Toronto International Film Fest 2001 By Mike White. Day 1: September 7, 2001 I’ve never driven to Toronto before and, as I found out, that’s a good thing...

Day 1: September 7, 2001
I’ve never driven to Toronto before and, as I found out, that’s a good thing. The drive was uneventful to the point of complete dullness. I never realized that the southern part of Ontario is as flat as Ohio, making the trip a tedious one. However, the long drive did afford me the chance to listen to some CDs that had been piling up around me, still in their shrinkwrap.

Checking in to Festival Headquarters turned out to be a much less stressful event than two years ago. Rather than milling about begging for more screening vouchers, I walked in and picked up a bag full of swag and my wonderful Press Badge. Freedom! Now I could go to whatever press screening I pleased without need of prior voucher approval. This also meant that I could choose my screenings willy-nilly instead of having a more rigid schedule. Soon the question became “What to see?”

I imagine that I had more time to research when I was here before. Otherwise, how could I have picked out so many movies to see? This year I stared dumbfounded at the screening schedule, recognizing and highlighting only a handful of titles on my first pass with a highlighter. Hell, a few titles I chose were things I knew would be getting a wider theatrical release shortly. What were the obscure gems that would never play Detroit? I should have budgeted for one of those cumbersome festival guides.

It took me a while to hook up with my pals, Skizz and Dan. Apparently they had hit the hotel just minutes before I got there.

Rain (Christine Jeffs, 2001)
With any luck, my first film will be my biggest misstep. This paint-by-numbers New Zealand film is a rote Coming-of-Age / Adultery flick in which a family living by the seaside is put in moral jeopardy by a handsome stranger. Throughout the film, I kept asking myself how the parents in this nuclear unit could spend so much time at their dream house without working a steady job. Instead, it appears that everyone involved has far too much time on their hands and found that drinking themselves into oblivion will only do so much to ease the boredom.

Yes, Mom (Sarah Perise) has a booze problem and the hots for the boat-bound stranger (Marton Csokas). Meanwhile, Dad (Alistair Browning) sits cuckolded in the back yard sipping hard liquor. Their two kids (Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki and Aaron Murphy) don’t have healthy hobbies either; spending their time cutting private parts out of porn magazines and taping them to their bodies. I suppose there is a lot of “higher meaning” going on between these “adult parts” and the lemon tree that grows in their back yard. However, I really wasn’t inclined to dig deep in this overly glossy film whose plot and ending were visible from the onset.

Director Jeffs muddies her water with an overabundance of slow motion shots, drawing out the tedium of Rain. Instead of treading new ground, the film provides the audience with trite morality and one-dimensional characters.

Warm Water Under The Red Bridge (Shohei Imamura, 2001)
Working in the vein of magical realism, director Shohei Imamura spins a yarn of Yosuke (Koji Yakusho), an unemployed salaryman who lives on the dole in Tokyo. He wires his welfare money to his estranged wife while living in “the lower depths” with colorful characters such as Taro (Kazuo Kitramura), “the Blue Tent Philosopher.” Prompted by Taro’s death and his past encouragement to seize the moment while he can still get a hard-on, Yosuke travels to a small seaside Noto village in search of Taro’s long-left treasure.

Once there, Yosuke falls in with the locals who surpass the expected “quirky locals” stereotypes and, instead, appear closer to interesting individuals. At the center of Yosuke’s attention is Saeko (Misa Shimizu), a soggy strumpet who, like her (apparently) senile grandmother, suffers from an ailment where she retains water in a most unusual way.

Imamura focuses on issues of filial piety, virility and love with wry, ribald humor. WARM WATER is a delight and a wonderfully light-hearted romp by a seasoned master.

Versus (Ryuhei Kitamura, 2000)
The perfect way to kick-off the Midnight Madness program for TIFF 2001, Ryuhei Kitamura’s Versus is a terrific blend of staple “crowd-pleasing” genres such as chambara swordplay, yakuza gunfights, and the vengeful undead. Recalling Tetsuro Takeuchi’s rock-and-roll zombie flick, Wild Zero, as well as Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, Versus plays out to the hilt with ultra-violent and self-effacing glee.

When two escaped convicts meet for a mysterious rendezvous with a group of yakuza thugs, their unfortunate meeting happens to occur in the Forest of Resurrection-one of the 666 portals to hell that exists in our domain. Throw a kidnapped girl into the mix, and watch as one of the cons declares his allegiance to feminist dogma before blowing away one of her captors. When his felled foe rises from the dead, all hell breaks loose. From here, the story runs in high gear and gives the audience little chance for a breather except for occasional over-stylized “poses” from the actors. Other than these manga-influenced tableaus, Kitamura’s camera never stops: zooming, panning, and spinning with dizzying speed.

In what becomes typical for this film, just when things seem like they can’t get any crazier, they inevitably do. The set pieces pile up in a savage collision that proves surprisingly satisfying. While too many action films run out steam in their conclusion, Versus manages to stay on track and in overdrive for its full two hours (which, perhaps, is a half-hour too long for this film). An exhaustingly intense action pastiche, Versus raises the bar for all future chambara yakuza zombie flicks.

Happily, I ran into Skizz and Dan at the midnight show. I had only seen Versus via VCD before so watching it on the big screen was like seeing an altogether different and even more intense flick.

We finally turned in for the night at a little past 4 a.m., leading me to think that I’ll never hang out with Skizz for a day that doesn’t end closer to dawn than dusk.

Day Two: September 8, 2001
I couldn’t believe that I managed to haul my tired ass out of bed by 9 a.m. in order to see Mulholland Drive. When I got to the theater, Even more surprising was the line that wrapped around the cineplex. Despite the number of reviewers who undoubtedly disliked the film, they were certainly out in droves to see it. I’ll be saving my comments on this film for an article I’m currently working on about David Lynch’s “lost projects.”

Immediately after seeing Mulholland Drive, I popped over to a coffee shop for a jolt of caffeine and a desperate phone call to Lynch’s publicist with the hope that I could score what I’d consider one of the “ultimate interviews” for Cashiers du Cinemart. A day late and a dollar short, I was told that Lynch is “booked up” for the entire time that he’s here. While I don’t want to consider myself a “better” or “more relevant” journalist than any of the yahoos that Lynch will undoubtedly be talking to, I should bemoan every trite question that Lynch answers rather than those that had been building up for years!

Dogtown and Z-Boys (Stacy Perralta, 2001)
While this documentary could have been an incestuous, self-congratulatory promo piece for director Stacy Perralta, he manages to present himself and his childhood pals (the title’s “Z-Boys”) from an outsider’s point of view. Perralta attempts to show a “warts and all” portrait of he and his group. While there may be “sins of the past’ that remain out of the camera’s view, these are secondary to the wider scope of the film.

Dogtown and Z-Boys focuses on the history of skateboarding, from its surf board origins to its explosive rebirth in the mid-’70s. Perralta (co-founder of skateboarding company Powell-Perralta) and his hometown cronies comprised “Team Zephyr” and helped revolutionize the “sport” of skateboarding. Told in vignettes scored with an incredible soundtrack of guitar rock (the music rights probably quintupled the flick’s budget), Dogtown and Z-Boys occasionally resembles a bigger budget “Bones Brigade” video. The form lends itself to fleshed-out chapters of information along with occasional skate breaks that highlight the poetry of the sport.

The skating speaks for itself and calls attention to the narration of Sean Penn who trips over the overwrought prose of writer Craig Stecyk. Far too often, Penn sounds like he’s reading his Ninth Grade term paper on skateboarding.

Perralta’s film moves at a good clip, only bogging down towards the end with long-winded vignettes focusing on he and two of his other Dogtown chums. Yet, at no time does Dogtown and Z-Boys ever wear out its welcome. If anything, I’d have liked the film to go farther into the post Z-boys era and the metamorphosis of skating.

After Dogtown and Z-Boys I headed down to Eaton Centre for a meal at the cheesy but yummy Mr. Greenjeans and then a night of “talking video” with tapehead Dion Conflict.

Day Three: September 9, 2001
With the stress of selling/buying a house and all the fun things that go along with that (getting up early in order to vacuum and pick up the house every day just in case that there’s a “showing”), I haven’t had much opportunity to just kick back and sleep in. Therefore, when I sleep in until noon, I figure that my body needs it.

Fulltime Killer (Johnnie To & Wai Ka Fai, 2001)
“I like action movies but only the ones with fresh ideas,” says assassin Lok (Andy Lau) in voice-over. Lok is one hell of a stylish killer, and has studied his action set pieces well. While he and his video store quasi-girlfriend Chin (Kelly Lin) make movie references throughout Fulltime Killer to flicks such as Desperado, The Professional, Poiint Break and Crying Freeman, it would seem that he and his rival O (Takaschi Sormachi) has done his best to study Branded to Kill and The Killer.

Like Branded to Kill, there are stylish assassinations and themes of voyeurism. Moreover, the film deals with a struggle to be the “Number One” assassin in Asia. While O holds the top spot, Lok desperately struggles to dethrone him. At the same time, the two vie for the affections of Chin, creating a love/rivalry triangle similar to The Killer. While Chin is torn between two killers and feeling like a fool, both Lok and O’s handler/managers are following all of the action film rules by betraying their charges. On top of that, Interpol tries desperately to arrest these two master assassins.

Fulltime Killer goes in quite a few directions, but should have dealt solely with the rivalry between Lok and O. The Interpol subplot seems tacked on through the first two acts of the film and then stuffed uncomfortably into the final act. This causes the film to drag and tries to lead Fulltime Killer into a more cerebral territory to distinguish it from a typical ultra-violent film. However, this forced detour is unnecessary. Its apparent source material satisfies bloodlust while sustaining intelligent subtexts regarding machismo and loyalty, however Fulltime Killer falters by forcing the subject down audiences’ throats while being cheeky.

Far from flawless, Fulltime Killer is a laudable attempt at an “intelligent action film” that stumbles over the hurdles that it pretends to have surmounted.

From Hell (Allen & Albert Hughes, 2001)
After a few days of exotic subtitled flicks and/or independent sensibility, I crave the familiar pat taste of a home cooked meal. Give me a Hollywood film, if you would, with extra mayo on white bread. And, please, cut off the crusts.

That is exactly what I had on my plate with the Hughes Brother’s From Hell, an adaptation of a comic graphic novel (emphasis on the word graphic, I’m sure) about Jack The Ripper. The Hughes Brothers attempt to make From Hell a “roller coaster ride of a movie” but this is a ‘coaster we’ve all ridden before. We know when the ride will dip and turn and we brace ourselves accordingly. Starring Johnny Depp as a psychic, opium-addicted cop with a lower-class accent, From Hell has more red herrings than a fish market. Soon the answer to this murder mystery makes itself clear-just look past the red herrings and you’ll see the real killer.

Rather than kicking back and enjoying the familiar ride, I found my mind wandering aimlessly. I contemplated the current state of a film version of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, a novel about a serial killer in New York City during the Industrial Revolution. Additionally, I wondered if I could track down a video copy of the old In Search Of episode that dealt with Jack The Ripper. Both the Carr novel and Nimoy-hosted documentary seemed like they’d be far superior to the droll thriller I was trying to watch.

Shot in lovely colour and peppered with the all-too-familiar “serial killer/psychic” grainy, over-saturated clips (think Se7en or Natural Born Killers), the only high point of the film is Depp’s Detective assistant played by Robbie Coltrane whose literate dialogue puzzles the Cockney cops he commands. The film works when he’s on screen and flounders when he’s gone.

Trouble Every Day(Claire Denis, 2001)
This vampire flick attempts to be an overly cerebral affair but, instead, comes off as a pretentious exercise in abusing the audience. Stark and minimalist, it stars a brooding Vincent Gallo as Shane Brown who ignores his all-too-cute new bride (Tricia Vessey) on their honeymoon to Paris. While Mr. Brown has a lovely wife, he has no interest in her on their trip and, instead, searches aimlessly for a former colleague and his wife. I think that Mrs. Brown rushed into her relationship, as she knows nothing of her husband’s bloodlust nor his history and murderous intentions.

Directed by Claire Denis whose Beau Travail is supposed to be god’s gift to film lovers, Trouble Every Dayis inherently flawed in its casting of Gallo as Brown. I believe in vampires much more than I’d believe that the humdrum Gallo could bag a beauty like Vessey or even Beatrice Dalle (who, while over-the-hill, still looks pretty darned good, esp. when she’s got blood dripping from her smiling mouth).

Throw in a snooping maid and some meddlesome kids and put on a very low heat Trouble Every Dayis a tepid affair that, like a watched pot, never boils. Tedious and mind-numbingly artsy-fartsy, this is one to miss.

Day Four: September 10, 2001
Again, I slept in and missed my early morning feature, Le Pact Des Loups/ Brotherhood of the Wolf. Being a lazy bastard, I decided to hang out for a while longer in the hotel, missing Amelie. I suppose I just decided that I needed a day off.

Later, I drove downtown and hooked up with Bill Imperial, one of my “internet pals.” Bill and I have traded tapes on occasion and I certainly didn’t expect him to look the way he did based on his collection. His refined tastes in Japanese films and other obscurities lead me to believe that Bill would be about 50 years old rather than close to my own age!

Clip Cult (Vol. 1)
This collection of music videos actually received theatrical release in Germany. Apparently, it didn’t do too well at the box office. I wonder, though, how it would do in the United States. Not having seen a music video other than an occasional Aphex Twin clip (which I’ve had to purchase on videocassette), I think that I’d actually plunk down money at the box office to see videos of the caliber found here. Hell, I certainly won’t see any music videos on MTV!

Ironically, Clip Cult features two of Aphex Twin’s videos. “Windowlicker” and “Come To Daddy” are two of five clips here from director Chris Cunningham. I found myself tired of Cunningham’s work by the time Björk’s “All is Full of Love” graced the big screen. Rather, I hoped that we might witness more of Spike Jonze’s work before the program was over. As it was, only his acting-directing rendition of Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” presided.

Clip Cult introduced me to quite a few videos and artists that I had not experienced before. The most impressive video had to be for Cibo Matto’s “Sugar Water.” This split screen work runs backwards for the first half on the left side of the screen and backwards for the second half on the right side of the screen. What’s amazing, though, is that the two sides manage to cohere in a terrific play on chronology. I hope to find a copy of this video somewhere so I can watch it a few more dozen times.

Electric Dragon 80,000 Volts(Sogo Ishii, 2000)
A fine choice for the second half of this program, Sogo Ishii’s Electric Dragon 80,000 Voltsis a wild musical ride. Shot in lovely black and white, the film plays like a live action cartoon, complete with explosive on screen animated titles. Starring Tadanobu Asano as ‘Dragon Eye’ Morrison and Nagase Masatoschi as Thunderbolt Buddha, the film concerns the rivalry between these two fantastic, electrically charged characters.

Day Five: September 11, 2001
The next morning as I checked my email, Dan was up and about, getting ready for another early day at the movies. The weather had been getting cooler in the evenings so, wanting to dress appropriately, he turned on the television to see what the temperature would be for the day.

“Plane strikes World Trade Center,” read an on-screen blurb.

“Wow, that’s odd,” I thought.

Before I knew it, we were entrenched in the events of September 11th. The three of us sat, stunned, and saw the collapse of the World Trade towers, one after another. We watched for an hour or two before deciding to go down town and go on with our day.

When last we heard, a plane was headed towards Washington D.C. The subway ride to the Yonge Street Station felt particularly long. When we made it to street level, the scene was startling. Dozens of people stood at the corner of Yonge and Bloor, eyes covered to cut the glare and see the huge screen for some local broadcaster. The closed-captioning on, everyone seemed poised, waiting for the next word to come on screen. By the time we got there, the plane apparently bound for D.C. came down in Pennsylvania.

The scene in the Press Office was similar, more people standing around a television. People packed in from wall to wall; my trip to the other side became somewhat arduous. More than that, it was odd. As I passed through the crowd, I received several reassuring pats on my back.

When I found Nobu Adilman, the Press Officer for the Midnight Madness program, and asked him for a ticket to that night’s screening, he looked at me like I had just called his mother a whore. I don’t know whether I was being callous or if I was just in shock but, regardless, I was trying to live by the old “show must go on” credo. There was nothing I could do for the folks in the U.S. except my job. Of course, I wanted to know all of the details of the day but knew they’d be slow in coming. I’d need to take breaks and do something or else I’d go nuts watching CNN repeat the same few details for hours on end.

Afterwards, I headed over to the Varsity where I met with another crowd of folks gathered around a television set mounted under the concession stand and turned up to full volume. We had come to the point where reporters spread rumor as truth: terrorists were attacking NORAD, Dick Cheney suffered a heart attack, et cetera.

I moseyed over to my first film of the day, The American Astronaut, a few minutes before show time. I had debated if I should watch it or watch the news and decided that I needed ninety minutes of escape. However, that was not to be. As I tried to get into the theater, I could overhear some hubbub going on among the festival volunteers. It didn’t take long to discern the gist of the conversation. The festival was shutting down for the day: no public or press screenings. I reckon this decision came about as a matter of respect for the tragedy going on South of the Border as well as a matter of public safety. Any big gatherings of people could be a potential target.

My initial thoughts went to my bad decision of taking a day off on Monday when Tuesday suddenly opened wide to me. Luckily, I ran into Dan just outside of the Varsity and we went back to the hotel together. We passed the time with news reports, Canadian beer, and a few sessions in the hot tub.

Although Canada often feels like the 51st State in the Union, I felt oddly out of place being there at such an odd time. Most everyone around me speaks my language. The street signs are usually in English. The TV plays CNN nonstop. So, what difference would it make if I were at home?

Is it a need for that safety in familiarity? Is it a need to make sure that I’m around my loved ones? How did it feel to Americans when Pearl Harbor was attacked? A damn scary thought is that I’ve been to New York City and it’s within driving distance from home. Hawaii is literally on the other side of the globe.

More death, more places, so much closer to home. Is it vulnerability that I feel? Is it a longing for security? Or, would I feel the same in Detroit? Hell, I could feel worse being even closer to “ground zero.” Detroit’s probably safe. Drop a few planes downtown and see if you can tell a difference. Maybe the skyline would be a bit more hazy but, otherwise...

Dealing with tragedy via humor, Skizz and I traded quips from imaginary David Letterman and Jay Leno monologues from that evening. Before long, we had a rather extensive collection of tasteless Top Ten Lists. Talking to Andrea that evening, she reminded me that maybe now I could get an interview with Lynch since he’d be stuck in town for a few days longer.

Day Six: September 12, 2001
The film festival resumed. Life goes on. I almost lost it when I was at McDonalds reading the morning paper’s account of rescue workers setting up a triage unit at the base of the first World Trade Center tower, not suspecting that it’d collapse.

I tried to give blood but was turned away with at least another half dozen people. The Canadian Blood Services representative repeated his schtick that there was no way we could get in without an appointment. The “walk in” slots were full and would be for days. It took quite a few hours to get through to the appointment line but, when I did, they informed me that they were booked solid in all of their clinics-permanent and temporary-until at least the following week. In a way, it was nice to hear. Though I wanted to give blood right then and there, I was happy to learn of so many folks pitching in at such a dire time. After being turned away, I took a gamble and lost by deciding to see whatever movie was screening next.

Birthday Girl (Jez Butterworth, 2001)
I thought that the “gun as cigarette lighter” prop/cliché had gone out of style over two decades ago. I suppose, though, that Birthday Girl would feel more at home in 1981 than 2001. Perhaps it may have even felt fresh then and could have had Chevy Chase as the lead and Goldie Hawn as his comedic foil.

Instead, Ben Chaplin plays John, a banker with a house overrun by ants and an inability to find romance in his quaint English town. (I imagine that John’s ant problem has some symbolic meaning but I never felt inclined to glean what it might be.) John selects a mail order Russian bride who arrives in the form of Nadia (Nicole Kidman), a dark-haired beauty who refuses to speak English. Of course, she can-we discover this at one of the many predictable turning points of the film that stick out like brightly-colored pushpins in a Romantic Comedy Road Map.

Nadia takes John on a walk on the Something Wild side, fulfilling his BDSM fantasies until the obligatory antagonists arrive. Two uninvited Russian houseguests goad the film to its inevitable turn with John stealing £90K to save his Cyrillic sweetheart. The movie continues on course with no surprises or items of interest that might separate it from any other films of its ilk.

Birthday Girl is a lite snack of a film. It’s custom made for an afternoon showing on cable when you have to do your laundry. You can toss your last load into the dryer, start up a new one, and fold your last one without fear of missing anything of great import in the time you’re away.

Hell House (George Ratliff, 2001)
In what often feels like a Christian-themed Waiting for Guffman, teenage thespians vie for roles as “the abortion girl” or “the date raper” in the tenth annual Hell House “Haunted House.” Documenting this yearly collection of social ills and flagrant sins presented by the Trinity Assembly of God in Dallas, Texas, Hell House provides ample belly laughs coupled with groans of frustration.

Director George Ratliff takes the audience behind the scenes of the tenth annual Hell House, from early brainstorming sessions to “opening night,” where Bible-thumping thespians try to save souls via their morality plays. We witness the wild auditions, fact-checking of the script (“Is it ‘Magic’ or ‘The Gathering’?”), and creation of the sets. In between, we catch glimpses of Pentecostal pandemonium wherein prayer sessions are plagued with folks speaking in tongues (“Speaking in tongues is like speaking in French or German,” says one parishioner), sounding like a Latka Gravis convention.

With material this good, it’s difficult to go wrong but Hell House nearly does. The film remains steadfastly objective throughout. At times, the stone-faced journalism allows the irony to flow freely. However, the muted opinion of the film quiets the outrageousness of these amateur actors as they present crazed scenes of abortions, homosexuality, and suicide. Sure, the scripts to the preachy skits of Hell House sound like they’re right out of a Jack Chick comic book but their implications are ominous. While it’s not necessary for this film to have a central “argument,” Hell House feels like a lightweight effort for such a heavyweight subject.

The Bunker (Rob Green, 2001)
A group of German soldiers finds safety from a U.S. ambush in a spooky shelter in Rob Green’s The Bunker. The film has a great deal of build-up with its potential supernatural underpinnings, fleeting flashbacks of past horrors, and hints of mistruth. However, The Bunker lacks sufficient payoff for the high suspense. It left me dumbfounded and disappointed by the easy answers and quick conclusion.

Populated with a good group of actors whose craggy faces speak to the tough times they’ve been through, standout performances include Jason Flemyng as a Corporal who may be guilty of the crimes for which he executed others and Andrew Tiernan who recalls the ferocity of Adam Baldwin’s Animal Mother from Full Metal Jacket.

The Bunker could have been a claustrophobic tale of the personal demons faced by soldiers who may be projecting their fears and the atrocities of war into the darkness beneath their protective chamber. It might have been a good close-quartered study of the personalities of this group of soldiers. Director Rob Green could have even went in the other direction and created a full out horror tale. Instead, the film feels like an immature work that, while never fully realized in its early stages, rushed headlong into the breach.

I’d recommend skipping The Bunker and going for a better war film/character study such as A Midnight Clear or, if you’re more in the mood for horror mixed with your tightly-wound characters, rent John Carpenter’s The Thing again.

That night I made it to The American Astronaut at the midnight show. Of all the films I saw in the fest, there are only a few that I’d ever care to see again. I could definitely go for Clip Cult a second time and, hell, I like Versus enough to own it. Otherwise, it’s The American Astronaut all the way. I could, and would, watch that film whenever it’s presented.

Day Seven: September 13, 2001
Andrea woke me up with a phone call. She asked if there was any way I could cut my trip short by a few hours and make it home by the next morning. She had been busy while I was away; she found a house and made an offer on it. She thought it might be a good idea for me to be there for the official home inspection so I could see the place from top to bottom and express any concerns I might have. Understandable and, under the circumstances, abridging the trip was welcome. By the end of a week, I had disliked more movies than I enjoyed. Plus, hitting the road might be advantageous to Skizz and Dan.

There was no way that their plane was going to leave on time on Friday morning. Hell, if they tried to fly it might take them into next week. We decided that Skizz and Dan would ride back to Detroit with me and then try alternate transportation back to Baltimore.

The day turned out to be a bit of a waste. I missed the first movie I wanted to see and was terribly disappointed by the film I managed to make; Tim McCann’s Revolution #9. I don’t even want to use the space here reviewing it. It’s an utter waste. About the only thing entertaining about it was trying to imagine Conan O’Brien playing the lead actor’s role. Otherwise, if you want to see a good movie about mental illness, go rent Clean, Shaven.

The drive back to Detroit was somewhat frightening. Throughout the trip, we kept seeing signs stating that there would be a 12-hour wait at the border. Long story short; there may have been a wait at the Ambassador Bridge but the Windsor Tunnel was free and clear. If anything, it was too free and too clear. We buzzed through there without more than a second glance from the custom’s folks. And, let’s be honest, I don’t have any kind of innocent-looking mug.

Regardless, the boys got a bus back to Baltimore the next day without any problem and the new place looks fantastic. Despite seeing some bad films and being on foreign soil while my country came under attack, it could still be considered a fun time.

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