HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: END OF DAYS

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Maggie)
Robin Tunney (Hollywoodland)
Gabriel Byrne (Stigmata)
Kevin Pollak (Mom)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Derrick O’Connor (Alias)
Miriam Margolyes (Magnolia)
Udo Kier (Blade)
Victor Varnado (The Intern)
Rod Steiger (The Amityville Horror)
Jack Shearer (Star Trek: First Contact)
Steve Kramer (Masked Rider)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Gladiator)

In 1979 a priest at the Vatican sees a comet arching over the moon (described as the “Eye of God”), heralding the birth of one chosen to be the mother of Satan’s child. The priest is sent on a mission by the Pope to find and protect the girl from Satan, although a few Vatican Knights (led by a corrupt cardinal) insist that she must die. In New York a newborn girl, Christine York, is identified by Satanists (including her physician, Dr. Abel, and her nurse and future guardian, Mabel) as the woman chosen to bear Satan’s child on New Year’s Eve, 1999. The Satanists perform occult rites on the newborn.In late 1999, Satan possesses an investment banker in a restaurant; he then destroys the restaurant, killing many inside. Suicidal and alcoholic former police detective Jericho Cane, depressed since his wife and daughter were killed in contract killings, works for a private security company and blames God for his plight. Jericho and co-worker Bobby Chicago are assigned to protect the possessed banker. A priest, Thomas Aquinas, unsuccessfully tries to kill the banker. Jericho captures Aquinas, who warns Jericho: “The thousand years has ended, the dark angel is loosed from his prison” and says that a girl is central. Jericho shoots Aquinas, who is arrested by the New York Police Department. Marge Francis, an NYPD detective and Jericho’s former colleague, tells him that Aquinas has no tongue.Jericho and Bobby investigate on their own, learning that Aquinas was trained at the Vatican and was sent to New York before disappearing. Jericho questions Father Kovak, a priest who knew Aquinas. Kovak asks Jericho if he believes in God; when he says no, the priest tells him that Aquinas was driven mad by forces an atheist could not understand. They go to Aquinas’ apartment, where they find his tongue in a jar and messages and symbols written in blood on the walls. Marge arrives, forcing them to leave. Satan infiltrates Aquinas’ hospital, and crucifies him on the ceiling. Although he survives, he is shot by a Satanic police officer. Jericho and Chicago see Latin words and “Christ in New York” scratched into Aquinas’ skin, and begins searching for Christine York.Jericho and Chicago find Christine in her apartment, saving her from the Vatican Knights, and she brings them to Mabel’s house. After Satan destroys Chicago’s van, killing him, Jericho attempts to leave with Christine. Mabel attacks Jericho, refusing to let him have Christine. Satan enters the house and kills Mabel for failing him; Jericho and Christine escape. Marge and another officer, both Satanists, tell Jericho to surrender Christine. Jericho kills them, but Satan resurrects Marge. Father Kovak tells Jericho and Christine that Satan must impregnate her moments before midnight on New Year’s Eve to usher in the “end of days”. Christine accepts Kovak’s protection.Satan infiltrates Jericho’s apartment, showing him a vision of his family’s murder, offering to bring them back in return for Christine. Enraged, Jericho throws Satan through his apartment window after a fight, and Chicago appears. At the church, the Vatican Knights try to kill Christine before Satan kills them. Chicago tells Jericho that he is in league with Satan after he brought him back. Kovak rescues Jericho, and Satan kidnaps Christine. After locating Satan’s underground temple, Jericho rescues Christine and again kills Marge. Chicago stops Jericho, who persuades him to fight off Satan’s influence; Satan burns him alive. Jericho escapes with Christine into a subway tunnel. They battle to survive against Satan together; Jericho fires a grenade at their pursuer, who leaves the banker to die for a new host.Jericho and Christine escape to another church, where Jericho renews his faith in God and prays for strength. Satan confronts Jericho as a massive, winged creature and possesses him. Jericho attempts to rape Christine, who tries to escape before Jericho deliberately impales himself on a sword protruding from a statue. At the stroke of midnight God frees Jericho’s dying body, sends Satan back to hell and the world celebrates the new millennium. Jericho and Christine see the former’s family waiting for him in the afterlife. He dies in peace, and Christine waits with his body for the authorities.All in all, an enjoyable romp for fans of the Arnie before his attention was diverted by a political career. It compares well to his classic eighties work by trying to do something different and while it may not gel properly in places, for a good 80% of the running time it does a very entertaining job.

 

REVIEW: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986)

CAST

Rick Moranis (Ghostbusters)
Ellen Greene (Pushing Daisies))
Vincent Gardenia (Moonstruck)
Steve Martin (Cheaper By The Dozen)
Tichina Arnold (Wild Hogs)
Jim Belushi (Red Heat)
John Candy (Spaceballs)
Christopher Guest (The Princess Bride)
Bill Murray (St. Vincent)
Miriam Margolyes (Babe)
Stanley Jones (Super Friends)
Danny John-Jules (Red Dwarf)
Tisha Campbell-Martin (My Wife and Kids)
Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) and his colleague, Audrey (Ellen Greene), work at Mushnik’s Flower Shop, lamenting they cannot escape the slums of New York City, living in a run-down, rough neighborhood referred to as “Skid Row.” Struggling from a lack of customers, Mr. Mushnik (Vincent Gardenia) prompts to close the store, only for Audrey to suggest displaying an unusual plant Seymour owns. Immediately attracting a customer, Seymour explains he bought the plant, which he dubbed “Audrey II”, from a Chinese flower shop during a solar eclipse. Attracting business to Mushnik’s shop, the plant soon starts dying, worrying Seymour. Accidentally pricking his finger, he then discovers Audrey II needs human blood to thrive.

Audrey II continues to grow rapidly and Seymour becomes a local celebrity. Seymour soon attempts to ask Audrey out, but she turns him down because she has a date with her sadistic, mean-spirited dentist boyfriend Orin Scrivello (Steve Martin). Despite this, Audrey is interested in Seymour, as well as dreams of marrying him and escaping Skid Row. After Seymour closes up shop, Audrey II (Levi Stubbs) begins to talk to Seymour, demanding more blood than Seymour can give. The plant proposes Seymour murder someone in exchange for fame and fortune: Seymour initially refuses, but agrees upon witnessing Orin beating Audrey.
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After Orin was finished with his patient, Arthur Denton (Bill Murray), who requested “a long, slow, root canal”, Seymour books an appointment with Orin and arms himself with a revolver: however, he cannot bring himself to use it. Orin, who abuses nitrous oxide, puts on a type of venturi mask to receive a constant flow of the gas. Accidentally breaking an intake valve and unable to remove the mask, Orin begs Seymour for help removing it, but as Seymour just stands there. When Orin asks Seymour what he ever did to him, Seymour coldly replies, “Nothing, it’s what you did to her.” Orin dies from asphyxiation and Seymour drags his body back to Audrey II. While dismembering the body for the plant, Seymour is unknowingly witnessed by Mushnik, who flees in fear.
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After feeding Orin’s parts to Audrey II, Seymour discovers the police investigating Orin’s disappearance. Audrey, feeling guilty about wishing Orin would disappear, is comforted by Seymour and the two admit their feelings for each other. That night, Mushnik confronts Seymour about what he saw and holds Seymour at gunpoint, threatening to report him to the police. Mushnkik then attempts to blackmail Seymour, giving the option to flee the country in exchange for the ownership of the plant. With no choice, Seymour steadily backs him towards the plant, which swallows Mushnik whole.
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Despite widespread success, Seymour worries about Audrey II’s growth and unstable appetite. Offered money and a contract for a botany TV show, Seymour plans to escape Skid Row with Audrey using the money, leaving the plant to starve. After Audrey accepts Seymour’s marriage proposal, Audrey II catches Seymour leaving and demands another meal: Seymour agrees, but insists on meat from a butcher. While Seymour is gone, the plant calls Audrey, coaxes her into the shop, and then tries to eat her. Seymour, returning in time to save Audrey, escapes the store with her. Explaining that he fed the plant to become successful and win Audrey’s heart, Seymour discovers she has always loved him. Approached by an executive from a botanical company named Patrick Martin (James Belushi), Seymour is offered a contract to breed Audrey II and sell the saplings worldwide. Seymour drives Martin away, and realizes he must destroy Audrey II for the sake of humanity.
2Returning to the shop, Seymour learns that Audrey II is actually an alien from outer space. Audrey II traps Seymour and destroys the shop, but Seymour grabs an exposed electrical cable and electrocutes Audrey II. Leaving the destroyed shop, Seymour safely reunites with Audrey. The two wed and move to the suburbs: arriving at their new home, which is the one seen in Audrey’s daydreams, a smiling Audrey II bud can be seen among the flowers in their front yard.
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Little Shop of Horrors is so amazingly special and unique, that viewing it almost transports you to another world. It’s quite possibly the best film representation of a stage musical ever made–the sets are perfect, the casting is perfect, the music is perfect, and everything else about the film is perfect

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Kelly Macdonald (Anna Karenina)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Julie Walters (Dinnerladies)
Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.)
Domhnall Gleeson (Dredd)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Ciarán Hinds (Munich)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Bonnie Wright (The Sea)
Jim Broadbent (Superman 4)
Scarlett Byrne (The Vampire Diaries)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Emma Thompson (Junior)
Timothy Spall (Sweeney Todd)
Anna Shaffer (The Witcher)
Freddie Stroma (4.3.2.1.)
Alfred Enoch (Trust Me)
Miriam Margolyes (Romeo + Juliet)
Gemma Jones (Gentleman Jack)
George Harris (Layer Cake)
Nick Moran (Down Dog)
Adrian Rawlins (Breaking The Waves)
Geraldine Somerville (Gosford Park)

After burying Dobby, Harry Potter asks the goblin Griphook to help him, Ron, and Hermione break into Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at Gringotts bank, suspecting a Horcrux may be there. Griphook agrees, in exchange for the Sword of Gryffindor. Wandmaker Ollivander tells Harry that two wands taken from Malfoy Manor belonged to Bellatrix and to Draco Malfoy, but Malfoy’s has changed its allegiance to Harry.In Bellatrix’s vault, Harry discovers the Horcrux is Helga Hufflepuff’s cup. He retrieves it, but Griphook snatches the sword and abandons the trio, leaving them cornered by security. The three release the dragon guardian and flee on its back. Harry sees a vision of Voldemort killing goblins, including Griphook, and learns Voldemort is aware of the theft. Harry also realises there is a Horcrux at Hogwarts somehow connected to Rowena Ravenclaw. The trio apparate into Hogsmeade, where Aberforth Dumbledore reluctantly instructs the portrait of his deceased younger sister, Ariana, to fetch Neville Longbottom, who leads the trio through a secret passageway into Hogwarts.Severus Snape hears of Harry’s return and warns staff and students of punishment for aiding Harry. Harry confronts Snape, who flees after Minerva McGonagall challenges him to a duel. McGonagall gathers the Hogwarts community for battle. At Luna Lovegood’s insistence, Harry speaks to Helena Ravenclaw’s ghost, who reveals that Voldemort performed “dark magic” on her mother’s diadem, which is in the Room of Requirement. In the Chamber of Secrets, Ron and Hermione destroy the Horcrux cup with a Basilisk fang. In the Room of Requirement, Draco, Blaise Zabini and Gregory Goyle attack Harry after he finds the diadem, but Ron and Hermione intervene. Goyle casts a Fiendfyre curse and, unable to control it, is swallowed up by the flames while Harry and his friends save Malfoy and Zabini. Harry stabs the diadem with the Basilisk fang and Ron kicks it into the Room of Requirement, where it is destroyed. As Voldemort’s army attacks, Harry, seeing into Voldemort’s mind, realises that Voldemort’s snake Nagini is the final Horcrux. After entering the boathouse, the trio witness Voldemort incorrectly telling Snape that the Elder Wand cannot serve Voldemort until Snape dies since he killed its last owner (Dumbledore); he then orders Nagini to kill Snape, which Nagini does. Before dying, Snape tells Harry to take his memories to the Pensieve. In the chaos at Hogwarts, Fred, Lupin, and Tonks have been killed.Harry learns from Snape’s memories that Snape loved Harry’s late mother, Lily, but despised his father, James, who had bullied him. Following her death, Snape worked secretly with Dumbledore to protect Harry from Voldemort because of his love for Lily. Harry also learns Dumbledore wanted Snape to kill him, and that the Patronus doe he saw in the woods that led him to the sword had been conjured by Snape. Harry discovers that he himself became a Horcrux when Voldemort originally failed to kill him and that Harry must die to destroy the piece of Voldemort’s soul within him. Harry then surrenders himself to Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest. Voldemort casts the Killing Curse upon Harry, who finds himself in limbo, where Dumbledore’s spirit meets him and explains that the part of Voldemort within Harry was killed by Voldemort’s own curse. Harry then returns to his body, determined to defeat Voldemort once and for all.Voldemort announces Harry’s apparent death to everyone at Hogwarts and demands they all surrender. As Neville gives a defiant response and draws the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat, Harry reveals he is still alive. While Harry confronts Voldemort in a duel throughout the castle, Molly Weasley kills Bellatrix in the Great Hall, and Neville decapitates Nagini, leaving Voldemort mortal. Harry and Voldemort’s fight ends with Voldemort’s own Killing Curse rebounding, killing and obliterating him. After the battle, Harry explains to Ron and Hermione that the Elder Wand had recognised him as its true master because he had disarmed Draco, who earlier had disarmed its previous owner, Dumbledore, but instead of claiming the Elder Wand, Harry breaks and discards it. Nineteen years later, Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Draco proudly watch their own children leave for Hogwarts at King’s Cross station.What an amazing achievement to faithfully bring Rowling’s epic saga to the big screen with the same cast and largely the same crew, maintaining the brilliant quality right to the end.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS

 

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Kenneth Branagh (Dead Again)
John Cleese (Rat Race)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Richard Griffiths (Sleepy Hollow)
Richard Harris (Gladiator)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Fiona Shaw (Jane Eyre)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Julian Glover (Game of Thrones)
Miriam Margolyes (Romeo + Juliet)
Alfred Enoch (Trust Me)
Gemma Jones (Gentleman Jack)
Shirley Henderson (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)
Adrian Rawlins (Breaking The Waves)
Geraldine Somerville (Gosford Park)

Harry Potter spends the summer without receiving letters from his Hogwarts friends. In his room, Harry meets Dobby, a house-elf who warns him bad things will happen if he returns to Hogwarts, and reveals he intercepted his friends’ letters. Harry chases him downstairs, where Dobby destroys a cake. The Dursleys lock Harry up, but Ron, Fred and George Weasley rescue him in their father’s flying Ford Anglia.

While buying school supplies, Harry and the Weasley family encounter Rubeus Hagrid and Hermione Granger, and they attend a book-signing by celebrity wizard Gilderoy Lockhart, who announces he will be the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Harry also encounters Draco Malfoy and his father Lucius, who slips a book in Ginny Weasley’s belongings. When Harry and Ron are blocked from entering Platform Nine and Three-Quarters (later revealed to be Dobby’s doing), they fly to Hogwarts in the Ford Anglia and crash into the hostile Whomping Willow. Ron’s wand is damaged, and the car throws them out before driving off. They are allowed back into school but face detention.

While serving detention with Lockhart, Harry hears strange voices and later finds caretaker Argus Filch’s cat, Mrs. Norris, petrified, and a message written in blood announcing the “Chamber of Secrets has been opened, Enemies of the Heir, beware”. Professor McGonagall explains that one of Hogwarts’ founders, Salazar Slytherin, supposedly constructed a secret Chamber and placed inside it a monster that only his Heir can control, to purge the school of impure-blooded wizards and witches. More attacks occur over the course of the year. Harry and Ron suspect Malfoy is the Heir, so Hermione suggests they question him while disguised using polyjuice potion. Their makeshift laboratory is in a disused bathroom haunted by a ghost, Moaning Myrtle.

When Harry communicates with a snake (something Salazar Slytherin could do) the school suspects him as the Heir. At Christmas, Harry and Ron learn that Malfoy is not the Heir, but he mentions that a girl died when the Chamber was last opened fifty years ago. Harry finds an enchanted diary, owned by a former student named Tom Riddle, which shows him a flashback to fifty years before, where Riddle accused Hagrid, then a student, of opening the Chamber. When the diary disappears and Hermione is petrified, Harry and Ron question Hagrid. Professor Dumbledore, Cornelius Fudge, and Lucius Malfoy come to take Hagrid to Azkaban, but he discreetly tells the boys to “follow the spiders”. Lucius has Dumbledore suspended. In the Forbidden Forest, Harry and Ron find Aragog, a giant spider who reveals Hagrid’s innocence and that the dead girl was found in a bathroom. Aragog then sets his colony of Acromantula on the boys, but the now-wild Ford Anglia saves them.

A book page in Hermione’s hand identifies the monster is a basilisk, a giant serpent that instantly kills those who make direct eye contact with it; the petrified victims saw it indirectly. The school staff learn that Ginny was taken into the Chamber, and convince Lockhart to save her. Harry and Ron find Lockhart, exposed as a fraud, planning to flee; knowing Myrtle was the girl the Basilisk killed, they drag him to her bathroom and find the Chamber’s entrance. Once inside, Lockhart uses Ron’s damaged wand against them, but it backfires, wiping his memory, and causes a cave-in.

Harry enters the Chamber alone and finds Ginny unconscious and dying guarded by Tom Riddle. Harry realises Riddle is the Heir and he used the diary to manipulate Ginny and reopen the Chamber. Riddle then reveals his full name, Tom Marvolo Riddle, from which he created the anagram for his future new identity, “I am Lord Voldemort”. After Harry expresses support for Dumbledore, Dumbledore’s Fawkes flies in with the Sorting Hat, and Riddle summons the Basilisk. Fawkes blinds the Basilisk, and the Sorting Hat eventually produces a sword with which Harry battles and slays the Basilisk, but he is poisoned by its fangs.

Harry defeats Riddle and revives Ginny by stabbing the diary with a basilisk fang. Fawkes’ tears heal him, and he returns to Hogwarts with his friends and a baffled Lockhart. Dumbledore, reinstated as headmaster, praises them and orders for Hagrid’s release. Dumbledore shows Harry that the sword he wielded was Godric Gryffindor’s own sword, and says he is different from Voldemort because he chose Gryffindor House instead of Slytherin House. Harry accuses Lucius, Dobby’s master, of putting the diary in Ginny’s cauldron and tricks him into freeing Dobby. The Basilisk’s victims are healed, Hermione reunites with Harry and Ron, and Hagrid returns.

The movie sticks closely to the novel, but as in the last movie we miss some of those scenes where we start to learn a little more about the characters, especially the hate-hate relationship between Harry and Professor Snape. All in all it’s definitely worth checking out, the running time of 160 minutes may seem a little long but it doesn’t seem that long when you’re watching it.

REVIEW: HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & ALIENATE PEOPLE

CAST

Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Megan Fox (Transformes)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
Gillian Anderson (Hannibal)
Jeff Bridges (Iron Man)
Brian Austin Green (Terminator: TSCC)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Thandie Newton (Mission Impossible 2)
James Corden (Into The Woods)
Hannah Waddingham (Game of Thrones)
Miriam Margolyes (Romeo + Juliet)
Max Minghella (Horns)
Thor Knai (The Outpost)

 

how-to-lose-friends-alienate-people.20190201000000How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is a toothless satire raised from plain-jane mediocrity to legitimately pleasant all-rightness entirely by the performances of Simon Pegg and Kirsten Dunst. Director Robert Weide’s adaptation of the famous book is a hit-and-miss half-assery of star-skewering and romantic comedy fluff that fails to dig deep enough to draw blood despite ample opportunity, and yet its watchable. Pegg plays Sidney Young (an interpretation of the book’s real-life author Toby Young), the creator of the supposedly scathing British tabloid the Post-Modern Review. One of his former idols is Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges, sporting an incredible wig), who has gone on to be the editor-in-chief of Sharps Magazine in New York City, where Sidney feels he’s lost his bite. After Sidney ruins one of Clayton’s fancy parties by crashing it with a pig in tow, Clayton gives Sidney a call and offers him a job at Sharps. Seeing an opportunity to bring some cutting criticism back into Clayton’s work, Sidney accepts, flying to the States to start cracking heads. Instead, however, he finds himself under the watchful eye of co-worker Alison Olson (Dunst), whose current assignment seems to be keeping Sidney in check.The main problem is the film’s fear of being truly caustic, despite it literally being Sidney’s goal to do so. It’s clear that Weide and screenwriter Peter Straughan worry that giving Sidney the teeth to tear into someone could also make him an unlikable jackass, but if there’s anyone in the world who could have balanced the anarchic with the amicable it’s Simon Pegg. Instead, Sidney bluntly nags an actor about their sexual orientation, and the joke falls flat because not only is the line of questioning more unwise than outrageous, we’ve got no bearing on the “actor” in question. A real-life recognizable face might have packed a stronger punch. Similarly, while Max Minghella’s pretentious, ego-trip director has considerably more screen time, the film never aims below-the-belt. The character is merely dazed and distant, when it’s a perfect chance to stick it to both abstract artistes and David-O.-Russell-style directorial explosions.The remaining plot tracks the love-hate Alison and Sidney’s love hate-relationship, which reeks of a Hollywood book-to-film adaptation. Could these two actually have something in common? Boy, I wonder! And yet there’s Pegg and Dunst, generating crackling romantic and comedic chemistry, both exceptionally charismatic and appealing from the first frame to the last. Props for Pegg are expected, as he continues to elevate everything he’s in, but I want to shine a light on Dunst’s performance, Her career of late is faltering more than she deserves, and while Alison’s character arc is no great shakes, she still imbues it with more life and charm than many actresses could muster. This includes the exceptionally boring Megan Fox as the exceptionally boring Sophie Maes, a movie star who is probably not interested in Sidney, no matter how much he prays. Her fake Mother Teresa biopic is chuckle-worthy, but it’s got nothing on Downey Jr.’s Satan’s Alley from Tropic Thunder.MV5BNDE1OTM2ODU1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDIzODE0NA@@._V1_

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is the kind of movie you’d enjoy on television and forget by the end of the week.