“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Receives Four 2013 Oscar Nominations

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Receives Four 2013 Oscar Nominations

The nominations for the 2013 Academy Awards have been announced, and it was a huge day for the independent film Beasts of the Southern Wild, which received four Oscar Nominations: Best Director (for Benh Zeitlin), Best Actress (Quvenzhane Wallis, at just nine years old), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is the award-winning first feature film directed by Benh Zeitlin and co-written co-written with playwright Lucy Alibar, whose play Juicy and Delicious provides its foundation. Zeitlin created the movie in collaboration with Court 13, the filmmakers’ collective that moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Previously, the film won the Caméra d’Or award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered, the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Deauville American Film Festival, the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature and the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival’s Golden Space Needle Award for Best Director.

Part dystopia and part revolutionary utopia, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a visionary film that celebrates resistance, featuring people living in poverty who come together in interracial, inter-generational harmony. After a flood washes away most of “The Bathtub,” a poor and precarious patch of land south of New Orleans, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis, five years-old at the time of filming) and her father account for their remaining animals and neighbors, and attempt to survive, rebuild, and repair their world. They band together to create a post-Katrina communal life and they fight the system in a variety of ways to avoid getting thrown into the sterile, controlled environment of a state-funded shelter.

Zeitlin’s earlier acclaimed short film about an imaginary post-Katrina world in New Orleans, Glory at Sea, won the 2008 CineVegas International Film Festival Special Jury Prize, the 2008 New Orleans Film Festival Narrative Short Award, the 2008 Woodstock Film Festival Jury Prize and the 2008 SXSW Film Festival Wolphin Award. Coming off the award-winning “Glory at Sea,” Zeitlin wanted to continue working on an expanded feature film set in the Louisiana bayou and to tell a story about a community making a final stand. The same theme and mythic, poetic feeling of Glory at Sea, which was also created in collaboration with the Court 13 filmmakers’ collective, clearly carries through in Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild. Like Beasts, Glory at Sea, concerned a southern Delta community endangered by a flood and focused on a young girl, who also served as the film’s narrator. Glory at Sea tells a story about the aftermath of the Katrina flood, and a community’s Orpheus-like efforts to keep alive its old traditions and loved ones.

Glory at Sea: A Beautiful Memorial to Mourning the Dead

Every once in a rare, long while, a film appears with such a sweeping gust of rejuvenation that it has the power to restore not only one’s faith in cinema, but in humanity as a whole. Glory at Sea is one of those rare films, an acclaimed narrative short film that has garnered twelve film festival awards, a film that endearingly produces the forlorn feelings that are amassed within the sea of a forever-sunset palette, sanctioning our mourning within its beautiful sorrow. The 26-minute short film follows an unkempt and unruly fleet of heartbroken refugees through the midst of the human devastation in post-Katrina New Orleans. This one and a half year-long collaborative project by director Benh Zeitlin and members of the Court 13 film collective brought forth a narrative film that reveals a rare mutually interactive blend of contemporary dance/movement, cinematography that is richly packed with a grandly sweeping panorama of visual detail and brilliantly subtle interpersonal gestures by the Court 13 ensemble group of performers.

Glory at Sea boldly confronts a monumental tragedy that vividly displays the fact of our human mortality, as well as the inevitable loss of our dreams for the future (the ghosts of loved ones, banished to live underwater for eternity). The raggedy, raucous New Orleans characters in Glory at Sea boldly turn away from their overwhelming of feelings of mortal vulnerability, courageously responding instead with a communal bond to a renewed and feverish commitment to love and hope.

The passionate call for hope and a common cause is expressed by the film’s ensemble through an emotionally inspiring synthesis of a socially important narrative, the performers’ sense of movement that conveys through even the most subtle interpersonal gestures their deep commitment to mutually shared social needs and responsibilities, and fascinating cinematography with an acute attention to visual detail. When a pinch of insanity and an ongoing tone of understated comical irony are added to all of this, one ends up with an experience that is a musically visual delight. An old phrase describes beautiful and appealing speech as “Music to My Ears.” Glory at Sea ends up “Dancing Behind Your Eyelids.” The twenty-five minutes spent deeply engrossed in this narrative is timeless.

Glory at Sea: A Beautiful Memorial to Mourning the Dead

(Best Viewed HD/Full Screen)

An Anthem to Survivors: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Sometimes miraculous films come into being, made by people you’ve never heard of, starring unknown faces, blindsiding you with creative genius. Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of the year’s best films. Winner of the US Dramatic Grand Jury Prize in Sundance, this striking and unforgettable feature-film debut is set in “The Bathtub,” a defiant Louisiana bayou community cut off from the rest of the world. Young Hushpuppy (played by a five year-old force of nature named Quvenzhané Wallis) is devoted to her father, Wink, who frequently goes off on sprees, leaving Hushpuppy to fend for herself in an isolated compound filled with semi-wild animals.

The community is a resilient and joyous one, but there is a growing sense of inevitable destruction. At school, Hushpuppy is taught about natural selection, global warming and the ecological shifts that have placed them in a perilous position. Things come to a head when Wink comes down with a debilitating illness, a massive storm hits, the ice caps melt and destructive prehistoric beasts are released who descend on “The Bathtub.” Little Hushpuppy has to find in herself the courage and heroism to survive the catastrophe and re-instill a sense of community. Fusing recent history and environmental concerns with a mythical quality, Beasts of the Southern Wild defies easy classification or description, instead forging a new path that firmly establishes director Benh Zeitlin as a bright new cinematic talent. Reviewers are speculating that both Zeitlin and young Quvenzhané Wallis could be nominated for Academy Awards.

An Anthem to Survivors: Beasts of the Southern Wild (Official Trailer)

Beasts of the Southern Wild: Official Featurette

Beasts of the Southern Wild: “Once There Was A Hush Puppy”

Director Benh Zeitlin and composer Dan Romer perform the theme to “Beasts of the Southern Wild” at LACMA

Beasts of the Southern Wild: “Once There Was A Hush Puppy”

Super Soul Sunday: Why Oprah Loves Beasts of the Southern Wild

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An Anthem to Survivors: Beasts of the Southern Wild

An Anthem to Survivors: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wilds is the award-winning first feature film directed by Benh Zeitlin and co-written with playwright Lucy Alibar, whose play Juicy and Delicious provides its foundation. Zeitlin created the movie in collaboration with Court 13, the filmmakers’ collective that moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The film won the Caméra d’Or award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered, the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Deauville American Film Festival, the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature and the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival’s Golden Space Needle Award for Best Director.

Part dystopia and part revolutionary utopia, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a visionary film that celebrates resistance, featuring poor people who come together in interracial, inter-generational harmony. After a flood washes away most of “The Bathtub,” a poor and precarious patch of land south of New Orleans, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis, five years-old at the time of filming) and her father account for their remaining animals and neighbors, and attempt to survive, rebuild, and repair their world. They band together to create a post-Katrina communal life and they fight the system in a variety of ways to avoid getting thrown into the sterile, controlled environment of a state-funded shelter.

Zeitlin’s earlier acclaimed short film about an imaginary post-Katrina world in New Orleans, Glory at Sea, won the 2008 CineVegas International Film Festival Special Jury Prize, the 2008 New Orleans Film Festival Narrative Short Award, the 2008 Woodstock Film Festival Jury Prize and the 2008 SXSW Film Festival Wolphin Award. Coming off the award-winning “Glory at Sea,” Zeitlin wanted to continue working on an expanded feature film set in the Louisiana bayou and to tell a story about a community making a final stand. The same theme and mythic, poetic feeling of Glory at Sea, which was also created in collaboration with the Court 13 filmmakers’ collective, clearly carries through in Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild. Like Beasts, Glory at Sea, concerned a southern Delta community endangered by a flood and focused on a young girl, who also served as the film’s narrator. Glory at Sea tells a story about the aftermath of the Katrina flood, and a community’s Orpheus-like efforts to keep alive its old traditions and loved ones.

Glory at Sea: A Beautiful Memorial to Mourning the Dead

Every once in a rare, long while, a film appears with such a sweeping gust of rejuvenation that it has the power to restore not only one’s faith in cinema, but in humanity as a whole. Glory at Sea is one of those rare films, an acclaimed narrative short film that has garnered twelve film festival awards, a film that endearingly produces the forlorn feelings that are amassed within the sea of a forever-sunset palette, sanctioning our mourning within its beautiful sorrow. The 26-minute short film follows an unkempt and unruly fleet of heartbroken refugees through the midst of the human devastation in post-Katrina New Orleans. This one and a half year-long collaborative project by director Benh Zeitlin and members of the Court 13 film collective brought forth a narrative film that reveals a rare mutually interactive blend of contemporary dance/movement, cinematography that is richly packed with a grandly sweeping panorama of visual detail and brilliantly subtle interpersonal gestures by the Court 13 ensemble group of performers.

Glory at Sea boldly confronts a monumental tragedy that vividly displays the fact of our human mortality, as well as the inevitable loss of our dreams for the future (the ghosts of loved ones, banished to live underwater for eternity). The raggedy, raucous New Orleans characters in Glory at Sea boldly turn away from their overwhelming of feelings of mortal vulnerability, courageously responding instead with a communal bond to a renewed and feverish commitment to love and hope.

The passionate call for hope and a common cause is expressed by the film’s ensemble through an emotionally inspiring synthesis of a socially important narrative, the performers’ sense of movement that conveys through even the most subtle interpersonal gestures their deep commitment to mutually shared social needs and responsibilities, and fascinating cinematography with an acute attention to visual detail. When a pinch of insanity and an ongoing tone of understated comical irony are added to all of this, one ends up with an experience that is a musically visual delight. An old phrase describes beautiful and appealing speech as “Music to My Ears.” Glory at Sea ends up “Dancing Behind Your Eyelids.” The twenty-five minutes spent deeply engrossed in this narrative is timeless.

Glory at Sea: A Beautiful Memorial to Mourning the Dead

(Best Viewed HD/Full Screen)

An Anthem to Survivors: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Sometimes miraculous films come into being, made by people you’ve never heard of, starring unknown faces, blindsiding you with creative genius. Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of the year’s best films. Winner of the US Dramatic Grand Jury Prize in Sundance, this striking and unforgettable feature-film debut is set in “The Bathtub,” a defiant Louisiana bayou community cut off from the rest of the world. Young Hushpuppy (played by a five year-old force of nature named Quvenzhané Wallis) is devoted to her father, Wink, who frequently goes off on sprees, leaving Hushpuppy to fend for herself in an isolated compound filled with semi-wild animals.

The community is a resilient and joyous one, but there is a growing sense of inevitable destruction. At school, Hushpuppy is taught about natural selection, global warming and the ecological shifts that have placed them in a perilous position. Things come to a head when Wink comes down with a debilitating illness, a massive storm hits, the ice caps melt and destructive prehistoric beasts are released who descend on “The Bathtub.” Little Hushpuppy has to find in herself the courage and heroism to survive the catastrophe and re-instill a sense of community. Fusing recent history and environmental concerns with a mythical quality, Beasts of the Southern Wild defies easy classification or description, instead forging a new path that firmly establishes director Benh Zeitlin as a bright new cinematic talent. Reviewers are speculating that both Zeitlin and young Quvenzhané Wallis could be nominated for Academy Awards.

An Anthem to Survivors: Beasts of the Southern Wild (Official Trailer)

Making of Beasts of the Southern Wild: Part I

Making of Beasts of the Southern Wild: Part II

Super Soul Sunday: Why Oprah Loves Beasts of the Southern Wild

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The Factory: A Story of Love, Sacrifice and the Human Condition

The Factory: A Story of Love, Sacrifice and the Human Condition

The Factory is an acclaimed live-action short film directed by Aly Muritiba, which is a finalist in The Wrap’s 2012 Short Films Festival, a new festival presenting 12 award-winning short films selected from this year’s top international film festivals. The Factory has received more than 50 prizes at international film festivals, including: Best Short Film at the Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival 2012 (LA, United States); Best Short Film at the World Wide Short Films 2012 (Toronto, Canada); Best Short Film at the 14th Encounters South American Cinema de Marseille (Marseille, France); Special Jury Mention at the 34th Festival of Short Film Clermon-Ferrand (France); and Best Film Award at the Lake Film Festival (Italy).

The Factory tells a daring and emotional story of family ties, taking an an intense journey beneath the hard surface of a brutal prison environment, to show the spark and beauty of the human condition. The film takes place on visiting day at the prison. An inmate has convinced his mother to take a huge risk, smuggling a cell phone into the penitentiary for him. Lindalva prepares food to take to her son, while her son, Metruti, shaves and dresses in his best clothes to welcome her. Today is a very special day, and Metruti really needs to make that phone call.

The Factory: A Story of Love, Sacrifice and the Human Condition (Official Trailer)

The Factory: A Story of Love, Sacrifice and the Human Condition (Full Version)

(Please Click Image to View Film)

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Dazed and Confused: Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

Dazed and Confused: Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

New York Times journalist David Carr made the now infamously scorned Twilight star Robert Pattinson squirm in his seat Wednesday night during a TimesTalks interview that was intended to serve as an intellectual conversation about Pattinson’s latest film, Cosmopolis.

About an hour into the discussion, Carr tried to draw an analogy between Pattinson’s romantic woes with Twilight co-star Kristen Stewart and the famously troubled relationship between England’s Prince Charles and Diana, the late Princess of Wales. “So if you and Kristen have trouble it’s like Charles and Di having trouble?” Carr asked.

Carr’s question wasn’t completely out of context: Pattinson, who often seemed to be intellectually in over his head during the conversation, had to ask for questions to be repeated and admitted to losing track of his thoughts, had only moments before attempted to attribute America’s obsession with fame to the country’s desire for a monarchy.

I think it’s because America really wants to have a royal family,” Pattinson said, then going even further saying that America’s Hollywood royalty are just like the real royalty except “meritocratic.” He quickly backtracked on that somewhat slippery point, but it was too late: the analogy had been cast, and Carr appeared more than content to segue into Stewart.

Pattinson seemed unprepared; waiting a while to answer, it sounded as if he was breathing in backwards for a few moments. “Well, uh, Charles,” the star finally said, after looking down while awkwardly fingering his water bottle. Carr soon moved the conversation forward, stating, “I wasn’t really going there, just so you know.” “No, I wouldn’t go that far,” Pattinson answered.

TimesTalks Presents: David Cronenberg and Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

In David Cronenberg’s new film Cosmopolis, the Twilight series’ monumentally popular Robert Pattinson utterly lacks any sense of onscreen magnetism. Without the armor of his signature role, Mr. Pattinson’s speech is halting, his face blockishly blank and he seems aware that he doesn’t really belong in the kind of art films he’d like to make.

Yet, while Cronenberg’s film, based on the novel by Don DeLillo, does not feature a strong performance by Mr. Pattinson, he ends up being good for the movie. A more naturally gifted actor would not have served the story, which needs at its center someone who emphasizes the very stilted quality of each line and the whole enterprise’s distance from reality.

Mr. Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a man who works with money in a not-fully-defined capacity: he’s worried about the yuan. Mr. Packer’s eventful day makes up the plot of Cosmopolis, as the young man only occasionally departs his giant limousine. Cronenberg’s body-horror impulse is in full effect here, with the capacious limousine growing ever more claustrophobic and Eric ever more vulnerable to violation and attack.

As he is chauffeured across midtown Manhattan to get a haircut at his father’s old barber, his anxious eyes are glued to the yuan’s exchange rate: it is mounting against all expectations, destroying Eric’s bet against it. Eric Packer is losing his empire with every tick of the clock. Meanwhile, an eruption of wild activity unfolds in the city’s streets. Petrified as the threats of the real world infringe upon his cloud of virtual convictions, his paranoia intensifies during the course of his 24-hour cross-town odyssey. Packer starts to piece together clues that lead him to a most terrifying secret: his imminent assassination.

The interior of the car is brilliantly shot in order to convey a sense of the car’s scope without ever showing its full space. The world Packer inhabits is so unsafe that to leave the car even to urinate is a great risk; so, too, is expressing any passion for the woman he brings into the car for sex. Mr. Pattinson doesn’t even remove an article of clothing for the liaison. When he finally gets the haircut he’s been driving vaguely toward all day long, it’s a half-shaved, half-long mess that looks like a Manhattanite’s idea of a Brooklynite and won’t win Pattinson any new fans.

David Cronenberg’s direction throughout Cosmopolis is impeccable, both inside the limo and out. Mr. Cronenberg keeps you rapt, even when the story and actors don’t. Some of this disengagement is certainly intentional. Taken as a commentary on the state of the world in the era of late capitalism, Cosmopolis can seem almost banal. But these banalities, which here are accompanied by glazed eyes, are also to the point: the world is burning, and all that some of us do is look at the flames with exhausted familiarity.

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis (Official Trailer)

Robert Pattinson in Cosmopolis: Sex in the Limousine

Robert Pattinson in Cosmopolis: The Smell of Sex

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Creative Destruction: Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

Creative Destruction: Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

New York Times journalist David Carr made the now infamously scorned Twilight star Robert Pattinson squirm in his seat Wednesday night during a TimesTalks interview that was intended to serve as an intellectual conversation about Pattinson’s latest film, Cosmopolis.

About an hour into the discussion, Carr tried to draw an analogy between Pattinson’s romantic woes with Twilight co-star Kristen Stewart and the famously troubled relationship between England’s Prince Charles and Diana, the late Princess of Wales. “So if you and Kristen have trouble it’s like Charles and Di having trouble?” Carr asked.

Carr’s question wasn’t completely out of context: Pattinson, who often seemed to be intellectually in over his head during the conversation, had to ask for questions to be repeated and admitted to losing track of his thoughts, had only moments before attempted to attribute America’s obsession with fame to the country’s desire for a monarchy.

I think it’s because America really wants to have a royal family,” Pattinson said, then going even further saying that America’s Hollywood royalty are just like the real royalty except “meritocratic.” He quickly backtracked on that somewhat slippery point, but it was too late: the analogy had been cast, and Carr appeared more than content to segue into Stewart.

Pattinson seemed unprepared; waiting a while to answer, it sounded as if he was breathing in backwards for a few moments. “Well, uh, Charles,” the star finally said, after looking down while awkwardly fingering his water bottle. Carr soon moved the conversation forward, stating, “I wasn’t really going there, just so you know.” “No, I wouldn’t go that far,” Pattinson answered.

Times Talks: David Carr with David Cronenberg and Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

In David Cronenberg’s new film Cosmopolis, the Twilight series’ monumentally popular Robert Pattinson utterly lacks any sense of onscreen magnetism. Without the armor of his signature role, Mr. Pattinson’s speech is halting, his face blockishly blank and he seems aware that he doesn’t really belong in the kind of art films he’d like to make.

Yet, while Cronenberg’s film, based on the novel by Don DeLillo, does not feature a strong performance by Mr. Pattinson, he ends up being good for the movie. A more naturally gifted actor would not have served the story, which needs at its center someone who emphasizes the very stilted quality of each line and the whole enterprise’s distance from reality.

Mr. Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a man who works with money in a not-fully-defined capacity: he’s worried about the yuan. Mr. Packer’s eventful day makes up the plot of Cosmopolis, as the young man only occasionally departs his giant limousine. Cronenberg’s body-horror impulse is in full effect here, with the capacious limousine growing ever more claustrophobic and Eric ever more vulnerable to violation and attack.

The interior of the car is brilliantly shot in order to convey a sense of the car’s scope without ever showing its full space. The world Packer inhabits is so unsafe that to leave the car even to urinate is a great risk; so, too, is expressing any passion for the woman he brings into the car for sex. Mr. Pattinson doesn’t even remove an article of clothing for the liaison. When he finally gets the haircut he’s been driving vaguely toward all day long, it’s a half-shaved, half-long mess that looks like a Manhattanite’s idea of a Brooklynite and won’t win Pattinson any new fans.

David Cronenberg’s direction throughout Cosmopolis is impeccable, both inside the limo and out. Mr. Cronenberg keeps you rapt, even when the story and actors don’t. Some of this disengagement is certainly intentional. Taken as a commentary on the state of the world in the era of late capitalism, Cosmopolis can seem almost banal. But these banalities, which here are accompanied by glazed eyes, are also to the point: the world is burning, and all that some of us do is look at the flames with exhausted familiarity.

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis (Official Trailer)

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Amar: Always Surrounded, Always Alone

Amar: Always Surrounded, Always Alone

Amar is the acclaimed nine-minute documentary short film directed by English documentary filmmaker Andrew Hinton for Pilgrim Films, which won The Satyajit Ray Foundation 2011 Short Film Competition Award and The Best Documentary Award at The 2012 Vimeo Festival +Awards.

Amar is an observational documentary that follows the day of a 14 year-old Indian boy from a teeming slum in India, who is at the top of his class in school and who also fantasizes of someday becoming a professional cricketer. In addition, Amar happens to be his family’s main breadwinner, working two jobs six-and-a-half days a week. On its surface, the film is presented as a quiet celebration of the human spirit, of a boy whose tenacity and quiet resolve carry him through every day.

But on a deeper level, Amar presents the sad and haunting echoes found in earlier seminal works, such as: Alan Sillitoe’s Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner, Carson McCullers’ The Ballad of the Sad Café and Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms. Beneath the film’s face of optimism lurks a deep well of solitude, a life that is always surrounded, yet always alone.

Amar: Always Surrounded, Always Alone

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A Twisted, Psychopathic Bloody-Evil Tale Wins 2012 Vimeo Film Festival Award

Blinky™: A Twisted, Psychopathic Full-Evil Bloody Robot

Soon every home will have a robot helper. Don’t worry. It’s perfectly safe.”

Blinky™, a wickedly evil 3D-CG animated short horror film by the Irish filmmaker Ruairi Robinson, won The Best Narrative Film/Video Award (live-action narrative fiction told through the medium of film/video) last week at The 2012 Vimeo Festival +Awards. Previously, Robinson broke through to great acclaim with his 3D short film, Fifty Percent Grey, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2002 and followed it up in 2006 with The Silent City, a post-apocalyptic short film starring Cillian Murphy.

Blinky™ is shot with visual execution that is truly masterful, and the story is as bloody creepy as it gets. The amazing thirteen-minute short film stars Max Records from Where The Wild Things Are and tells the story of an angst-ridden young boy, who is trapped in a well-to-do, yet toxic home environment where his parents are constantly fighting. For Christmas he requests and gets Blinky™, the latest robot friend/home helper. But will the twisted and increasingly sinister Blinky™ actually turn out to be the true friend the distraught boy desperately wants and needs? Well, so sadly, very probably not….

Blinky™: A Twisted, Psychopathic Full-Evil Bloody Robot

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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