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Movie Review: Moonlight

 

Every year when I find out what film are nominated for an Academy Award, I do my best to try and see at least most of them. I figured if they are up for such a prestigious award, the films must be really good.

This year I only had the opportunity to see two of the films nominated for Best Picture – Hell or High Water and Manchester by the Sea. I also reviewed both films on my blog.

The film that took the top honors was Moonlight. Moonlight is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

After reading the description for Moonlight, I wasn’t sure if it was “my cup of tea,” so to speak. I like dramas, but this one sounded like it could be a bit intense. But I was curious about the film, especially because it beat out such tremendously popular films like La La Land and Hidden Figures.

I received a free screener copy of Moonlight to review.

Moonlight follows the life of a young boy (who later grows up to be a man in the film) named Chiron. He’s played by three different actors (child, teen, adult).

Chiron had a rough life as a child. His mother was a drug addict and his biological father was no where to be found. Chiron spent his childhood surrounded by bullies and living in a crack house. He is referred to as “Little” (his nickname).

One day Chiron is discovered by a drug dealer name Juan. Juan takes pitty on the boy and brings him home to his girlfriend Teresa for the night. The next day he’s returned to his mother Paula. It is clear to Juan that Paula is a horrible mother, and for that reason he continues to spend time with young Chiron.

Paula constantly puts Chiron down, including calling him derogatory homosexual names (I prefer not to write about what she calls him). Chiron doesn’t understand what those words mean or why his mother would call him that.

Juan tells Chiron not to let his mother, or others, make fun of him.

Time moves on and Chiron is now a teenager. He is still being bullied. Chiron also continues to spend time with Juan’s girlfriend Teresa (even though Juan had passed away). His mother Paula is still addicted to drugs and now prostitutes herself for drug money, as well as has Chiron help fund her addiction.

Chiron has a friend named Kevin. He has become increasingly more interested in him as “more than a friend.” I won’t get into the details of this part.

Fast forward to Chiron as an adult. He is now a drug dealer, which should come as no surprise considering his upbringing.

Surprisingly, Chiron’s mother now feels remorse for what she did to him while he was growing up. Sadly it comes a bit too late. Perhaps his life would have turned out differently if she only realized how she treated him a lot sooner in life.

Chiron also reconnects with his old friend Kevin. What will become of that relationship, considering how they were more than “just friends” when they were teens? To find out you need to pick up (or download) Moonlight. Look for it where ever movies are sold.

The film comes with bonus features.

BLU-RAY/DVD SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary with Director Barry Jenkins
  • “Ensemble of Emotion: The Making of Moonlight” Featurette
  • “Poetry Through Collaboration: The Music of Moonlight” Featurette
  • “Cruel Beauty: Filming in Miami” Featurette

I know I didn’t do the greatest job describing this film. My description doesn’t really put much depth into this film.

This is one of those films that you continue to dwell on long after the end credits are done rolling. It’s a deep and poignant. I felt emotionally drained after watching the film. It’s no wonder this film won the Academy Award for Best Picture. I have not seen all the other films in this category, but after watching this film I don’t think the other films came close.

Wow. Just wow.

This film might not be everyone’s “cup of tea” since it deals with homosexuality. Just to give you a “heads up” on that one.

The acting in this film was suburb. I personally felt very invested in the characters. They seemed so real, as I’m sure there are plenty of real life people going through the same life experiences (drug addicted parent, bullying, making poor life choices, trying to redeem ones self…).

This is NOT a “family friendly” film. I might let my almost 20 year old watch this, but I’m not sure about my 17 year old. I think it’s just too “raw” for him.

Everything about this film worked wonderfully together – acting, music, cinematography… It’s an all around great film. Like I said, this is one that you’ll still be thinking about long after you watch it. It really makes you think.

You can check out the film on it’s official Facebook and Twitter pages. The official hashtag for the film is #Moonlight.

Here is the film’s trailer for your enjoyment.

 

Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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There are no more “damsels in distress”

 

Girl Power

As a mom, I have always taught both of our children (our son and daughter) that they can be whomever they want to be. We’ve never tried to steer them in any direction other than the direction THEY wanted to go towards.

I appreciate that there are plenty of strong women that can be role models for our daughter. I don’t ever want her to think she can’t achieve something simply because she’s a female. There are so many amazing women who are busting through that “glass ceiling” that often holds some women back.

Women can do anything a man can do. We can be Firefighters, Police Officers, hold government positions, race cars, climb Mt. Everest… we can do it all.

Gone are the days where a woman’s role was to stay home to cook, clean and care for the children. Women can – and still – do all that, but they can also find cures for diseases and fight in the military.

It’s great to see that entertainment is also showcasing strong women. I like that our daughter has plenty of movies and television shows available that have a female in a strong, leading role.

Studies have shown that girls as young as six are influenced by gender stereotypes, and that role models from the entertainment they choose can have a lasting effect.

We’re a Netflix family. Our daughter especially watches Netflix almost exclusively. I can’t even remember the last time she watched a network television show. Her current favorites are Shameless, One Tree Hill and Parks and Recreation. Our daughter will be 20 this year so she watches grown up shows.

There are plenty of great shows for younger girls to watch that feature strong girls. You have Violet’s (A Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix series) quick wit, Elena’s (the new One Day at a Time series, also on Netflix) activist mentality, or Deidra & Laney’s (Deidra & Laney Rob a Train – airing on 3/17/17) unorthodox thinking. You also have someone from my favorite Netflix series, Stranger Things, where Eleven is helping to save her new friends and even a cartoon character like Tip (Dreamwork’s Home series) showing that true friendship knows no bounds.

For older girls shows like Girl Meets World, Fuller House and Gilmore Girls also have characters that are strong willed and don’t fall victim to old fashioned gender roles.

Images from AMC The Walking Dead

My personal favorites are the women of The Walking Dead. You will not find a “damsel in distress” among any of those characters (Michonne, Maggie, Carol, Rosita, Beth…). As for myself, I don’t think I could be as strong as fierce as those women. No way! I’d see a zombie come at me and I’d just lose it. I’d want to be saved! There is no way I can walk up to a hungry zombie and stab him/her in the head. I’d be afraid of becoming it’s lunch. But for the women of The Walking Dead it’s no big deal. They do what needs to be done.

Even though it’s a fictional show about zombies, the female characters make great role models for young women. In my opinion anyway.

Our daughter is also a big fan of The Walking Dead. I don’t know if she’s as tough as the women on the show, but I know she’s a lot tougher than I am.

As you can see, there are plenty of shows for girl, both young and old, on Netflix that put females in leading roles.

 

Do you have a daughter or granddaughter? Is she strong minded? Who does she look up to as a role model? What does she aspire to be when she grows up?

Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.

For more information about Netflix, visit Netflix.com. They can also be found on social media.

Kimberly

*I have partnered with Netflix to bring you this information. I have received free service and promotional products in exchange for my participation. There is no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Movie Review: A New Life

 

Now available on DVD and Digital Download is the tug-at-your-heartstrings drama A New Life.

A New Life stars Jonathan Patrick Moore (“Blind Spot”) and Erin Bethea (Fireproof).

I love to hear stories about how people meet as children and stay together forever. Stories like that make me believe if fate.

My husband and I are totally convinced that fate has always been trying to bring us together since we were young children. There are just too many “near misses” and coincidences to make us think otherwise. When we share them with others they too feel as though we were destined to be together.

I wish we had met as children, just like the characters in this film, Ben (Moore) and Ava (Bethea).

Ben and Ava met as children. They quickly became the best of friends.

As time went on, Ben and Ava remained close friends until their friendship bloomed into a budding relationship. They eventually became a couple in high school.

As what happens with many young couples when they head off to college, distance and the absence of their significant other lends to temptation to be with someone else. Even with those temptations, Ben and Ava continue to stay together.

The young couple go on to get married.

Everything seems perfect. Ben and Ava seem like a couple that will live “happily ever after…,” or will they? Life has other plans for them – one that will test their strength and commitment. Can love really conquer everything? To find out you need to pick up a copy, or download, A New Life. Look for it where eve movies are sold.

Here is the film’s trailer for your enjoyment.

 

The film is a bit predictable, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not going to tug at your heart strings, even if you have some idea about how the film is going to turn out.

I’ll warn you right now that it’s a tear jerker. Think along the lines of most Nicholas Sparks films. You should keep a box or two of tissues on hand.

The acting was fairly good. I personally enjoyed the characters and felt that they were portrayed very well. I especially enjoyed the younger versions of Ben and Ava. I loved the sweetness and innocence of those younger characters.

Not that this film was meant to teach you any great life lessons (the film was more for entertainment), I DID learn something from it – that life is very precious and that you should savor each and every single moment – no matter how big or small it may be. Because, as we all know, life can change in a heartbeat.

The film is rated PG. I think that is only because the film is “deep” and younger viewers might not be able to relate or understand the more grown up subject matter.

There are some bonus features – audio commentary with Director Drew Waters and Erin Bethea, a 5-part look “Behind the Scenes” and two featurettes, “Ava’s Journey” and “About New Life.”

Normally I watch the bonus features, but I haven’t been well lately (Bronchitis and a mystery issue with my leg). I’ll eventually watch them as I try to watch all bonus features. I feel like you have a better understanding and appreciation for a film when you learn what went on to bring it to life.

I know we’re expecting a lot of snow in the northeast this week, so if you are looking for a good film to watch while you snuggle on the couch with your loved one, check out A New Life. 

Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Disney’s Moana is available TODAY on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD

 

I have a confession to make. I can sing along to EVERY song on Disney’s Moana’s soundtrack. My boss downloaded it off iTunes and the kids we work with (kindergartners) request to listen to it EVERY DAY. They like to listen to it during playtime as well as nap/rest time.

My husband even likes a few of the songs from the soundtrack. After we saw the film in the theater he downloaded “How Far I’ll Go.” After we watched the film again he downloaded Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s song from the film, “You’re Welcome.”

Disney’s Moana is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

Moana stars the voice talents of newcomer Auli‘i Cravalho as the voice of Moana, Dwayne Johnson as the voice of Maui, Temuera Morrison as Moana’s no-nonsense father, Chief Tui; Rachel House as Moana’s trusted Gramma Tala; and Nicole Scherzinger as Moana’s playful and strong-willed mother, Sina.

This film is AMAZING! I was in awe of it the first time I saw it. The story… the spectacular animation… the fun songs… it’s an all around great film.

Moana has always been attracted to the ocean, ever since she was a toddler. Something called her to the sea – even though her father, the chief, strictly forbid it. He said there is nothing but storms and dangers beyond their coral reef.

Moana was being groomed to take over the island one day as their new chief. Moana wanted to do what was right, and cared for her island’s people, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that the ocean was calling her.

With the help of her “crazy” grandmother, Moana learns that her people used to be sailors who’d travel the ocean looking for new lands. That all stopped after a demi-God named Maui stole a stone known as the “Heart of Te Fiti.” Ever since then bad things happen out in the sea, including a horrific fire/lava monster who wants nothing more than to get the Heart of Te Fiti.

The only way Moana can save her island from certain doom is to locate the demi-God Maui and have him return the Heart of Te Fiti to it’s rightful place.

Against her parent’s wishes Moana sets sail to find Maui and complete her quest to return the Heart of Te Fiti and restore peace and harmony to the ocean once again. This quest is easier said than done when Moana finds out just how un-helpful Maui can be.

On their journey the duo, along with Moana’s pet chicken, face many dangers including dangerous coconut people and a gigantic crab.

Will Moana be able to return the Heart of Te Fiti back to it’s rightful place and return people to the ocean again? Or will she fail her quest? To find out you nee to pick up or download Moana. Look for it where ever movies are sold.

The story line is wonderful. The characters are very likable. The songs are so infectious that you’ll find yourself singing along to them too.

I honestly cannot think of one negative thing about this film EXCEPT wee little ones might find the fire/lava monster a bit scary. Aside from that, this is an ideal family friendly movie that will appeal to all ages, both young and old.

The animation in this film is incredible. It’s so realistic! You’d swear you are going to get splash by ocean water as you are watching it – it looks THAT real. The Disney animators really outdid themselves on this amazing film.

Of course there are plenty of great bonus features worth checking out. I almost always recommend checking out the bonus features because you’ll learn to appreciate the film more, as well a learn some cool things you might have missed when you watched the film.

Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray & Digital 3D/HD/SD:

  • Theatrical Short Film: “Inner Workings” – With introduction by the filmmakers, is the story of the internal struggle between a man’s pragmatic, logical side and his free-spirited, adventurous half. Created by a small team at Walt Disney Animation Studios in a unique, fast-paced style that blends CG and traditional hand-drawn animation, the short explores the importance of finding balance in daily life.
  • Maui Mini-Movie: “Gone Fishing” – When Maui decides it’s time to take charge of the ocean and catch his next meal, Moana must show him the error of his ways … with a little help from her friends!
  • Voice of the Islands – An in-depth look at how Pacific Island people and cultures inspired the filmmakers to create the story of “Moana.”
  • Things You Didn’t Know About …
    • Meet the stars of “Moana” in this dynamic Q&A featuring Dwayne Johnson, newcomer Auli‘i Cravalho, and famed animation directors Ron and John.
    • Meet the musical team behind “Moana” in this fascinating Q&A featuring Opetaia Foa‘i, Mark Mancina and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
  • Island Fashion – Find out how costume designer Neysa Bové took on the unique challenge of creating costumes using materials and techniques native to the islands of Oceania.
  • They Know the Way: Making the Music of “Moana” – Musicians Opetaia Foa‘I, Marc Mancina and Lin-Manuel Miranda take us on a personal journey through their involvement in the movie and how it changed their lives.
  • Fishing for Easter Eggs – Dive deep into the ocean and fish for the Easter Eggs hidden by the animators at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
  • The Elements of … – This series of four mini-docs explores the technical achievements behind some of the ground-breaking effects used in the film.
    • Mini Maui – Meet “Mini Maui,” Maui’s tattoo sidekick. Animated by legendary hand-drawn animator Eric Goldberg, we explore how the 2D world collides with CG animation to bring the demigod’s tattoos to life.
    • Water – In the movie, the ocean is a character. This piece explores how the water is given a personality, along with the technical feats of creating a believable ocean landscape farther than the eye can see.
    • Lava – Te Kā is a creature made of lava, smoke and fire. This piece dives into the challenges of making an animated creature of massive scale brought to fiery life by character, technical and effects animators.
    • Hair – One of the greatest technical achievements of the film was the animation of the beautiful, curly hair on Moana and Maui. Take a look at the hair-raising detail that goes into animating each strand, adding performance to the movie that has never been seen before.
  • Deleted Song: “Warrior Face” – With introduction by songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda.
  • Deleted Scenes – Ron and John introduce the following deleted scenes:  Race the Wind/Ties that Bind; Discussing Moana’s Future; Under the Sea; Grandmother’s Warning/Legend of Maui; Education of Moana; Father, Daughter, Boat; and Canoe Race.
  • Music Video: “How Far I’ll Go” – Performed by Alessia Cara.
  • “How Far I’ll Go Around the World” – Multi-language reel of the song “How Far I’ll Go.”
  • Audio Commentary – With directors Ron and John.

DVD:

  • Theatrical Short Film: “Inner Workings,” Music Video: “How Far I’ll Go” and Audio Commentary

The “Easter Egg” bonus feature was really interesting. The “Easter Eggs” are really hard to find but I did pick up on Sven from Tangled when he appeared in Moana. That was the only one. The other ones go by too quickly or are too tiny to notice. Kudos to those people who are able to pick them all out.

There are a lot of bonus features. I haven’t had the opportunity to watch them all, but I plan on it. I tend to skip commentary (I’m not a fan) but I do love all the behind the scenes features, deleted scenes and I found the “Things You Didn’t Know” feature fun too (it’s a Q&A with the cast and crew).

Moana is a must see film. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see it yet, I strongly recommend it.

Below you’ll find some movie related crafts for your enjoyment. Simply click on the image to save on to your computer and print out at your convenience.

Download Moana Island Crafts
Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Marvel’s Doctor Strange – now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD

 

Available today on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD is the mega-hit movie from Marvel Studios – Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg and Benjamin Bratt.

Normally I’d give you a brief synopsis of a film in my own words. This film is a bit more complicated to explain in a brief amount of time (not to mention I have no clue how to properly spell many of the names). For that reason I’ll use the brief synopsis from the studio.

From Marvel Studios comes Doctor Strange, the story of world-famous neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident renders his hands useless. When traditional medicine fails him, he travels to the remote Kamar-Taj in search of a cure, but instead discovers the mystical arts and becomes a powerful sorcerer battling dark forces bent on destroying our reality.

Check out the film’s trailer. This is the theatrical trailer – the movie it’s self is now available for home viewing.

 

As you can see, the film has some incredible special effects. At times I was more in awe of the effects than what was being said or done on the screen. The special effects totally blew my mind.

This film is a bit “trippy.” It reminds me of a cross between The Matrix and Inception. 

Admittedly I did get lost in the story here and there. In my defense, I’ve been sick with Bronchitis and on pain medication for Sciatica. That could be why I got a bit lost. My husband watched the film with me and was able to keep up with everything happening on the screen and the story line. He was able to keep me up on what was going on.

When I first heard that Benedict Cumberbatch was being cast in the role of Doctor Strange, I thought it was a strange choice (no pun intended). But after watching the movie it seems as if the role was made for him. He played his character flawlessly.

Tilda Swinton was also a great casting choice. That woman is like a chameleon. She can pull off ANY role, no matter how unusual it is. She has a very androgynous look to her. She can pull off being female, male or something in between. I was very impressed with her role/character in this film too.

Overall I found the film to be incredibly entertaining (seriously… the special effects are mind blowing!). I would recommend not watching it when you are not feeling well or hyped up on medication (ha ha).

Of course the film comes with plenty of worth-watching special features. There are NO bonus features with the DVD – only Blu-ray and digital download.

DIGITAL HD & BLU-RAY:

  • Featurettes
    • A Strange Transformation – Open your eye to a new dimension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and see how the filmmakers brought one of comic books’ greatest characters to life.
    • Strange Company – Find out what it’s like for the cast to work on a Marvel film, and how Director Scott Derrickson engineered one of the most ambitious, imaginative films ever.
    • The Fabric of Reality – Take a closer look at the movie’s extraordinary sets, meticulously crafted costumes and amazingly detailed production elements.
    • Across Time and Space – Explore the countless hours of dance and fight choreography the actors endured in preparation for their physically demanding roles.
    • The Score-cerer Supreme – Join Composer Michael Giacchino and a full orchestra during live recording sessions, and experience the movie’s mind-bending music.
  • Marvel Studios Phase 3 Exclusive Look – Get an early peek at Marvel’s spectacular upcoming films, including Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Team Thor: Part 2 – See more of the hilarious partnership between Thor and his roommate Darryl in this satirical short.
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Strange Meets Daniel Drumm
    • Kaecilius Searches for Answers
    • The Kamar-Taj Courtyard
    • Making Contact
    • Lost in Kathmandu
  • Gag Reel
  • Audio Commentary by Director Scott Derrickson

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE:

  • Through the Keyhole: The Science of the MCU – Discover how Marvel grounds all its films in real science, and explore the connection between science, magic and imagination.

I haven’t been able to watch all the bonus features as of yet. I do recommend that you watch at least A Strange Transformation and The Fabric of Reality to truly understand what it took to bring this film to life. This film is all about the incredible special effects. I don’t think the film would have been the same without them.

I also recommend that you watch through all the end credits for some “Easter Eggs.” I won’t give them away, but if you are a Marvel fan you’ll want to see them.

Look for Doctor Strange where ever movies are sold.

I have some movie related activities you can download and enjoy for free. Simply click on the graphic (below) to save them to your computer.

Have you seen the film? If so, what did you think about it? Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.

Download Doctor Strange 3 Tests
 

Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea

 

Now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download is the Academy Award nominated film, Manchester by the Sea. The film is nominated for Best Picture.

It’s not often that I see Oscar nominated films. I tend to see animated films and horror movies in theaters. I do watch dramas, but usually from the comfort of my own home on the premium channels or on Blu-ray/DVD.

Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges and Gretchen Mol, to name a few.

Affleck stars as Lee. Lee is a handyman that lives alone in his Boston apartment. One day he is contacted by a family friend that his older brother had a heart attack. Before Lee can make it to his brother, his brother dies.

Lee is strapped with the uncomfortable task of letting George’s son, Patrick, know that his father had died.

Lee has to return to his hometown of Manchester in order to bring Patrick the bad news. There are reasons why Lee is not happy or comfortable being in Manchester. Viewers don’t find out until later on what his reasons are through a series of flashbacks.

To his surprise, Lee was named Patrick’s guardian. Lee is not suitable to raise a teenage boy. Why Joe (Lee’s late brother) chose him, no one knows.

The movie goes through a lot of ups and downs as Lee tries to be a parent to Patrick, and how Patrick is dealing with not only the loss of his father, but also his alcoholic mother coming back into his life.

As the movie progresses we get to meet Lee’s ex-wife and find out his reasons for not wanting to be in Manchester and why it’s a surprise that Lee was named Patrick’s guardian.

In a way both Lee and Patrick help one another overcome things in their lives that have been bringing them down.

What is Lee’s reasons for not wanting to be a father figure to Patrick and remaining in Manchester? Will the pair be able to come together? To find out you need to pick up a copy of Manchester by the Sea. Look for it where ever movies are sold.

I heard some people refer to this movie as a dark comedy, but honestly, I found it to be a very emotional film. There were a few moments of levity, but not enough for me to refer to this as a comedy. For me, this was a drama all the way with some funny moments thrown in for good measures.

MBTS_1562.CR2

The cinematography in this film was superb. It made me want to hop on a boat and move to Manchester. It looks like a beautiful place to live.

Casey Affleck is up for Best Actor in this year’s Academy Awards. I can see why. His performance was brilliant.

This film will draw you in emotionally. You’ll find that you get emotionally invested in just about every character, right down to Lee’s ex-wife. This film will certainly tug at your heart strings.

Beautifully acted… beautiful location… beautiful story… I can see why Manchester by the Sea is up for awards this season.

There are bonus features with this film.

  • “Emotional Lives: The Making of Manchester by the Sea” Featurette
  • A Conversation with Director/Writer Kenneth Lonergan
  • Deleted Scenes

The Making of Manchester by the Sea is worth watching. It shows you how this touching film came to life.

Look for Manchester by the Sea where ever movies are sold.

To learn more you can visit the film’s official website, or “like” the film on Facebook or follow the film on Twitter.

Below is the trailer for your enjoyment.

 

Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. sp;

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