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Tag Archives: chris hemsworth
July 2, 2018Posted by on
It’s time for the Thor trilogy… that is, the Thor-ology! Listen in on the lively discussion amongst the Gorehound, Nick, Cuz, and Jovial Jen.
To listen to the episode, click here or on the image below!
December 4, 2017Posted by on
The All-New Culture Cast strikes again! Join the ANCC as they discuss the new Thor: Ragnarok movie. This is two-member episode featuring the Gorehound and Jolly Jen.
To listen to the episode, click here or on the image below!
July 13, 2016Posted by on
Thanks to some random luck while bumbling around the internet, I was able to score tickets to see an advance screening of the new Ghostbusters movie tonight. The film has been incredibly controversial since it was originally announced mostly due to the gender-flipped leads and the fact that it is a remake of a classic and beloved film. In the latter’s case, I can understand the resistance even if I didn’t share it.
Let me establish this: the 1984 original is my favorite film of all time. I have seen that so many times, the movie is tattooed in my mind. Ghostbusters 2, while I like for nostalgic purposes, I find to be kinda terrible. It has its moments, but it is such a lazy retread. I also watched a lot of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, had a bunch of toys, and drank an unhealthy amount of Ecto-Cooler. Point being, I grew up with Ghostbusters. It is part of who I am and, in some small ways, the films informed my development.
With that in mind, how did I find Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters? I really enjoyed it. I truly did. The film is incredibly worthy of bearing the Ghostbusters name. It is funny throughout and legitimately scary at times. I found it incredibly refreshing that, beyond some broad strokes, it doesn’t retell the same story from the 1984 original. It mostly does its own thing.
The writing is to be commended (mostly). I really got a good sense of balance between the four ghostbusters as they met and developed their friendship throughout the film, which is really what this film is ultimately about. It provided a good, emotional arc to be invested in, while, at the same time, doing some nice (but not in-your-face) world building. I guess, what I want to say is that the narrative was balanced very well.
I said mostly above, because there are some inconsistencies within the film, mainly revolving around the tech. At some points, the tech just holds the ghosts (as in the original films) and other times it disintegrates them. I think I understand this seeming inconsistency, but a little bit more explanation would have helped out a lot in this regard to make certain sequences fully work.
I should mention that Ghostbusters is a very different kind of comedy than the original film. The original’s comedy was very dry, sarcastic, and slow burning. This one is a little more broad and silly (yet still grounded), but it works to the film’s strength. And having different styles of comedy is okay. The original was lightning in a bottle and to try to replicate that in today’s world would have been a horrible misstep. Feig brought his own directing style to the film and it works to the film’s benefit.
Ghostbusters was very well cast, but Chris Hemsworth as dim-witted Kevin and Kate McKinnon as the eccentric Holtzman steal the show. They are just so charmingly goofy throughout the film. I hope McKinnon’s career explodes in the near future, and I would love to see Hemsworth do more straight-up comedy. Beyond that, the cast just gels very well together. As characters, you like them and want to see them succeed.
Not everything works in the film. There are times that the movie is a bit too reverential to the original, particularly in regards to the cameos. Some of the cameos just took me straight out of the film. Particularly Bill Murray’s extended, gratuitous cameo just kills the story’s momentum and served no purpose other than to give Bill Murray an extended cameo (see Zombieland for a further example).
And, the less said about the awkward Ozzie Osbourne cameo, the better.
Also, the film’s pace just grinds during the second act. Not sure what exactly happened during editing, but the film starts and ends strong with things moving quickly, but once the aforementioned Bill Murray cameo comes, it takes a bit before the film finds its footing again.
Is Ghostbusters as good as the original? No. I might be biased, but the original is a classic that may never be topped. Is it a good film on its own merits? Absolutely! The few problems that I had with the film didn’t sour me on it. It is a genuinely fun and (more importantly) funny film. I recommend it.
May 27, 2016Posted by on
I’m not a huge fan of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series of movies, but I can say that I like them and I’ve seen them all (even the weirdo European Vacation and the awful Vegas Vacation). The initial film in the series is regarded as a comedy classic, and I think that’s just fine; it’s pretty funny and Chevy Chase is fantastic as the Griswold patriarch. The script (from 80s vet John Hughes, based loosely on his own family experiences) is funny and memorable as well. Christmas Vacation is a great seasonal comedy movie that I try to watch every year. It’s infinitely quotable and off the wall without being entirely unrealistic (at least until the fourth reel). I like them all just fine, sure, why not?
But do I like them well enough to be interested in a series reboot? Nah, not really. I probably never would have even seen 2015’s Vacation reboot (starring Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold, previously played, among other actors, by The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki) at all if not for the HBO Go service. Having recently renewed HBO Go in order to watch Game of Thrones (among other shows and films as well), I happened to notice a few recent films available on demand, and decided to check out Vacation on almost a total whim. I had only heard bad things, and upon seeing it I now understand why. It is not a particularly good film. In fact, it’s downright unpleasant.
Here’s the (extremely thin) premise: Ed Helms’ Rusty notices his family is not getting along lately. His kids are fighting a lot and his wife seems bored and uninterested in him romantically. So instead of jet-setting off to Paris with his wife to rekindle their romance like she wants, he decides to drive the family across the country to Wally World, the Six Flags-like adventure theme park the Griswold family visited in the first film in the series. Helms’ Rusty wants to recapture the magic he felt upon first visiting Wally World as a child come hell or high water. So the family rents a van (a constant source of unfunny ridicule) and heads out for adventures, making various stops along the way just as the Griswold family did in the original film.
Vacation has copious amounts of issues, first and foremost with its script. Penned by Freaks and Geeks alum John Francis Daley (who also wrote the equally atrocious Burt Wonderstone and co-directed this film with Jonathan Goldstein), the film simultaneously relies on cheap family nostalgia and gross-out gags. The tone is wild and varying throughout. We’re meant to both laugh at Helm’s Rusty Griswold and also sympathize with or pity him, but the script never seems to have his back, nor does it give us a reason to care about his journey. There’s no reason whatsoever to cheer for this schlemiel of a man. The entire premise of the film is predicated on his selfishness, putting his needs before those of the family that is crying out for their patriarch. These people need Rusty Griswold, but he’s only interested in recapturing what he experienced as a child 30 years ago.
The rest of the Griswold family is as equally unpleasant as Rusty. Christina Applegate plays Rusty’s disaffected wife who is equal parts unpleasant and nasty. I truly expected her on multiple occasions to just up and divorce Rusty and abandon the family on the spot, and I can’t say I would have blamed her. The two Griswold children are also unpleasant, with the older one giving off serious creeper vibes and the younger one an obnoxious pre-teen desperately in need of a toning-down by the horrible script. Leslie Mann, perhaps the most annoying actress in the history of American comedy, makes a cameo as Rusty’s sister Audrey, and hams it up with an embarrassing Chris Hemsworth, portraying an American cowboy without an ounce of authenticity. By the time Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo show up for their requisite cameos, it’s so late in the film I could barely muster the energy to give a shit.
It’s hard to overstate just how awful this film is. It’s somehow derivative of films that are also awful, like We’re the Millers or the 2006 Robin Williams vehicle (no pun intended) RV, but I’d rather watch We’re the Millers and RV a hundred times in a row one after the other than endure another five minutes of Daley’s awful new Vacation film. If you happen to like nasty and vile characters who spend great lengths of time bickering back and forth, hitting each other, and covered in human shit (sometimes all three at once!), perhaps this is the film for you. If you want to see a man covered in cow entrails while another cow cannibalizes said entrails, again check out this film. If you’re interested in quality, entertaining products that aren’t horrible and cheap, go ahead and skip this one. You’ll probably be better off.
November 11, 2013Posted by on
This week, Zack and Nick take a look at the recently released Marvel Cinematic Universe entry Thor: The Dark World, directed by Alan Taylor and starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, and Christopher Eccleston. What will they have to say about this Phase 2 Marvel film release? Listen and find out!
Click HERE or on the image to listen to the podcast.
And as always click HERE to follow us on iTunes!
November 10, 2013Posted by on
I really enjoyed 2011’s Thor. I know it really isn’t all that good of a movie, but it hit me a certain way when I first sat down to watch it. I really appreciated the throw-back 1980s fantasy style of the Asgard scenes, the non-major US city for the Earth location, and the overall performances of our main characters. I just liked it, and I was very much looking forward to the follow up subtitled The Dark World.
If I had to sum up my opinion of the movie, it would be “underwhelming”. I can’t really pinpoint what is wrong. The story is interesting, but it just takes forever to anything important to happen. Because of that, the pacing is horrible and really drags the overall product down. Director Alan Taylor is able to turn it around in time for the third act on Earth, but it is like going through a slough to get there.
The unfortunate part is that there are a lot of little great things that shine along the way such as a nicely directed (and unexpected) fight sequence with Rene Russo and a fun, little Avenger cameo, but these are far and few between. The movie has such a somber tone (which should be expected with a title like The Dark World), it is hard to find any joy in it. When the comedy does come (largely from an increasingly obnoxious Kat Dennings), it feels so out of place with the rest of the film that it almost doesn’t work.
As mentioned earlier, the final act featuring the showdown between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and villain Malekith (Christopher Eccleston who is shamefully wasted in his role) is done very well. I suppose a lot of that has to do with the unique nature of their battle. In short (and to save on spoilers), as they are fighting and being thrown around, they are transported from world to world. I have never really seen something like this done before in an action/science fiction movie. It definitely kept my interest just to see how increasingly crazy this sequence was going to get.
There have been constant stories about behind-the-scenes trouble plaguing the film during its production. It is hard not to notice that affecting the final product. There are some clear-cut elements that are thrown into the film haphazardly as if they were after the fact. While I wouldn’t say the film is generic, I would say that there is a made-by-committee feeling. I know Marvel Studios is a well-oiled machine by now, but I really wish they would let their directors (who aren’t Joss Whedon) direct.
The Dark World has its moments, but it was a letdown overall. I wouldn’t rush to see it if I had to do it again, but with these Marvel films beings as popular as they are, that isn’t going to happen.
December 8, 2012Posted by on
I had absolutely zero hope going in that Cabin in the Woods would turn out to be a good movie. It had so many things going against it, including a massive three-year gap between filming and eventual release. There were plans for a post-conversion to 3D and MGM, the film studio behind the production, even made plans to shelve the project indefinitely in summer 2010. Most movies wouldn’t survive the bad luck put upon Cabin in the Woods, but this meta-horror flick from director Drew Goddard and co-writer Joss Whedon has ended up being the biggest surprise film of 2012.
Cabin in the Woods, much like the Scream series of films, is a horror film that is also a comment on the horror genre at large. Five college students (anchored by a fun performance from Fran Kranz, who should really get more work) leave for an impromptu camping trip. Unbeknownst to our group, two white-collared G-men (the great Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) and a team of technicians and specialists are going to make the getaway very difficult to survive for our heroes. To say much more than this would be getting into massive spoiler territory, and since Cabin in the Woods didn’t exactly light up the box office, I’m not inclined to spoil the movie for newcomers.
What I like about this movie is that there is simultaneously a great tension building up paired with a wicked sense of humor. Meta-humor is one of the most difficult things to get right, but Cabin in the Woods just works in this respect. Characters comment on their situation (primarily Kranz, who plays the stock stoner character Marty) but not obnoxiously so. For example, the eternally high Marty, wonders aloud why Curt (Chris Hemsworth, in one of his earliest American roles) has suddenly turned into an alpha-male jag, noting that Curt is an honors student on full academic scholarship as well as a Sociology major. Other characters find themselves in stock roles as well, including Kristin Connolly as Dana, the “virgin” of the group, Jesse Williams as Holden, the “brains” of the group, and Anna Hutchison as Jules, the “whore” of the group.
While the performances in the group range from pretty good (Kranz, Connolly) to decent (Hemsworth) to just ok (Williams, Hutchison), the real stand-outs are Whitford and Jenkins as specialists Hadley and Sitterson. The chemistry between the two is fantastic, and their dark senses of humor and long-term relationship really shine through in the script and the acting. The two have long worked in this unique setting – one where they get to terrorize teens and college students – and have thus adapted to and developed unique senses of humor about their macabre employment. I love how they continuously unintentionally offend their coworkers, including Amy Acker as Wendy Lin and Brian J. White as new employee and security officer Daniel Truman, who takes no pleasure in the sick acts he witnesses.
I was totally entertained by Cabin in the Woods, which took me by compete surprised. The last quarter or so of the movie came as a real surprise to me as well (once again I will not spoil things). I think the only way to describe the on-screen mayhem are the words “fucking awesome.” I’m not usually as positive about the kinds of things that happen in movies like this, but I couldn’t help but be absolutely charmed and taken in by this film; I’m not even a big fan of Joss Whedon or his stable of devoutly-worshipped cancelled television shows either. When this movie came out in theaters last spring, I took a pass and waited for it to appear in the Red Box. Even though I paid only about a buck to see it, I kind of wish I did go to the theaters to support Cabin in the Woods. It has ended up being the biggest surprise of 2012 for me and like the many cool parts of the movie, I never saw it coming.
November 26, 2012Posted by on
It’s been a fairly busy few weeks at the Culture Cast blog, what with all of our podcast updates, television recaps, and movie reviews. I haven’t had much of a chance to write about my favorite subject – failed movies – and I’ve been chomping at the bit to write something new for this particular feature. Today I’m going to cover a few recently released movies that went wrong on opening weekends, and how Hollywood might have avoided these likely catastrophes.
Red Dawn (2012)
Red Dawn is the story of an Iraq War veteran who, upon returning home from active duty, must protect his home town (even adopting his old high school mascot as the name for a rag-tag resistance group) after an unlikely invasion courtesy of communist North Korea. Originally shot in 2009, this remake of the well-liked 1980s action cheese-fest stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games), and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers) in roles originated by 80s idols like Patrick Swayze and C. Thomas Howell. The film seemed marketed to the right crowd, and Hemsworth is a fairly legitimate star now after the mammoth success of The Avengers and a few other hits, but the film, which actually opened higher than expected at 14 million dollars in box office, will probably die a quick death and in the end only recover about half of its budget (approximately 65 million according to sources). So, what exactly went wrong?
Red Dawn is a victim of the MGM bankruptcy of a few years ago (along with fellow Chris Hemsworth-starrer Cabin in the Woods). Filmed over three years ago, there probably was a time when a Red Dawn remake may have done boffo box office, but it definitely isn’t now. The recent James Bond flick Skyfall has absolutely dominated the action market over the last few weeks, and its excellent reviews and positive word of mouth have helped it gross well over two-hundred million dollars domestically. Red Dawn, on the other hand, garnered atrocious reviews (11% on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes) and a middling “B” Cinemascore, according to tracker site Box Office Mojo. Additionally, while the original Red Dawn is lauded as an 80s action classic alongside similar jingoistic murder-fests like Commando or Rambo: First Blood Part 2, no one was really clamoring for a contemporary update, and the changeover from China to North Korea as the primary antagonist during the lengthy post-production period screamed of political correctness run amok. No one is going to come out of this remake looking good ultimately.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Silver Linings Playbook is a feel-good comedy from the director of The Fighter and Three Kings (David O. Russell) starring Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) and Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games), with a production assist from notorious Hollywood duo the Weinstein brothers. Cooper stars as a man suffering from bipolar disorder who must get his life back together to help save his family. Lawrence plays a recent widow, who is also Cooper’s would-be love interest, with whom he shares an odd friendship. Russell, hot off the success of his last picture (which saw Christian Bale win an Academy Award), received some of the best reviews of his career for Playbook, with aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes awarding the film a 90% overall, indicating near universal acclaim. Silver Linings Playbook opened in only 367 theaters to a somewhat solid 4.6 million dollars, but the behind the scenes tinkering with the release pattern for the film may well end up spelling its doom.
There’s no doubt that the Weinstein brothers, who produced Silver Linings Playbook, have done some incredible politicking in Hollywood. Big hits like Pulp Fiction and Shakespeare in Love practically became big hits due to their power and influence, for example. Additionally, the Weinstein’s are probably responsible for Shakespeare in Love winning the Best Picture Oscar over Saving Private Ryan back in early 1999. But they messed up with Silver Linings Playbook, adjusting its opening release dates and confusing audiences. The film, originally scheduled for a November 21st release, instead received a miscalculated and awkward “Oscar bait”-style rollout. It is unclear when Silver Linings Playbook will see its national release, but all indications point to December 7th. If the film has poor word of mouth and sees diminishing returns, there is a good chance the Weinstein’s will shelve the release entirely, leaving the acclaimed David O. Russell film out cold. Additionally, the disastrous marketing campaign, featuring trailers and commercials that posit Silver Linings Playbook as some kind of Kathryn Heigl/Gerard Butler romantic comedy probably haven’t helped things out either.
It’ll be interesting to see what the future has in store for these two films.
September 29, 2012Posted by on
The Avengers obviously hit it big at the box office. I wasn’t surprised it ended up an enormous hit, but I was surprised a bit by just how HUGE it was. At the beginning of the summer I never would have expected The Avengers to turn out a bigger hit than The Dark Knight Rises, but by box office standards it absolutely trounced Nolan’s final Batman film (though in hind sight there was no way part three would ever live up to the lofty heights of part two). I’m guessing that opening near Battleship and Dark Shadows (two underwhelming summer 2012 films) probably was a huge boon to The Avengers, as it really didn’t face much competition for several weeks in May and June (additionally, reviews for Joss Whedon’s superhero ensemble were overwhelmingly positive).
I liked The Avengers when I saw it at a midnight showing all the way back in May. I found it charming, exciting, and generally likeable in a summer blockbuster type of way. I thought it had pacing problems and suffered from looking kind of bland (much like most of the other Marvel movies), but I liked it a lot in general. Anchored by a great performance from Robert Downey, Jr. (much happier as Tony Stark/Ironman than in the dreadful Iron Man 2) and solid writing and directing from Whedon (Zak Penn shares a co-writing credit let’s not forget), Avengers is an exciting, well-crafted action film that does a pretty good job of integrating a whole bunch of popular superheroes into one movie. Recently released onto home video, I wanted to catch The Avengers again and see how well it held up since my initial viewing. How’d that go? Stick around and find out what I thought.
I rented The Avengers from Amazon Instant Watch. The technical experience wasn’t great. The sound was quite bad (the noise from the explosions and whatnot greatly drowned out the sound of the dialogue). The picture was also lousy (I opted for the regular version for $3.99 rather than paying an extra buck for the HD version). This isn’t really a fault of the film, but it did diminish the experience overall, as I much preferred the way the film looked and sounded in the theaters. I imagine I’d like the film better on Blu Ray, but just don’t want to shell out $20 I don’t have for it. (Update: I’ve not watched it a second time on Amazon Instant Viewing, and the sound quality was still the same. I’ve never had this problem with the Instant Watch section before, and I’ve rented and bought many, many products from Amazon’s streaming service – I’m therefore willing to chalk this up to being a random blip on an otherwise fine service.)
Technical issues aside, the film held up decently overall. The special effects are pretty fantastic – not the greatest ever but an achievement nonetheless, primarily due to the climactic New York-set battle scene at the end. The Hulk looks better in this film than he has in the previous two Hulk movies (it helps that this is a 2012 movie and the others were 2003 and 2008 and also that The Avengers does not suck the way those two movies do). Costumes look great, especially Thor, but with the notable exception of Captain America, who looked much better in his own movie than in the updated Cap outfit (really hate the way the headpiece looks on the new ‘stume for example). Performances are also largely good, once again anchored by a great Downey, Jr. Chris Hemsworth continues to surprise me as a leading actor, and his performance in The Avengers is also solid (especially his one-on-ones with Loki). Tom Hiddleston nearly steals the show as Loki as well. I was also pleasantly surprised by Mark Ruffalo, who I normally don’t care for as an actor. I really dug his portrayal of Banner. The less said about Scarlet Johansson and Jeremy Renner the better. Let’s just say I’m not big fans of them as actors or as characters in this movie.
The way that The Avengers looks is only so-so, however. The set designs and the military hardware are pretty bland though out, looking much the way they looked in Captain America and Iron Man 2, which was quite bland and fake. I didn’t care for the aerial headquarters at all – that set just looks a bit too clean for my tastes. One exception is the India-set Hulk scene, but this is early in the film and not really a notable impact on the movie as a whole. 2011’s Thor had a much more lived-in look, particularly in the Asgard-set scenes (which were somewhat reminiscent of a Shakespearean play, due to director Kenneth Branagh I imagine). Even the first Iron Man, when Tony was in the caves of Afghanistan for example, portrayed that “lived-in” look fairly well. The Avengers, in quite a few scenes, just looks too computer-y and bland for my tastes. Though it gets pretty good and well-invaded, New York City never really looks like a war-zone either, despite the generally good framing and direction going on.
The New York stuff actually leads me to my biggest criticism of the film – the bad guys just aren’t bad enough. The Chitauri (I had to look up the proper name for them as the film itself seems to go out of its way to keep them nameless) just are not menacing. They seem to me to be more like a villain-of-the-week on a Power Rangers show, right down to their glow-y laser weapons, inability to fight cooperatively (seriously, why do they fight one at a time?), and just general stupidity altogether. Loki is a great villain I feel, just not great enough to pose any kind of major threat to our heroes. He isn’t really menacing, but he’s so well-portrayed by Hiddleston that it doesn’t really matter. Coupled with an extremely weak alien “invasion,” however, Loki just doesn’t have the gravitas that a villain like The Joker or Bane added to the Nolan Batman trilogy.
The original Marvel films essentially functioned as introductions to the main characters in the eventual The Avengers movie. That’s fine with me, though I do find it a bit dubious overall (especially in the case of Iron Man 2 and Captain America). The Avengers, as a movie, is competently written, acted, and directed and can pretty much only get better, in the form of sequels, from this point out I feel. The movie isn’t a classic despite its overwhelming internet acclaim, but it is a pretty good summer film that holds up decently well in most respects. I have the utmost faith that Marvel and its talented cast of actors, screen-writers, producers, and directors will improve upon the franchise for future installments. For a first film essentially (crossing off those 120-minute commercials that came out in the years before it), The Avengers isn’t too bad at all.
June 22, 2012Posted by on
Full disclosure: I liked this movie. It isn’t perfect by any means, but it is a lot of fun. It is your standard Snow White story where she is cast out of the kingdom by an evil queen, meets some dwarfs, eats an apple, and eventually takes out the queen. Going on, you already have a working outline due to it being a classic story. I suppose that could work both for and against the movie. For me, it was a good thing, because you can then focus and appreciate the different approach the material.
I think part of the reason I enjoyed this movie was of the throw-back feel it had. Honestly, this seems like it came from that wave of fantasy movies from the early 1980s. It is dark and brooding. You have the innocent, yet strong heroine, the handsome, noble prince (in this case, a duke), and the charming rogue with a heart of gold. There is an evil sorceress queen who is evil for the sake of being evil. Even the sets have a certain weight and tangible quality to them (though, I am certain a heavy amount of CGI was used in the film as well).
The performances are also fairly strong. Kristen Stewart works as Snow White (despite the wobbly English accent she is attempting), and Chris Hemsworth is always fun to watch. The dwarfs, who are somewhat limited in screen time, are cast perfectly with the likes of Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, and Bob Hoskins among others. The real star of the movie, however, is Charlize Theron. Oh, my goodness. She is fantastic. She completely throws herself into the evil queen role and is a delight to watch.
Not everything works in the movie. It somewhat drags in the middle (with a completely superfluous sequence at a lakeside village), and the attempted romance storyline is never fully resolved (though, maybe that was the point). The film also has two major plot holes which are never given any sort of hand-wave cover-up. One of which being why the evil queen, after taking over the kingdom, doesn’t kill Snow White at the beginning when there is no reason to keep her alive. The other deals with the famous apple scene where the evil queen finds Snow White with little difficultly despite no way of knowing where she was. However, these two don’t ruin my enjoyment of the movie (and it is also kind of nitpicky). Both need to happen in order to push the story forward; it just a shame they didn’t try to cover it up.
In the end, I enjoyed Snow White & the Huntsman. I know I’ll probably get some flak for that, but I thought this was a slick movie, with some awesome visuals and an appropriately dark and occasionally frightening atmosphere. It worked for me.