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Old 11-02-2011, 07:37 AM  
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The Hobbit

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An Unexpected Journey: Quint on the set of The Hobbit! Part 1 - Concerning Hobbiton

Published at: Oct 31, 2011 6:13:46 AM CDT

SPOILER ALERT !!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here currently writing from the overgrown wilds of New Zealandís North Island. Iíve been rather secretive about my trip to the southern hemisphere and for that I apologize, but it had to be done.

Hereís the deal. Iím kicking off a new, temporary, regular column that Iím calling An Unexpected Journey because thatís exactly what it is. A little over a month ago an email arrived asking of my interest in embedding myself on the set of The Hobbit for the entirety of their location shoot, spending over 2 months in New Zealand rolled in with the crew and writing up their adventures, hassles, triumphs and tribulations as they traveled all over the country shooting bits and pieces from the upcoming two-parter prequel to Lord of the Rings. As Winston Zeddemore taught us all, the answer to this kind of question is always YES!

Calling The Hobbit a prequel doesnít exactly feel right, though. This isnít a film cooked up to cash in on an absurdly successful franchise. As most Tolkien readers and human beings over the age of 7 know, The Hobbit burst forth from the pen of JRR Tolkien first. There are many Middle Earth stories, but The Hobbit is the natural choice. Itís high adventure and lets us revisit some of our favorite locations and characters within its own, unique story.

Case in point, the very first location visited on this trip: Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand Ė North Island, also known as Hobbiton.









Gorgeous, isnít it? As amazing as it looks in those pictures or in the movies thereís something incredibly surreal and humbling to stand ON TOP of Bag End and overlook The Shire. I love (good) CGI, I have a lot of respect for the digital artists that toil away for hours and days and weeks and months in a dark room so we can go to Ancient Greece or Pandora or spend some time with Jurassic Park dinosaurs or Gollum or Caesar or those fookiní prawns, but if there was ever a shred of doubt that real wins it was obliterated as the sheep bayed, horses neighed, wind blew and smoke started pouring out of hobbit hole chimneys dotting the lush green landscape in the valley below me.





And when I say green I mean GREEN. The grass in this North Island New Zealand farmland is like Wizard of Oz Technicolor. Itís so bright it almost hurts the eyes.

But we all know New Zealand is beautiful. Thatís a given at this point. By the end of December youíll be given your fill of unbelievable scenery images as I travel from location to location (especially when I hit the South Island). Letís get into what was actually happening in Hobbiton.

Wake up time was 5:15am, which barely gave me enough time to get showered and presentable before making the 40+ minute drive from my Hamilton hotel to the location deep in the rolling green hills of Matamata.

Once past security I found myself driving along a small dirt and gravel road following signs to crew parking. Sure enough, the countryside was beautiful and Tolkeinesque, but it wasnít until I made a turn and saw the incredibly iconic stone bridge leading to The Green Dragon that it really struck me where I was.

That feeling intensified standing at base camp, perched on top of Bag End, looking over Hobbiton with dozens of Hobbit holes laid out over acres of green hills and the massive party tree anchored in the middle of everything.

The crew was setting up a crane out on the narrow walkway in front of Bag End for their first shot actually in Hobbiton in over 10 years. Because of the narrow and steep path down, the crew had to bring crane parts down and assemble much of it there. It took a little while, but before too long the familiar circular green front door of Bag End cracked open and out stepped an even more familiar face.

Munching on jellied toast, Frodo Baggins sauntered out and hopped down the steps leading to the mailbox, grabbed some mail and headed back inside.





Whatís Frodo doing in The Hobbit? I donít want to spoil too much, but I can say that Frodo is part of the connecting tissue between The Hobbit and Fellowship of the Ring.

In fact, the next shot was an over the shoulder on Elijah Wood hammering a sign up on Bag Endís front gate: ďNo Admittance Except On Party Business.Ē You guys should have an idea where that puts this moment in the timeline.

Martin Freeman stood in for Ian Holm, who shot all of his scenes and close-ups in London. They would sometimes play footage theyíve already shot to remind themselves of what they had done previously and to help them match up shots. Peter and crew did that for these reverse shots on Elijah and I got to see Ian as Bilbo once again. It was quite extraordinary, actually. Seeing Ian in close up, wearing the wig, the vest and the pointy ears just put a smile on my face.

While I didnít talk to Elijah about it, I bet it meant the world to him to have Martin there actually giving a performance for him to act off of. Freeman even adopted a little bit of Ian Holmís speech patterns for these scenes and was so good at impersonating Ian Holm that more than once I wondered if the voice I was hearing over the coms was Ianís on playback or Martinís in real life. Usually in these situations theyíll have the script girl or one of the dialect coaches read the lines and while that works a charm, thereís something extra special about a performer giving a performance. Like I said, I didnít talk to Elijah about it, but I bet he appreciated Martin doing that for him.

Their conversation is about Gandalf and if Bilbo thinks Gandalf will show up. Bilbo says ďHe wouldnít miss a chance to let off his whiz-poppers. Heíll put on quite a show, youíll see,Ē and Frodo grins, saying heís going to go surprise him and bounds off down the path like a kid at Christmas. When I say he bounds down the path thatís not an exaggeration for illustrative purposes. He was damn near skipping, a glimpse of that pre-ring Frodo we meet in Fellowship.

After Frodo leaves the frame is very wide featuring The Shire in all its glory; The Green Dragon and mill smack dab in the middle.





Itís my understanding this shot will transition to ď60 Years EarlierĒ with Young Bilbo sitting in front of Bag End contently smoking a pipe and casually blowing smoke rings as Gandalf comes along and presents him with his adventure.

At lunch I caught up with Elijah who was wide-eyed and smiling, obviously enjoying being back in Hobbiton with the furry feet on. He ran off and I said, ďWhere do you think youíre going?Ē His reply: ďBack to Bag End, my friend!Ē

I had to run over to wardrobe to get fitted for my cameo the next day, but soon made my way back to set. We had the same scene going and this time they had the camera tight on Frodo. While it was a tighter shot than before, it still captured the landscape behind him. I mean, thatís the whole reason we were out there in the first place, so I wasnít going to see a whole lot of close-ups and insert shots being filmed. In this case, it was a full on front shot of Frodo, the massive Party Tree behind him.

Seeing the footage of Ian as Old Bilbo was crazy, but nothing compared to seeing Elijah as Frodo in the furry-footed flesh. Iíve gotten to know Elijah pretty well over the last 13 years and it was the very definition of surreal talking to Frodo. Not Elijah. Frodo. I was literally not talking to a friend, but a fictional character, not to mention the magnifier of actually seeing him in Hobbiton.





I have to talk about the livestock. This will be the first time Iíve traveled internationally where I will have to check off the Yes box when asked if Iíve been near livestock on the arrival card. All forms of livestock were on set. There was even a runaway cow who decided she didnít like the film business on the first take and bolted right the hell out of Hobbiton.

It was quite funny, actually. I feel bad for the production having to pause, but from my high-up point of view (remember I was standing on top of the hill overlooking Hobbiton this whole day) it was very entertaining watching this cow haul ass along the path between the hobbit holes with a poor A.D. running about 20 feet behind her, desperately trying to catch up.

There were all manner of animals on the set ranging from goats to roosters, pigs, oxen, horses and all of them had handlers there to make sure they were fed, watered and safely munching on the lush green grass of Matamata. They would quickly duck out of frame whenever shots would go up.

Shortly after getting the shot on Frodo the unmistakable sound of chopper blades hit our ears. It was circling us. Obviously someone had hired it to fly above and take photos of the set.

An hour or two later a small, single-engine prop plane did the same thing, flying low and circling. Photos hit the net shortly after, I noticed. The crew was quite annoyed, not because Hobbiton was being exposed to the world, but because the choppers and planes were constantly getting in the shot and the sound of the engines was either ruining takes or making the production halt until they got out of earshotÖ which could be a long while if they are circling.

So, it was an unwanted intrusion, especially frustrating when you consider they were already waiting for the light to be right, to get behind a cloud or peak out from behind a cloud depending on the previous shot.

It got to the point that producer Zane Weiner asked me to take a photo of the plane so we can try to get its tail number. I had the 18mm-55mm lens on my camera (which means itís a shorter lens and doesnít zoom in too far), so I ran back to my bag, grabbed my 200mm lens and popped it on, but I was too late. The plane had already gone. Zane wanted me to let you guys know I failed at that particular task. And on my first day of location reporting, too.

That was one day of location shooting on The Hobbit. One day down, two months to go! Before I conclude this article, Iíd like to set up a little space where Iíll be featuring a member of the crew. God willing Iíll be able to do this with each of my pieces, introducing you to the fine folks who I spend my days with. These guys are the unsung heroes of filmmaking, so I feel they should be represented.

Kicking things off will be Kiran Shah.





If youíve watched the appendices on the Extended Editions of the Lord of the Rings films you should recognize Kiranís name. Heís a much loved character around the set. Heís an actor, stunt man and scale double. On Rings he doubled Elijah Wood, but before Lord of the Rings he had a massive career.

For instance, heís in Raiders of the Lost ArkÖ heís the guy who brings the poisoned dates into Indy and Sallah. He doubled Short Round in Temple of Doom, he was a character in Ridley Scottís Legend (Blunder) and even knew Stanley Kubrick.

The story he told me was that he got to know Kubrick a little bit, but even being on friendly terms with the maestro didnít save him when he popped in for a visit on the set of Eyes Wide Shut. Stanley spotted him and said, ďKiran, out!Ē We all know the stories about how Kubrick didnít like a lot of crew around and that was Kiranís little tale about it.

He also mentioned that LOTR and Hobbit illustrator/designer Alan Lee did the character designs for Legend and even drew the character that Shah ended up playing to look just like him. Shah attributes getting the role to Lee because he remembered auditioning for it and seeing Ridley Scott do a double take when Shah entered the room, looking back at the character design and up at him again.

In The Hobbit, Shah is up to his usual shenanigans, making the crew (and visiting movie geek reporters) crack up in-between takes and doubling hobbits. In the above picture heís waiting to double Martin Freemanís Bilbo, which is why his eyes are reverse raccooned in his picture. Thereís an eerie silicone mask of Bilboís face that heíll put on when Bilbo is needed to be seen in a close to correct proportion.

Shah will also be a Goblin in the film and is just an overall joy to be around and as such he is this columnís inaugural featured crew member.

The next report will cover my cameo appearance during a Hobbit market in front of The Green Dragon. There is a particular actor in this scene named Leroy that Iím especially excited to tell you about. He has huge talents and thatís even an understatement. I expect that report to land in a few days, but taking my own pictures means a bit of a clearance process.

I know the watermarks are annoying. I hate them, you hate them, so I made them as unintrusive as possible. If I see a bunch of sites take these images without credit and a linkback future pictures will have bigger watermarks. So, donít be a dick. I donít care if you use the image, just give a link back here, will yaí? Donít ruin it for everybody.





More soon! This is going to be a crazy couple of months! Oh, and Happy Birthday to Peter Jackson! Thanks for letting me join the circus for a spell, sir!

-Eric Vespe
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Old 11-29-2012, 11:09 PM   #151
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassel's Reckoning View Post
I loathe, loathe, loathe 3D because it darkens the picture. It's almost like the original image is corrupted.
It is, although the "darkening" effect may be due to your local theater.
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Old 11-29-2012, 11:14 PM   #152
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deberg_1990 View Post
Heres a story from yesterdays LA Times talking a little about it. It mentions in there how a few previews of it months ago some audience members found the image a little "jarring". Like i said, its going to some time for alot of movie goers to get used to.
I'll never forget the reaction to the Beatles catalog being transferred to CD back in the mid-80's.

Please note I said transferred, not remastered or mastered for digital but transferred.

I was a young kid working a corporate summer job during college and people in the office were PISSED:

I've never heard that tambourine before.


I've never heard those voices before.

I've never heard those strings before.

This isn't the way The Beatles intended their music to sound.



48 FPS (and later 60FPS) will not only change the way we look at cinema, it'll change the way we feel about cinema.
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Old 11-29-2012, 11:35 PM   #153
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I can't imagine this being better than the LOTR movies because of how amazing those were, but I still can't wait to see The Hobbit. I expect it to be really good.
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Old 11-29-2012, 11:46 PM   #154
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaneMcCloud View Post
48 FPS (and later 60FPS) will not only change the way we look at cinema, it'll change the way we feel about cinema.
Completely.

Actually, there is no technical reason holding us back from shooting at 120 FPS right now. (current crop of digital movie cameras max at 120/5K)

My guess is that the next generation will top out at 300 FPS and we will stay there for quite some time ... instead focusing more on pushing resolution over frame rates. I just can't imagine the human eye would even be able to pick up anything after that point but I may be wrong. Either way, the main reason to stick at 300 FPS is because it can be divided easily by both 50 and 60. That reason alone may cause us to get there sooner rather than later.
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Old 11-29-2012, 11:47 PM   #155
lcarus lcarus is offline
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Completely.

Actually, there is no technical reason holding us back from shooting at 120 FPS right now. (current crop of digital movie cameras max at 120/5K)

My guess is that the next generation will top out at 300 FPS and we will stay there for quite some time ... instead focusing more on pushing resolution over frame rates. I just can't imagine the human eye would even be able to pick up anything after that point but I may be wrong. Either way, the main reason to stick at 300 FPS is because it can be divided easily by both 50 and 60. That reason alone may cause us to get there sooner rather than later.
Sounds awesome. Can't wait!
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:05 AM   #156
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcarus View Post
Sounds awesome. Can't wait!
It's definitely some cool stuff.

On a semi-related note, if you had a 60 fps movie on blu-ray, you're screwed trying to watch it at that rate. Unless you are ok with 1280◊720. And of course you are probably screwed on HDMI transfer of the video until HDMI 2.0 comes out. (which should actually be soon)

Funny thing is.. the displays are pretty much ready for 300 FPS right now.
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:45 AM   #157
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After further thought on this, it may be 600 FPS/Hz that we top out at actually. Depends on a number of factors, but that is the REALLY sweet spot as far as compatibility goes.

Wouldn't be hard to get movies to this level but will take some time before the home market catches up. (HDMI 4.0? UltraHD 2.0?) Yet again, the displays capable of this will be standard soon so who knows.
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:18 AM   #158
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5-STAR REVIEW.

http://tvnz.co.nz/hobbit-news/unexpe...review-5261087


All in all, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has set forth a revolution in film. It's also a film which you really do have to see at the cinema and in the way Peter Jackson intended; there's no real technology currently which will offer the same experience on the small screen.

And it's sure as hell raised the bar for the upcoming Avatar sequels, having redefined what audiences should expect from a virtual world.

Magical, majestic, mystical and utterly masterful, The Hobbit movie is an enthralling,engrossing and unmissable return to Middle Earth (especially if you're a committed LOTR fan).
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:21 AM   #159
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moar!!!

http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment...pected-Journey

Quote:
Compared to LOTR, which tells of an epic fight of good and evil, The Hobbit is more light-hearted with many laugh-out-loud moments, but still delivers gory and glorious battle-scenes.

And what a difference almost 10 years makes for special effects: The Hobbit shows a depth in details that maybe only computer games on the small screen have ever captured.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has enough similarities to LOTR that it will appeal to fans of the trilogy, but at the same time it carries its own feel and aesthetic - to be a beautiful beast in its own right.

It is also close enough to Tolkien's original work to feel like a true adaption, but takes some freedom and delivers a few surprises.

In it's core, the first part of The Hobbit trilogy is a story of growth; Bilbo's journey from homebody to hero (well, sort of) and Thorin Oakenshield's from Hobbit spurner to Hobbit believer.

And the Government certainly got its money's worth in wide and epic shoots of the country's sceneries. These should help to keep drawing tourists to New Zealand and firm its reputation as Middle-earth.

At times, the story could maybe have been told a tad faster, but we're talking Peter Jackson here.

When the credits start to roll to Neil Finn's Song of the Lonely Mountain, after nearly three hours, the theatre burst into applause and nobody I talked to complained of sickness or drowsiness after the 48fps experience, but felt perfectly emerged into Middle-earth.

Will the 48fps be loved by everybody? Certainly not. Will it be the future of filming? Probably.

Great cast, great special effects and great entertainment. Yes, Peter Jackson is back at his game, and I can't wait to see if he keeps it up in what's to come.

Reviewer's rating: Four and a half stars
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Old 12-04-2012, 06:52 AM   #160
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaneMcCloud View Post
I'll never forget the reaction to the Beatles catalog being transferred to CD back in the mid-80's.

Please note I said transferred, not remastered or mastered for digital but transferred.

I was a young kid working a corporate summer job during college and people in the office were PISSED:

I've never heard that tambourine before.


I've never heard those voices before.

I've never heard those strings before.

This isn't the way The Beatles intended their music to sound.



48 FPS (and later 60FPS) will not only change the way we look at cinema, it'll change the way we feel about cinema.
......like almost anything "new", it takes time for people to adjust.

I will definately seek out a 48FPS showing of this when its released. Im very curious about it.
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Matt once made a very nice play in Seattle where he spun away from a pass rusher and hit Bowe off his back foot for a first down.

One of the best plays Matt has ever made.
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:45 AM   #161
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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! 71% on the tomatometer.


http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_...ected_journey/

Example: An Unexpected Journey may as well be The Phantom Menace and God help us all if the next two movies aren't better than this one.
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:54 AM   #162
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Reviews are starting to trickle out....and it sounds like it has pacing problems....mostly a meh.
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Originally Posted by Cassel's Reckoning:

Matt once made a very nice play in Seattle where he spun away from a pass rusher and hit Bowe off his back foot for a first down.

One of the best plays Matt has ever made.
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Old 12-04-2012, 11:01 AM   #163
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Uh oh....the 48FPS backlash has begun....



The Hobbit's review embargo went up an hour ago, and right off the bat I'm reading all kinds of descriptions of how 48 frames-per-second photography doesn't cut it. It's too new, too specific, too crackling -- a "fiasco," according to a Movieline headline for a Jen Yamato story. TheWrap's Steve Pond called the process "a little disturbing and uncomfortable," and Variety's Peter Debruge said that with 48 fps "everything takes on an overblown, artificial quality in which the phoniness of the sets and costumes becomes obvious."

And MSN's James Rocchi tweeted that we can "blame Tolkien for the dull plotting, but blame Peter Jackson for the ruinous 48fps." Rim shot!

Let me explain something. The 48 fps feeling of discomfort or unfamiliarity, if you insist on that being your primary response, goes away after 20 minutes or a half hour or thereabouts. You get used to it and then it's nothing. It doesn't get in the way, it doesn't call attention to itself -- it's just there. And it's fine.

Let me explain something else. 48 fps is a lot closer to what life looks like with your eyes. It's much clearer and sharper and more vivid than 24 fps, which looks like that special neverland called "cinema" -- a very peculiar world with very specific climates and textures, and all of it fake. No matter what Pond, Debruge, Yamato and Rocchi are telling you, there's nothing wrong, trust me, with a movie looking more vivid and life-like and less like the other-worldly realm of 24 fps, which the harumphs prefer because -- it really comes down to this -- they've been watching it all their lives.

All the harumphs really know is that 48 fps ain't 24 fps, and so they're saying "eff this noise!" But if you can just roll with the new way and stop having a hissy fit about it not looking like 24 fps, it's pretty cool. And it's really ideal for big, empty, drawn-out and wildly bloated movies like The Hobbit because at least it looks so much more gleaming and molecular than 24 fps, like it's happening on the other side of an absolutely spotless glass window.

Let me explain a third thing. Once you've seen a big, empty, splashy, FX-driven film at 48 fps, you'll never again be fully satisfied with seeing a big, empty, splashy, FX-driven film at 24 fps. 48 fps is perfect for comic-book whack-offs, Star Trek or Star Wars flicks, monster movies, vampire movies, pirate movies, adventure flicks, zombie flicks, animated features...anything that isn't straight drama or any kind of impressively written, character-driven adult fare aimed at anyone with a year or two of college.

My personal preference is that straight adult fare should be shot at 30 fps because it looks a lot cleaner than 24 fps and reduces pan blur and makes the action seem smoother. And all the rest of the films (i.e., those described above) should be shot at 48 fps. And believe me, the harumphs will eventually ease up and settle in.

As for The Hobbit itself, it's a major slog. I began looking at my watch at the 25-minute mark, at which point I moaned and muttered to myself, "God...over two hours to go!" It's like being on a long dull plane ride to Alaska without wifi. It's ponderous, meditative and glacially paced, and sporadically or episodically cranked up in the usual Jackson style. The acting is always broad (except for Martin Freeman's low-key Bilbo Baggins), but everything is always frenzied and amplified and compounded with the heroes facing terrible, insurmountable odds, and the action scenes always ending in a cliffhanger with the "oh my God!" rescue never happening until the very last second, and with nobody "good" ever getting seriously hurt, much less killed. They might be unconscious and look dead, but they'll wake up sooner or later.

I knew it would be like this, and it was. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" was a relatively slim volume but Jackson has turned it into a big lumbering trilogy. I really can't bear the idea of watching two more three-hour-long Hobbit flicks...and I don't think I will.


http://hollywood-elsewhere.com/2012/...sting_hobb.php
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Old 12-04-2012, 11:37 AM   #164
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People that love the book won't have a problem with pacing. Imo.
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Old 12-04-2012, 11:44 AM   #165
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deberg_1990 View Post
Scrolling through some more of that blog, the guy reads like your stereotypical self-aggrandizing film snot, who'll be naturally predisposed against anything that might be popular amongst the unwashed masses.

I meant "film snob", but "film snot" kind of works for me.
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