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    Respectí Review: Jennifer Hudson Gives Flattering Yet Flat Aretha Franklin Portrait


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    Bad review or not I think I'm going to see it anyway.There have been so many bad biopics
    over the years I know but, dang....The subject's Aretha Franklin...

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    Most early reviews are ranging from lukewarm to positive. Jennifer's notices have been uniformly strong, but Mary J.'s gotten universal raves for her tiny but crucial part as Dinah. Like you, splanky, I can't possibly miss this, reviews be damned.

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    I join the crowd in looking forward to seeing this film! Roger Friedman gave it a recommended, yet unenthusiastic review noting JHud's performance and disliking a fair amount of obviously factually incorrect scenes. I loved the Genius series and hope to love this as well. It will be fun to hear all of your reactions -

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    as Dinah, a barely-seen Mary J. Blige delivers the filmís campiest line, overturning a table at one of Arethaís shows: ďBitch, donít ever sing the queenís songs when the queen is in front of you!Ē
    I've heard this story in relation to Etta James, not Aretha.

    Perhaps the script would have been less flat if they included incidents like Aretha telling "Miss Martha" to stop singing her songs.

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    I thought the Dinah Washington incident was with Patti Austin, but again, reading how Dinah was, she probably told everybody at some point in time to stop singing her songs. If I were Aretha, Etta, Patti Austin or Patti LaBelle, Gladys, Dionne or anybody else, I wouldn't touch Dinah's songs [[especially if she was there).

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    Quote Originally Posted by stingbeelee View Post
    I thought the Dinah Washington incident was with Patti Austin, but again, reading how Dinah was, she probably told everybody at some point in time to stop singing her songs. If I were Aretha, Etta, Patti Austin or Patti LaBelle, Gladys, Dionne or anybody else, I wouldn't touch Dinah's songs [[especially if she was there).
    Dinah really loved and helped Patti Austin, but she was also a child so she probably wasn't a real threat.

    In addition to the Etta James incident, Patti LaBelle also wrote of a message she received from Dinah when she was closing her show with Dinah's hit WHERE ARE YOU: "Stop singing my damn song!"

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    This is where I'm starting to wonder how much "Hollywooding" has been done with the
    story. Dinah died in 1963. She was just 39. Patti Austin who she knew and referred to
    as her goddaughter was just 13 years old. Really only singing studio back up at first.
    What Dinah is credited as calling "her" songs were the standard fare all of the female
    singers were covering back then. Few credited as actually authoring them, post the
    59 passing of Billie Holiday. Dinah as great as she was did have a salty side. She did
    two songs with Brook Benton for what had been hoped to become an entire duet album.
    That fell apart as she fought with him during recording over his "taking up her spot"...
    BTW. Aretha's tribute album of songs Dinah had popularized was done after Dinah's
    passing...
    Last edited by splanky; 08-10-2021 at 12:10 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by splanky View Post
    This is where I'm starting to wonder how much "Hollywooding" has been done with the
    story. Dinah died in 1963. She was just 39. Patti Austin who she knew and referred to
    as her goddaughter was just 13 years old. Really only singing studio back up at first.
    What Dinah is credited as calling "her" songs were the standard fare all of the female
    singers were covering back then. Few credited as actually authoring them, post the
    59 passing of Billie Holiday. Dinah as great as she was did have a salty side. She did
    two songs with Brook Benton for what had been hoped to become an entire duet album.
    That fell apart as she fought with him during recording over his "taking up her spot"...
    BTW. Aretha's tribute album of songs Dinah had popularized was done after Dinah's
    passing...

    The Chancellor of Soul Mike Boone discusses Dinah in his Brook Benton tribute. She was something else!


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    Yea, I love that Mike Boone does those Chancellor of Soul episodes. Unsung is not
    enough for me..

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    Quote Originally Posted by lockhartgary View Post
    The Chancellor of Soul Mike Boone discusses Dinah in his Brook Benton tribute. She was something else!

    That was great. I bought all of Brook's 45's on Mercury since Just A Matter of Time. Never knew of any of that info before that. Never knew all that he had done before that. Great info

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    Quote Originally Posted by smallworld View Post
    I've heard this story in relation to Etta James, not Aretha.

    Perhaps the script would have been less flat if they included incidents like Aretha telling "Miss Martha" to stop singing her songs.
    Etta was too thru w/Queen Bae for singing [[At Last]]. An aside, JHud recieved similar treatment from Jennifer Holliday from [[singing her song]] too.

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    I've seen Respect and I enjoyed it. Jennifer Hudson does justice to the legend of Aretha Franklin and the filmmakers do enough to cram the story into a two-hour running time [and I disagree with Variety's assessment of Jennifer's performance as Aretha].

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    Quote Originally Posted by splanky View Post
    This is where I'm starting to wonder how much "Hollywooding" has been done with the
    story. Dinah died in 1963. She was just 39. Patti Austin who she knew and referred to
    as her goddaughter was just 13 years old. Really only singing studio back up at first.
    What Dinah is credited as calling "her" songs were the standard fare all of the female
    singers were covering back then. Few credited as actually authoring them, post the
    59 passing of Billie Holiday. Dinah as great as she was did have a salty side. She did
    two songs with Brook Benton for what had been hoped to become an entire duet album.
    That fell apart as she fought with him during recording over his "taking up her spot"...
    BTW. Aretha's tribute album of songs Dinah had popularized was done after Dinah's
    passing...
    Well, it's a bio-pic so there's going to be things that either didn't happen or were exaggerated upon for dramatic effect. So the incident between Aretha Franklin & Dinah Washington that's portrayed in the movie didn't happen, however, I enjoyed the scene [and as we know, there were a lot of stories like that one that did take place with legendary female R&B/Soul performers back in the day].

    PS: I also liked Mary J. Blige's performance as Dinah.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    I've seen Respect and I enjoyed it. Jennifer Hudson does justice to the legend of Aretha Franklin and the filmmakers do enough to cram the story into a two-hour running time [and I disagree with Variety's assessment of Jennifer's performance as Aretha].
    I enjoyed Respect too , but having also seen the eight hour Genius series on TV, I noticed some of the missing stuff that they could not cram into the two hour movie. Jennifer's performance was very good

    For those who leave the movie while closing credits are showing, stick around if you go. They show clips of the real Aretha performing. One of them was her tribute to Carol King at the Kennedy Honors from just a few years ago

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    [A low point for Aretha as she did other peoples songs all the time.

    Perhaps the script would have been less flat if they included incidents like Aretha telling "Miss Martha" to stop singing her songs.[/QUOTE]

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    To those whoíve seen both how does the performances between the movie and series compare?

    particularly Jennifer Hudson and Cynthia Erivo and Courtney Vance and Forrest Whitaker

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    Quote Originally Posted by milven View Post
    I enjoyed Respect too , but having also seen the eight hour Genius series on TV, I noticed some of the missing stuff that they could not cram into the two hour movie. Jennifer's performance was very good

    For those who leave the movie while closing credits are showing, stick around if you go. They show clips of the real Aretha performing. One of them was her tribute to Carol King at the Kennedy Honors from just a few years ago
    I also saw the Aretha: Genius series earlier this year and enjoyed that as well [and yes, it digs deeper into Aretha's back story since there was more time to do so]. And I stayed during the closing credits for the pictures & clips of Aretha [and her performance of "A Natural Woman" at the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Carole King]. It was so moving & I also recommend to people who see Respect to stay during the closing credits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    I also saw the Aretha: Genius series earlier this year and enjoyed that as well [and yes, it digs deeper into Aretha's back story since there was more time to do so]. And I stayed during the closing credits for the pictures & clips of Aretha [and her performance of "A Natural Woman" at the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Carole King]. It was so moving & I also recommend to people who see Respect to stay during the closing credits.
    Jennifer was on Stephen Colbert this week and when they mentioned that performance, he said that he was the host that night at the Kennedy Center and was in the wings when Aretha walked to the piano to sing and play Natural Woman. He said that he never saw her perform live and wished that he had seen her in her prime. Jennifer gave a look of surprise and amazement but then Steve said something like "Wait, Wait. She then started to sing and I said 'What an idiot I am'". It was a nice compliment of saying that she still had her amazing talent right to the end.

    I am glad that I saw both Respect and Genius0 If anything, they compliment each other

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    I plan on seeing the film,from what i've read about dinah,she could make a sailor blush if she felt crossed,but she was music royalty!!

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    I have seen both. And I agree, they do compliment each other. I felt Courtney B Vance's role in "Genius" showed a real womanizer whereas Forrest Whitaker was [I thought] extremely overbearing. It's apparently all parts of the Rev. C.L. Franklin.

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    Here's Rolling Stone's take on Respect:

    ‘Respect’: Aretha’s Music Carries This Biopic

    A biopic of the Queen was never going to satisfy everyone — but Jennifer Hudson captures the power of Franklin’s songs.

    Jennifer Hudson in 'Respect' Movie: Review of Aretha Franklin Biopic - Rolling Stone





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    Quote Originally Posted by nativeNY63 View Post
    Etta was too thru w/Queen Bae for singing [[At Last]]. An aside, JHud recieved similar treatment from Jennifer Holliday from [[singing her song]] too.
    Aretha reportedly cussed out Martha Reeves for singing "Respect" while at an MR&TV concert lol

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    A side-bar - I listened to the Respect soundtrack last evening and was quite surprisingly delighted. I expected to moan and groan 'How COULD they?' at the audacity of recreating the iconic music of MY Aretha, but in fact, the updated yet respectful arrangements and JHud's singing make a great soundtrack. Nice work, all!

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    Quote Originally Posted by midnightman View Post
    Aretha reportedly cussed out Martha Reeves for singing "Respect" while at an MR&TV concert lol
    And according to Darlene Love's autobiography, My Name Is Love, Martha Reeves had gotten equally upset when she found out that Darlene and her group The Blossoms, would performing Martha's "Dancing In The Street" on television. And this quote from the book says it all; "Most of the Black Divas I knew protected their songs even more fiercely than they protected their husbands".

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    Quote Originally Posted by midnightman View Post
    Aretha reportedly cussed out Martha Reeves for singing "Respect" while at an MR&TV concert lol
    Well I think The Big O had he lived might have had a thing or two to say about that...
    Don't get me wrong I appreciate the talents of all of my sisters in Soul, Jazz and Blues
    but come on... Can you say "silly fights"?.....

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    I found this to be a great movie. Some of my thoughts but don't read if you are waiting to see the movie.

    I went into this movie knowing that Aretha selected Jennifer Hudson so I was under the impression she and her family approved this movie so I was surprise that they did tackle some issue that I am not sure that Aretha would have allowed or wanted in the film if she was still alive. I have not read her book "From These Roots" but the reviews I have read made it sound like she gloss over a lot of stuff.

    Thoughts:
    - The young Aretha, Skye Dakota Turner has such a phenomenal voice. Have to research more of her singing.
    - Forest Whitaker stole every scene he was in as Aretha's father Rev. C.L. Franklin. Hope he gets a nomination.
    - Audra McDonald brought such warmth as Aretha's mother Barbara. I would have liked a bit more of their relationship.
    - I heard Smokey Robinson voice and was looking for him in the movie. I was like "Where's Smokey?" LOL. Lodric Collins did a great job sounding like Smokey.
    - Marc Maron did a great job as Jerry Wexler.
    - It took me some time to get into Jennifer Hudson portrayal of Aretha. For me I had a hard time in the first half as I felt like Jennifer was trying to do Aretha's speaking voice. The second half was much better. Maybe because she has bit more material to sink her teeth into. I can see why they are talking about nominating her for an Oscar.
    - I would like to have seen a bit more about the relationship between Aretha and Ken Cunningham.

    Seeing that Aretha had severe mental issues definitely brought about a different understanding of her that I didn't have before.

    Watching the movie and seeing her father trotting out a young Aretha at parties to sing and play the piano in front of his guest and I guessing over her siblings, must have made Aretha feel so special. I wondered if that why she had issues with her sisters and other female singers in that she craved that special spotlight all her life. I believe Aretha also had a special spot in her father's touring shows as well.

    I couldn't help feel sad for Aretha's first two born sons. I am only going off the movie so I really don't know her full relationship with them but the movie implies she really wasn't there for them and her family took care of them. BTW did you catch that question by Dinah Washington regarding her sons? I couldn't believe they went there.

    I do feel like there are probably additional or extended scenes from watching this but it must be hard to get it down to 2 and a half hours. Hopefully some of that will be in the release version when it comes to DVD/Blu-ray.

    I haven't seen Aretha Genius yet. I did order that from my library to view so it will be interesting to see how that version compares to this one.

    Not sure of all the accuracy but overall a great movie and I was very entertained.

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    ^Thanks for your review, Luciano. We plan to see it next weekend.

    Your hunch is correct: The original runtime was over 3 hours when it previewed last year. About 45 minutes were shaved off; this accounts for some scenes seeming to abruptly end for many viewers. The Blu-Ray should be a bonanza of extras.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luciano View Post
    I have not read her book "From These Roots" but the reviews I have read made it sound like she gloss over a lot of stuff.
    I picked up Aretha's book, From These Roots, when it came out and she did gloss over a lot of stuff. Between the Aretha: Genius mini-series & Respect, I learned a lot more about The Queen of Soul than she was willing to reveal in that book. Also agree with your view that Respect might not be 100% accurate but it was entertaining & moving.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    ^Thanks for your review, Luciano. We plan to see it next weekend.

    Your hunch is correct: The original runtime was over 3 hours when it previewed last year. About 45 minutes were shaved off; this accounts for some scenes seeming to abruptly end for many viewers. The Blu-Ray should be a bonanza of extras.
    Thanks for that information. Wow that's a lot of time removed. Hopefully we will get to see the additional footage.

    Hopefully you will share your thoughts on movie as well. I look forward to it.
    Last edited by Luciano; 08-16-2021 at 03:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    I picked up Aretha's book, From These Roots, when it came out and she did gloss over a lot of stuff. Between the Aretha: Genius mini-series & Respect, I learned a lot more about The Queen of Soul than she was willing to reveal in that book. Also agree with your view that Respect might not be 100% accurate but it was entertaining & moving.
    Thanks for confirming. Now I am really interested to see what the Aretha Genius contains about Aretha.

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    Btw, remembering Aretha as she passed away three years ago today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luciano View Post
    Btw, remembering Aretha as she passed away three years ago today.
    Yes Indeed! It's been three years since we lost her but, Aretha Franklin will Always Rest In Peace, Power, Music & R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Optimal Saint View Post
    To those who’ve seen both how does the performances between the movie and series compare?

    particularly Jennifer Hudson and Cynthia Erivo and Courtney Vance and Forrest Whitaker
    I preferred Jennifer Hudson as Aretha in Respect & Courtney Vance as Rev. C.L. Franklin in Aretha: Genius. It's only by a slight margin however, as they all had difficult roles to pull off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luciano View Post
    Thanks for that information. Wow that's a lot of time removed. Hopefully we will get to see the additional footage.

    Hopefully you will share your thoughts on movie as well. I look forward to it.
    Absolutely. My oldest friend, like myself, is a diehard Arethastan and griped and carped
    about no one being good enough to portray her up until the moment he left the theater.
    He then texted me, "Jennifer did the thing." From such a tough critic, high praise indeed. Can't wait!

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    Aretha's mother in the movie Respect

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    Okay, Luciano, hereís my capsule review from IG:

    Confession time: J.Hud, for all her obvious talents, usually leaves me cold. Flash forward to today, when we saw RESPECT [Tommy, 2021]. I do not play when it comes to Ree. I walked into the theater with my arms figuratively folded, expecting to be disappointed. Jennifer. Shut. It. DOWN. The whole cast rocked. Of course, I have a few accuracy quibbles, being the Arethastan that I am, but theyíre negligible. Lady Soul is smiling down on all of us. Hudson might just walk off with another Oscar. RUN.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    Okay, Luciano, here’s my capsule review from IG:

    Confession time: J.Hud, for all her obvious talents, usually leaves me cold. Flash forward to today, when we saw RESPECT [Tommy, 2021]. I do not play when it comes to Ree. I walked into the theater with my arms figuratively folded, expecting to be disappointed. Jennifer. Shut. It. DOWN. The whole cast rocked. Of course, I have a few accuracy quibbles, being the Arethastan that I am, but they’re negligible. Lady Soul is smiling down on all of us. Hudson might just walk off with another Oscar. RUN.
    Thanks so much! It's great to hear that Jennifer "Shut It Down" from an Arethastan. I look forward to seeing this again when it's released on streaming or DVD. Good luck to Jennifer!

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    I saw the film Respect yesterday and concur with Sansradio; the film is superb on all counts. On first viewing of last year's trailer I was seriously unmoved by Jennifer Hudson's performance. That turned out to be short-sightedness on my point. I loved everything about the film: acting, costumes, music ... Though all the acting is fantastic I was particularly moved by the performances of Hudson, Audra McDonald as Barbara Siggers, Skye Dakota Turner as young Aretha and Albert Jones as Ken Cunningham. C.L. Franklin is made out to be quite a demon. I had 'issues' with some of the factual liberties [[the Dinah Washington incident was particularly distasteful - as a casual DW fan I like to think she at least had the class, or emotional stability, to refrain from public table-throwing in a fit of pathological insecurity). My issue with filmmakers taking these liberties is that fictionalized scenes become undying 'alternative facts' with certain fans [[as we have seen in this forum over the years). Anyhoo - if you have even the slightest interest, do go see Respect in a theater while you can. It's a keeper!

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceNHarmony View Post
    I saw the film Respect yesterday and concur with Sansradio; the film is superb on all counts. On first viewing of last year's trailer I was seriously unmoved by Jennifer Hudson's performance. That turned out to be short-sightedness on my point. I loved everything about the film: acting, costumes, music ... Though all the acting is fantastic I was particularly moved by the performances of Hudson, Audra McDonald as Barbara Siggers, Skye Dakota Turner as young Aretha and Albert Jones as Ken Cunningham. C.L. Franklin is made out to be quite a demon. I had 'issues' with some of the factual liberties [[the Dinah Washington incident was particularly distasteful - as a casual DW fan I like to think she at least had the class, or emotional stability, to refrain from public table-throwing in a fit of pathological insecurity). My issue with filmmakers taking these liberties is that fictionalized scenes become undying 'alternative facts' with certain fans [[as we have seen in this forum over the years). Anyhoo - if you have even the slightest interest, do go see Respect in a theater while you can. It's a keeper!
    I haven't seen the film as of yet. I probably won't see it until it hits dvd.

    That said, Aretha never mentioned any issues with Dinah. In her book, she did mention that Dinah commented on the untidiness of her dressing room.

    However, in her own book, Etta James wrote that Dinah did indeed cause a big ruckus at a show in Rhode Island. Etta came onstage and opened with Dinah's UNFORGETTABLE. Dinah shoved dishes off the table and screamed at Etta: "Bitch, don't you ever sing the Queen's songs!" It scared Etta so much that she ran off stage crying. Later Dinah came backstage and apologized but said "You had to learn a lesson. Never sing another artist's songs if they are in the house." The next day, Dinah invited Etta to hang with her and attend her show.

    Aretha had more than enough drama in her life. Why the writer [s] needed to steal an incident from Etta's is baffling.
    Last edited by reese; 08-26-2021 at 08:52 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    I haven't seen the film as of yet. I probably won't see it until it hits dvd.

    That said, Aretha never mentioned any issues with Dinah. In her book, she did mention that Dinah commented on the untidiness of her dressing room.

    However, in her own book, Etta James wrote that Dinah did indeed cause a big ruckus at a show in Rhode Island. Etta came onstage and opened with Dinah's UNFORGETTABLE. Dinah shoved dishes off the table and screamed at Etta: "Bitch, don't you ever sing the Queen's songs!" It scared Etta so much that she ran off stage crying. Later Dinah came backstage and apologized but said "You had to learn a lesson. Never sing another artist's songs if they are in the house." The next day, Dinah invited Etta to hang with her and attend her show.

    Aretha had more than enough drama in her life. Why the writer [s] needed to steal an incident from Etta's is baffling.
    It is baffling, Reese, and a rare [[and major!) misstep in the film. The recording session of Ain't No Way has one of the sisters improvising the legendary Cissy Houston melisma and that has lots of viewers in a snit; I don't 'like' it but acknowledge that it would have dug too deep a rabbit hole to explain why Cissy was at the session in the first place, etc. So that sort of liberty is ... ok[[ish) with me. But entire repurposing of scenes from another person's life isn't! I'll be interested to see if the DVD has some extras [[other than the usual, piously whispered 'Making this film was sooo special; unlike any cast or director I've every worked with before' behind-the-scenes stuff that seems to occur with almost every movie made!)

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