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Maciej "Darth Maciek" RSS Feed (Darth Maciek is out there...)
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Masterpiece Theatre: Northanger Abbey
Masterpiece Theatre: Northanger Abbey
DVD ~ JJ Feild
Price: $11.57
40 used & new from $8.97

5.0 out of 5 stars "All houses have their secrets - and Northanger Abbey is no exception". An EXCELLENT adaptation of Jane Austen's first novel., February 4, 2016
DELIGHTFUL! I liked this film a lot and I spend a nice moment watching it. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

Seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland (Felicity Jones) has a wild imagination and a passion for Gothic novels. Family friends Mr. and Mrs. Allen (Desmond Barrit and Sylvestra Le Touzel) - a delicious couple - invite Catherine to spend the season in Bath and she readily accepts. She expects adventures, emotions, duels, dark mysteries - and subconsciously maybe even a teensy weensy little bit of "raptus puellae"...))) No such thing will happen, but she will meet some new people: attractive Henry Tilney (JJ Feild), beautiful Isabella Thorpe (Carey Mulligan) and the somehow wild brother of the latter, John Thorpe (William Beck). And she will, after all, live an adventure - not exactly as terrible as in Gothic novels, but nevertheless life changing. In case if you didn't read the book, I will say nothing more here about the story.

Being the adaptation of a Jane Austen novel (the first to be written, but the last to be published) this film contains all the treasures usually found in works of this great novelist: humour and wit, polite conversations which hit harder than a thousand screams, dancing, courting, some intrigues, some irresistibly gentle characters and some rascals, scoundrels and villains, young girls, love stories, emotions, betrayals, greed, pride, silliness, letters, meals, marriage proposals, etc. etc. Here all of this is served with the greatest care, exactly according to the recipe, to the greatest delight of the viewer. The cast is excellent: Felicity Jones is, I believe, a PERFECT Catherine Morland, JJ Feild is excellent as Mr Tilney, Carey Mulligan is a very good Isabella - and Liam Cunningham is GREAT as menacing General Tilney (Mr Tilney's father...).

This is a charming film, mostly for the purpose of harmless entertainment - when in the same time it also familiarizes us with one of the only six novels Jane Austen wrote. I liked it a lot and I will certainly see it again. A recommended viewing. ENJOY!


Upside Down
Upside Down
DVD ~ Kirsten Dunst
Offered by TheZoneShop
Price: $8.47
39 used & new from $2.43

4.0 out of 5 stars A quite watchable, pleasant and entertaining 3,5 stars SF romance, great visually - but with a rather banal scenario, February 3, 2016
This review is from: Upside Down (DVD)
I found this 2012 Canadian-French SF romance quite watchable and I am glad that I saw it. However, with some minimum effort to improve the scenario it could have been a much better film. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

Like in fairy tales, this is the story of two very different "kingdoms" (worlds). They are very close one to another, but gravity works in them in opposite directions. The story is told mostly from the perspective of Adam (Jom Sturges), who is poor and lives in the world of Down Below. When he was a child, he once climbed to the highest mountain and saw up there Eden (Kirsten Dunst), a rich girl from the world Up There, who also climbed to the top of the mountains in her world. The film tells the story of their gravity crossed romance...

The original idea is very good and visually this film is quite impressive. The romance is a nice and pleasant thing. Eden is a particularly likeable character. Kirsten Dunt played her in low key, as a "girl next door", rather down to earth (even if from the point of view of her beau she mostly is up there with clouds and heavenly angels - but after all men in love always think that of girls of their dreams) but also very warm, almost maternal. That is only fitting as - !! SPOILER HERE !! - her apparent destiny seems to be the mother of the (better) Future.

The scenario on another hand is not really terrific, quite predictable and cliched, full of enormous holes and with a completely "deux ex machina" ending. Still, the film is quite watchable.

The main hero works in a company managed by the privileged people from the Up There world - which allows the viewer to satisfy the fantasy of seeing all the bosses hanging from the ceiling...))) On another hand this uncomfortable positioning may explain, why this company is so poorly managed and especially has the worst security system (and security staff) EVER!

The film also quite usefully showsm that the solution for most of development and poverty problems, created in large part by the protectionism and state intervetions, is a mixture of free trade, free enterprise, free circulation of capitals, technological advances, scientific progress and taking chances by investing in start ups. A very wise vision of the reality.

Bottom line, this is a 3,5 stars effort, not expecialy good but quite watchable, entertainig and ultimately rather pleasant. I am glad that I watched it, but I am also glad that I rented it, instead of buying, as it is a thing to see once really. Also, it is mostly recommended for total SF buffs (guilty) and great fans of Kirsten Dunst (innocent here). ENJOY!


THE ETERNAL SEA - DVD - Sterling Hayden, Alexis Smith, Ben Cooper
THE ETERNAL SEA - DVD - Sterling Hayden, Alexis Smith, Ben Cooper

5.0 out of 5 stars A very good film about an amazing true story. A tribute to fighting men of US Navy - and their wives, who hold the "home front", January 25, 2016
Good, solid, oldie but goldie cinema. I liked this little known 1955 film A LOT. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

This film tells the true story of life, works, struggles and tribulations of Vice-Admiral John Madison "Uncle John" Hoskins (1898-1964) during years 1942-1951. His participation in both World War II and Korean War are an important part of the film, but quite a lot of time is devoted to, well, other topics, including the burden his career imposed to his wife and children. I simply cannot say much more in order to avoid spoilers.

I would advise you to NOT research admiral Hoskins before watching this film. "The eternal sea" follows very faithfully the real events and if you google too much, well, it will spoil your pleasure of discovering the whole story by yourself. And the story is worth discovering - it is not for nothing that Hoskins was for a time a familiar face for Americans, as his face was on the cover of many magazines (and for good reasons too)...

This is not exactly a war movie but rather a military biography, in which the two wars are of course very present, but the fighting scenes are few. The most important part of the story takes place in last months of WWII far from the frontlines and later in the post-war years, before the Korean War begins. Also, this film gives a lot of importance to the "home front" and the heavy, very heavy burden naval-military career places on the families. The wife of the admiral, Sue Hoskins (Alexis Smith), is a character as crucially important as the main hero - and her struggles and sacrifices are not lesser than those of her husband. Previously completely unknown to me actress Alexis Smith played her with a great skill - I will certainly look for more of her films.

Most of the film however is a one-Sterling-Hayden-show. In this film he plays a very noble character, quite different from those which made his reputation. He is mostly remembered for films in which he played a dangerous gangster ("The Asphalt Jungle", "The Killing"), a not entirely stable gunfighter ("Johny Guitar"), barking mad general ("Dr Strangelove") or a corrupt cop ("The Godfather"). But he played also the good (albeit tough) guys and here is an occasion to discover this less known aspect of his career. I was quite impressed with his acting here and I will look for some of his other less known films, because I would like to see him more.

I will stop here, to avoid any temptation of spoilers. I liked this film a lot and I will definitely keep the DVD for another viewing. A recommened thing for all amateurs of military films and of good cinema in general. ENJOY!


Eternal Sea [Blu-ray]
Eternal Sea [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Sterling Hayden
Offered by The DealNerd
Price: $15.62
15 used & new from $14.35

5.0 out of 5 stars A very good film about an amazing true story. A tribute to fighting men of US Navy - and their wives, who hold the "home front", January 25, 2016
This review is from: Eternal Sea [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Good, solid, oldie but goldie cinema. I liked this little known 1955 film A LOT. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

This film tells the true story of life, works, struggles and tribulations of Vice-Admiral John Madison "Uncle John" Hoskins (1898-1964) during years 1942-1951. His participation in both World War II and Korean War are an important part of the film, but quite a lot of time is devoted to, well, other topics, including the burden his career imposed to his wife and children. I simply cannot say much more in order to avoid spoilers.

I would advise you to NOT research admiral Hoskins before watching this film. "The eternal sea" follows very faithfully the real events and if you google too much, well, it will spoil your pleasure of discovering the whole story by yourself. And the story is worth discovering - it is not for nothing that Hoskins was for a time a familiar face for Americans, as his face was on the cover of many magazines (and for good reasons too)...

This is not exactly a war movie but rather a military biography, in which the two wars are of course very present, but the fighting scenes are few. The most important part of the story takes place in last months of WWII far from the frontlines and later in the post-war years, before the Korean War begins. Also, this film gives a lot of importance to the "home front" and the heavy, very heavy burden naval-military career places on the families. The wife of the admiral, Sue Hoskins (Alexis Smith), is a character as crucially important as the main hero - and her struggles and sacrifices are not lesser than those of her husband. Previously completely unknown to me actress Alexis Smith played her with a great skill - I will certainly look for more of her films.

Most of the film however is a one-Sterling-Hayden-show. In this film he plays a very noble character, quite different from those which made his reputation. He is mostly remembered for films in which he played a dangerous gangster ("The Asphalt Jungle", "The Killing"), a not entirely stable gunfighter ("Johny Guitar"), barking mad general ("Dr Strangelove") or a corrupt cop ("The Godfather"). But he played also the good (albeit tough) guys and here is an occasion to discover this less known aspect of his career. I was quite impressed with his acting here and I will look for some of his other less known films, because I would like to see him more.

I will stop here, to avoid any temptation of spoilers. I liked this film a lot and I will definitely keep the DVD for another viewing. A recommened thing for all amateurs of military films and of good cinema in general. ENJOY!


Interview
Interview
DVD ~ Michael Buscemi
Offered by gamecoma
Price: $7.74
94 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars "Do you realize how many men would kill to be standing as close as you are now?" "How many?" "Most!", January 22, 2016
This review is from: Interview (DVD)
SURPRISINGLY GOOD! I found this film much better than I expected. It was a really interesting experience watching it. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

Pierre Peders (Steve Buscemi) was once a brilliant journalist, covering foreign wars and major political events - now he is a broken man, doing second rate jobs. One of those is interviewing Katya (Sienna Miller), a very popular young actress, specialized in B-movies and soap-operas. Pierre hates his life, hates the task he was given and openly despises Katya, it is therefore only normal that their interview begins very badly. But it will last longer than expected and go into directions we cannot foresee initially... I will not say anything more about the film.

This remake of 2003 Dutch film "Interview" by Theo van Gogh (who was one year later murdered by a Muslim fanatic) is a surprisingly interesting thing. It was different from what I expected and surprised me many, many times. It can be also understood in many different ways and is ultimately quite deep. It is definitely a quite intelligent kind of entertainment.

This was I believe the fourth film directed by Steve Buscemi. I didn't see the previous ones, but this one he clearly aced. The convention here is similar to a theatre piece, as most of action takes place in one room (even if it is a big one) and there are only two characters who matter. The main pillar of the film is therefore the dialog, which is very good indeed - even if occasionally it turns a little bit weird.

On the surface of things this is a kind of war of sexes film, but there is not much of a fight here, as Katya has all the cards for her (beauty, social position, money, success and she is in her own appartment). Women usually have the upper hand in those things anyway and here Pierre is handicapped both by his age and also by the fact that he is a total trainwreck. I found that there was more of a class war waged here, as Pierre is an arrogant intellectual jerk, who despises the less educated young actress and feels completely superior to her - well, a lesson will be taught to him... It is finally another case of "hell has no fury as a woman insulted". Pierre is atrociously unpleasant to Katya and she takes issue with that - trouble will follow... But I will say no more here. Finally, this film reminds us very well another old truth: "who can understand a woman?".

Five stars may be a generous rating, but this film was such a pleasant surprise, that I simply have no other choice. I liked it - A LOT! A recommended viewing! ENJOY!


Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World
Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World
DVD ~ Russell Crowe
10 used & new from $0.50

5.0 out of 5 stars "Acheron" is a tough nut to crack. More than twice our guns, more than twice our numbers - and they will sell their lives dearly, January 19, 2016
BRILLIANT! I was very favourably surprised by this film. It is one of the best movies ever made about war on seas in the age of sail. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

May 1805, Napoleonic Wars. Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe, remarkable!) of HMS "Surprise" is ordered to pursue the French privateer "Acheron", and "sink, burn, or take her as a prize." We enter in the story at full speed, as both ships meet in the first minute. It turns out that "Acheron", far from being a simple privateer, is in fact a heavy frigate. It is also revealed that she managed to enter the southern Atlantic without being noticed because Napoleon purchased her from Americans – sailing from USA with her French crew she easily avoided British patrols, focused on French coasts…

American built "Acheron" is brand new and her design represents the nec plus ultra in naval construction (her hull is stronger, her battery more powerful and yet she is faster than HMS "Surprise"), which makes her a formidable adversary for the smaller and especially older British light frigate. Shocked by the first encounter, Aubrey nevertheless decides to carry his mission, as this mighty French vessel can inflict terrible damage to British commercial shipping and whaling fleet. If necessary, HMS "Surprise" will follow "Acheron" to infinity – and beyond… And then the film really begins.

The story of this long and dramatic sea chase makes for a great movie, masterfully directed by experienced veteran Peter Weir. The budget was generous (150 million dollars) and we can see the result on the screen. The scenario is strong and keeps surprising us - we cannot guess how it will all end… We get to know the men serving on HMS "Surprise" and start to care about them, which makes the film even more interesting.

I must admit with shame that I never read any books about Jack Aubrey adventures, therefore I am unable to make any comparisons between the film and the novels. It is however worth mentioning that in the book, the action took place during Second Independence War (1812-1814) and Jack Aubrey's antagonist was an American vessel, USS "Norfolk". Peter Weir preferred however to replace her with a French frigate, in order to not antagonize US viewers change …

I was quite impressed by Peter Weir portrayal of life and warfare on sea in the great age of sail. They are shown I believe rather faithfully, with all their cruelty but also with all their rough and grim beauty. HMS "Surprise crew lives a tough life, full of back breaking labour, with danger omnipresent, death lurking from every corner – with the added "bonus" of ferocious discipline, atrocious food and poor sleeping arrangements. Nevertheless, people who live, serve, fight and die on HMS "Surprise" are shown like a band of brothers from "Henry V". They are of course all submitted to the all-powerful master and commander but with Jack Aubrey being a good leader, this is actually a more or less willing arrangement (even if some people were probably pressed into the service). A more politically correct director could easily show the HMS "Surpirse" as a floating hell populated by slaves and ruled by a barbarian tyrant – but I believe Peter Weir's vision is closer to reality. Life on sail ships in Napoleonic Wars was a very, very tough thing, but it was not even remotely as bad as before the great mutinies of Spithead and Nore in 1797. Also, ever since the terrible mutiny on HMS "Hermione" in the same year, the worst abuses by commanding officers were frowned upon and as result leadership quality improved. Officers still had of course to be very tough and in this film it is shown very well, that those who were not tough enough and/or failed to maintain distance between them and simple sailors fared poorly – very poorly indeed…

There is a little bit of "Moby Dick" in this film, as the relentless pursuit of Great Bad French Frigate by Jack Aubrey starts to turn at one moment into a quasi-achabian obsession. However HMS "Surprise" is not the "Pequod" and Aubrey's actions are actually logical – he IS after all under imperious direct orders to catch "Acheron" and "sink, burn or take her as a prize". This is also a very masculine film, with some anonymous women appearing only in one short glimpse – on another hand it shows a very beautiful friendship, between Jack Aubrey and ship's surgeon, doctor Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany, excellent). All this, together with some very tough action scenes, makes "Master and Commander" into a movie mostly for guys I think.

I could certainly say a lot more about this film, but I will stop here, to avoid more spoilers. I was impressed by "Master and commander" and I completely cannot understand why it didn't fare better at box office. I would be delighted to see a sequel (after all there twenty books in the Aubrey-Maturin series) but sadly I don't think it will ever happen… I rented this film, but I think I will buy it one day, because it is worth not only to see more than once but also to be kept on the shelf. ENJOY!


I Wake Up Screaming
I Wake Up Screaming
DVD ~ Betty Grable
Price: $9.77
43 used & new from $5.03

5.0 out of 5 stars "I'll follow you into your grave! I'll write my name on your tombstone!" A story about a great tragedy and relentless hatred, January 16, 2016
This review is from: I Wake Up Screaming (DVD)
EXCELLENT! I love "film noir" and this 1941 oldie but goldie is amongst the best! I liked every single minute of it and couldn't figure out the whole puzzle until the last moment. A recommended viewing. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

PRECISION: this is a Region 1 NTSC DVD. It will NOT play on Region 2 PAL European equipment.

Two young beautiful sisters soldier on through life in New York in early 40s: Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis) is a waitress and her sister Jill (Betty Grable) is a typist. One day a kind of slightly shady smooth operator named Frankie Christopher (Victor Mature), who is a promoter by profession, notices Vicky and bets with two of his friends, that he can quickly make her into a renowned model or maybe even more... Vicky trusts Christopher, but Jill is very suspicious about him and doesn't hide it... Then tragedy occurs and when the police shows the film really begins... I will not say anything more about the story.

This film impressed me for many reasons. The scenario is strong. The mystery is well preserved but once we know the truth, the whole thing makes perfect sense. Dialogs are brilliant, witty and even if it is a dark movie, frequently funny. The "film noir" unique atmosphere is as dense as clouds on Venus. Characters are well designed, each having his own story to tell. And the story is simply great!

This is a rather short film (82 minutes) but every single second was well used, without even a single one being wasted. Because of that the director was able to "pack" the things so well and so tightly, that you would never think that only 82 minutes passed! It is an impressive management of time!

This film is also a very succesful mixture of many genres: "film noir" of course but also some romantic comedy and a more classical whodunit - and somehow it all works together perfectly!

Actors did VERY well. Betty Grable doesn't sing or danse here as in most of her movies - but this being her, the director simply HAD TO arrange two scenes, in which she shows her legs...))) Victor Mature is equally excellent in a role very different from his later Biblical dramas... As for Carole Landis, she simply SHINES! But possibly the best performance is that of Laird Cregar, who plays a very menacing and very HUGE police detective, named Ed Cornell, a remarkably complex and interesting character.

Another thing which I appreciated a lot is the use of "Over the rainbow" theme from "Wizard of Oz". I would never believe that you can use such a sweet song as the main theme for a very dark "film noir", but here it was used wonderfully! Kudos for the idea!

I LOVED this film and it impressed me. I will absolutely keep the DVD for another viewing! ENJOY!


Captain Phillips (DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy)
Captain Phillips (DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy)
DVD ~ Tom Hanks
Price: $4.75
105 used & new from $0.40

5.0 out of 5 stars An IMPRESSIVELY GOOD reconstitution of a real story, with an incredible performance of all actors. ENJOY!, January 16, 2016
EXCELLENT! I was deeply impressed by this film! Paul Greengrass signed here a genuine masterpiece. This is one of those films which will never age and will still be a darn good viewing once we are all long gone. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

This film tells a true story, about the fateful meeting which took place in 2009 between a huge American container ship "Maersk Alabama" and a bunch of Somali pirates. Two main characters are captain Phillips (Tom Hanks), the skipper of "Maersk Alabama" and Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi), the leader of the pirates. The film sticks very closely to the real facts, therefore I will not say anything more about the story, in order to avoid spoilers.

Exactly like in the earlier and equally formidable "United 93" Paul Greengrass managed to reproduce the feeling of reality of those events and keep the story close to the facts when in the same time adding all the necessary ingredients of an action thriller. The pace of the film is fast and nervous, the tension incredible, the characters interesting and even if the real issue of the whole situation is known in advance, we still let take ourselves for the ride - and it is a GREAT one!

Tom Hanks is of course very good in this film, but the real performance is that of young and inexperienced Somali-American actors, beginning with Barkhad Abdi, for whom it was the first contact with show business ever. Paul Greengrass directed them with incredible skill, because you would swear that they are all Hollywood veterans.

The pirates in this film seem to be a quite truthful image of real Somali sea bandits. They are clearly bad and very dangerous people but in the same time they are also kind of pathetic - especially when they try to boast... This film shows very well, that some poor, in fact destitute people (they clearly don't eat three meals every day) for whom it is natural to feel some sympathy, can also be evil - very evil... Of course, they will also always find justification for the evil they do - when in the same time there are countless thousands of equally miserable people who soldier on honestly through life and don't commit crimes...

This narration of a real story mixing a genuine sea adventure with elements of action film and some social drama is an IMPRESSIVE achievement. I loved every minute of it and I recommend it with ethusiasm. A must for all amateurs of good cinema. ENJOY!


Northanger Abbey
Northanger Abbey
by Jane Austen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.19
18 used & new from $2.86

5.0 out of 5 stars “If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” And so she does..., January 16, 2016
This review is from: Northanger Abbey (Paperback)
Reading this first novel Jane Austen ever wrote (but which was the last to be published) was a very pleasant experience. Below, more of my impressions, with very limited SPOILERS.

This is the story of coming of age of Catherine Morland, aged 17, a silly and immature but good-hearted, honest and likeable young damsel, who meets two very different suitors during her sejour in the good city of Bath somewhere around 1810. The heroin, let's stress it again, is very likeable but not particulalry clever and especially she is mentaly completely immersed in her favourite books - gothic novels. This lack of maturity and common sense as well as a certain estrangement from reality will play her a couple of nasty tricks, from which she will have to learn some valuable lessons... I will say no more about the plot.

Other than the usual delights of Jane Austen humour, wit and sharp social observations, this book offers an extra treat - it is the one in which we can see the real birth of author's talent. The first half of the book makes for a pleasant reading but not much more, as author, who was only 23 when writing her first novel, clearly was still hesitating, treading carefully and learning her trade. But past the middle point, suddenly we see the young writer spreading her wings and soar! Some writers graduate from honest labourer to gret master from one book to another but I think it is the first time I saw the birth of a major writer in the middle of a novel. It impressed me greatly.

My personal copy of "Northanger Abbey" was a Barnes & Noble "old style" hardback, part of "Barnes & Noble Classics" collection. Its very "passé" aspect (going as far as artificially yellowed paper and irregularly shaped edges of pages) actually increased the pleasure I took in reading this very pleasant, entertaining and in many moments quite amusing short novel. I will definitely keep this book and pass it one day to my kids...

I will say no more here about the book. Get it, read it, love it and one day come back to it. ENJOY!


Northanger Abbey (Penguin Classics)
Northanger Abbey (Penguin Classics)
by Jane Austen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.00
157 used & new from $1.25

5.0 out of 5 stars “If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” And so she does..., January 16, 2016
Reading this first novel Jane Austen ever wrote (but which was the last to be published) was a very pleasant experience. Below, more of my impressions, with very limited SPOILERS.

This is the story of coming of age of Catherine Morland, aged 17, a silly and immature but good-hearted, honest and likeable young damsel, who meets two very different suitors during her sejour in the good city of Bath somewhere around 1810. The heroin, let's stress it again, is very likeable but not particulalry clever and especially she is mentaly completely immersed in her favourite books - gothic novels. This lack of maturity and common sense as well as a certain estrangement from reality will play her a couple of nasty tricks, from which she will have to learn some valuable lessons... I will say no more about the plot.

Other than the usual delights of Jane Austen humour, wit and sharp social observations, this book offers an extra treat - it is the one in which we can see the real birth of author's talent. The first half of the book makes for a pleasant reading but not much more, as author, who was only 23 when writing her first novel, clearly was still hesitating, treading carefully and learning her trade. But past the middle point, suddenly we see the young writer spreading her wings and soar! Some writers graduate from honest labourer to gret master from one book to another but I think it is the first time I saw the birth of a major writer in the middle of a novel. It impressed me greatly.

My personal copy of "Northanger Abbey" was a Barnes & Noble "old style" hardback, part of "Barnes & Noble Classics" collection. Its very "passé" aspect (going as far as artificially yellowed paper and irregularly shaped edges of pages) actually increased the pleasure I took in reading this very pleasant, entertaining and in many moments quite amusing short novel. I will definitely keep this book and pass it one day to my kids...

I will say no more here about the book. Get it, read it, love it and one day come back to it. ENJOY!


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