‘Saint Judy’ Film Review: Michelle Monaghan Plays a Crusading Immigration Lawyer in Timely Drama

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Not all heroes wear capes, and in Sean Hanish’s “Saint Judy,” not all heroes can afford those capes.

Judy Wood (Michelle Monaghan) is a determined and devoted immigration lawyer for her clients. Unfortunately, she’s better at arguing cases than she is at paying bills or spending time with her son, Alex (Gabriel Bateman, “Lights Out”). While she’s a soft-hearted advocate, Judy’s tough when it comes to the courtroom. Monaghan embodies Judy’s attributes into her performance, whether it’s her character’s zealous sense of duty, her persistence in keeping her relationship with her son, or her frazzled exhaustion at the end of the day when there are still so many people still left to help.

In some ways, Judy’s personality sounds so familiar because she shares many qualities with other well-meaning and determined lawyers in movies. Think Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a man who believed that justice will prevail over prejudice, or the determined dogged spirit of Erin Brockovich in her namesake movie. In Judy’s case, she takes a special interest in Asefa (Leem Lubany, “Rock the Kasbah”), an Afghani teacher pleading for asylum. If Judy loses her case and Asef is deported, the young woman will likely lose her life for defying the Taliban.

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The film’s events take place in 2003, when the already crumbling immigration system became upended in the wake of 9/11. Common, here playing a counsel on behalf of the state, remorsefully explains the situation for the uninitiated in the audience, describing the branch’s shift from Immigration and Naturalization Services to becoming Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). However controversial ICE’s conversion into a militarized force has been, the film doesn’t take a political stance on the organization. Judy even calls Common’s character, Benjamin, “one of the good guys.” The first immigration judge (Alfre Woodard) seen in the movie admits her hands are tied on the matter of a ruling, leaving the impression that the people working on this side of law enforcement may mean well but cannot do more for people than what is explicitly permitted.

Fortunately, the movie does dig into the apathy of a system that’s overcrowded and under-regulated. When Judy joins Ray’s (Alfred Molina) practice, she inherits Asefa as a client, and it’s clear that the asylum seeker has been more or less abandoned by the cynical Ray, who has no faith in her case. Asefa was drugged by those in charge of her in the immigration detention center — another group of people who have no interest in helping someone they see as a lost cause — and it’s possible she might have been kept in that state until she was shuffled out of the United States.

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Over the course of the film, Ray turns out to be a much more complicated character than when he’s first introduced as a man worried more about collecting payment than about his clients. He later admits he was like Judy once, tenacious and determined to save his clients, before he too was beaten down by the immigration system. The work has hardened his bleeding heart to stone, showing how this complicated, gnarled system can eat those on either side of the courtroom.

Inadvertently, “Saint Judy” arrives at a timely moment in politics, just as calls for a border wall continue and politicians have once again stoked hatred and fear of outsiders. As coordinated political attacks on asylum and refugee statuses escalate, here’s a movie walking viewers through the difficult process while giving a positive depiction of those caught in the system: a man fleeing persecution, a teacher arrested for trying to teach girls to read, a child soldier with PTSD, a licensed doctor unable to practice because of a visa issue, and a father ripped from his family, among many case files. Asefa may the movie’s main example, but several times throughout the film, she extends her situation to that of others in her shoes, especially persecuted women. They face a judgment that could send them to their deaths.

But despite a star-studded cast, a strong performance by Monaghan, and Ben Schnetzer’s scene-stealing moments as rich lawyer’s kid with impressive language skills, “Saint Judy” feels wanting. Richard Wong’s warm cinematography and Hanish’s direction look like fairly standard visions of a Los Angeles-based story. The script from first-time writer Dmitry Portnoy falls into a number of traps of courtroom movies. Many of the movie’s most egregious tropes come out towards the end during (of course) the very important last chance in court to fight for the client.

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Lots of familiar faces show up throughout the movie to support Judy and Asefa and to see if her case will mean a breakthrough for their immigrant communities, somewhat like the court scene in “To Kill a Mockingbird” where the town’s Black community attends to watch the proceedings. Unlike the professional manner of the first trial, these appeals judges don’t take the two women’s case seriously; what a preposterous idea to challenge legal precedent! After the movie spends most of its runtime as a restrained procedural, the wheels come off and the tone rolls away into a standard uplifting inspirational speech.

It’s a letdown for a movie that has its heart in the right place to resort to so many clichés. “Saint Judy” is at its strongest when focusing on the experiences of Judy’s clients, and watching the emotional weight on their shoulders slide off as they open up to her. This gives the movie its sense of purpose and drama. “Saint Judy” not only tells the audience that the burden of proof is on immigrants, that they’re “guilty until proven innocent,” but shows how difficult it is to overcome that situation. For all its good intentions, though, the film is an illustrative tool on just a small corner of the immigration crisis.

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‘The Chi’ Sets Season 2 Premiere Date – See ‘Joys of Living Life on the Southside’ in First Trailer (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Showtime has set the premiere date for Season 2 of “The Chi” and released a trailer previewing the next installment of the Lena Waithe-created coming-of-age series.

The upcoming season of “The Chi” will debut Sunday, April 7 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, Gary Levine, Showtime’s President of Entertainment, told reporters during the Television Critics Association’s press tour Thursday.

“The Chi” is created and executive produced by Emmy winner Waithe (“Master of None”) and executive produced by Academy Award, Emmy and Golden Globe winner Common (“Selma”), with its 10-episode first season airing from January to March of last year.

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The series stars Jason Mitchell, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, Jacob Latimore, Alex Hibbert, Yolonda Ross, Tiffany Boone, Armando Riesco, Barton Fitzpatrick, Shamon Brown Jr., and Michael V. Epps. Guest stars for Season 2 include Carl Lumbly, Curtiss Cook, Crystal Dickinson and Kimberly Hebert Gregory.

Here’s the description for the next season of: “Produced entirely in its namesake city, season two of ‘The Chi’ will spotlight the ambitious plan by Brandon (Mitchell) to make his food truck a success, while navigating the class differences with his girlfriend Jerrika (Boone). Emmett (Latimore) will encounter a lot of bumps and bruises as he makes an effort to grow up and get custody of his son, guided by his mother Jada (Yolonda Ross), who is discovering a new life of her own. Kevin (Hibbert) reckons with the trauma of what he has experienced in his young life, as he strengthens the bonds with his buddies, Papa (Brown Jr.) and Jake (Epps), whose older brother Reg (Fitzpatrick) exposes Jake to twisted lessons in street survival. Lastly, an imprisoned Ronnie (Mwine) will attempt to come to terms with killing Brandon’s brother and reclaim his life, while Detective Cruz (Riesco) launches a new investigation. The season will also show the joys of living life on the Southside of Chicago.”

Ayanna Floyd Davis serves as executive producer and showrunner for season two. In addition to Waithe, Common and Floyd Davis, Aaron Kaplan also serves as an executive producer, along with Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), and Derek Dudley and Shelby Stone of Freedom Road Productions. The series hails from Fox 21 Television Studios.

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Watch the trailer above.

“The Chi” Season 2 will premiere April 7 at 10/9c on Showtime.

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‘Saint Judy’ Trailer: First Look Of Biopic About LA-Based Immigration Attorney Judy Wood

Read on: Deadline.

The first trailer has been released for Saint Judy which was picked up by Blue Fox Entertainment last September. The movie, which stars Michelle Monaghan, Leem Lubany, Common, Alfred Molina and Alfre Woodard, tells the story of Los Angeles-based immigr…

Jonny Lee Miller & Common To Star In Ursula K. Le Guin Adaptation ‘Nine Lives’

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Elementary and Trainspotting star Jonny Lee Miller and Oscar and Grammy-winner Common (The Hate U Give) have been set to star in Nine Lives, the movie adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s sci-fi novelette of the same name.
Set on a moon-b…

Sarah Jessica Parker Is ‘Not Done Yet’ as an Aging Singer in ‘Here and Now’ (Exclusive Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Sarah Jessica Parker seems to be on a new stride in her career, taking on the role of a woman who isn’t still parading around New York City looking for love, as she did for so long on “Sex and the City,” but is now grappling with her age and her life’s choices.

In “Here and Now,” Parker plays an established singer coming to terms with her priorities and her career’s direction after receiving some life-altering news. In this exclusive clip from the film, Parker sits with a disinterested young journalist who stingingly refers to as a “seasoned veteran.”

“Sure there are things I haven’t achieved,” Parker says after a long pause and a feeble stock answer. “I’m not done yet.”

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“Here and Now,” directed by Fabien Constant and written by Laura Eason, follows Parker’s Vivienne on the eve of a major performance when she receives some life-altering news that causes her to reevaluate her priorities. As she crisscrosses the busy streets of New York City, she tries to balance her upcoming music tour, family and friends. Through time spent with her overbearing mother, Jeanne (Jacqueline Bisset), her long-time manager Ben (Common) and her ex-husband, Nick (Simon Baker), Vivienne strives to make peace with the decisions and sacrifices she’s made along the way.

Renée Zellweger also stars in the film alongside Taylor Kinney and Waleed Zuaiter.

“Here and Now,” formerly titled “Blue Night,” first premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival back in April. It will now be released in theaters, on demand and digital on Nov. 9.

Watch the exclusive clip from the film above.

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#StayInLine Says Common, Ava DuVernay & Hillary Clinton Of Georgia Poll Problems

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Roy Hargrove, Grammy-Winning Jazz Trumpet Player, Dies at 49

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Roy Hargrove, a Grammy-winning jazz trumpet player who has collaborated with Sonny Rollins, Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock and modern R&B and soul acts including Common, D’Angelo and Erykah Badu, has died. He was 49.

According to his Facebook page, Hargrove died on Nov. 2. NPR says Hargrove died of cardiac arrest, according to his longtime manager Larry Clothier. A representative for Hargrove did not immediately respond to TheWrap for comment.

“He is literally the one man horn section I hear in my head when I think about music,” Questlove posted to Instagram Saturday. “Love to the immortal timeless genius that will forever be Roy Hargrove y’all.”

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The Great Roy Hargrove. He is literally the one man horn section I hear in my head when I think about music. To watch him harmonize with himself stacking nine horn lines on mamouth 10 mins songs RARELY rewinding to figure out what he did. Or not even contemplating what the harmony was (this is up there with Jay Z never writes his rhymes territory) —-like you can hear an incomplete Dangelo song once—-like an 11 min song—-and then in 20 secs you know the EXACT SPOT ON line to bob in and weave out?!!!! I know I’ve spoken in every aspect of Soulquarian era recording techniques but even I can’t properly document how crucial and spot on Roy was with his craft man. We NEVER gave him instructions: just played the song and watched him go —-like “come back in 45 mins I’ll have something” matter of fact now that I think of it —-I was so amped to put handclaps on @Common’s #ColdBlooded @JamesPoyser and i didn’t even take proper time out to approve what he worked on, it was like I already knew. So when you hear us SCREAMING/laughing at the 1:51 mark (me/com/d/rahzel/james) that’s us MIND BLOWN at another #Game6 esque performance from Roy. And all that stuff towards the end? We just reacting in real time to greatness. Such a key component. And a beautiful cat man. Love to the immortal timeless genius that will forever be Roy Hargrove y’all. #RoyHargroveRip

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Hargrove won a Grammy in 1998 for his Afro-Cuban album “Habana” with the band Crisol, and a second in 2002 for the album “Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall,” along with co-bandleaders Herbie Hancock and Michael Brecker. He was also the frontman for The RH Factor, which combined elements of jazz with funk, hip-hop, soul and gospel.

Hargrove had been scheduled to perform today at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, as part of a jazz vespers service. His Facebook page has  posted a series of in memoriam shows to celebrate his life, which you can find here.

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‘They Fight’ Trailer & Premiere Date: Documentary Produced By Common About Young Boxers & Their Dedicated Coach

Read on: Deadline.

Fox has set a premiere date for They Fight, a documentary about one of the nation’s top youth boxing programs, which not only helps young athletes pursue their dreams in the ring but also steers them away from the pitfalls that led to Coach Walt …

Mary Elizabeth Winstead on ‘All About Nina’ in #MeToo Era: ‘These Roles Tend to Find Me’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

In “All About Nina,” Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Nina Geld, a smart, angry and often vexing stand-up comedian on the rise. But, her life is a mess: Her romantic relationships are toxic and she has demons in her past that need exorcising. And it just so happens, that’s exactly what piqued Winstead’s interest about the project.

“As an actress, you’re often tasked with fitting into some sort of mold that pleases everybody all the time both on and off screen. The fact that she’s not always likable is probably one of the main things that drew me to the role,” Winstead told TheWrap during a recent phone interview. “It was kind of liberating to get this opportunity to play a character that’s unapologetic in the way that she behaves and the way that she acts and the way that she is on stage, even if she’s sort of wrestling with her demons and she may have some things she needs to work through.”

“All About Nina,” in theaters now and by indie distributor The Orchard, was written, directed and produced by first-time feature director Eva Vives, who gives Winstead a lot to chew on and a lot to say, in a myriad of provocative ways.

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Nina is unapologetic and independent, sure, but she is also acrimonious, on edge and often not at all likable. Not until a major late-act revelation during a crucial stand-up set for Nina is the audience clued in to why and what the demons are that Nina is working through.

The film draws parallels to Hannah Gadsby’s critically acclaimed Netflix special “Nanette,” though Nina’s revelation surfaces more out of her frustration.

“That’s to me exciting as an actor to get the opportunity to work through those things alongside her and with her,” Winstead said of playing Nina. “It’s an incredible time, really, and I feel like in some ways this movie, as well as ‘Nanette’ and other projects coming out right now, and the conversations that are happening, captures that exciting shift that’s in the air that’s also a little bit uncomfortable, you know?” she added.

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“It’s important to talk about these things and to be open about it and to be honest about it and for women to be able to come forward with their stories, no matter what they are and no matter what’s happened to them and to own that and be able to say ‘I’m worthy in spite of what happened to me and I don’t have to bare the responsibility of it.’”

Winstead is making a conscious decision now more than ever to work with filmmakers whose voices she said deserve to be heard and previously haven’t been. She said she’s often drawn to female characters in films who have substance, who are strong and have complexity — otherwise her heart’s just not in it, she said.

Winstead was recently cast as The Huntress in Warner Bros. all-female superhero team-up “Birds of Prey.” Winstead will star in that film alongside Margot Robbie and Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and it’s being directed by Cathy Yan (“Dead Pigs”) from a script penned by Christina Hodson, who is also writing “Batgirl” for the studio.

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Winstead told TheWrap that meeting with Yan, testing with the other actresses and the prospect of working with so many women has been an extraordinary experience so far, and one of the things that drew her to that project.

“These roles just tend to find me and it really just brings me a lot of joy to be able to bring these characters to life. It tends to be all I’m really good at, but I love them so it’s cool,” Winstead said. “Hopefully more and more women and people of all backgrounds get their voices on screen. That’s something I’m really excited about.”

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‘Smallfoot’ Film Review: Fun Ideas Get Buried Under Avalanche of Mediocrity

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Producers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra have generally kept a wide berth between their kid-friendly projects (“Storks,” “Cats & Dogs”) and their more adult material (“Bad Santa,” “I Love You Phillip Morris”). The best parts of “Smallfoot” see them finding a middle ground, espousing plot points and messaging that you don’t usually find in family fare.

Lurking within this animated tale of yetis and humans are such forward-thinking notions as, “Question everything, including religion,” “Governments use public safety as an excuse for misleading the populace when they really just want to control people,” and “Tribalism benefits people in power more than the communities they claim to want to protect.”

Heady stuff for a mainstream cartoon, but unfortunately “Smallfoot” can’t bear the weight of its big ideas, saddled as it is with fairly mediocre animation, mostly forgettable songs and a resolutely by-the-numbers screenplay by director Karey Kirkpatrick (“Over the Hedge”) and Clare Sera, adapting Sergio Pablos’ book “Yeti Tracks.”

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The story begins high, high up the Himalayas, where a village of yeti peacefully coexist, each member of the community doing his or her job to wake up the giant bright snail that travels across the sky (other civilizations know this as the sun) or to make ice orbs to cool down the mammoths that hold up the earth. Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum), like most of the rest of his yeti comrades, never asks too many questions, choosing instead to tamp them down deep inside, just like the elder Stonekeeper (Common) instructs.

Migo hopes to inherit the family business of waking up the snail by flying headfirst into a gong every morning, and he’s apprenticing to his once-tall father Dorgle (Danny DeVito). But when Migo misses the gong and catapults over the village wall, he encounters a flying metal object that comes crashing down. And inside that object: a mythical Smallfoot. (Other civilizations know them as human beings.)

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The village isn’t receptive to this news, since it contradicts the Stonekeeper’s version of events, and if one stone isn’t true, maybe none of them are. Migo is banished from the village, but he encounters other yeti who suspect that the Stonekeeper isn’t telling them everything, and maybe even that Smallfoots are real. Among this group is the Stonekeeper’s daughter Meechee (Zendaya), on whom Migo has always had a crush.

At the foot of the Himalayas, desperate animal-show host Percy (James Corden) is trying to get his producer to put on a yeti costume so they can create a viral video and boost his ratings. So when Percy encounters Migo — who has been lowered from the mountain by his pals in the Smallfoot Evidentiary Society — he doesn’t run screaming. By the time Migo drags Percy up to the village, it’s time for yetis and humans to acknowledge each other’s existence, but the Stonekeeper has some hard truths for Migo, ones that force him to have to decide whether maintaining his society’s myths and legends is more important than speaking the truth.

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Kudos to any movie where the female lead is a scientist and seeker of the truth — Zendaya gets the film’s one good song, “Wonderful Life,” that’s all about asking questions and not settling for conventional wisdom — but “Smallfoot” undoes its best features by being so aggressively bland. For the most part, the characters are neither visually nor narratively compelling, and the voice work by Tatum and Corden isn’t nearly dynamic enough, considering how much of the film is devoted to them.

To the movie’s credit, there’s a funny running gag involving how yetis hear humans (speaking in a high-pitched series of squeaks) and vice versa (fearsome monster yowling), and there’s a scene involving Migo and a suspension bridge that’s one of the best bits of sustained physical comedy since the china-shop sequence in “Ferdinand.”

Still, for all its deviation from kid-movie norms in terms of its moral lessons — “Smallfoot” is closer to Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon” than the usual you-can-do-it pep talk — there’s a lot of familiarity here, from the inevitable climactic chase scene to Migo’s opening number, which has more than a whiff of the “Everything Is Awesome” world-building of “The Lego Movie.” (Speaking of that opening number, can we please retire songs that involve ukuleles and whistling, since those accompaniments can now be heard in pretty much every TV commercial for healthy breakfast products?)

“Smallfoot” provides more complex food for thought than most mainstream animation, but the overall results are still disappointingly bland.

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Obama Gets Birthday Love From Hollywood: ‘It Is an Honor to Be in the World at the Same Time as You’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Celebrities are lining up to give Barack Obama the Marilyn Monroe treatment, wishing the 44th president a happy 57th birthday on Saturday.

#ObamaDay is in full swing on social media, with Hollywood jumping at the chance to salute the former commander in chief.

“Thank you, Barack Obama,” tweeted Ava DuVernay. “It is an honor to be in the world at the same time as you. Let alone the same room.”

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Thank you, @BarackObama. It is an honor to be in the world at the same time as you. Let alone the same room. #ObamaDay pic.twitter.com/O3IyABxY1B

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) August 4, 2018

Musician John Legend sent well wishes from Indonesia.

Happy #ObamaDay. We in Indonesia (where he lived for a few years) toasting our President.

— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 4, 2018

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Ellen DeGeneres sent her well-wishes, then asked if he was busy. “We could use some help.”

Happy birthday, @BarackObama. You busy? We could use some help.

— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 4, 2018

Former Vice President Joe Biden didn’t use the hashtag, but gave a birthday shoutout to his “brother,” and included a picture of the two yucking it up at lunch last week.

Our lunches together were a highlight of every week at the White House. Last week’s trip to @DogTagBakery was no different. Happy birthday to my brother, my friend, @BarackObama. pic.twitter.com/0faYjvnPW6

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 4, 2018

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Actor Omar Epps spared no compliments in his tweet, complimenting the former president’s “intellect, grace, empathy, eloquence, humor, motivation, humility, kindness, and the list goes on…”

Happy birthday @BarackObama!!
Thank you for your intellect, grace, empathy, eloquence, humor, motivation, humility, kindness, and the list goes on…

— OMAR EPPS (@omarepps) August 4, 2018

Several other celebs sent Obama a birthday message as well, including Common and Laverne Cox.

Happy Birthday, @BarackObama . I hope you get a huge plate of Michelle’s shrimp linguini! pic.twitter.com/CuMHSnA8VX

— Amy Brenneman (@AmyBrenneman) August 4, 2018

#ObamaDay happy birthday @BarackObama. We love you so much! pic.twitter.com/lOUohaybkM

— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) August 4, 2018

Wishing a Happy Birthday to President Barack Obama and Happy #ObamaDay to Everyone! Love. pic.twitter.com/IpVutfByv9

— COMMON (@common) August 4, 2018

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Alyssa Milano coupled her birthday wishes with a link to an organization looking to upend the NRA.

Happy Birthday, President Obama. I’m going celebrate #ObamaDay by registering voters. https://t.co/3842E1ujUS

— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) August 4, 2018

In the flip side, James Woods, one of the entertainment industry’s most vocal conservatives, shared a tweet skewering Obama for his Nobel Prize.

Also Read: Politico Reporter Apologizes for Mocking Trump Supporters’ Teeth

Obama’s Nobel moment! pic.twitter.com/x0iys2Ea1q

— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) August 4, 2018

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