movies out there with the exact same assumptions, yet, what troubles me considerably is a lurking fear that terrifying actors like Michael Angarano and James McAvoy will dominate this lightweight genre via the twisted agenda some directors do seem to follow these days. The agenda, as it seems to me, is this: "let's present a truly sucky character to them whom they can totally relate to via their own miserable lives." Please, don't call me paranoid just yet, as what other explanation than this shall we find that justifies the utilization of an actor - McAvoy - with close-to sub-zero canvas presence?

Your Hero, your Protagonist, James McAvoy. Check this laughable One Penny Expression!

Another "classic" look from McAvoy. Interested in Larger Than Life Posters of this? No? WHY NOT?

I notice we hardly spoke about the synopsis so far, so let us deliver: when frustrated McAvoy finds out about his amazing heritage, he gets under the wings of The Fraternity organization, a highly confidential secret society with Freeman in charge. Angelina Jolie is a primal soldier of the organization in question. The Fraternity itself is the same Vampire - The Masquerade ripoff you have seen in the Blade or Underground movies: the secret octopus, lurking among puny humans and fearsome demons, struggling to maintain the Balance and to keep Chaos at bay. Naturally, little, if any humans do know how these secret societies control them! Muhahaha! As for The Fraternity, they follow an ancient, secret, well-hidden Code in order to make the world a better place to be, and they battle against the Evils whom would prefer a world kept in the dark. Or! Do they battle indeed? And, do the others prefer a dark world, indeed?

Frankly speaking, Wanted is quite laughable: the first portion of the movie does give you a decent car chase with Angelina - though the annoying McChicken whines-moans beside her all the while - a sequence of solid stunts that even delivers inventive elements. Notice the "Sit Into The Car Please!" stunt, so to speak. That was a very inventive idea, nicely presented, as well. The output's second major chunk gives you the immensely tiresome "Please Teach Me How To Fight!" sequence we all know from the Karate Craze of the '90s. In Wanted, though: you do not throw punches, you throw - pretty much literally - bullets. I am sure the creators find their ideas amazing, I find it, sorry about that: inept.

Main attraction of the movie is this: picture you hit a punching bag with an overhand right, yet you have a revolver in your hand. Now, pull the trigger when your hand/revolver connects with the imaginary punching bag. Truly, these are the amazing steep moments Wanted will try to sedate you with: people punching the air with revolvers in hand. Extra: you can curve the trajectory of the bullet, IF YOU BELIEVE YOU CAN!

Spoiler starts: McAvoy will believe! Spoiler ends.

As stated, this second portion that thoroughly accounts the training process of the protagonist, is, in my opinion, rather stale, yet the third segment fortunately delivers an elegant plot twist to spice the narrative up virtually. JUST virtually, though. I do sorrowfully reckon that the subtle twist serves you the exact same conclusion you already anticipated from the very start.

Spoiler starts: in the conclusion period, McAvoy will shoot up zillions of people with zillions of laughable expressions on his face, showing off his amazing gunslinging- and bullet-trajectory bending capabilities! Spoiler ends.

To me, Wanted does not seem weighty of a movie enough to call it a "decent disappointment," let us instead regard it as
Bekmambetov's first attempt to serve and stimulate the suspected needs and interests of an even wider audience. I think though that he failed blatantly this time around, and I am almost entirely sure that the Nochnoy Dozor direction was-, and, in fact, still is more serious and more hotter than this one. Wanted a shallow effort? You got that RIGHT here, baby.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Graduate

Silent Kiss

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Quite interestingly, fitting into contemporary society after graduation could be as difficult in the '60s as it always can be when a casual civilization confronts you via its strict, solid roles and unavoidable engagements that claim immense potential out of you, yet do not guarantee loads of money, inherent success and/or beautiful women/men/pets - take your pick - for you. Especially not if you lack the "IT" factor, a quotient which is kind of new to me, one which invites me to wonder if Louise Brooks has anything else than IT. Not all though IS Brooksie, especially not Benjamin Braddock, protagonist of this here stable classic The Graduate.

As for the setting, that veeeeery vicious world out there which is the veeeeery proper and ideal way for the pessimist to find her/his justification intact, probably is a result of the steep competition that characterizes this here cited, consensus outside scenario: a rather persistent phenomena that collapses on your everyday average graduate, - oxymoron? - Benjamin Braddock, personified by Dustin "Just Follow Me Nose And You Will Always Find Me, Young Padawan!" Hoffman. We all do know that women are social geniuses when compared to the average man, yet, surely, you may choose to be a male schovinist and make me hope that you'll have your butt ruthlessly assaulted by hostile alien lifeforms.

The Graduate
tells the tale of a rather confused young man and an acquaintance of pure - hah! - feminine qualities, delivered by Anne Bancroft. Amazingly, the supersolid stance in society which is possessed by her lefts this lady to immense boredom, a state that only radical outside stimulus seems to offer fruity escape routes from. Thus, all those roads do lead to The Graduate, as The Graduate himself is afraid to take any - and this is the pure motivation that gains the interest of the well situated lady. Well situated ladies though may possess daughters, individuals their lovers might fall in love with. Let us observe the totally, implicitly innocent question if Hoffman IS subjected to such - "dangers".

Though the movie takes us all the way back to 1967, it is interesting to see how things remained relatively unchanged since then: people consume drinks, deliver jokes, do radiate their personalities to highly benefit their immediate surroundings, et cetera. Not much, if anything of this catches the interest of the young Hoffman - he weighs 30 years in the output - though, yet, the fact that he is blatantly uninterested in social affairs and can't help but worry about the strait prospects that do seem to characterize his future is a superb kickstart to unconsciously resonate with Mrs. Robinson's very own, very private, and very solid boredom concerning the conditions people should feel excited of- and about.

Mrs. Robinson possesses everything a woman is initially longing for, thus, you meet her by the time when she is absolutely uninterested in them, having her senses and corresponding reality tunnel thoroughly stimulated by the zillion consensus pleasures already. The funny thing is this: Mrs. Robinson has everything that Benjamin should try to create on his own, thus proving his worth in front of society, yet this demanding circumstance leaves a highly anxious and frustrated young man to live up to this challenge, though his helplessness catches the interest of the attractive lady even more than the Bourbon Bottle does - and THIS is something to state, considering that Mrs. Robinson is an alcoholic.

The most hilarious peek moments of this output are the seduction scenes, no doubt. Mrs. Robinson is an experienced lady, one who is 111% aware of the nifty tricks a woman could and should rely on to seduce any male she wishes to. I would keenly draw your attention to the

"Could you bring up my purse before you go?"

scene of the movie, that one is a true classic which radiates the delicate, yet quite stable assumption that whenever a woman asks you this: then she wants something from you, you can bet your purse on it.

Based on Charles Webb's book, Mike Nichol's adaptation gives you a quite robust character transformation through Hoffman's excellent performance. This here initially confused- and virtually hopeless figure gains some kind of strong, yet not-at-all explicitly emphasized emotional support through his affair with the lady: he has not much against the fact that Mrs. Robinson uses him but as a tool to attain sexual gratification, the mere fact that he is able to satisfy the woman's bodily urges does give him considerable confidence and a strange form of inner peace and inherent harmony. A state which delivers something to look forward to - indeed, these moments are the secretive encounters they collide by on a daily basis.

This transformation is quite well presented, thus registers as a rather believable one. By the start period, Benjamin seems and acts as an improbably clueless individual with "well" developed issues concerning his social skills included - intact. The secretive affair he takes his share in is a very strict, easily approachable method of escapism for him that takes his attention away from an outside world which still demands high and rigorous standards to offer its blessings. Mrs. Robinson is an illegal commodity in numerous ways: firstly, she poses as one of the "blessings" the young man "might" go for when he already prove himself, yet the fact that the woman shows interest regardless of Ben's current incapacity to shine in society is but another aspect to spice their twisted relation up. Their affair is but an act of antagonizing the rules society poses for its participants, and, both of them being intellectually qualified to recognize this, they truly do not have other stuff to concern about than to satisfy each other properly, thoroughly.

A very subtle scene is offered when Benjamin would prefer to engage in some conversation with Mrs. Robinson, though his intention hardly finds any resonance. It might seem that the sequence suggests the woman to be a bitter being, yet, in this very sober reality, she simply have been there already, seen it already, and done that already. She prefers to gain stimulus on the radical register from now on, and, frankly speaking, when two people of he different/same gender do resonate harmonically with each other for a short/long period of time AND even feel deep sympathy for each other: then those "radical" means to gain radical pleasures do indeed have a tendency to follow up these pleasant intellectual encounters, don't know if you ever noticed that. Being already at the field where these pleasures are gained and served: Mrs. Robinson truly could not care less about what Ben does or does not think about fine arts, cinema and baseball.

Tell you what: I think these are the aspects that The Graduate truly does shine with, and I do not find its climax portion as suggestive or interesting as its subtle base assumptions are. Daughter of Mrs. Robinson and Co., Elaine - Katharine Ross - is abruptly introduced into the mix, and Ben falls in love with her. From this particular point on, Mrs. Robinson is but a cruel, ruthless nemesis, especially after the point when Elaine gains information about the affair Ben had with her mother. Yes, it sounds rather cool to fuel a casual family drama: but The Graduate easily weighs more than those with its start period, nevertheless choosing to deliver a tiresomely thorough and relatively trite conclusion period characterized by Ben's urge to acquire the love of Elaine.

- Whaaat?? TRITE conclusion??

You will have three, if not four sequences where you can see Dustin driving after his beloved in his roofless duster. This is some epic stuff, and here is why: Dustin's hair is influenced by the wind!
His nose travels through air like Superman! And his expression is very determined, too! To top this, imagine the second sequence of these driving periods: in that particular portion, you will see Dustin driving after his beloved in his roofless duster. This is some epic stuff, and here is why: Dustin's hair is influenced by the wind! His nose travels through air like Superman! And his expression is very determined, too!

Director Mike Nichols chose strong musical support, utilizing Simon and Garfunkel tunes. Well, in my opinion, this music is very expressive, subtle and quite delicate for a major chunk of time. It does remain absolutely good after some MORE time. After doubling this session, though - I tend to notice that Simon and Garfunkel must have had cause me to left my mouth open and I surely would need 16 tons of towel to get rid of the saliva I accidentally poured off from it during the process. Simply put: Nichols OVERKILLS Simon and Garfunkel, period. You will WHIIIINE like a cat at its first occasion when you supposed to feel through the Sound of Silence - though for the 237432387th occasion.

These are though but my personal, thus: subjective rantings about the elements I find to degrade this classic a bit in case you compare these narrative redundancies to the massive basic statements the move starts off with and primarily builds on. The Graduate remains a massive classic nevertheless, yet comes short of the fifth onion with its relatively lightweight second chunk and the immensely inept conclusion it leads to. I suppose it should register as funny, hilarious and cute - yet failing utterly to convince me of these great qualities. The monkeys were timeless classics, though. You know why? Easy: they ALWAYS are.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008


I'll Be Around for a While

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Shutter is a rather clever, inventive horror effort from Thailand, an absolutely safe, even primal recommendation to all who have a steep appreciation factor towards fiction terror that delivers quality scares and persistent, well researched subtlety, something which is a rare commodity to find in recent outputs. Shutter also introduces integral emotional content which is concealed nicely for you, just to be poured down on your throat when you truly would prefer to not drink anything.

As of 2008, Hollywood teamed up with Japanese creators to offer a remake of the 2004 Thai originator, and results, in my opinion, are totally acceptable. It is not easy to find a decent Hollywood remake of Asian horror, yet, Shutter is such. Though the remake is deeply underrated, we will care little more about this fact than merely pointing it out - which is pretty much the most we can do, anyway - and concentrate on the Thai original from now on. Come, OH!, Dearest Visitor, let us see if the Polaroid witnesses the same vibes we think it should.

Shutter starts off via quite orthodox and easily approachable horror-modules. A young couple - woman and man - cause an accident in which a girl is badly injured, to say the least, yet it seems more likely that she decides to bid farewell to the physical form as result of the impact. The focal plot element though is that the young couple do decide to NOT make themselves sure if the girl is indeed dead or miraculously survived the hit. As stated in the film: the dead sometimes seem to exhibit an exceptional longing and devotion for their loved ones. Or, maybe for those whom caused their fatal demise, as well. Just substitute longing- and devotion with their counterparts on a way more negative field. Indeed, some do seem to fall in love with the conception of vengeance.

Shutter lets you soak into the impression that this is the exact same case here: as in Ringu, the famous Japan horror effort, The Departed indeed decides to molest consensus via the traditional Omen way you have seen unfolding a million-million times before. You know the drill: "Oh My God! Look at this shadow on this picture! And - Oh My God, Oh My God! Look at THIS girl on the picture! Isn't it whom we spilled all over in that accident?"

Yet, what seems to be a rather straightforward and not particularly inventive Ringu simulacrum, finds and reveals brilliant narrative resources to go on with the story with blatant emotional content introduced into the stable base assumptions. The intersection is both very elegant and very abrupt: one of the most pleasant surprises recent Asian horror has in store for you. Writer and director, Banjong Pisanthanakun - yes, you got to LUV those Thai names - implemented cunning ways to consort Asian horror methods- and narrative traditions with deep emotional appeals, while the primal reason to fuel this effort quite smoothly and flamboyantly comes to you through the firmly established, elegant correlation between clean, textbook emotional drama and similarly clean, textbook horror. All these together though are absolutely capable to render a motion picture experience that delivers much more than your usual series of traditional boo-scares and black-and-white interpersonal - interdimensional? - relations. Meaning: THIS one is the Evil stuff, THAT one is the Neutral, maybe even Good stuff which you supposed to feel sympathy for. Not this time, though.

- before -

- after -

Giving away clues about the emotional content would spoil the enjoyment significantly, thus let me offer but mild pointers about the narrative buildup. As you will see, Shutter's Sinner and Victim had a mutual history, a shared reality that might have had terrible bargains and betrayals to digest. In fact, so terrible of those that you might actually find yourself wondering if True Ignorance is represented by the one who ruthlessly haunts, or by the one who is ruthlessly haunted.

The way Shutter offers horror has a general, as we will see, JUST general tendency of consorting with the methods established by the previously hinted Ringu, or even the Ju-On - The Grudge directions. Slimy woman with long, black hair comes to claim your sitorgan via the most calm way you can conceive, as she would have about 0 doubts that she will eventually claim it, anyway. You can run - you can not hide. Run for as long as your own mind decides to dismiss itself, throwing escape mechanics away instead, concluding that a life in constant fear is not much of a life for it, anyway - this actually seems to be a nice idea that maybe worth emphasizing by future Slimy Woman with Black Hair efforts, nevertheless this is the coarse way the Ringu/Ju-On/Shutter chicks do give the good old soul breakdown to you.

As fortunately though as Pisanthanakun had solid emotional assumptions to state, he knows how to scare-, even better: surprise the viewer tremendously, thus the effective horror sequences definitely do deliver in a totally acceptable fashion which is generally free of the boo-scare direction. Main reason: your director is absolutely aware of how to put your awareness and corresponding fear registers to sleep, thus scare will come from perspectives you felt somewhat safe about - though those are the directions that fear should NOT come from. It is very "nice" to see how effective fear can be when it comes both from the direction you suspected it to come from, AND from the one which seemed relatively safe to take. The car "chase" is pretty nice, in my opinion.

Not much remained to elaborate upon, as Shutter is an easily approachable statement that earns its appealing pedigree by combining textbook-, nevertheless supersolid emotional drama with relatively flamboyant horror methods established by its cited inspirators. At the end of the day, though: Shutter undoubtedly registers as a quite serious and grouchy Asian horror, partly because of its cunning utilization of elements from different genres, and because Pisanthanakun's 2004 effort also is supported by such a staggering final conclusion that one could hardly argue if the movie could exhibit a more brilliant and more shocking way to wrap its statements up, naturally earning the movie the maximum the Onion can offer, and, naturally taking a rather appealing position in the Halls of All Horror Excellence.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Affliction Banned - Fedor Emelianenko VS Tim Sylvia review


Mixed martial arts clearly became a significant form of both mass entertainment and - as Bruce Lee put it - an expression of the human body, the latter being, no doubt, the original field of operation of these ancient traditions, now living and breathing through competitive events around the world. Though many may consider men who enter the proving grounds little more than hired human pitbulls to rip each other apart for hard cash and radical amusement, I tend to utterly reject this rudimentary view, concluding that professional level mma is the combat of highly disciplined human spirits, opposing each other for the duration of the bout, probably ending up as unified in the process as we could conceive, simply through their magnificent shared experience of being in a cage where the damage one suffers is the wit one failed to exhibit. That is how, in my opinion, the mma fighter fights against herself/himself.

Japanese people compete to gain an insight of their own current abilities through the collision process of their skills with that of other's. To me, the ultimately glorious moments of mixed martial arts are not of those of KOs and submissions. They are of those of hugging the formal rival at the end of the bout, circulating the most honest, uncompromised, pure respect each fighter deserves simply by stating themselves on the proving grounds, regardless of the results. The ensuing peace between fighters after a good collision is such a palpable, legit sensation that it never got old so far - and won't ever will.

This here is a review of the first Affliction event, Affliction - Banned, time to punch that Read more button, baby!

Introductory thoughts about the more significant lineups

The world's leading mma organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship made an exceptionally fruity decision when it banned the Affliction clothing brand from all of the UFC broadcasts, as this particular affair led Affliction to team up with business- and media mogul Donald Trump, a collaboration to give you a brand new mma organization which delivers one of the most stacked cards in the sport's history via it's masterfully titled Affliction - Banned debut event. You feel you have heard about those stacked cards a million times before? I surely do feel for you, yet I urge you to reconsider this time: it is not an exaggeration to state that Affliction gives you a series of lineups you simply can not miss upon and call yourself a fan of mixed martial arts.

Some interesting things to note: Affliction Banned acquired former UFC Referee Big John McCarthy, who now interviews fighters after the bout. Surely, Big John was evidently at the top of his game all the time. You see, he has the charisma to dominate the proving ground as Primal Third Force, representing a supersolid authority to yell: "Don't! Hit! The! Back! Of! The! Head! Or! I! Will! Disqualify! Your! Ass! You! Got! That?!" Yet, what is even more better than this: Big John proves to be an absolutely top notch interviewer, as well: he asks totally relevant and subtle questions, delivers firm thoughts and sentences - it's very good to see the dude again around the effective soul and body of mma.

Affliction Banned gives yet another considerable extra: the event is spiced up by live performances of the great metal band Megadeth. Let me clarify something here: you can't possibly be serious about elegant and weighty music AND despise Megadeth at the same time: they unleash highly complex and intense guitar warfare that radiates pure musical subtlety via a cunning, darker mood and tone, and they surely give the audience one helluva' ear- and soul molestation. And, before you ask: yes, among other great, fresher songs of the band, they DO perform Symphony of Destruction as well, one of the most successful statements of the band from 1992. Hah, in fact, they perform it when the fighters do come in to line up. Now, let me tell you: this is how an mma organization should debut, girls and boys.

While the focal points of the night do concern illustrious personalities of the sport, Affliction Banned offers a solid series of lineups on the undercard. Being true to the title of this here section though, let us first scrutinize the attractions you will likely construct your secretive (?) delicate (?), but nevertheless, good old anticipation factor on. How about Josh "The Babyface Assassin" Barnett taking on Pedro Rizzo? The two have done battle against each other already seven years ago, a bout that left a knocked out- and vengeful Barnett on the canvas, a super-aggressive yet very intelligent fighter who now looks to claim revenge on Rizzo, the mma phenomena who - as Josh states - kicks damn harder than Mirko CroCop does. Once you hear this from a person who have fought against both of them - you can not help but give credit and an inherent awe to the statement.

Though Renato "Babalu" Sobral is particularly noted of the highlight reel on which he tries to stop Chuck Liddell's foot with his head and does not exactly succeed, he nevertheless is as complete of an mma fighter as you will ever see. A keen readiness to exchange on the feet, combined with absolutely top level Jiu-Jitsu are the traits to characterize Sobral's arsenal, now ready to be unleashed on Mike Whitehead. This intact warrior is an experienced wrestler with knock out potential in both hands, confident that he is able- and ready to pack Babalu up and send him back to Rio.

Charismatic Contemporary Spartan Gladiator with 300 Beard and 300 Look Included Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski takes on Ben Rothwell, your "everyday", "average" Leatherface who JUST decided to leave the chainsaw at home, otherwise he has the classic temper, mindset and physical composure to measure up to the mma fighting style of the aforementioned motion picture phenomena. A quick, versatile skill set versus raw, yet well-directed meatpower collides herein by the night.

And for the main event of the evening: you have the most successful pound-for-pound fighter of the world, the warrior the UFC could not make a contract with, regardless the fact that they have offered the highest figures the organization ever put on paper. The warrior whose only "defeat" comes from a - quite frankly - silly stoppage following an illegal blow that was utilized by the opponent, and - logically - not even by him. This man, though he is widely considered as a one-of-a-kind fighter, was recently accused of being extremely protected by his organization, keeping him from fights, so he could reign number 1. This statement seemed to stumble considerably when the man whom we are about to name submitted the Techno Giant Hong Man Choi in an armbar at the very end of 2007, now stepping up against former two times UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim "The Maine-iac" Sylvia. A rendition of a debut performance in front of an even wider audience. Let us notice a quite delicate circumstance: since not many have submitted Choi in an armbar at 2007 New Year's Eve, now it is safe both to suspect and to clearly state that Affliction Banned gives you: Fedor Emelianenko, the Last Emperor, and it is indeed Fedor whom Affliction gives you to do battle against the Maine-iac.

I stated already that I am sort of OK with Tim, especially as he is a huge anti-fan favorite, you can't witness the guy performing without fans giving the intense BOO! to him all the time, he nevertheless fights both for the old fashioned destruction AND for the respect he probably longs more for than he longs for spilled blood and scalps on all four walls around. A consensus former claim against Tim was that he prefers to deliver "only as much" that earns him the win, but is not too keen to take risks - this is not something that fans or promoters are interested in, indeed. Sylvia thinks he could succeed against Fedor if he can manage to keep the Last Emperor at the outer quarters by utilizing his - meaning, his own - huge reach advantage. He will try to stay away from the ground and hopes to stop Fedor via standup. Many have hoped. Many have failed. Sylvia states that he is absolutely aware of how good Fedor is, feels tremendous respect for him, yet adds that he is not afraid to do battle against The Last Emperor. Well, picture if Tim would have said:

"Yeah guys, I will fight Fedor, but, heck, I AM afraid of him!"

As for the Last Emperor, there is not many things - if anything - you can show for him that he has never seen before. Pride! Heavyweight Champion and Number 1 Ranked Heavyweight Warrior, Fedor fought and triumphed with-and over such fighters as Mirko CroCop, Heath Herring, Minotauro Nogueira, Semmy Schilt, Mark Hunt - Dr. Octopus though was wise 'nuff and chickened out of the contest prior it could have had a start. The night of Affliction - Banned delivers you both the question and the imminent answer: IS Fedor Emelianenko as good as his resume suggests him to be? Can he stop a two times UFC Hevyweight Champion, OR will the Maine-iac recite a statement that will be heard across both the Whole Wide World AND the WWW? We Will: SEE.

Myke Pile vs JJ Ambrose

JJ Ambrose emerges triumphant, as now he possesses perfect awareness of the very meaning of the following Japanese saying: "The Defeated Reigns Victorious." Ambrose goes away with the spiritual win by letting Myke Pile taking him to the ground in the first period, and he even shows the considerable generosity of letting Pile soaking an arm in to utilize a rear naked choke that registers the aforementioned spiritual win for JJ without any doubts whatsoever. A nice showdown both to demonstrate a textbook-perfect submission, and to start off the organization's very first collision.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs Edwin Dewees

A little blood never hurts, some more blood though is a matter to be extremely cautious about. Edwin Dewees was a contestant in Season 4 of the Ultimate Fighter Reality TV Show and suffered such an unpleasant cut during one match that one must give all the respect one can circulate for Dewees for going away with the W despite the gallons of blood he left in the cage. Season 4, Episode 2 in case you are interested. Dewees now looks to capitalize on the opportunity of stepping up against "Little Minotauro", as this particular Antonio is indeed the brother of the "Big Minotauro", who, as of the date of this here review, reigns as Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion. Sympathetically, Dewees states that he is so prepared mentally that he can not see any ways he could lose this collision by, an unfortunate condition though is Little Minotauro who happens to bring a whole array of alternative prospects for the suggested dilemma. Edwin looks solid and composed in the stand up, yet he seems to be relatively unfamiliar in the ring environment - Antonio lures him to the corner with sober tactics and tenaciousness, where he lands a huge left to the temple and manages to bang out a victory on the grounded rival.

Paul Buentello vs Gary Goodridge

Fedor's brother, Aleksander Emelianenko was supposed to fight against Paul Buentello, but he - Aleksander - was not accepted due to licensing requirements. Gary "Big Daddy" Goodridge jumps in as replacement, AND looses a decision to Buentello in an acceptable fight of the standup character which though seemingly failed to set the world on fire. By the third round, Goodridge is significantly exhausted, yet Paul can not capitalize on this circumstance to deliver stopping power. Or at least I failed to notice tremendously.

Fabio Negao vs Matt Lindland

Matt Lindland is a hardened veteran, coming back to the proving grounds after a significant, fifteen months pause period. He states that a dude called Fabio must be a hard nut to crack, since a guy with such a name must have had a whole lot of fights to punish vicious, dire children who have made fun of the name itself. This prefight interview actually registers in a quite hilarious way as Lindland accounts this aforementioned circumstance in the most rigorous, pretty much scientific manner, as he would indeed offer deep insights of his gameplan and all the inherent stuff related. He manages to connect right away on the talented Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, who goes down and finds himself in a vicious submission attempt in the very first round. Negao though manages to escape, even offers very solid resistance in the second period: a truly intense exchange ensues at the corner, with Lindland showing off that he, as a mature fighter, is not afraid to deliver answers for a younger warrior, yet Fabio proves to be a contestant who has quite a few - of course, metaphorical - questions to top those - of, course, still metaphorical - answers. The second period culminates with Lindland's relentless ground and pound delivery that leaves a relatively exhausted Fabio to the final period. In this here cited third and concluding sequence, Lindland manages to emerge as evident aggressor, yet proves to be incapable to stop Fabio in a definite fashion. A deserved decision goes for the veteran nevertheless, while Negao walks away as a fighter who has the definite chin to face top level opposition.

Mike Hominick vs Savant Young

The Machine Mike Hominick plays a sober, calm standup game, rendering himself as patient aggressor, waiting for Young to reveal some quality holes in his defense that he could utilize to deliver punishment through. This though never happens: Savant puts up solid opposition, giving you a pretty balanced standup period in the first round, that flows unto a brief ground episode short after the second round had the chance to greet the warriors. Hominick hereby utilizes his trademark triangle choke, yet Savant escapes from it with a nice, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson-style slam. The Machine must have seen the cited action himself though, thus he blunts the impact in time and comes out of the situation with but minimal damage, though he has an impressive triangle attempt to say goodbye to, for sure. According to Young, it is still the ground though that proves to be a fruity method to wrap this battle up on: he tries to unleash some quality ground and pound on The Machine, yet such an entity possesses both the tendency and the capacity to get a grip on your harming arm and bend it towards the non-guaranteed direction. This is exactly what happens to Savant: Hominick utilizes a solid armbar that forces his adversary to tap out of this contest.

Vitor Belfort vs Terry Martin

Randy Couture competed against Vitor Belfort on three occasions in the UFC, now, instead of doing battle with him, Randy trains this young veteran who possesses very firm boxing- and Jiu-Jitsu skills. Terry Martin has professional boxing experience, and possesses immense punching power - nevertheless comes short of further surprises when Belfort is urged to go after him when the second period starts off, bidding farewell for an evenly paced back-and forth round that exhibits no significant moments. In the second though, a more aggressive Vitor you will witness: he connects with an impressive flying knee and delivers consecutive strikes to knock Martin out. It is worth noting and - logically - mentioning that Belfort does not unleash yet another blow on the collapsed adversary, though he is absolutely free to do so. A ring behavior which registers as very mature, classy and sympathetic to me. There is no doubt that Vitor is a more cautious and patient fighter now, the work with Couture evidently serves him well even now, and, probably in the future that is upon us, as well.

Renato Sobral vs Mike Whitehead

A fight going to the distance, Sobral and Whitehead both do show willingness to collide via exchanges in the standup position, though not many - if any - of the impacts prove strong enough to deliver rocking power to the opponent. By the times the confrontation reaches ground level, Renato goes for decent submission attempts, yet, unfortunately, a submission is never good enough as long as you must regard it as but an attempt: as top level wrestler, Whitehead proves to be well versed in submission defense, thus manages to escape from situations that are about to turn dire for him. As stated, the bout is characterized by longer standup periods that do not deliver significant impacts until the final round, in which Babalu manages to land two impressive looking kicks to the head - one is a roundhouse! - that do solidify your assumption even further about the imminent conclusion: a well-deserved decision going for Renato, AND considerable credit going for Whitehead for a tenaciously fought confrontation in which he though did not manage to state a verdict of stopping power. Renato looked good and solid in this fight: he no longer seems to get carried away by emotion, yet it was something that he had a tendency of doing previously - a great example of such occasions would be his match against The Iceman Chuck Liddell. Why would you want to assault a warrior who has immense notoriety as a counter-punisher? Babalu asked this question before, we do know what primal conclusion it lead to, yet, fortunately, it evidently made a better fighter of him at the end of the day.

Josh Barnett vs Pedro Rizzo

Great, sober, sane standup delivery here. I was particularly impressed by Barnett's ability to lean away from strikes, meaning the periods in which he managed to do that and not ate a kick in to the side of the head - in this here bout though, he hardly does that on multiple occasions. A punch sometimes comes from a direction whose existence you wasn't even aware of before: seemingly, this is the exact circumstance Pedro must- well: face- SIC! - with. Barnett has the Definite Extra Fist in his arsenal this time, delivering a blatant left hook on Rizzo that results in an instant knock out. Is the term "instant knock out" an oxymoron, I wonder? Josh claims revenge for his previous loss against Pedro, now they are 1 and 1, thus a third confrontation already weighs in as a legit prospect among those that a bright future could- and should - hold for us.

Andrei Arlovski vs Ben Rothwell

Slugfest. Arlovski is an exceptionally precise standup fighter, yet now he confronts with a huge opponent of the bear-like caliber who happens to be here to rip someone in two - if this someone goes by the name- and with the reputation of The Pitbull - then it is even better. Though Arlovski proves to be capable to deliver strikes with more precision than Rothwell, the punishment resistance of the mma variant of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Leatherface proves to be extraordinary: Arlovski introduces effective assault foams, the one that concludes the second round is of special note among these: Andrei delivers pretty much anything in his arsenal, - huge strikes, flying knee, you name it - yet Rothwell is still there, ready to wage the war on. Apart from brief ground periods of mild efficiency yet dangerous prospects, this particular persistency to deliver continuous combos of precise attacks do claim a toll on- and some blood of Rothwell by the third- and final round. Following a brief, not too intense yet very peaceful period by which they are hugging each other for a while, The Pitbull explodes again and knocks the immense opponent down with a combination that finishes via an uppercut of relentless power. An impressive slugfest and a very mature Arlovski we had chance to witness, let alone how this experience will turn Rothwell into more better of a fighter than he came to this bout as.

Fedor Emelianenko vs Tim Sylvia

Fedor came. Fedor have seen. Fedor jumped in. Fedor unleashed three-four veeeery precise shots on Tim. Tim went down. Fedor offered some punches to the head. Fedor then grew bored of this. Fedor thus soaked his arm in. Fedor forces the Maine-iac to tap. Fedor stands up with the same, supercalm expression which he came in with. You check the time. It shows: 0:36 in the first round. This is the amount of tiny consecutive moments the Last Emperor needed to stop the two times UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia. Wow, and wow! There is truly no reason, nor chance anymore to doubt this brilliant fighter. Tim behaves very classy after the bout, he states that Fedor is easily the best fighter he has ever faced. He adds that Fedor punches so hard that he does not even think that he - Fedor - is human. As for The Last Emperor, I am as much baffled by his extremely calm and friendly nature as a human being as I am impressed by his fighting skills. What a being! Yet again: What. A. Being. With this win over Tim Sylvia, Fedor Emelianenko reigns as Champion of the independent, promoter-free WAMMA organization, The World Alliance for Mixed Martial Arts.

When Big John asks Fedor if there is anyone out there whom he would keenly fight against, The Last Emperor gives you the answer you probably and secretly (?) was longing for, and he gives it via his mother tongue of the Russian language - nevertheless you catch the pleasant moment, I guarantee you. Something like - "randeekhoothoor" - rings a bell? Or two? As you may have already suspected via the review of Vitor Belfort's fight, Randy Couture was present at the event. He approaches the ring, and after greeting Fedor and circulating the intact mutual respect, Couture expresses his keen willingness to do battle against The Last Emperor. The UFC will have to put up one immense of a card to counter THAT event. As solid of a debut for an mma organization that one could possible conceive, Affliction Banned delivers, and it delivers rampantly. Great night of fights with classic moments, including an immense showcase delivered by Fedor Emelianenko, the World's Baddest, even Baddestest Man With The Calmest Nature. Thank you for reading the review of the event, and see you next time.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Raging Bull

Ties That Blind

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Raging Bull director Martin Scorsese probably had the Eye of the Tiger secretly (?) going on right after the release of the first Rocky movie. (The zoo is closed for now until further notice.) With this robust delivery, Scorsese senses fruity opportunity with a masterful scent picker and capitalizes on it via solid skills, offering a Larger Than Life movie collage about professional boxer Jake LaMotta. The Real Deal Raging Bull who maintains the reputation of having the best chin the boxing ring ever saw to date, regardless the fact that he retired from the squared circle in 1954.

Though - logically - plenty of time went by since then, the period in question could not produce a fighter with such immense tenaciousness and punishment resistance as The Raging Bull possessed and sported in the ring. His autobiography hit stores in 1970, while Rocky hits movie theaters in 1976. A funny thing indeed, that makes you wonder. Did Sylvester Stallone read the LaMotta book and invented Rocky to start off his career? I tend to think that he did, though I did not found information on this via first try. Yet, as of today, I am not obsessed enough to feel that my theory would need further solidification. Face it: my hypothesis makes semi-perfect - bonus oxymoron - sense, and probably catches Sly red handed. A shame that it took 31 years, even bigger shame/delight though that the Rocky movies remain pure, timeless classics of lightweight entertainment, regardless. As for this suggested inspirational context goes though, please contribute, in case you know something Sly does or told about this in interviews OR at highly confidential meetings between secret societies.

Let us scrutinize where this suggestion led to in the late '70s, early '80s. Suspicion: Sly reads the LaMotta book somewhere between its release date and 1976, AND recognizes what a superb buildup it would weigh in as if presented on the Big Screen. As Stallone said, he never would have forgiven for himself if he would let anyone else play the lead instead of him. A staggering success, Rocky claims about 1 million bucks to reach final form and produces 117 million at the offices. Now, can you blame Martin Scorsese for giving you the

Original Rocky

with Robert DeNiro in the lead in 1980? Hell, you can not. But the phrase "Original Rocky" better weigh in as an exceptionally fruity keyword, I am telling you THAT, Sly!

Raging Bull is heavily based on LaMotta's autobiography, a work I never read personally, though I suppose it is safe to say that Scorsese's cinematic interpretation is a faithful one - he could hardly want to enrage the Bull, after all. The film is black and white, a presentational choice which gives a strong oldshcool appeal to the output, thus the resultant image flow is unleashed as an account of the backstage - more precisely, "beyond the ring" - life of LaMotta. The dude was a highly traditional individual in his prime days, the period which of course was characterized by his boxing career and the corresponding, rigorous training regime. Raging Bull is a special mixture that delivers slight, yet evident MOB appeals, now-hilarious fights and a focal family drama, as LaMotta's Italian origins claims both the very integral adherence and emotional reliance on the family unit, let alone the famous Italian temper which the Bull possesses an immense amount of.

I tend to think that it is OK to regard the piece as a strong effort in each of these aspects, especially since the precisely presented persona of the protagonist is solidified even further by totally intact supportive performances. These additions come to you through LaMotta's wife and his brother. Let me tell you that Cathy Moriarty does not just render a woman of the era, Cathy Moriarty renders THE woman of the era. Though she was 20 during the shooting, the film informs you of an age of 15 by the time a married LaMotta sets his eyes on her, later deciding to unite with her instead and establish a family together with strange little space-time occurrences called children included in it.

Joe Pesci is in his prime in this output, he gives you a quite believable, fervent Italian minor stallion, and let me tell you that a minor Italian stallion will NEVER realize that he IS one, so actually he puts up a highly reliable, integral display of a mildly frustrated, yet, nevertheless strong and honest personality. Notice the picture below to face and digest some major convince power.

The Pants At The Armpit Style! Classic.

LaMotta had his bitter rivalries in the boxing ring, the most memorable of those though is evidently against the long period of mutual competition between him and Sugar Ray Robinson. Those were the days when professional boxing bouts were scheduled for 15 rounds, and it is certainly not a big surprise that the film will reach a certain peek moment to precisely account their Final and Concluding Face-Off in the squared circle. By precision I mean the little subtleties, like Scorsese implements the exact same advertisement the audience could see on the TV screen when watched the broadcast - a focal reason of this latter condition is simple: segments of the actual bout are implemented in the film's fabric. If you are curious of this classic event, you can check the entire match out at YouTube by following THIS particular link.

Naturally, the cinematic fights are rendered with DeNiro in it. A little, yet necessary leap-forward we committed, thus now is the time to step back. As outlined, Raging Bull is a family-, career-, and personality drama, one that weighs in intact in all these regards. The delicate setups you will see do concern well developed and masterfully presented dialogs that have a sharp focus on LaMotta's increasing degrees of paranoia as time progresses. The film gives totally intact, authentic, easily approachable personality dramas between the three major protagonists, meaning DeNiro, Cathy Moriarty and Pesci, who is both brother and manager of the focal character. These charismatic personalities do render and account the era they live in with exceptional convince power. A New Yorker Italian, or an Italian New Yorker, LaMotta tolerates no spots on his honor as a respectable Italian, neither on his record as a professional boxer. Solo definer of the Testosterone Taurus, DeNiro gives you this character in a flawless, flamboyant fashion. Yet, not everyone handles, dare I say, tolerate success soberly.

LaMotta was tolerating it rather well though, as long as things were going HIS way. Various, career related frustrations though turn him towards the worst direction a mind can conceive: he starts to behave like a man with some quality borderline personality disorder, accusing Vicky that she surely flirts around with guys while he is away in the ring. She surely MUST have some secrets. Cathy Moriarty is a wonderful choice for this role, I absolutely dig the way she talks, her calm voice and stuff related, let alone the corresponding, similarly sober personality that radiates inner beauty and registers as proper dignity. Not to mention the outer beauty which is not an accomplishment to spot instantly. Missing on it would be, though. No wonder LaMotta recognized these traits AND had the assumption - quite correctly, as we can see - that other, though highly hideous males do recognize these powerful feminine qualities, as well.

The moment where LaMotta is blatantly wrong though is that he can not "properly digest" and accept the fact that Vicky LOVES him - from a certain point on, he emotionally abuses and hurts the woman all the time. You know the usual male drill: "WHERE were you? With WHOM? WHY did you go there? Did ANYONE see you with THEM? You KNOW they will TALK!"

These unfortunate behavioral tendencies exhibited by the era's LaMotta even give you the impression that he might even pose as a danger to others or himself virtually all the time. Expect fog sleeping, maybe - just maybe. From a point on you are invited to form your impression that he is not just "soberly jealous" of his beautiful wife, he instead seems to produce delusional thinking that forces him to seek proofs of sins committed: if unsuccessful, then he is sure that it's just the result of a well developed and accomplished cover-up effort. Strong and famous, there are sections in LaMotta's true self that are simply not worth opposing against, not for him, neither for the opposer's sake. At the boxing bouts, LaMotta just releases Carl Jung's Animal, that is all. According to Jung, the Animal is the part that you prefer to hide from everyone, but still, IS part of you. LaMotta's animal is not just revealed, in fact, it dominates the personality. This is the part where women, man, society and pretty much all else beyond that do hand the piece of paper with "ERROR!" written on it.
After he have seen Scorsese's work, the real LaMotta asked the real Vicky LaMotta if he was really as a horrid person as the film depicts him, Vicky told him this:
"- You were worse."

As a primal source of the drama that is about to unfold, LaMotta's jealousness is superbly presented by DeNiro and reacted upon with initial calm helplessness by his wife - as for the question concerning how and where these emotional assaults will unravel to - that remains to be seen when you decide to check out this classic, which is, by the way, the mere reason I give you this here review. The boxer does not satisfy with the persistent accusations towards his wife, though. A focal turning point in the buildup is signified by LaMotta's decently paranoid invention that surely his wife must have an intimate, secretive relationship with his brother. Sounds crazy enough yet? And, mind you that all these elements are based on real life events that have happened for real. LaMotta, you surely have the Balls of a Raging Bull, too bad sometimes you decided to borrow it's mind after it undergone immense sedation, as well.

Either way, it is absolutely safe to say that Scorsese's output scores big time in the drama department, these masterful, timeless performances do give you a precise rendition of an era that could hardly relate to the implausible- and, to be honest, sometimes absolutely misplaced passion LaMotta walked, fought and lived with by those days. No era could soberly relate to that. No human could.

As previously hinted, fight scenes, I think, are highly hilarious in Raging Bull. Come on. Get real here. Any head eating in the punches that do contact with the power implied here would explode like a water melon. Yes, you guessed that right: an exploded head even has a truly big chance to cause a consecutive knockout of its previous proprietor. I think that the times that went by since the release of the output are scarce excuses for this fighting method. To be honest, I laughed my personal sitorgan off and I am ready to laugh off someone else's, too, at the latest Rocky installment, Rocky Balboa. Oh God, these directors can be lunatic overkillers sometimes.

If you throw punches with 24234324234 kiloton of power All The Time, then you NEVER throw a punch with 24234324234 power. I think it is similar to drawing in this regard. If every single bit is detailed on a drawing - then nothing is detailed on it. I guarantee you that you will fail to feel excitement during the fight scenes Raging Bull delivers, I even dare say that they progress ineptly, silly, weightlessly. Truly. What you get is this: some dude starts to hit the other in the face by sheer, raw power. Connects on 14-15 consecutive occasions. Did I suggest to get real? In that particular reality, a boxer's face would turn to an unrecognizable, abused meat pie after the sixth of such impacts. The blood effects Scorsese relied on are even more staggering. Staggeringly weak and laughable, that is. Some chocolate syrup was used, by the way. Mind you that while I tend to remain devoted to these shortcomings I still suspect and even described, the sheer image quality of the fights do remain flawless and blatantly beautiful, regardless of the brutal nature of the subject matter. Indeed, the fight scenes in Raging Bull are so brutal that you have little if any chance to relate to them seriously. Yet, the work processes and ideas to create them are very maturely planned and precisely executed. A strange, rare correlation.

The huge amount of work to create the fight scenes does rely on a whole series of subtleties and interesting decisions: animal groans and breathings, guns were used to generate sound effects, for example. Scorsese even relied on quite cunning symbolism when he chose the proportions of the rings. Sequences of amazing precision and devotion, yet, the substance they describe is haunted by - in my opinion - both effect crave and a stable misunderstanding of human stamina. I realize I might sound like a sitorgan here, some would even say that I do piss on an altar. This is not my intention, absolutely not. Some part of me says that "serious" fight sequences would benefit the movie even further, yet the buildup of Raging Bull is way beyond the need and categories of improvement.

Yet, I must confess: if I am free to regard the fight sequences as mere supportive elements to reflect on and account LaMotta's only place to release and satisfy his True Self: THEN the solution Scorsese relied on is: more acceptable. I dare say this phrase though, because Scorsese did not seem to make an evident decision. To me: Raging Bull's fights are not serious enough, and they are not symbolic enough, either. They are just ineptly brutal, and, thus, brutally inept, in the long run. Some interesting condition yet: by the time Scorsese shot Raging Bull, he had massive drug problems, and was pretty convinced that this will be his last movie, then he will probably check out and move to another plane of existence. So he gave the green light on anything that was brutal, and main agenda was to remain in the ring all the time.

Let us forget about the fight sequences though, as, apart from this slight flaw I found in the film, Raging Bull is evident, timeless classic nevertheless that cites invaluable advices and inherent wisdom about how success can twist one into something that might be way more sorrowful than a certain period without success. To me, Raging Bull tells that though success is always ready to be invoked if asked subtly and without doubts, being ready for it is much more important than success itself. And here is why: YOU have success only if it is really YOU who has it.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Street Kings

Aggression Claimed Its Culture

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James Ellroy's story, Street Kings is a work of sober originality, yet it shares certain similarities with other efforts that do tell tales about a world without heroes. The most notable among these parallels are the mere reasons that do deny, even nullify the legitimity of the "common hero".

On the image Street Kings or Yet Another Similar, Though Not As Good of a Movie as This One Is delivers, there are no proper challenges, no proper prizes and no proper admirers for a hero, thereby this senselessly, hopelessly furious, rampantly aggressive world easily incapacitates the hero archetype by taking away or corrupting the elements the hero must relate to.

It is not the danger that defines the hero. It is the need that defines one. Street Kings gives you a supersolid Los Angeles cop thrill in which a hero is not the benevolent defender and companion of the community - instead, he is an obstacle, as he has rigorous devotions to elementary values and rules, and even has the charisma and skills to defend those - yet now he operates in a world which ended up being furiously governed by an infinite number of rules. A system in which the Bigger Caliber, the Better Lier, the Swifter Betrayer emerges triumphant. For the day, at least. As Street Kings informs you along the way: "Today's Suspect Is Next Week's Victim".

Best thing about Street Kings is that story inventor James Ellroy knew exactly what he was going for and managed to form the narrative accordingly. The film is very humane, yet this does not necessarily imply that it would give you fruity directions and enlightening reflections on our tender, kind, loving nature. Quite the contrary: it's the Welcome To The Jungle theme this time around, the first person to grab it, is the person to keep it. In such a world, it is suggested and even revealed to be unavoidable that crime and crime pursuit do end up in a symbiotic relationship. Dependency is such that neither could exist without the other. Mild exaggeration here though, as surely, crime easily could emerge as a dominant lifestyle in the LA area, which, if I am not mistaken, it did for real, anyway. Yet the LAPD depicted in Street Kings is not just relentless pursuer of crime - as you will see, crime is benefactor of the legal armed forces, instead.

Street Kings is an aggressive movie with an aggressive pace, which is though easily followable via a nice narrative layout that exhibits sane rhythm, strong plot and solid dialog. The buildup follows veteran LAPD Detective Tom Ludlow during one of the most eventful weeks of his career as a Police Officer. I do think that Keanu Reeves gives us a superb performance this time around, let us notice that stress suits this guy wonderfully, simply because he has an incredible tolerance factor for it, or at least this is what the Big Screen suggests. Keanu simply cannot be broken by stress as he have lost his stress threshold already, thus, he simply accomplishes the current mission and takes a Vodka to it. Ah, you say THAT'S the very trick right there? Either way, Reeves has the natural charisma, composure and personality to render such a character via an utterly solid, believable fashion. It is very easy to relate to Tom Ludlow as you can see that he is under a blatant amount of stress all the time, yet he tolerates and walks through-and with it relentlessly, as being crushed of it would not be an option, at all. And, for Ludlow and Keanu: it is NOT, indeed. That's why he is a superb choice to this role.

- You need to go SLOWER, dude!
- I AM going slower.

Supportive roles are respective musts to mention, as well. Forest "NO, his eyes are NOT different, OK??" Whitaker is always a safe, suitable choice if to render characters of sane authority, this is no exception: he performs greatly as Unit Commander and maybe, JUST maybe he will have cards up his sleeve you did not even dare to think about. But, maybe he won't. Nice is the wonderful world of movie reviewing. Chris Evans is very good, also: as a late sidekick to Ludlow, the kid exhibits solid dignity and proper, juvenile strength to be worthy companion of the hardened Veteran along a way that might lead them to parts both would prefer if never explored. There are two co-cops yet, the dude from Prison Break who thinks he is at least twice as good as he is, but he is not, I can not remember his name, but he either smiles ineptly all the time, or gives you the Oh My God It's Steven Seagal And He Is Attacking Me Ass! face. That pretty much wraps his acting qualities up, as of today. Bah, I look it up! So, his name is Amaury Nolasco. Geez, wish I would not looked THIS one up. The other co-cop of the Unit, Jay Mohr renders a nice, supportive background performance and reigns as source of some quite proper, well placed jokes that do take place between Ludlow and him and actually make you laugh out loud. To tell you the truth, there is a third co-cop, but his role was so transparent, that maybe he is not present in the movie's reality, I just imagined.

The synopsis itself concerns an intuitive setup to starts the narrative off: Ludlow is the Soul of a hardened LAPD Unit, as his Boss puts it: "You are the TIP of the SPEAR, son!" The accomplished veteran has a recently spawned notoriety though which implies him to be a rather trigger-happy fellow who prefers to conduct interviews if and when the suspect wears a black nylon sack during transportation. This assumption is a source of conflict between Ludlow and his former partner, Washington. As it turns out shortly, Washington not only keeps his eyes on Ludlow, he even hooked up with Internal Affairs AND reported Ludlow as evidently dirty. At least, this is what Ludlow is told by the fellow Officers. To put the synopsis swift and simple: Ludlow prefers to knock Washington out the old fashioned way for this betrayal, yet, as he approaches the store his former partner in, there are two dudes in bandana masks that do just the exact same thing. Ludlow runs in to warn Washington about the imminent robbery, yet surely, the former partner considers this exhibited intensity a hit, itself - let us wrap the synopsis up by assuring you that Washington will not be too talkative after the store closes its doors for the night, and Ludlow will have to explore very circumstantial territories via very circumstantial ways to gain knowledge about the identities of the killers, not to mention what, and why exactly have happened in the store.

SPOILER warning that might came late, sorry - STARTS. By this synopsis, I think I gave you quite proper and almost way too precise pointers, especially by suggesting that the hit in the store could have been more than an everyday average normal store murder. It is sad to live in a world like this, yes? Surely, it IS sad, but not as sad as if YOU would commit the murder the very next day. So, come instead tomorrow, as well. SPOILER warning that might came late, sorry - ENDS.

A primal attractive power of the narrative to fuel Street Kings is the trait that characterizes the store hit: though it might sound quite trite, yet you can not be exactly sure of anything. I mean: in this here movie. And, in this here Universe. But the latter is an entirely different discussion. The film gives you six, maybe seven narrative chunks, each of the first four-five relating closely to the investigation, while the final chunks do deliver a truly satisfying conclusion period. Satisfying in the sense that it has an utterly bitter, yet so sorrowfully epic quality to it.

If you did not yet see the movie, please skip this section for now, see the movie, THEN come back. If you saw the movie already, then nice method wasting your lifetime reading the previous sentence, please read on. Notice the final setup of Street Kings. Hugh Laurie - yes, Dr. House is playing in this output, minus his highly humorous, sarcastic comments - expresses his gratitude to the hero, he walks away, case closed, the hero remains. The hero, though he remains, recognizes how this world is not compatible with the cautious, yet rigorous standards he believed in and fought to defend. Keanu looks down on the city, but he can not be sure if the city looks back on him and accepts him, anymore. It seems that he has no place in it, as he remained true to those governing standards, yet all that eventually revealed how utterly corrupted the idea he fought for was. Not because the idea itself is wrong: it is because the city does not tolerate the idea itself anymore, similarly as she does not tolerate the hero. Stopped tolerating them since decades, maybe. Might that be so that Ludlow fought against this very recognition, the one recognition he no longer can hide from? Either way, now it is evident what the City Wants and how it Prefers Things. The Culture of Aggression is what She Claims, and it is also what She Gets and what She Establishes.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

UFC 86 Jackson VS Griffin review

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Mixed martial arts clearly became a significant form of both mass entertainment and - as Bruce Lee put it - an expression of the human body, the latter being, no doubt, the original field of operation of these ancient traditions, now living and breathing through competitive events around the world. Though many may consider men who enter the proving grounds little more than hired human pitbulls to rip each other apart for hard cash and radical amusement, I tend to utterly reject this rudimentary view, concluding that professional level mma is the combat of highly disciplined human spirits, opposing each other for the duration of the bout, probably ending up as unified in the process as we could conceive, simply through their magnificent shared experience of being in a cage where the damage one suffers is the wit one failed to exhibit. That is how, in my opinion, the mma fighter fights against herself/himself.

Japanese people compete to gain an insight of their own current abilities through the collision process of their skills with that of other's. To me, the ultimately glorious moments of mixed martial arts are not of those of KOs and submissions. They are of those of hugging the formal rival at the end of the bout, circulating the most honest, uncompromised, pure respect each fighter deserves simply by stating themselves on the proving grounds, regardless of the results. The ensuing peace between fighters after a good collision is such a palpable, legit sensation that it never got old so far - and won't ever will.

This here is a review of the UFC event UFC 86 Jackson VS Griffin, time to punch that Read more button, baby!

Introductory thoughts about the more significant lineups

Forrest Griffin and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson both delivered sober and charismatic performances in the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter Reality TV Show as respective coaches of the teams that faced off until but ONE new fighter remained and - in the most puzzling fashion - emerged victorious. Some silly idea might give you the impression that Griffin and Jackson were even - if there ARE such things at all - "way too peaceful" and "way too professional" during the show. Now, are there such things? In my opinion: there are no such things. To me, it was true delight and keen pleasure to watch how mature and easygoing they were during the show, knowing that they will have to kick each other's ass at the culmination of the season.

Though no redundant testosterone talk was present at all, UFC President Dana White probably required some of that nevertheless, because, I think he have thought that the masses want to see Jackson and Griffin flaming each other. How wrong he is. Most people want to see them fight, and they know they will. Yet I understand that White aims for the attention of the everyday average beer molester in camouflage wife beater as well, who just wants to see the living crap being crunched out of someone. If the opposing fighters are accomplished veterans with prior, mutual trash talk sequences delivered - all the better. Thus, the show delivered one, maybe two - in my opinion - semi-staged conflicts that Quinton and Forrest agreed to take part in, but, when they were left to themselves, then they were absolutely professional and respectful towards each other.

Little addendum: it was funny to see the expression on Quinton's face when Jessie Taylor got kicked off the show, following his unacceptable behavior in Las Vegas. You can see Quinton giving the audience the "oooh, poor boy" look, though, in reality, he probably thinks what WE think as well: that Taylor got what he deserved. Terrorizing women in a hotel lobby?? Now, pardon me for pointing out that this is a true WTF.

As frequently cited by UFC commentator Mark Goldberg, Forrest Griffin is indeed the Original Ultimate Fighter. He and Stephan Bonnard put up such an exciting fight in the finale of the first season of the TV Show that they exposed mixed martial arts to the mainstream audience. According to records, there were times when 10 000 000 people watched the live broadcast. Griffin was a hyperactive child and could hardly have a good time without seeking out some competitive physical stimulation. Not because he was mean, but because he was - just like that. Oh, now it sounds better and way more acceptable, right? After playing football where he headbutts opposing team members with helmet on without HIS helmet on, Forrest goes to the police academy, even picks up a casual degree of political sciences, and finally ends up at mixed martial arts, scoring some nice amateur wins.

His first professional mma bout is against highly charismatic UFC Veteran Dan Severn. As Forrest admits in the heavily cited Countdown to UFC 86, Severn was way ahead of him in every aspect of the game. He could not do a thing against the legendary competitor, so he starts insulting him.

"Hey, dude! You are like a fat Freddy Mercury! Dude! You sure do look thinner on TV! Dude, you are like Tom Selleck's fat, old brother!"

I guess this is the early Forrest. The recent Forrest though scored significant wins, most notably, over Mauricio "Shogun" Rua whom he submits in a rear naked choke. By the time in question, Shogun was ranked as the top fighter of the weight class, yet, many claim that he was not at all himself in the Forrest fight. It also worth mentioning that Shogun defeated Rampage in the Pride! days. A truly charismatic warrior with considerable humor and pretty much implausible levels of punishment resistance, Griffin comes to this bout stating that all he needs to be aware of is that he did absolutely everything in his power to win against Rampage, also, he needs to know that he won't quit. He adds that he is willing to take more pain than anybody else. Believable, considering that Forrest beat Edson Paredao with one arm broken. It is like Forrest had a broken arm, not Paredao, you feel me?

This is an interesting match indeed, since, as much as you love Forrest, you got to love Quinton Jackson, as well. No doubt that this extremely loose, humorous person turns into a beast when finds himself in the cage, yet he is one of the most notable faces of an all-around mma fighter palette, a warrior with tremendous experience, executioner of the best, even bestest! slam you have seen in an mma bout, not to mention that he holds two knockout victories over Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell. To be specific, it was Liddell whom Rampage took the UFC Light Heavyweight Belt from in UFC 71 Liddell VS Jackson. Since then, Quinton defended his title against Dan Henderson in UFC 82 Pride of a Champion, now ready to face the man whom many consider to be the most beloved contender to date. Rampage states he is meaner and uglier than Griffin, and he thinks that deep down Forrest knows that he (Griffin) is supposed to lose - and indeed, he will. Let me cite a classic quote from Jackson, though he has a whole arsenal of those. "Forrest looks stupid, but he ain't as stupid as he looks." OK, and yet another, just to prove the point: "I took anger management classes before, but - HELL, those make me ANGRY!"

The co-main event gives you hard hitter dynamite fist Partick Cote, taking on Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Ricardo Almeida who tries to solidify his comeback trail in the UFC after a longer pause period. He looked superb against Rob Yundt in UFC 81 Breaking Point, pulling off a very quick submission regardless the brutal slam he undergone in the process. Cote is a fervent warrior with one punch stopping power potential in both hands, though he did not yet manage to claim top position in the game when chances were offered. Against Tito Ortiz in UFC 50 and against Lumpergson Stappenheimer in UFC 16, for example. Some of the latter events never happened, though.

Jorge Gurgel vs Cole Miller

Jorge Gurgel likes to put up exciting fights, also prefers to think that excitement only arouses when in the stand up position. A fresh assumption probably, as he has quite a few submission wins himself - yet now he enforces the standup, dismissing all aspirations to take the enemy down. Gurgel looks passionate and convincing in this here back and forth battle, though characterized mainly by Miller's more efficient ability to deliver punishment and to escape from vengeance. Then, finally: Jorge Gurgel looks desperate in the final moments of the third round, as the moments in question do greet the octagon via a ground position. Cole manages to soak a submission attempt in, which proves to be quite effective and claims a tapout of Gurgel.

Gabriel Gonzaga vs Justin McCully

The last time we have seen Gabriel "Napao" Gonzaga in, he was punched until stoppage by Fabricio Verdum in UFC 80 Rapid Fire. You surely do know that Justin McCully himself is a decent puncher at the least, everyone who has a decision win over heavyweight warrior Anthony Hardonk: is. And McCully has such a win to his record. All this seems to be of little concern for The Napao, though. Gonzaga unleashes quite vicious leg kicks to start the match off, one of those does land at the most fruity time possible, when McCully has his own leg in attack position. Gonzaga goes for the stationary leg though, blasting it off from underneath the massive competitor. McCully - surprisingly enough - collapses, Gonzaga is all over him, and, following a brief, mildly successful period of ground and pound assaults to soften McCully up, finds a way to get Justin into a Kimura submission hold. Needless to say, The Big Nose looked truly good and very efficient, let us hope to see him against top level resistance soon, some circumstance he has yet to prove himself under.

Melvin Guillard vs Dennis Siver

How about a first (almost half) minute knock out? Melvin "The Young Assassin" Guillard connects with a double right and consecutive, vicious air to ground missiles, wrapping this confrontation up in the 36th second of the first round. An intense, vulgar display of skills that reigned superior today over those of Siver's.

Corey Hill vs Justion Buccholz

You got to love matches in which the fighter behind manages to come back to sweep a truly impressive victory in. This night delivers you such a phenomena. Corey Hill plays a rather sane and rigorous game here, utilizing his very long limbs to keep Buccholz outside the danger zone. This method and related pace are fruity enough to give the textbook round-win for Hill in the first segment, yet Buccholz comes back even more fervent in the second period and manages to engage Corey in situations that do pose danger to the tall warrior. Hill defends himself from assaults either by going for the clinch or by a takedown - such an invitation to the ground turns out sour for him, though: he offers an incautious moment on the ground for Buccholz who hastily capitalizes: a rear naked choke as clean as you ever saw soaks in, thus there are no options left to Hill save to tap. A huge, impressive comeback victory.

Quinton Jackson vs Forrest Griffin

Many claimed Forrest will have no chance whatsoever against Jackson, not as far as fighting against him - they claimed he will no chance to offer resistance, at all. Rampage comes out rampant, sober with his dynamic, fluent, elusive body movement. Great combinations fly through the octagon, connecting on the defensive lines Forrest wisely withdraws behind, even better: the contender demonstrates admirable sobriety by moving away from the flurries Jackson unleashes. Forrest starts to work on Quinton's left leg early in the game: a series of constant maneuvers that surely do claim a toll on the Werewolf's stance in a short while. The most notable occurrence the first round delivers is an uppercut from Jackson that does buckle Forrest and gives opportunity for Quinton to muscle himself with Griffin underneath him to the fence. Let us watch this closely, as the ground game keeps surprises for us.

In the second round, those low kicks from Forrest finally ask for a steep price from Jackson: the Champion's left leg demands some peaceful period without any molestation whatsoever, that includes: standing on it. Forrest capitalizes on this condition by taking the Werewolf to the ground, a territory that Quinton turns out to be utterly harmless on as far as attack capabilities go, yet he puts up a defensive game of acceptable qualities. Indeed, Quinton is not particularly used to ground based warfare, he now gets pretty much dominated by Forrest. Griffin delivers some ground and pound, though these are not attacks of stopping power, they are more than suitable to leave a semi-withered Jackson behind when the round concludes, nevertheless.

The third, forth and even the final round all do render a back-and forth kickbox match, a period in which neither fighter manages to land assaults of stopping power, though many of the shots surely would take care of most fighters, those with less punishment resistance. The final seconds do greet two standing warriors though, with an unanimous decision going for Forrest Griffin. Wow, and then again: wow! The outcome was/is subject to much debate already, I personally think that in an ideal world, this match would have been: a draw! I do indeed think that neither warrior should have gone away with the W. More precisely:

Neither should be announced a LOSER of the bout.

If I imagine Jackson would have won - then I would say that Forrest performed way too significantly against him to consider HIM a loser of this match. And I feel similar when I inspect the actual outcome: I think Jackson performed way too significantly to take the belt away from him. Extremely talented UFC warrior Lyoto "Dragon" Machida voices a quite sane opinion in THIS interview. As you can see, he states that the UFC simply prefers Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell with the belt, so, now that Jackson lost it, a match between Forrest and Chuck could, and probably will be arranged. Though the hypothesis sounds sober enough, we should never forget that Forrest managed to wage war for five rounds of intense combat against a bloodthirsty Werewolf, though, as I expressed before, I do not think that either of them have won this bout convincingly. Preventing Quinton from winning convincingly though is an accomplishment on it's own, let alone putting up a fight against him that makes you wonder if either of them have performed superior, though. Either way - there is no place anymore to call Forrest a fluke.

But, in an attempt to solidify my assumption further: you should beat the Champion like: baaad to emerge as New Champion. OK, at least: convincingly. This though, Forrest DID NOT DO, and he agrees with this view. When asked if he had doubts that he have won, he expressed that he absolutely had. He had no idea of what exactly went on, as it is utterly different being IN a fight and being a spectator. Quinton was pure class after the bout, he admitted that he had his ass whooped, - though he did not, either of them had - but let me tell you this: losing does not suite for the Werewolf. I still do think that he should not been announced a loser. And either Forrest should have been announced one. A DRAW, that should have been, did I mention?

Tyson Griffin vs Marcus Aurelio

This match was strange, in my opinion. It was like Marcus Aurelio came here to be the training partner of Tyson. Thus: he is allowed to defend himself, but offering resistance is a general no-no, as that would confuse the dictated and intended pace the trained warrior is subjected to. Griffin is effective enough in the starting period, even gets ruthlessly efficient via the ensuing air to ground assaults. In general, you could say that Griffin demonstrates his skill set on an opponent who seemingly came here to defend himself, not to rip someone in two. I think it has a lot to do with the respect Aurelio shows for Griffin's punching power and intensity, yet, the Brazilian fails to deliver a resistance factor you or Tyson could count with. An interesting match nevertheless, as Marcus defends himself sanely and quite effectively during the bout, yet the complete absence of the aspiration to be aggressor as opposed to be hunted all the time certainly points out that he needs to work on his attack strategies.

Josh Koscheck vs Chris Lytle

I suppose a blood feast is among the secretive little surprises you are longing for when a UFC event progresses by, and denying this would be worse than accepting it naturally. Now, to be slightly more serious, let us recognize this: as long as you can be sure that no one will be harmed permanently, then blood is not just acceptable, but part of the show. Referee Yves Lavigne surely must share this, or at least a highly similar point of view, as the conditions he nods his head upon here are: gross. Even grooooss. Probably the most bloody mma bout I have seen to date, and I must say I have no intention to see it get more bloodier than this, simply because of considerations for safety of the warriors. I can imagine one exception though that could and should produce more blood than this particular match did: if blood would pour from both participants. I realize I might sound like a bloodthirsty maniac, - but I am truly not, harharh! - yet I think such circumstance would be an acceptable one. Please comment and assure me that I need help.

As for the match itself, Koscheck demonstrates an ever-solidifying skill set, an array of tools ready to be tested by Chris Lytle who is an obstacle everyone must face if prefer to move higher up on the UFC rankings, yet, more fall back then do succeed when facing this solid, well versed veteran. Koscheck himself is a veteran too, though: they render a rather balanced stand up collision with Koscheck's fervent willingness to take this war to the ground. Josh goes for the takedown right away in the second period, shortly after this, he opens up a cut on Lytle that bleeds quite heavily and pretty much tells the story of this match more profoundly and precisely than anything else could.

This particular story mainly concerns Koscheck's relentless ground and pound assaults at the fence. Lytle, being a hardened veteran, delivers a defensive game on his back of considerable efficiency, yet the blood loss claims a toll on his overall composure, thus resistance offered by him is highly limited due both to the dire situation and the wound. Referee Yves Lavigne deserves credit in the long run for letting this fight go to a well deserved decision to Koscheck. Notice Lavigne's instruction to stand the fighters up when punishment is absent: this is a very sober and - I dare say this - graceful decision from him, saving Lytle from an even more serious injury, yet letting the confrontation to wrap itself up with a conclusion that knows no controversy whatsoever. Credit for all three participants in the octagon for a soberly supervised, and - sorry about that - properly executed blood bath.

Joe Stevenson vs Gleison Tibau

Brief exchange of mild efficiency starts this one off, then a rather funky shoulder lock attempt gets utilized at the clinch by Tibau. The grip is tight enough to worth stick for, yet the angle is far from ideal. A rather interesting sequence ensues which is reminiscent to a stalemate, in which neither fighter is able to develop their respective positions. The bell puts an end to this relatively passive, yet interesting struggle. Though Stevenson lost against BJ Penn in UFC 80 Rapid Fire, his guillotine choke remains bad news in case you find yourself caught up in it. Gleison Tibau is now a brand new, fresh assurer of the latter statement, as he gets into Joe's tight grip in the second round, forced to tap out.

Patrick Cote vs Ricardo Almeida

Hitter vs Grappler. Almeida shows an increased willingness to stand up, even better: his skills show steep development in this aspect, especially if you have the chance to watch them ensue against such a dangerous stand up fighter as Cote is. The Black Belt Jiu-Jitsu practitioner exhibits a game which is, though highly sober and technical, mainly concerns a defensive approach that plans to offer stopping power via countering. This is not easily done against Cote, though. Almeida maintains a rigorous, safe pace, even manages to go for some submission attempts, yet, at the end of the day, Ricardo's massively defensive countering game does come in short against Cote's superior aggression and relentless willingness to engage. Quite an even match at it's core, in which Cote performs more dangerously and convincingly though, no doubt.

A great night of memorable moments and one particular, yet immense semi-controversy. If there is such a thing at all as an immense semi-controversy, that is. From now on: there is. Hope you enjoyed the evening and found the review useful. Thank you for reading it, and see you next time.

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