The Films of 2018

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
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andyli
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Re: The Films of 2018

#101 Post by andyli » Sun Jan 20, 2019 9:56 am

colinr0380 wrote:Regarding Crazy Rich Asians I am still getting over the fact that this was the first role for one of the main actors in this film, Henry Golding, who had previously been one of the longstanding presenters of the BBC's Travel Show!
He also appeared in last year's A Simple Favor. Was it released afterwards?

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knives
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Re: The Films of 2018

#102 Post by knives » Wed Jan 23, 2019 1:52 pm

nitin wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:55 am
I saw Disobedience tonight and I largely concur with DarkImbecile’s take on it. The acting by the three main actors is terrific, the direction and writing is mainly strong and everytime the movie sort of goes off the rails towards the back end, it quickly manages to get back on interesting and sometimes even surprising footing.
Seeing this, this is catchup season for me, and I'll third the opinion. It's nice to see one of these Anglo-Haredi dramas come across as written by someone who knows that world. The script does very little simplifying and goes out of its way to have characters, especially the husband, who are complicated through adaptation as well as rebellion. This isn't some cheap, American, A Price Above Rubies, simplistic morality tale, but a much more intimate story of balancing priorities so that you can become your happiest self. The husband's penultimate act is one of the most delightfully shocking moments from last year.

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knives
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Re: The Films of 2018

#103 Post by knives » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:34 pm

The Hate U Give (because announcing the full acronym would not be appropriate for kids)
All the kids where I work are hyped on the book and the movie is all they've been talking about this year so I felt a little obligated to see it and in the context of it being a children's movie it's great. Unlike a lot of other films with children protagonists which are completely uninterested in being interesting to children this one is. A lot of the criticism I see around misunderstands this. The critiques remind me of the famous BBC comment about Alan Clarke putting in too much incident as if drama wasn't the central aspect of drama. This film isn't supposed to be cool to a middle aged white guy, but to the diversity of teens. So with the question of corny or not out of the way I guess the question becomes is this good?

I suppose my students have good tastes because this is pretty complex. It's not really about the shooting which is a pretty blatant not good thing. Instead it's about how youth in all its varieties has to deal with this. My understanding is that the book is even more expansive on this with additional subplots and characters. It would be interesting to give more voice to the teen characters then we have (and Starr takes up the majority of that space), but given this is already over two hours and tackles issues of the shooting, racial interaction, the status of police, discovering the history of the nation (Emmett Till gets a cameo), and social pressures for survival. Possibly the most interesting in what it brings up and probably the thing that is most relevant to children is how all of these things have been changed by technology. Cell phones as the only mode of armor for black people obviously comes up, but social media is much more interesting because it is the mode the characters speak in. Tumblr provides some of the most compelling stuff since the two Starrs as she expresses herself have to be one. The film seems to say that while technology has been great in many ways it has also provided new difficulties.

The film is a kids film and is only so deep. It isn't the massive treatise that Spike Lee would put out and aesthetically it is only okay. Still, even with these limitations (which are mostly overridden by the acting) this is a vital and enjoyable film with more depth and intelligence than a lot of adult entertainment.

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brundlefly
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Re: The Films of 2018

#104 Post by brundlefly » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:21 pm

Museo (Alonso Ruizpalacios)

Buried in YouTube Premium’s Originals among concert films, projects featuring folks I take to be internet personalities, and a very earnest-looking Susan Sarandon flick, is this second feature from the director of Güeros.

Ruizpalacios attacks the 1985 Christmas Eve theft at Mexico’s National History of Anthropology with an undeniable skill-set and a lot on his mind, takes a history of plunder and thinks it into knots. It’s a heist film (though the heist is too easy, comes too late, and ends too soon), but procedural concerns are a clothesline on which to contemplate historical and cultural ownership. Where and to whom do cultural artifacts belong? Who gets to tell their stories? And the film extends this to itself, not just through a “print the legend” approach to its narrative – “This story is a replica of the original” – but by embracing an excuse to nod this way and that. Perez Prado’s “Patricia” is reappropriated from La Dolce Vita to soundtrack a porn film, reconnected later in a sequence that’s all-caps Fellini. Things are taken, things are returned.

But he’s also interested in generational disconnect. The main characters are pushing at or losing their own histories: Alpha thief Juan (Gael Garcia Bernal) rails against the upper middle-class striving of his doctor father (Pablo Larrain regular Alfredo Castro, who doesn’t have to do more than show up to be sternly effective) and rattles on about socialism and warrior codes while perpetually dallying with some sort of post-grad veterinary degree; his father’s father has recently died and, at the start of the film, Juan’s bristling at having to wear grandfather’s ill-fitting Santa suit. Sidekick/narrator Benjamin is devoted to his father, but that man’s dying of cancer. Living in their suburb is “driving in circles;” they urinate on the area’s most prominent landmark.

Juan is aggressively unlikeable, perhaps a calculation to prevent anyone from thinking him righteous or his actions redeemably Robin Hoodish. He has an abstract, intellectual connection to cultural history; the post-crime downward spiral character arc here seems meant to imbue him with deeper (even spiritual) respect, though that never registered emotionally for me. (The movie chickens out as a character study by claiming character and motivation unknowable.) It’s hard to care what happens to him, and it’s not fun spending time with him.

More provocative are the interactions with the stolen objects themselves. They’re lugged around in a duffle bag, wrapped in t-shirts advertising toys. Simon Russell Beale licks one, in awe. Sometimes they’re dismissed by other characters as “handicrafts,” common product to be peddled. At one point, they become playthings for children; considering a history of financiers, explorers, and thieves, I wondered if that wasn’t the most honest, meaningful engagement possible. It’s noted (true or not) that museum attendance skyrocketed after the heist because people wanted to see the empty cases.

As you’d expect for a self-conscious film (“And now, a fight,” they say in voice-over at the start of a fight scene) it’s showy. Unexpected angles, a lot of slow push-ins. A pretty great handmade iris out. The heist has a slideshow of mock-freeze frames that unfortunately reminded me of the ‘Police Squad!’ closing credits more than anything else. Ruizpalacios makes good use of some interesting architecture and gets a lot of mileage cutting very wide to very close. And from going very loud to very soft. There’s a very forthright sound design. The soundtrack has a children’s choir singing Castaneda quotes and. when it wants to go huge in the manner of a historical epic, noodles with Silvestre Revueltas’ music for The Night of the Mayas.

Museo has a lot under consideration and resists conclusion. It drags on. It contorts to echo itself; wherever you go, you’re driving in circles. In Satélite, Juan stares at a painting of a cliff diver in Acapulco; in Acapulco, he stares at an abstract painting and sees Satélite. Ruizpalacios’ films have a passive-aggressive Gen-X dissatisfaction to which I respond. Güeros’ circumnavigation struck me as Stranger Than Paradise with occasional kinetic outbursts. Here his overthinking, underachieving thief stumbles along on spasms of inspiration and half-assed follow-through; it’s difficult to argue that the post-heist feeling of aimlessness that sets in isn’t appropriate.

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knives
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Re: The Films of 2018

#105 Post by knives » Tue Apr 23, 2019 4:31 pm

It's a bit sad that The Front Runner didn't catch on with audiences more because it is easily the most nuanced take on reality show and politics becoming one over the last 40 years. With the primaries occurring right now the film's basic question of do you need to be a triangle to teach math seems all the more relevant especially as it seems like if you have confidence it will all work out for you. Hart's unraveling is this shocking thing, but I think the film's most intellectually compelling character is the WP reporter. Very predominantly he's black. The film doesn't actively acknowledge this, but that's a subtext to a a lot of his interactions with regards to the power he can wield to mold the story according to his morals. What's interesting given how in most films he would become the moral center the film has an important scene near the end to show that even his supposed good journalism is blind to the full complexity of the issues. His morality is necessarily limited in scope as well.

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Matt
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Re: The Films of 2018

#106 Post by Matt » Sat May 25, 2019 7:09 pm

After missing its brief theatrical appearance in my area, I finally caught up with Christophe Honoré’s Sorry Angel (now available in the US on VOD). I absolutely loved it, but partly because it punches a lot of very personal emotional buttons for me (so I can understand why some people would not connect with it). It’s by a mile Honoré’s best film, his most authentic, finally fulfilling his promise. For those who miss Patrice Chereau’s acutely observed, seriocomic queer romances or long for the days when Arnaud Desplechin made beautiful, idiosyncratic, elliptical romantic/family dramas that didn’t involve ghosts or spies, this is your movie.

I never particularly cared for his earlier work, even when on paper it seemed to be right up my alley. But I also have always found Louis Garrel to be a rather slimy, unpleasant figure, so that might help explain my distaste for the otherwise universally beloved Les chansons d’amour and their collaborations that followed. Garrel’s apparent replacement as Honoré’s muse by the delicious Vincent Lacoste is extremely welcome.

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domino harvey
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Re: The Films of 2018

#107 Post by domino harvey » Sat May 25, 2019 8:15 pm

I liked Plaire, aimer et courir vite too, though not as much as you. Vincente Lacoste is pretty much the French actor to watch these days and I thought his young character was delightfully complex and far more interesting than anyone else on-screen. I do suspect it would have been more successful without the more typical/expected tragic elements of its back half, though

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2018

#108 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:20 pm

Went to the Fantasia Film Festival, saw some films, here they are:

Ode to Nothing (Dwein Ruedas Baltazar)

Easily and without question my favourite film of the festival. An aging, single woman who’s run into debt with a loan shark in trying to keep her ailing funeral home from going under receives the dead body of an unidentified old woman. She keeps it hoping it’ll be identified, only for a sudden upturn in luck to accompany the body. The movie has the same flat, unsaturated digital look as Mysteries of the Night, the other Filipino movie I saw at the festival, but here the look is appropriate, and supported by a stronger grasp of craft. The movie’s triumph is that brings you so far inside the emotional world of its characters that you come to accept as normal and understandable certain realities they set for themselves, even when those realities are gross or illogical. You find yourself implicitly accepting for example that the dead body is in fact holding up its side of the conversation, so engrossing is the emotional reality of these scenes. As affecting and moving a portrait of loneliness and poverty as I’ve seen, one whose ambiguities deepen on reflection. It does seem at the end that the woman is ruined in monkey-paw fashion, and yet there is a sense that the end may not be so desperate, that these crushing ordeals have brought ultimate loss, yes, but also freedom. A key is in the formal elements: the aspect ratio is boxy (maybe 1.33:1) and constricting, the setting confined to the mortuary, and the photography careful to avoid showing us anything outside of the building. The main character often stands just outside the main gates, but the camera either remains within the mortuary, framing her in long shot through the door against the blank wall of the opposite building, or frames her in closeup with the mortuary in the background. And tho’ the camera often looks in at people through various windows, it’s careful never to give an unimpeded shot looking out of one. There are always branches, trees, and buildings obscuring the shot to no more than a sliver of the road. The lead character often stares out of windows, but evidently she cannot see much from them. On a formal level, the wider world does not exist. The characters are cramped, caught, trapped, both narratively and at the level of form. I think these formal elements are the proper context in which to interpret the ambiguous ending, which is not as hopeless and disturbed (nor indeed as prosaic in its explanation) as it initially comes across. A beautiful and sad movie that I hope at least someone else here watches.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2018

#109 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:21 pm

Door Lock (Lee Kwon)

It all begins with a man’s attempt to enter a woman’s apartment at night, and turns into a nightmare from there. Successfully exploits many basic fears and vulnerabilities women have to produce a sometimes unbearably tense thriller. So successful is it that the various genre contrivances and familiarities melt away, leaving you with many horrifying scenarios where the objects and systems we rely on to secure us prove inadequate. This is the film’s triumph: it makes us feel our basic safety and security is a comforting fiction to get us through the day, and that in reality we are horribly vulnerable. It’s a feeling that’s hard to shake after the film has finished.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2018

#110 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:22 pm

Night God (Adilkhan Yerzhanov)

A slow, absurdist, surrealist movie that prefers atmosphere to character and symbolism to narrative. The setting is at once post apocalyptic, war torn, and informed by soviet era beaurocracy and aesthetics. It confronts and is a kind of protest against nothingness and incomprehensibility. It owes a debt to Tarkovsky and Tarr for its style. Not sure digital was the best medium to shoot this in. I suspect it would’ve looked more beautiful on film. As it stands, the photography is often painterly in capturing the frozen, decaying, mouldering environments and landscapes as its characters try to navigate the absurd and incomprehensible systems of a world whose the sun has disappeared forever.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2018

#111 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:22 pm

Dachra (Abdelhamid Bouchnak)

Tunisia’s first horror film. Opens with the bracing image of a child having its throat slit in some kind of sacrifice, and moves on to show three journalism students trying to interview a woman confined to a madhouse and rumoured to be a witch who was found twenty years ago wandering the backroads with her throat cut. The whole film and everyone in it seems on edge. Much of the plot is familiar and taken from many other such films, but how is more important than what, here, and the film has such a grim and oppressive atmosphere that it pushes you back into your seat. You feel as tho’ in a cold and ugly nightmare. It left me disturbed and unhappy, like it kept flicking at a raw nerve somehow. The location shooting does a lot, because everything feels dark and unsafe and miles away from being under control. A movie in which everyone and everything is trapped. I doubt it’s coherent on a plot level. But even its derivative images are horrifying. I don’t know, the movie just felt savage.

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flyonthewall2983
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Re: The Films of 2018

#112 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:44 am

Arizona is a passable attempt at showing a more villainous range to Danny McBride, a welcome comedic presence in movies and on TV. It tries to frame a rather rote thriller around the housing market in the titular state after the recession from a decade ago, with his character the manifestation of it's most aggrieved victims. It works well enough for the first half, but when it becomes a chase it's less convincing and the balance between humor and tension is lost.

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aox
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Re: The Films of 2018

#113 Post by aox » Wed Feb 05, 2020 2:47 pm

D50 wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 7:57 am
bearcuborg wrote:
Mon Dec 24, 2018 5:07 pm
I don't know if anyone has seen this, but They Shall Not Grow Old looks like like a wonderful theater event in 3D. I'll be going on Thursday.
IN THEATERS DEC 17, DEC 27
This is now streamable on HBO (US). It's really quite wonderful.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Films of 2018

#114 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:53 pm

Liz and the Blue Bird (Naoko Yamada 2018)

Animated sequel (or side story) to the excellent animated series Sound! Euphonium (about high school concert band students in Kyoto). A very gentle, slow-paced story of friendship and love (and pain and misunderstanding along the way). Centered around a children's story book (Liz and the Bluebird, of course) and a musical piece based on the story and two soloists (friends since middle school) playing it. Very much in the heritage of Takahata. One of the best "post-Ghibli" films made so far.

Sadly a large number of the staff who made this (including the animation director, Futoshi Nishiya) were murdered by the maniac arsonist who wiped out the studio of Kyoto Animation.

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kcota17
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Re: The Films of 2018

#115 Post by kcota17 » Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:29 am

I’ve been wanting to watch this but is it necessary to watch Sound Euphonium before watching this?

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Films of 2018

#116 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:22 am

I think seeing Sound!Euphonium first might help a bit. But this is pretty self-contained -- and the tone is very different from the series. The two main characters in this have subsidiary (but important) roles in the second season. And the main characters from the series have subsidiary roles in this. The series covers the first year of high school for the main characters of the series (March through November, and then a skip to February). This movie is set when these characters are second year students (in June) and the movie's main characters are seniors. There is another movie that will come out on DVD/Blu in Japan in a couple of weeks that covers the second year from the perspective of the main characters from the series.

FWIW, I do highly recommend Sound!Euphonium (viewable on Crunchyroll -- albeit with commerciaals unless you are a subscriber).

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Re: The Films of 2018

#117 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:06 pm

Okko's Inn (Kosaka 2018)

A sweet-natured and enjoyable film about a young girl who moves to live with her grandmother (who runs a small hot springs inn) after the death of her parents. While there, she finds help from various supernatural entities, in learning to be the "junior innkeeper". The director is a Ghibli veteran.

While nice enough, I would note that this film does not match the level of a somehat earlier animated film with a similar topic -- A Letter to Momo (Okiura 2011). Momo featured a much better sense of place and far more realistic behavior (albeit having just as much in the way of fantasy elements). If you like Okko's Inn, do seek out Letter to Momo.

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knives
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Re: The Films of 2018

#118 Post by knives » Mon Aug 03, 2020 1:09 pm

With the love that Amy Seimetz has been getting here lately I finally dove into Wild Nights with Emily and wow, did not expect this film, which sadly seems to have only just started getting on people's radar, to be as great as it is. Between it, Davies, and at least the trailers for that show its a good time to be a fan of Dickinson. Particularly as regards a changing of understanding her character where now she is allowed to be as witty, human and fresh as her poetry suggests. That's particularly relevant here as Olnek zeroes in on the dark side of print the legend.

When Ford said that it was in an irony as he undermined that argument within his own movie. Alas, because it is more comfortable that's what people have taken at face value ever since. Olnek gives us two stories, one that Dickinson's posthumous publisher gives to comfort the masses of a shy woman who wanted male lovers, but could never manage it and that of what we now know of the real Dickinson as revealed through her private letters and the memories of friends. This focuses in on a love affair between her and a childhood best friend who would become a sister-in-law.

The film is very aware of why the legend was necessary in this case. It was hard to get Dickinson published, to have her be respected and known required a promotion tour proving her as normal. That idea of normal though is the same one that lead her to living a life in hiding that the vivacious spirit we get to know felt she needed to go about with. The way this twists together makes the publisher sympathetic in a sense although her scenes began to induce an emotional edge in me as I got more and more upset that in essence we have benefited from Dickinson's misery and that although her poetry may have taken a radically different form if she had been allowed to be herself it is a communal form of selfishness that that idea bares out.

This could have been all well and good for a melodrama. It already hard the emotions high with the powerful nature of the film's structure, but making this a comedy is what elevates it to its own type of greatness. The intercutting between stories of course cements points in a way that being explicit would blunt, but the comedy also helps to really bring to the fore Olnek's idea of Dickinson. She's a smart women with a great sense of human and a complex internal life with fits of jealously and carnal need who has to be as cautious as a mouse in a field of cats in order to stay survive. The comedy is a brilliant rendering of that feeling. It also helps make palatable the pretty regular character assassinations that go on to fit the film's polemics. Emerson is unquestionably one of the most important figures of American culture and really the undermining of him or Helen Hunt Jackson is not necessary and can feel cruel, but it's hilarious enough on its own to be enjoyable if with regret.

Olnek has a legend of her own to publish and plays with history to accomplish that goal, but it is so heavily a counter legend that it's flights of fancy will likely cause nothing but the sparks of curiosity to find the truth rather then the harm of replacing one legend with another will do.

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Re: The Films of 2018

#119 Post by Red Screamer » Mon Aug 03, 2020 4:36 pm

knives wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 1:09 pm
Alas, because it is more comfortable that's what people have taken at face value ever since. Olnek gives us two stories, one that Dickinson's posthumous publisher gives to comfort the masses of a shy woman who wanted male lovers, but could never manage it and that of what we now know of the real Dickinson as revealed through her private letters and the memories of friends. This focuses in on a love affair between her and a childhood best friend who would become a sister-in-law.
I watched a clip of the Judge Lord scene when I was reading Lyndall Gordon's biography earlier this year and thought it looked and moved like an SNL skit. I'm happy with the Dickinson of the poems and letters and don't have much use for any others. Ultimately, this theory on her life is as much crowd-pleasing speculation as Mabel Loomis Todd's original Havisham figure, tailored now to the fancy of contemporary audiences. Since we have almost no information on how the real Emily Dickinson lived her life, new theories will keep appearing (Gordon conjectures that epilepsy was the reason for Dickinson's isolation) and people more interested in her celebrity than her poems will glob onto whichever one they like. From the scene I saw, this film seemed weirdly referential to scholarship while ignoring its findings.

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knives
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Re: The Films of 2018

#120 Post by knives » Mon Aug 03, 2020 4:52 pm

I can see that as I mention at the end of my piece it's a new legend rather than some absolute truth. Certainly I think the Davies film is better, and I do hope you check it out, but what we have here shouldn't merely be dismissed as some run away SNL sketch. It's an often touching tale of the difficulties of sex in 19th century America that utilizes hyperbole and comedy to make it's points. I very much doubt, for example, Higginson was as ridiculous as portrayed, but using him to present a now strange figure of what feminism once had in its ranks is hilarious and effective in showing those difficulties.

The film makes much about its research with the Harvard Press and several other groups getting prominent credits.

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