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Top 25: Discussion of Nominated Films on Memory


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A couple of nominations just posted:

 

The Girl who Leapt Through Time is a movie about memory that doesn't reveal itself as such until the very end--but the protagonist's nigh-obsessive attempts to correct past mistakes strikes me as immensely important to the theme of "memory." 

 

This is very intriguing, especially as we have little animation on the current list.

 

 

I nominated Heartbeat Detector last night - as I recall, it's in our Top 100, and I think it deals eloquently with the consequences of the failure of collective memory - how the dehumanizing aspects of Nazism are being replayed in corporate culture, for one thing, which festers and drives to madness at least one of the film's key characters.

 

 

Hope this was seconded, this is one of the best nominations so far. Excellent summary argument in its favor. I am toying with nominating some latter Godard as something like In Praise of Love deals explicitly with the loss of historical memory, but I fear most find the latter Godard insufferable.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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A couple of nominations just posted:

 

The Girl who Leapt Through Time is a movie about memory that doesn't reveal itself as such until the very end--but the protagonist's nigh-obsessive attempts to correct past mistakes strikes me as immensely important to the theme of "memory." 

 

This is very intriguing, especially as we have little animation on the current list.

 

 

I nominated Heartbeat Detector last night - as I recall, it's in our Top 100, and I think it deals eloquently with the consequences of the failure of collective memory - how the dehumanizing aspects of Nazism are being replayed in corporate culture, for one thing, which festers and drives to madness at least one of the film's key characters.

 

 

Hope this was seconded, this is one of the best nominations so far. Excellent summary argument in its favor. I am toying with nominating some latter Godard as something like In Praise of Love deals explicitly with the loss of historical memory, but I fear most find the latter Godard insufferable.

 

 

If you nominate IN PRAISE OF LOVE, I will second it.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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This is very intriguing, especially as we have little animation on the current list.

 

 

This just reminded me of the anime short collection Memories. While I remember little of the second and third short, the first—"Magnetic Rose" (directed by Kōji Morimoto of Akira fame) still bounces around in my mind on a regular basis. It's been a while since I've seen this short, but from what I remember it has a lot going on in regard to how memories (literally, metaphorically) can linger, sometimes when you don't want them to.

 

If anyone has seen this...would it be worth nominating? (Of course, the nature of the anthology makes it a complex nomination too.)

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Just an FYI for everyone, I will update the nomination list again soon.  Whenever I do that, I'm always cross-checking the directors and the release years because they are not always entered or entered correctly, so it usually takes some time.

Edited by J.A.A. Purves
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This is very intriguing, especially as we have little animation on the current list.

 

 

This just reminded me of the anime short collection Memories. While I remember little of the second and third short, the first—"Magnetic Rose" (directed by Kōji Morimoto of Akira fame) still bounces around in my mind on a regular basis. It's been a while since I've seen this short, but from what I remember it has a lot going on in regard to how memories (literally, metaphorically) can linger, sometimes when you don't want them to.

 

If anyone has seen this...would it be worth nominating? (Of course, the nature of the anthology makes it a complex nomination too.)

 

 

I thought of nominating it, myself. As soon as the topic was announced, I dug up a copy and gave it a watch [well, most of a watch--I didn't finish the last short]. I thought "Magnetic Rose" was marvelous, though--really, it's stuck with me in a way that the second didn't.

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I thought of nominating it, myself. As soon as the topic was announced, I dug up a copy and gave it a watch [well, most of a watch--I didn't finish the last short]. I thought "Magnetic Rose" was marvelous, though--really, it's stuck with me in a way that the second didn't.

 

 

Right! After I typed the above, I went and read the Wikipedia entry on the film. The second and third shorts aren't bad, but are no where near as good as "Magnetic Rose." I'm also having a hard time trying to figure out how (or if!) they tie into the collection's title. Still, I'd love to nominate this, but I feel like I'd be nominating a third of a movie. 

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I like the blurring of chronology, but I'm not sure if that involves memory beyond turning the film into a flashback, which I don't feel is enough to qualify a film about memory.

No, no - the film isn't a flashback and there is no framing device. Our glimpse of Jenny Agutter's character as an adult is a "flash-forward," and it's not important in itself except insofar as it clarifies what's going on in the rest of the film. I'm saying that the film as a whole is a cinematic reflection on memory. Memory pervades the film at the most fundamental level, the level of form.

I meant to say that a film needs to involve memory in a way other than using a flashback or flash-forward, but that was a pretty terribly worded sentence on my part.

 

Anyways, I've been thinking about it, and memory does shape the entire experience of the girl and her brother, memories of their past life as well as their experiences with the Aborigine.

 

Rushmore, I think you are largely correct here. Most of Roeg's films contain a reflection on the way cinema can capture the texture of memory well - which I agree occurs in Walkabout.

Hm.  I think I might have to nominate Don't Look Now, which IMO involves memory the same ways as Walkabout, but with even stronger connections.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Could anyone speak to whether Distant Voices, Still Lives deserves a nomination? A clip of it from The Story of Film: An Odyssey made me think it might, but I haven't seen it yet.

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Rushmore, I think you are largely correct here. Most of Roeg's films contain a reflection on the way cinema can capture the texture of memory well - which I agree occurs in Walkabout.

Hm.  I think I might have to nominate Don't Look Now, which IMO involves memory the same ways as Walkabout, but with even stronger connections.

 

 

This was among the first films that came to mind for the topic. My problem with nominating Don't Look, however, is that memory does not seem to play as much a role in the film as a totemic sense of doom. The past experiences of their marriage influences his experience of the present, but I think the film is really carried by his present experience of fear, anxiety, etc...

 

Cultural memory also plays a role in the film through the building restoration subplot. A few pivotal scenes take place in mid-restoration religious spaces, which seems an intentional nod to the idea that our deeply rooted psychological experiences of life are embedded in the kinds of sacred spaces that give them physical shape - in the case of Don't Look Now, these spaces are in severe disrepair.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Could anyone speak to whether Distant Voices, Still Lives deserves a nomination?

 

One of the issues we'll have to wrestle with -- maybe individually, maybe as a group -- is the distinctions between memory and nostalgia. Distant Voices, Still Lives is a nostalgic film, and Davies is such a nostalgic and autobiographical filmmaker, but I don't know if nostalgia alone qualifies a film for this list--not as I imagine it, at least.

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Ryan, I see you nominated Resnais's film, JE T'AIME, JE T'AIME. I'm dying to see it. How do I go about this? Do you have a copy I can borrow? (You can message me of Facebook, if you like).

 

The 35 mm restoration is coming to Toronto next week Thursday and I just bought my ticket. So, I'll be definitely seeing it before we vote on the list.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just nominated Millennium Actress, an anime from Satoshi Kon (director of Paprika) about a director and his camera man who seek out a famous, reclusive, elderly, retired actress to interview her for a documentary they are making.  As she tells them the story of her life, the film initially shows it using flashbacks, but her memories of her life quickly begin to blur with her actual films, and then instead of filming the interview, the director and the camera man start filming those memories and partaking in them as well.  Furthermore, the memories of the actress are primarily driven by a memory of a chance encounter she had with a painter as a child and her desire to keep a promise to him.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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I'd forgotten about that one. As much as I like Paprika and Paranoia Agent, Millennium Actress keeps growing on me and might even be my favorite Kon. The structure and story are similar to Sunset Boulevard, but it ends up in a stranger place than that, because of the reasons Evan noted.

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The World's End was released after the 2012 cutoff point, but this might be a film worthy of being an exception.  If I recall pretty much everybody here enjoyed the film to some degree.  

 

The basic premise of the film is to re-live the old glory days connected to the concept of a mid-life crisis.  The film has various flashbacks to the characters in their youths and has the characters reminiscing at various times about their memories.  It has one of the characters trying to re-live his old memories and another character seeking revenge for what he remembers of being bullied and the damage it caused.  It has the theme of going back to ones hometown and discovering that it's not quite how one remembered it.  Of not being remembered by others when one had considered themselves to be the "big stuff" around town and worthy of memory and the deflation this would cause.

 

It's intentionally riffing on these themes, connected to midlife crisis, but then we find out that a lot of this has been exagerrated because most of the towns people are "robots" (or, I guess I shouldn't actually call them that.....) who have selective memory.  Selective memory becomes not only a running joke, but also a theme in the film, connected to the fact that the main character has selective memory.

 

At one point we see one of the "robots" trying to pretend that he remembers the main characters.

 

The secondary "sidekick" character is angry because of his bad memories and must forgive and heal from them.  The main character is stuck in the past and still living in the glory days, being memories of when he was somebody special and when his times were happy.  We find out that this is really all that he has and that the thing that is keeping him going is to re-visit and to fulfill what was never completely accomplished about that earlier pub crawl.  This character has memories of being "cool", but the other characters have memories of him being a screwup that did things that hurt them, albeit mostly in smaller ways.  Again, pointing to his selective memory.

 

The film also has the theme of the characters going through the same basic "steps" of that ealier pub crawl years before.  It is partially replaying the memories.  They end up on the hill after having lost two members, just as before.  At one point the main character is pleased that one of the other members had made it longer into the pub crawl then he did on the previous occasion.  It also has the theme of going back to discover that the pubs had been "starbucked."  Being that it played on the idea of going back to find that some place you had loved had been revamped to be the same as so many other places.  But is that actually a bad thing, or has ones selective memory viewed the earlier pub as being that much better than it really was and it has in fact been improved, but it might not at first seem improved to ones mind because it doesn't "carry" the good memories that one has.

 

The whole film is hinged on the idea of going back to the past and thinking that the town has changed as compared to memories, when it's really the person who has changed.  But of course in this case the town has changed, because it has become over run by aliens who don't remember them.  Of course the characters have changed as well.  They are both the new and the old.  We are the person of now, plus the person we used to be to a certain degree because of what is left of our memories of the past and our perception of ourselves in this. 

 

In fact, memory is what drives this story.

Edited by Attica
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I think you make a lot of good points, Attica, but I believe we decided we were not going to allow exceptions to the Dec. 31, 2012 cutoff.

 

EDIT: We did.

Edited by Evan C

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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From that post.  "But a current release, which only has a tentative home release date scheduled at the moment, may be pushing things."

 

 

It was decided on that particular film partially because it hadn't even had a home release date decided (at that time.)  The decision wasn't one that was necessarily to be applied for other films.  The World's End has been released on DVD/Blu-Ray for awhile now and is easily viewable.  As well, it has been over half a year since that cutoff was demarcated which would make this particular film more accessible (and with more time for reflection) than it was at the time.

 

So.... I'd think that there is still room for consideration of The Worlds End.   Whaddya folks think?   You know that you want it on the list.....  smile.png

Edited by Attica
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Alright, it's probably getting around time that we started paying attention to this again. One advantage that we have is that this is close to around the time that we would begin the Top 25 process, but here we've already done a great amount of the work.

So this means we can spend more time on discussion and voting. I'm not closing the nomination process yet, and before I do I am going go back over everything and update the list of nominated films again within the next week.

Start keeping this on your radar again.
 

It was decided on that particular film partially because it hadn't even had a home release date decided (at that time.)  The decision wasn't one that was necessarily to be applied for other films.  The World's End has been released on DVD/Blu-Ray for awhile now and is easily viewable.  As well, it has been over half a year since that cutoff was demarcated which would make this particular film more accessible (and with more time for reflection) than it was at the time.

So, on one hand, the after December 31, 2012 cutoff date was set for the 2014 Top 25 List and now the films on memory is going to end up as our 2015 Top 25 List. I had kept it for the nominated films on memory because we were playing with the idea of making that a second 2014 list.

On the other hand, Attica, access and availability were never the main motivations for the cutoff date. The main motivation, as I remember it being explained back during the Top 100 lists, was that we can even generate our own level of A&F hype. I know that I personally often overrate an enjoyable film that I've just seen that I will then re-access later and realize that I'd been ranking it too high. The idea here is that time helps us when we are judging the worth of a film, particularly in comparison to other films. So the cutoff date was meant as a tempering/moderating influence on our overrating new films that we were collectively excited about.

I would be reluctant to change the cut-off date now and then see a sudden rush of 2013 films being nominated. It would draw extra attention to the 2013 films, which could conceivably even produce the very opposite effect that the cut-off date was intended to have. Secondly, it is very easy to nominate, support and then vote highly for a new film that I have just seen. It is harder for me to make the effort to go back and acquire older films that I have not seen, watch them, think about and discuss them, and then vote for them instead.  But wouldn't that be better?

 

I say this as one who greatly enjoyed The World's End.

 

Having said that, I will defer if a majority of A&F participants want the cut-off date changed.

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I wasn't as much that I was wanting the cut-off date changed as much as I was making a case for the exception sub-clause.  I understood and agree with the general reasons for the cut off date.  It's just that I think that this film really fits for this theme, and as well, is film that most of us (possibly all?) think highly of.   I've recently seen the film after having moved on from it and the memory theme is actually more noticeable the second time around.  But again, I do understand the point.

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  • 1 month later...

Here's a summary of the case for Cloud Atlas. It's obvious that memory is a theme of the film: one of the most important purposes of the editing is to show how the past, imperfectly known and understood, interacts with the present. This is what the "everything is connected" motif is really about, with each of the six main storylines acting as a "text" used by characters in another one. In fact, one way to sum up the film thematically would be that it's about people using history to understand their own lives. I'd also argue that the innovative structure, with the storylines intercut with each other - which has, as I pointed out in the thread on it, very very few precedents - expresses the power of memory in a uniquely cinematic way, which alone is enough to make it an extremely important film.

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Here's my case for Watkins's 1974 Edvard Munch : I can't think of another film that so vividly portrays how the artistic process is an outgrowth of memory.  In the film, we see depictions of Munch creating his art interspersed with audio and clips of the key defining memories in the artist's life.  Some of these memories are brought back so often that the viewer feels how heavy these memories must have weighed on the artist's  very canvas. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thoughts as of January 20th:

 

First, the most updated list of nominated and seconded films is on the first post here.

 

Second, our experiment at possibly trying to do two Top 25 lists in one year didn't work out this time.  I'm willing to take the blame for this since some personal events in 2014 kept me much busier than I expected I would be, so I spent less time trying to encourage this list to move faster.  The fact that we already had a list of nominated films actually worked as a false sense of security for me since it made me feel like we had most of the work done already.  That's my fault.  I may recruit one of you in the future to help facilitating this with the next one.

 

Third, it is helpful to Image for them to publish an A&F Top 25 list around the time of the Oscars.  The 2015 Academy Awards will be held on February 22, 2015.  If we decide to do this now and if we begin voting and keep voting open for the next two weeks until February 6, I don't see why we couldn't collect blurbs for the films in the next couple weeks after that, allowing the Image crowd to publish The Arts & Faith Top 25 Films on Memory the week after the Oscars.

 

Fourth, nominating and seconding films is the vast bulk of work for us to do here.  So that is already done.  The one concern I have is that some A&F'ers have expressed in the past that holidays and awards season is a busy time for them, so that it is difficult for them to participate in watching these films, ranking them and then voting for them.  In making the list that we did last year on comedies, some of A&F's heaviest participants missed out on the voting because of the time of year and I thought it showed.

 

To avoid that again, it occurs to me that we might consider the option of taking a number of months to seek out and to actually watch the nominated films and then vote on them after having seen more of them than usual.  Doing this would, I think, ultimately increase both the diversity and the quality of the list rather than repeatedly listing the films that we have already seen (and already included on other lists).  There are already at least 14 films nominated for our Memory list that have already been included on other lists.  I actually think some of them ought to be on this list too, but I could see most of them making it if we didn't make an effort to watch more films specifically dealing with memory.

 

I'm not even sure I prefer this slower option now, but I thought I'd mention it to see what everyone thinks.  Memory is a fascinating topic to craft a list of top films upon, and I've sensed a little burnout with discussing this one - the discussion died away more than I thought it would.  It may not be a bad thing to spend more time on this and begin discussing the theology of what exploring and thinking about memory in film could mean for us.

 

Either way, whether to finish this list sooner or later, some of you have had some very insightful things to say about why a Top 25 list on Memory would be valuable to make.  Let's start that discussion back up again.  For instance:

 

- How does memory fit into our spiritual lives and what role ought it to play in one's faith?

 

- What does the fact that we have memory mean for our being spiritual beings?

 

- What films on our nominated list touch on these things most creatively and specifically, and how do they actually explore memory as something that enhances our humanity, rather than just using memory as a prop to accomplish narrative arcs in the film?

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Also: I just edited and changed the release cutoff date from December 31, 2012 to December 31, 2013 instead, since this is obviously not going to be a 2014 list.

 

The one film this seems to affect is Upstream Color, which was already nominated and seconded.

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Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? 

 

- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

 

 

It's taken a long time to get around to this, but I wanted to take some time to champion Blade Runner as a film that I feel should rank high on our list.  Unlike many of the nominated films in which memory is a device to recollect a story (for lack of a better term), or in which a story hinges on remembrances of the past, Blade Runner's use of memory comes through in various ways that most of these other films don't explore. In the above quote, if you substitute Replicant for Jew, you have many of the same themes passing through Blade Runner, most of which revolve around the many uses of memory as depicted in the film, including...

Memory as an addiction - A main reason in Roy Batty's quest for more life.  As his creator Tyrell puts it, the older style replicants have a need to create experiences outside of the parameters they've been designed for.  They only have a short time in which to store their experiences, and this need of new experiences makes them hard to control.  All memory derives from experiences.  

 

Memory as emotional cushion - This is the Tyrell corporation's attempt at correcting a defect of a 4 year lifespan.  Implant false memories to create a buffer - newer replicants won't feel the need to go out of their way to create new experiences/memories.  Their implanted memories can serve as a way to direct them to the functions that their designers need them perform.

 

Memory as commodity - A better controlled replicant, due to implanted memories, leads to a better, more efficient product.  Which begs the question, where will these memories come from?  The film states that Rachel's memories are actually those of Tyrell's niece.  But there's no way that these memories will be usable for every replicant.  This opens up some interesting possibilites.  An entire business could be made for the purpose of collecting real memories to insert into the minds of replicants.  Which could open a can of worms regarding how you might copyright those memories.  Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode, where Kramer sells his interesting stories to J. Peterman for Peterman's autobiography.  Kramer doesn't anticipate that he can no longer say these experiences are his, because he sold those rights.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BYSYE1zXUw

 

Deckard has administered a test to Rachel, and has discovered that she is a replicant.  But he was perplexed by how many questions it took to discover this.  This is when Tyrell reveals the memory implants that Rachel has been given.  After the test, Rachel goes from being a "her' as far a Deckard is concerned, to an "it".  This is a stunning scene.  One in which Deckard's thinking of Rachel as an "it" begins to transform into something else.  He may be clinically correct about Rachel's memories of "her mother" or her memory of the spider not being something she physically experienced in the moment, yet the technological advancements of her memory implants give them an emotional base that's as real as if she had been physically present at these events.  And even if Deckard may not accept those past memories as anything more than false data, he can't deny the fact that the pain he causes her in this present exchange, and the memories Rachel will always have of it, are real, and were caused by him.  The physical and emotional evidence is right there in front of him.  This is where he begins to feel pity for "it", and will go a long way for him to begin thinking of Rachel as "her".

 

A couple of months back, I saw a post by Daryl Armstrong on Facebook about this film.  I asked if I could use his post to try and answer a question that undoubtedly arises.

 

 

Darryl A. Armstrong - ""I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."

I've seen Blade Runner at least five times. I've pretty much given up. It's well shot, well acted, well directed, well written.

But the response to that isn't silence. It's "Shut up robot, I have a fucking soul."

Oh, wait..."
 

 

Do false memories mean false faith/beliefs (if such memories were implanted)? If you, as a person of faith,were told that you had just come into existence today, with this lifetime of memories (including memories of a life filled with faith based experiences), would you simply be able to accept the idea that you were soulless?  Or, better yet, say you've been in existence for your four year replicant lifespan and, based on implanted memories of a faith based life, you continued in those four years of existence to attend church, read the bible, do everything possible to live a faith based life.  Are you better or worse than a living being of the same persuasion?

 

Memory as legacy - At the end of his life, Roy Batty saves the one person who has caused him more suffering in his last few days.  Partly out of fear of dying alone, but also because he has no one left to pass on his legacy.  Perhaps he even uses his memories as a form of revenge upon Deckard.  And Deckard's memories of this experience can't be too great.  He has to live with the fact that he was fairly ineffective.  Of the four replicants he was assigned to find, he managed only to "retire" the two female replicants, but twice had his life saved by other replicants (Rachel and Roy).

 

Anyway, this is food for thought.

Edited by John Drew

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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