Julianne Moore

moore witherspoon

Julianne Moore. There, I said it. That’s a name you’re likely going to be hearing a lot in the coming weeks, hell, probably months. She is the surest thing to come out of this year’s awards race. Ever since I saw her incredibly moving performance in “Still Alice”, back in September, it seemed like a no-brainer. Based on Lisa Genova’s 2007 best-selling novel, the film is a striking look at the nastiness and brutality that falls upon an American family when one of their loved ones is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Moore is ever so brilliant in the movie, encompassing the way a person can lose track of herself and her own identity even when she tries ever so hard to retain it.

Just through Moore’s eyes you can witness the slow detachment Alice is going through from society, friends, family, and herself. It’s a devastating film because, just like Alice, her ever deteriorating brain keeps getting erased of its precious memories without you even noticing the effects – it isn’t until the last few scenes that the devastation this disease has caused hits you. “Still Alice” has some of the hardest scenes to watch of any movie this year, but it’s all so worth it for the humbling journey that is involved with it.

Indie filmmakers Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer don’t try to pull at the heartstrings, they just tell their story in the simplest way possible, and why wouldn’t they? They have Julianne Moore at their disposal, one of the great actresses of our time (“Short Cuts”, “The Kids Are All Right”, “Boogie Nights”, “Far From Heaven”, “Safe”, “Magnolia”, “Children of Men”, “The Hours” and even next year’s “Maps to the Stars” directed by David Cronenberg, in which she plays a down-and-out actress, desperate for her next big shot). Every time she’s on screen, Cronenberg’s film ignites with excitement and his pitch black Hollywood satire gets even darker.

If Moore is the surest thing to come out of this year’s race, it doesn’t mean that the other nominees should pack it up and call it a night. For example, if Reese Witherspoon hadn’t won back in 2006 for “Walk the Line” we’d be talking about a close race to the finish. Witherspoon’s work in Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Wild” is astounding, equaling her Best Actress work as June Carter Cash. Coming out next week, the same week “Still Alice” is released, Vallée’s film is a stirring portrait of love, despair and hope. You can call it “Eat, Pray, Hike”, but that’s where comparisons should end with that Julia Roberts vehicle.

Vallée, who directed last year’s “Dallas Buyers Club”, is an artist through and through. Ever since his beginnings in Quebec cinema I’ve kept a watchful eye on him. Just check out “Café de Flore” or “C.R.A.Z.Y” to see how great of a filmmaker he can truly be. “Wild” has a more conventional storyline than those aforementioned films but he and Witherspoon make up for it with sheer artistry. It also helps that gifted writer/novelist Nick Hornby and Cheryl Strayed – on whose book this is based – wrote the screenplay. After a brutal divorce and losing her mom to cancer, Strayed went on an 1100 mile hike of the Pacific Crest Trail by herself to try to bring meaning to a life that was crumbling. It sounds like the kind of stuff the Hallmark channel would dig, but don’t kid yourself, Vallée knows better than to stoop down to that level.

Apart from Witherspoon’s emotionally resonant performance, the other major thing you notice in the film is how incredibly well edited it is. Going back and forth between present day, flashbacks, flash forwards and dream-like imagery can be a tricky business, but Vallée and his longtime editing partner Martin Pensa (“Dallas Buyers Club”) nail every detail. And Witherspoon, what more can be said about an actress who had me at hello ever since the day I first saw her in Alexander Payne’s “Election” (still the best performance she’s ever given). It wasn’t just that movie – her enormous talent has shone through over the years in films such as “Pleasantville”, “American Psycho”, “Cruel Intentions”, “I Walk the Line” and last year’s underrated “Mud”.

How refreshing it is to have not one but two top notch female performances coming out in the same week. These two actresses are on par with the incredible work Felicity Jones has done in the recently released “Theory of Everything”, Rosamund Pike’s harrowingly hypnotic femme fatale in David Fincher’s “Gone Girl”, Anne Dorval in “Mommy”, Scarlett Johansson in “Under the Skin” and my dark horse favorite Marion Cotillard and the mesmerizing performance she gives in “Two Days, One Night”. The latter three might not get the nominations they deserve, but I advise you to seek these performances out because they will absolutely blow you away.


**Slight Spoiler Warning*** Women don’t get to be anti-heroes much, at least where Oscar wins are concerned, whether male or female, voters prefer good or admirable characters to dark ones.  Good girls usually suffer no pushback but bad girls? They don’t get off so easy. It can get a little sketchy nowadays when a female antihero presents herself. The notion that women ought to always be portrayed is a positive light severely limits both the opportunities for actresses but also for women in the full spectrum of the human experience. A similar problem afflicts minority actors when they get sick of being stuffed into stereotypes — like black maids or street thugs, Chinese laundry attendants, etc. Women are stuffed into stereotypes too and sadly many of these roles are often delivered in an effort to portray them in a good light.  Some of the best performances on screen have been actresses taking on dark or sometimes soulless characters. Some of those have won Oscars (Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and some of them haven’t (Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction or Dangerous Liaisons or Reversal of Fortune).

By my count, since 1970, good characters or heroines have accounted for 35 of the 44 Best Actress winners. Only 4 could be counted as flat-out bad (Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and 5 could be counted as “complicated,” like Helen Mirren in The Queen or Kate Winslet in The Reader — they are mostly good but they are allowed complexities.  Contrast that with Best Actor where I counted 9 “complicated” winners, 6 flat-out bad and 29 good, or heroes. There isn’t a dramatic disparity between the sexes — though men have a slight advantage removing themselves from the “good” category and still winning — but it isn’t really so big it makes much of a difference.


This year, the likely Best Actress contenders range from flat-out bad to complicated, to good.  It’s still too early to tell how things might shake down in that regard — so it’s difficult to say which characteristic will dominate. In our poll, AwardsDaily readers have these five predicted:

Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Jessica Chastain, Eleanor Rigby

Close behind are a few others who may have a shot:
Hilary Swank, The Homesman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Michelle Williams – Suite Française
Jessica Chastain – Miss Julie
Nicole Kidman – Queen of the Desert

Amy Adams, as I recall from the footage in Cannes, plays a “difficult” character. But in subsequent readings of early screenings of the film it doesn’t sound that way. So right now I’m just not sure where she fits. course, it’s just too soon to know. These five can be considered this way:

The Good
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Jessica Chastain, Eleanor Rigby
Amy Adams, Big Eyes

The Bad:
Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Both Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars, and very likely Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl will represent this year’s anti-heroines. Both roles dwell in the 2014 zone of Kim Kardashian instagram devotion, the cancer of tabloid beatdowns of women on a daily basis, selfies, the incurable disease of self-improvement all pointing to what we women are afflicted with every day of our lives: the pressure to be all things: pretty, young, popular, thin, desired.  While we wait to see what writer Gillian Flynn, director David Fincher and actress Rosamund Pike do with the literary sylph “Amazing Amy” there is much we can glean from the character as written in Flynn’s book.

To my mind Amazing Amy from the book is the Frankenstein’s monster that the male gaze and the culture of overly-competitive women have created — and deserve. I dread the many articles that completely miss the point of the character Flynn wrote, a woman whose point of view must be taken into consideration when examining her character. The reason the book is so successful with women is that WE KNOW. We have grown up stuffing ourselves into the forms people want to see — what men want to see, what women want to see. We’ve been the object of bitchy middle-school girls snickering at our outdated jeans, we’ve been in on gossip clusters of girls talking about sluts. We’ve been watched by men who either lust after or reject our physical appearance. We’ve grown up shaping ourselves this way and Amazing Amy has MASTERED this shape-shifting. She has taken control of these requirements and delivered the “perfect” answer.

It is my hope that people, especially women, will get this and not fly off into the fascist notion that “all female characters have to be portrayed in a positive light.” If you think that’s true then talk to me about the tabloids. Cottage cheese thighs on women at the beach! So and so is cheating on so and so. Bad plastic surgery! Stars without makeup. Do we really think men are driving this disgusting industry? Sorry, ladies. I wish we could blame men for that one.

These fears and insecurities and mean-girl impulses weave cleverly throughout Flynn’s novel, all the while giving us a filter — what each character sees and how they interpret what they see.  It’s a magnificent novel written by a brilliant writer. The most famous passage in Gone Girl is the concept of the “cool girl,” a thing that will live on forever which is a description only we women understand.

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)”

When I first read this I was stunned that anyone could dig down that deep and be that observant to finally acknowledge in print what many of us girls have long known about fitting into very contradictory requirements of men.  They want you to eat but they don’t want you to be fat. They want you to be funny but not too smart. We all get it.  Another observer of this phenom is the funny and insightful Heather Harvilesky at The Awl. Check out this post.

Bruce Wagner does not pull punches where Julianne Moore’s character is concerned in Maps to the Stars — again, she is the sum total of our youth-obsessed culture  and the competition for Most Famous or Relevant person. But Wagner spreads the ugliness around to inevitably point the finger back where it belongs: squarely at us, the consumers.

In both cases, there will be some major pushback. Men could very well recoil in horror, while women might be inclined to take the “it’s misogynist” approach.  Either way, I suspect 2014 is going to get ugly.  So that brings us to the Oscar race.  After watching Maps to the Stars in Cannes, Pete Hammond said that it was a shame Julianne Moore was so unlikable in Maps to the Stars — she would win the Oscar otherwise.

Other potentially difficult female characters who dwell on the darker side would include Meryl Streep as the Witch in Into the Woods, Marion Cotillard as Lady MacBeth — if it’s released this year — and Anne Dorval in Mommy.  On the rest of the list, the women are admirable characters.

When I look back on Hollywood history, especially when actresses dominated, there was room for a full spectrum of types. Who can forget Anne Baxter and Bette Davis in All About Eve, for instance.   Would All About Eve get made today? Probably not. With so few films driven by female characters now is not the time to limit women to only those reflected in a good light. Well, at least not until tabloids disappear from supermarket shelves and gossip sites fade away.


Oscar contenders come and go, and before long they’ve reached a point where it seems like nothing they can or will ever do will give them the win. For women it’s worse than it is for men.  Of course, for minorities it’s near impossible.  The endless celebration of the talents of Jennifer Lawrence say everything about how Hollywood views successful actresses now. Bring them up as quickly as possible, earn every last dollar you can from them, throw roses at their feet. Women have the best chance to win in their 30s, second best in their 20s but by their 40s and 50s things drop considerably.  If you are Katharine Hepburn you’ve won three Oscars after you hit the age of 60, incredibly.  Meryl Streep also won in her 60s. By the time they hit 40, their chances for winning Oscars drops  — partly because there are fewer and fewer good parts for them and partly because the Oscar celebration itself, for women anyway, always tends to lean younger.

How many wonderful actresses have we seen come and go and miss that window of opportunity for no other reason except age, and timing? Michelle Pfeiffer, to name one. Glenn Close to name another.  Sure, there is always the chance they can break into the race and win at a much older age, like Jessica Tandy, for instance. But you can count the times that has happened on one hand. pieChart_jpg Continue reading…

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Looks like Julianne Moore could be in line for a Best Actress nod here – that is, if voters can handle Mr. Cronenberg, which they usually can’t.

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Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore filming 'Still Alice' in Lido Beach, New York

The same directors who made the wonderful coming of age drama Quinceanera, Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland direct Julianne Moore as a professor struggling with Alzheimer’s. Set pics just popped up on JustJared showing Baldwin and Moore in a passionate embrace. IMDB has this listed for 2015 but it’s possible it could be a contender this year. The film is based on the book by Lisa Genova.

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My Oscar Poker partner, Jeff Wells, is worried that Lesley Manville won’t make the cut if they run her as Best Actress. He thinks she has a better chance of getting in in the Supporting Actress category. It probably isn’t going to matter what bloggers think about it – if the AMPAS wants her in lead, they will nominate her in lead. Although we keep talking up actresses, here is how I envision a scenario with Manville in:

Natalie Portman
Annette Bening
Jennifer Lawrence
Nicole Kidman
Lesley Manville

And then, you’d go:
Michelle Williams (all of this NC-17 business is great for her, actually, publicity-wise)
Naomi Watts
Julianne Moore
Sally Hawkins

The bottom line is that there IS room for Manville in the lead actress race simply because they will make room. Hers is, without question, one of the best of the year. She plays a character who is coming apart but was only barely there to begin with. Completely self-centered, unrealistic and neurotic, Manville’s portrayal could have slipped into caricature. But somehow, she keeps it grounded. The truth is, you can’t take your eyes off her. So, though it’s appreciated, I don’t see the need for a “Save Lesley Manville” campaign.


It is being said that this is the Year of the Actress. It very may be, and if it is, it’s a long time coming. As we head out of the bulk of the year and into a very heated next four months, there are some things we know for sure. We know that Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) and Natalie Portman (Black Swan) are the two strongest contenders right now to win. We know that Jennifer Lawrence emerged with one of the year’s best performances in Winter’s Bone, and she will likely also be nominated. That leaves two open slots. And for those two spots, things might get a little heated.

There are many reasons why Bening and Portman lead, and only one of those is that their performances were memorable. Bening is a Hollywood fixture by this point, and though she came close to winning, has never won. Portman is a hard-working actress who also has yet to be recognized. She takes things to a whole new level with Black Swan, however, and though she really had nothing to prove, this performance will be one of the few, I figure, that lives up to the hype.

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The Rome International Film Festival, October 28th – November 5, will honor Julianne Moore with an acting award. Moore will be there to present The Kids Are All Right. Keira Knightley, Eve Mendes and Aaron Eckhart will also be there.

Meanwhile, Jeff Wells and Scott Feinberg contemplated the overall bummer that Julianne Moore isn’t considered a stronger contender for The Kids are All Right.

Full press release after the jump.

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Put Annette Bening and Julianne Moore at the top of this year’s Best Actress race, they are the heart and soul of The Kids Are All Right. They play a married couple that go through the same issues any other hetero married couple would go through. Bening with her devious but honest smile is a tour de force as Nic, a woman that only wants the best for her children, even when she can sometimes come out looking harsh and honest. Julianne Moore, playing Jules, is her wife. Jules feels isolated and resorts to an affair with their kids’ sperm donor Paul -magnificently played by Ruffalo (almost a sure thing for next year’s Supporting Actor race). The scenes between Moore and Ruffalo are tremendous, sexy, touching and extremely honest.

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So far, the field is already half-filled with Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Jennifer Lawrence. But out of Cannes, came three great performances. I saw two of them, Michelle Williams and Lesley Manville. I missed Naomi Watts in Fair Game, but word has it she won’t BE IGNORED, Dan. And then Tilda Swinton received her usual acclaim for I Am Love, which puts her in the running.

But there are more to come this year.

The question is, how well will these early names hold as the festival season kicks into high gear? What names will rise to the top of the pile? Will it be a newcomer? Or will a veteran finally get her due?

After the cut, a list of possible contenders, both seen and unseen.

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The Kids Are All Right did okay out of Sundance, but now that it’s hitting the mainstream, it is looking like a much more formidable contender for one of the Best Picture slots, and also for Annette Bening, who just gets better as she gets older.

Ten 100s on Metacritic will help The Kids Are All Right end the year as one of the best reviewed, even if the New Yorker’s Anthony Lane drags it down with a very low score of 40. ¬†Funny that his opinion can be that different from his contemporaries.

The New York Times’ AO Scott calls the Kids Are All Right “is so canny in its insights and so agile in its negotiation of complex emotions that it deserves to stand on its own. It is outrageously funny without ever exaggerating for comic effect, and heartbreaking with only minimal melodramatic embellishment.”

Lisa Schwarzbaum’s grade A review says this about Bening, “Particular huzzahs are due Bening for the precision she brings to the brusque yet emotionally expressive Nic. A famously natural, mature beauty in a Hollywood culture of youth-oriented artifice, Bening uses physical authenticity as a source of dramatic strength. Comfortable in her own skin, she’s at ease inhabiting the body and exposing the soul of Nic, a complicated woman who also knows exactly who she is.”

The Kids Are All Right opened the LA Film Festival last week, and IndieWire‘s Anne Thompson likes it even better the second time around:

The movie played great—Cholodenko told me she had “tightened” the film since its Sundance debut in January. My seat-mate, Roadside Attractions’ Howard Cohen, agreed that it was even funnier and sexier than we remembered—it plays like a relationship comedy. Even with its comedic bent, because the film has enough dramatic moments and a requisite Big Scene, I am more than ever convinced that Annette Bening will nab an Oscar nom for her performance as one of two lesbian parents of two teen kids, one from each mom and both sired by the same sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo), a laid-back restaurateur and commitment-phobe. Julianne Moore is just as strong—and she and Ruffalo are very sexy. But Bening gets the dramatic moments.

(Thanks to Jake for the video tip)

JustJared posted the pic from Paris Vogue’s May 2010 issue:

The Kids Are All Right

It’s been around 3 or 4 days already, and I guess the reason I didn’t jump on the multiple tips by readers is because my hopes are so much higher for The Kids Are Alright than this trailer would seem to justify. I understand the need to introduce movie with touchy subjects by featuring highlights with cross-over appeal, but the formula for this teaser touches on a few too many least common denominators.

All the same, as much as this makes me wary that the initial marketing is a bit off-key, there’s enough promise showing through the dysfunctional facade to hint at richer expressions percolating below the surface. If this preview lures audiences past their prejudices long enough to let the movie itself say something more important (as I feel confident it does), then it’s proof that bait and switch doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

The Kids Are Alright looked like an awards magnet for Bening, Moore and Ruffalo from the first buzz it generated at Sundance, and it won Best Feature Film at the Berlin Film Festival too (the Teddy Bear, not the Golden one). The trailer does spotlight the prestigious reviews, so Focus knows its got a hot commodity. Just wish the trailer would bait the hook a little better.

We first ran a clip of Chloe last September during TIFF, and then got a look at the poster in December. Today Jon Pace tips us to the official trailer. Chloe opens March 26th.

Emerging as one of the critic’s consensus hits at Sundance, writer-director Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are Alright stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as lesbian partners whose teenage children are on a quest to meet their biological father (Mark Ruffalo).

Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir says its one of the hottest tickets in Park City:

All those people showed up because of Cholodenko’s reputation as one of American cinema’s best-kept secrets… Given the red-hot politics of the gay marriage issue, her timing is arguably perfect, and at any rate the movie is worth the wait. Cholodenko gets memorable performances from Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as the flawed, self-involved but profoundly human partners in a long-running relationship that’s hitting one of those slippery, middle-age danger zones…

I’d describe Cholodenko as an old-fashioned dramatist (in the best possible sense) whose heart and imagination are big enough for all these people. Each of the five principal characters takes a turn at the center of the story; each of them makes ferocious mistakes and must struggle to overcome them. It would be easy for her to cast Paul as the story’s comic villain, the blithe, privileged, good-looking straight white guy who screws up the happy lesbian household. But Cholodenko draws out one of Ruffalo’s best performances, capturing Paul as a sweet, sad Peter Pan figure whose principal sin is a sudden longing for what he can’t have.

Nic and Jules were doing a fine job of screwing up their happy lesbian household before Paul’s arrival, of course, but “The Kids Are All Right” ranks with the most compelling portraits of an American marriage, regardless of sexuality, in film history.

Not to ramp up expectations too high or anything, right? It’s not often that Best Actress hopefuls coming out of Sundance can sustain their buzz for a full 12 months. oh, wait…

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No idea what that motion-blur font is meant to evoke (smeared lipstick? bloody claw marks? rug burn?) but I like the ambiguity. We featured a clip months ago but I can’t find the internal link, so you can find a re-post after the cut

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From InContention:

Has there been a more posh and sophisticated trailer all year? Maybe Broken Embraces comes close. In fact, Tom Ford’s precise framing, bold erotic backdrops, and eye-popping splashes of color remind me very much of Amoldovar’s flair for expressive visual extravagance.

If A Single Man has the brains to match its good looks, and somehow fails to make the final ten, then I’ll wonder what happened to the Academy members who annually select Best Picture nominees like Atonement, Brokeback Mountain, Sideways, Lost in Translation, The Hours, Gosford Park , and other films that play to literate stylish taste. In a year of five nominees, A Single Man’s primary rival for the Suave Literati Slot would be An Education. In a year with twice as much space for refined grace, I think there’s room at the top for both of them.

(Replay the Broken Embraces trailer for comparison after the cut.)

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Some grumblings around the web today on the release of the poster for A Single Man, as a few seem to think the poster wants us to believe the characters played by Colin Firth and Julianne Moore are in bed together.

The stills and screenshots from the film show that this pose follows a waltz around the living room in formal attire. Though the patterns and textures have been photoshopped for a cleaner graphic simplicity, there’s no mistaking the shape of those throw pillows for bed pillows. If this were meant to depict a heterosexual tryst, I don’t know how many straight couples jump into bed fully clothed with their eyeglasses and earrings still on.

The relationship between Firth and Moore is a pivotal source of drama in the book, so it’s only natural that a star of her stature would be featured in promo material. I don’t see anybody suggesting that side-by-side heads in 40 other posters this year are all sleeping together. Is a sofa pillow really that erotic for some people? Nope, much ado about nothing, like so many other manufactured “controversies” in the silly season.

Click here for the full-size poster, if you won’t get too turned on. Replay the trailer after the cut.

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