30th Aug2015

45 Years (Film)

by timbaros

agatha a. nitecka-000044980008-2A 45-year relationship is in trouble after Geoff Mercer receives a letter informing him of news about his first love, which his wife Kate did not know of, in the new film 45 Years.

Tom Courtenay is Geoff, while Charlotte Rampling is Kate, both giving superb performances. They play a couple who have been together for 45 years in the lead up to their huge anniversary party, but it’s on the Monday that Geoff receives that letter letting him know that the body of Katya, his previous love before Kate, has been found in the Swiss Alps. Oh so many years ago Geoff and Katya were on a walking holiday when Katya fell into a fissure in a glacier, with her body never actually found. It’s the letter that Geoff receives that brings him back to the memories of his first love, but it does the opposite to Kate. She actually never knew much about Katya because Geoff really never spoke about her much, but the letter seems to peak her interest in their relationship, and she learn things that Geoff had never confessed to her. Kate didn’t know that they were very serious about each other because it’s something that Geoff never talk about, all those years they’ve been together. Has he been hiding from Kate the true nature of him and Katia’s love for each other? Kate then calls into question her relationship with Geoff. Is she his true love? Or was it Katia? Kate increasingly becomes preoccupied, and worried about this. There’s also something within Geoff that has changed. He has begun smoking again, and he’s been going into the attic to look at the photos of him and Katia. Kate soon discovers that Katia was pregnant with Geoff’s child, and that Geoff having told Kate that he had planned to Marry Katia. As the huge anniversary party gets nearer, and as each day progresses, Katia becomes very unsure and unconfirment of Geoff’s love for her, but will this new revelation cancel/ruin the party?

Director Andrew Haigh, best known for his 2011 film Weekend which captured the short weekend relationship between two gay men, does a similar take in 45 Years, where he captures, in a week’s time, a long-term relationship between a straight married couple, in the lush surroundings and landscape of the Norfolk countryside. It’s a different perspective from his previous work, as well as from his hit television show ‘Looking’ – about gay men in San Francisco. In ’45 Years,’ he makes us slowly progress to the big day, that of the anniversary celebrations, with uncertainty, nervousness, and sadness, not just for Kate, but for Geoff as well. It’s like their entire relationship is being suddenly called into question. And Courtenay and Rampling give excellent performances. Courtenay’s Geoff seems to have no clue how this revelation is affecting Kate, while Rampling’s Kate slowly absorbs the truth about Katia, and is having a harder and harder time accepting it. Hers is an Academy Award worthy performance. Based on a short story by British Poet David Constantine called Another Country, 45 Years slowly builds itself from a film that is a very simple quiet relationship of a long-married couple into a loud obstruction where it’s questionable whether there is any point to go nay further. 45 Years stars out as peaceful and quiet, yet gets messier and destructive. It’s one of the best and most beautiful films of the year.

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30th Aug2015

Monsters: Dark Continent (DVD)

by timbaros

Monsters - Dark Continent out 31 Aug_1

The highly successful 2010 film ‘Monsters’ saw the arrival of giant tentacled monsters to Earth. It’s sequel ‘Monsters: Dark Continent’ has five army men in a Middle East war zone who are attempting to deal with an insurgency, and dealing with these monsters as well. It’s explosive and shattering.

The monsters have now spread worldwide, and in the middle east a new war has begun, and at the same time there has been an increase of monsters in that region – which is called the Infected Zone. The army has brought in many new recruits to deal with both the insurgency and to help kill the monster population. Four of the recruits, all from Detroit, Michigan, and all best friends, are given a special mission: to rescue soldiers who have been lost in the Infected Zone. It’s the men’s first tour of duty, and for Michael (Sam Keeley), Frankie (Joe Dempsie), Inkelaar (Kyle Soller), and Williams (Parker Sawyers), they must also deal with the monsters while at the same time battling the enemy. They are all excited, yet extremely nervous to be part of this mission, especially Williams as he has become a new father. Their assignment gets all the more intense when they meet their commanding office Frater (Johnny Harris), a veteran of nine tours and a hard core military man, who is estranged from his family. Michael is the most impressionable, and youngest of the bunch, he’s totally stunned and shocked when he sees the monsters for the first time from the helicopter him and his crew arrive on. It’s a stunning sight, seeing those monsters while the army’s fighter planes dropping bombs on them.

They men are these for a mission, to search for some soldiers who have gone missing. So thus begins their journey into the unknown, fearful not just of the enemy, but also of the monsters. They encounter IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices), which kill a couple of the men, while seriously injuring Williams. But their journey has just begun, not all of them survive. They must put up with sniper fire, being captured and interrogated, escaping and enduring long and brutal journeys in the desert where they encounter dead bodies in a school bus, and at the same time staying way clear of the monsters. The monsters, huge, with very large tentacled hands and face, are a scary backdrop to a film that makes it clear that fighting a war in enemy territory is scary enough.

Monsters - Dark Continent out 31 Aug_5

Tom Green, making his directorial debut (he previously had directed episodes of the television programme Misfits, which starred Keeley), and Executive Producer Gareth Edwards (who wrote and directed the first ‘Monsters’ film) have created a film that is both scary and stunning. War is brutal enough, but they expose us to the deadly silence of not just the enemy but also of the monsters. As soldiers who must carry on, all the actors are brilliant. Harris as commanding officer Frater is brilliant – he truly wants to go back home to be reunited with his father but he’s a staunch army man who must complete his mission. Keeley as Michael is the film’s heart and soul – he’s being exposed to the world and this is it: his innocence is being taken away from him, he goes from being a young man to a hardened soldier. From the dessert landscape to the deserted villages, from the lush scenery and sunsets to the terrifying appearance of the monsters, ‘Monsters: Dark Continent’ is a sight to behold. And the music, by Neil Davidge, adds an acute tenseness to the film. ‘Monster: Dark Continent’ is bone-chillingly scary and beautiful at the same time.

MONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT is available on DVD, Blu-ray & Steelbook on 31st August




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30th Aug2015

The Phoenix Incident (DVD)

by timbaros

_2039406-smallOn March 13th, 1997 four men disappeared near Phoenix, Arizona, the same night that strange, unidentified and unexplained lights were seen hovering around the area. The newly released ‘The Phoenix Incident’ tries to explain the connection.

Mitch Adams, Glenn Lauder, Ryan Stone, and Jacob Reynolds had been drinking and off-roading in the Estrella Mountains just outside Phoenix, Arizona on that night. They were young and carefree and doing what men their age do, hanging out and having a good time. But unbeknownst to them a phenomenon would take place that night – the largest UFO sightings ever in the Western Hemisphere. Known as The Phoenix Lights, lights of varying sizes were reported by thousands of people in Arizona on that same evening. Witnesses claimed to have seen huge V-shaped objects in the sky, moving at rapid speed, and at times appearing and disappearing. The U.S. Air Force claimed that the lights were flares dropped by one of their aircraft during training exercises. But what about the four missing men and the coincidence of them disappearing on the same night? This is the question that ‘The Phoenix Incident’ tries to answer.

Walton Samuel Gayson, a 38-year old man who was living in a compound in the Estrella mountains, confessed that he encountered the men in his compound on that night. Gayson (played by Michael Adamthwaite in reenactments in the film), who was a Vietnam veteran who served 3 tours of duty, claimed that the men were abducted by aliens. Bone fragments discovered the next day by a local hiker led police to Gayson, who was taken into police custody. However, soon after he was taken into federal custody. But did Gayson really kill the men? ‘The Phoenix Incident’ leads us to believe that the men were indeed killed by aliens, that Gayson was a strong alien believer, and that the U.S. Government were involved in a cover up. Actual footage in the beginning of the film shows that since 1997 U.S. soldiers have begun fighting a covert war against forces of Unknown Origin, and that military sources believe these invasions, 57 incidents in total, is in retaliation for the Phoenix Incident. In 2011, a U.S. Air Force official came forward with a classified account of the March 13, 1997 attacks, basically saying that the four men were killed by aliens and that the U.S. Government is involved in a cover up. ‘The Phoenix Incident uses whistleblower testimony, recovered military footage, and eyewitness accounts to explore the U.S. military’s alleged engagement of aliens that night.

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It’s hard to believe what is actual fact and what is actual fiction in this film, because at the end of it we are told that ‘many characters are composites or inventions,’ and that ‘a number of incidents depicted in the film are fictional.’ What might be fictional in this film is that one of the four men happen to carry around with him a video camera which records their whole evening. This ploy does work to great effect in this film, but one has to take a step back and realize that the scenes using the video camera are purely re-enactments. Some actual footage in the movie does take it to a documentary level, and the actors who portray the missing men are all very good, but it’s a film to take with a grain of salt. Unfortunately for the families of the missing men, there was not enough physical evidence for the remains found in the desert to be conclusive. So the four men are still classified as missing, and there are no answers as what might’ve happened to them.

Signature Entertainment presents The Phoenix Incident on Digital Download August 31st and on DVD 7th September, 2015



The Phoenix Incident [DVD] (DVD)

Director: Keith Arem
Starring: Troy Baker, Yuri Lowenthal, Jamie Tisdale
Rating: Suitable for 15 years and over

Keith Arem writes and directs this US sci-fi thriller based on true events. After multiple UFO sightings in Phoenix, Arizona on March 13th 1997, a team of film-makers investigate the strange phenomena that are said to have led to the disappearances of four young men. In their quest for the truth they uncover a government conspiracy and are forced to examine the alleged involvement of the military.
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28th Aug2015

The Clinic (Theatre)

by timbaros

the_clinic_poster_SMALL_web_mediumWhat happens when you go to a clinic? Well, if you’ve been taking drugs and having lots of unsafe sex, then you might be more likely be HIV+. The new play “The Clinic” explores this scenario, and so much more.

Not so much a play but more of a health education lesson, “The Clinic” is produced by David Stuart, the Lead Substance Use Advisor at 56 Dean Street (a London sexual health clinic based in the heart of Soho), and written by Patrick Cash.

We are introduced to characters that we may recognize and identify with, portrayed by a cast of London scenesters. DJ Stewart Who plays a sexual health advisor at the clinic; he used to be a drug addicted party animal but now he dispenses HIV advice and results to men much younger than him.

Then there’s the wealthy businessman (Matthew Hodson) who enjoys sex with young men and thinks that he can buy them his love and affection. He’s also in HIV denial.

Zachariah Fletcher is the confused young man, an extreme party boy who likes to go clubbing and take drugs, not necessarily in that order. He’s also into chillouts (orgies). And he’s at risk of contracting HIV. He meets (via Grinder) Damien Killen’s character, a young respectable guy who seems to have a good head on his shoulders, is handsome with a good body, who came to London only to somehow become HIV+. He feels like he’s no longer desired but now damaged.

Then there’s Shirley (Pretty Miss Cairo). She runs a Vauxhall beauty clinic which acts as a sanctuary for the drugged out boys when the clubs close.

These characters may not be real people, but they are composites of characters that Cash met and interviewed after 56 Dean Street commissioned him to write this play. He interviewed not just the people who work at the clinic but some of the patients as well.

It’s a bare bones production, played in the very warm King’s Head Theatre in Angel (take a bottle of water with you, and a hand fan). And the cast should be admired for taking part in this play. It’s difficult at times to hear some of the dialogue (Fletcher is so soft-spoken I could hardly hear his dialogue), but Hodson (who is perfect as the villian), Miss Cairo and Killeen more than make up for the play’s faults. And Stewart Who (is that his real surname?) brings a certain stoicism to his role.

And as you enter the theatre before the play starts, you are given a glossary of terms referred to in the play. There were several words in the glossary that I had never heard of before, so I did learn something new by going to see the play ‘The Clinic.’ It’s a perfect setting for a gay play, a place where we’ve all been to.

‘The Clinic’ is now playing at the Kings Head Theatre in London until August 29th.

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23rd Aug2015

Escobar: Paradise Lost (Film)

by timbaros

pl-d32-img_2680A young Canadian man finds himself in the world of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and doesn’t realize it comes with a high price until it’s too late, in the new film Escobar: Paradise Lost.

It’s the late 1980’s, and Nick Brady (Josh Hutcherson – The Hunger Games) and his brother Dylan (Brady Corbet) set up a surf shop on a beautiful beach in Colombia. But this scene is actually at the end of the film. Flash forward a few years, to 1991, and Dylan is, against his better judgement, working for Pablo Escobar (Benicio del Toro), the most notorious, and wealthiest, drug lord in the world. Dylan is where he is now because he has fallen in love with Escobar’s niece Maria (a very good Claudia Traisac). They meet at the local clinic that Maria is running, and which was funded by her uncle Pablo. Dylan and Maria are smitten with each other, enough so that Maria invites Dylan to meet the rest of her family, at a lavish compound in the middle of nowhere. It’s here that Pablo Escobar is celebrating his birthday, in a house that looks like it’s worth millions, with many friends and relatives in attendance, all tended to by maids and servants. But Escobar is not just any man, he’s a man whose respected, not only by his family, but by the communities in Colombia. He’s given money to open up schools, clinics – anything that can help his fellow Colombians live better lives. But Escobar made his money by selling cocaine – via the Medellin Cartel – which was responsible for smuggling tons of cocaine each week into countries all over the world, and also responsible for hundreds and hundreds of murders.

Dylan and Maria are getting closer and closer, and together they move into a room on Escobar’s compound. Dylan has fallen in love with Maria, but he has also fallen into the Escobar family’s way of life. Dylan sees what Escobar and his henchmen are up to, and slowly they integrate him into their world. But things come crashing down for the Escobar family after the country’s Minister of Justice is killed, after he has just launched an investigation into Escobar and his dealings. Escobar and his family are now enemies of the state, he has to go on the run, kill anyone who might betray him, even his closest comrades, and hide his assets. When asked to kill a man who is helping him to hide some of Escobar’s diamonds, Dylan must decide whether he is capable of doing this, or if he doesn’t is he ready to live with the consequences that impact not only his and Maria’s lives but also the life of his brother and his wife and their new baby?

‘Escobar:Paradise Lost,’ while not based on a true story, is a gripping and tense film that begins when an innocent romance starts to blossom but then slowly escalates into a thriller where Nick and Maria cannot escape the clutches of her powerful uncle. Hutcherson as Nick Brady is in fine form, he proves that he is able to carry a film that requires more than just fantasy and special effects; unknownTraisac as Maria is even better. She’s the soul of the film, the woman that Nick loves and the woman that Escobar adores. Del Toro as Escobar is perfect. Del Toro looks sinister and mean, he’s a dead ringer for Escobar. First time Director Andrea Di Stefano (she also wrote the film) takes us on a journey through the lush lands of Colombia to a dangerous and potential life-threatening situation as seen through the eyes of a young man whose been exposed to the very violent Escobar crime family.

ESCOBAR: PARADISE LOST will be released in UK cinemas and available on demand on 21st August, 2015

Available on Blu-ray and DVD from September 21st, 2015

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23rd Aug2015

Pressure (Film)

by timbaros

0ozUa2rQg1wIuzT7vi4W_M4PrpG3q-ExprQ4itMNGl8Four men are tasked with fixing an oil pipeline hundreds of feet below the ocean’s surface in the Somali Basin but quickly run into trouble in the new suspense thriller ‘Pressure.’

The four-member team include Danny Huston (American Horror Story, Made in Dagenham) as the experienced Engel; Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game) as team leader Mitchell; Joe Cole (Skins) as wet behind the ears Jones; and Alan McKenna (Belle) as Hurst. They are sent down into the deep blue sea in a tiny submarine-like vessel to investigate a broken oil pipeline as their ship stays on the surface. But once they are in position, a storm destroys their ship, while their vessel starts to shake and roll violently, ultimately landing on the seabed. A couple of them venture out of their vessel to investigate, and, in scenes of pure horror, they see the bodies of some of their fellow crew members from the ship floating all around them. At this point they then realize that they are literally in deep trouble. With nowhere to go, nowhere to turn, they attempt to use their radio to signal for help. Meanwhile, they have limited oxygen reserves, argue over the best way to ensure survival, and are ready to give anything a go just to get out of this life-threatening ordeal. They are met with almost certain death; the freezing water outside, the decompression sickness that could happen, their lungs rupturing, and most worringly, the diminishing air supply.

‘Pressure’ is a short 91-minute film in which the plot is quick to take hold, and the men are suddenly and quickly in trouble. And ultimately it’s up to the actors to convey the tension and drama while they decide and attempt to take matters into their own hands. ‘Pressure’ is a bit like ‘Gravity’ – where George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are trapped in space. In ‘Pressure,’ we have four men trapped in the opposite spectrum – at the bottom of the sea, and face the same problem – how to get back ‘home.’ But in 91 minutes we hardly get to know the men. We do know that they all have women in their lives, via flashbacks; Jones’ (Cole) girlfriend is pregnant, he really wants to survive to see the birth of his baby (we see sweet flashbacks of them early on in their relationship); Engel’s girl is shown in dream sequences as a passenger in a car he is driving; and in another dream sequence we see Jones literally being kissed to death by a mermaid. Does this mean he is not going to survive? It looks realistic and scary. Yet there’s not a whole lot more to ‘Pressure.’ While it’s a good film, with excellent special effects, don’t expect too much from it. Perhaps if it were a bit longer to tell more about the characters and their personal lives and backgrounds we would’ve cared a bit more about them.

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22nd Aug2015

State of the Art Cinema exhibition (Film)

by timbaros

 

FDA Getty Gallery Event

 

Residing at The Strand Gallery, the STATE OF THE ART CINEMA exhibition includes nearly 100 posters, images and photographs – giving a snapshot of British and international films for release in UK cinemas in 2015/16. FDA has also commissioned a unique LEGO® model of a cinema which took 150 man hours to complete and comprises 25,000 LEGO® bricks.

This FREE exhibition is open to the public each weekday until 28 August 2015.

FDA Chief Executive, Mark Batey, said: “We’re thrilled that the new LEGO® model makes such a brilliant centre-piece of this summer’s exhibition, which celebrates all the fun of the cinema as well as highlighting the vital role of creativity and design in connecting films with audiences.”

The exhibition comprises seven sections: Family releases; Coming of Age stories; Action & Adventure; Comedy; Biographies & Documentaries; Thrills & Suspense; and a large section called Britain on Screen containing images from both UK films and international movies that were made in the UK, a global filmmaking hub. Visitors will find one or two iconic classic images among the display too.

STATE OF THE ART CINEMA 2015 is now in its second of two central London residencies this summer. Having previously run at The Coningsby Gallery, this enlarged version is at The Strand Gallery between Tuesday 11 and Friday 28 August.

The exhibition is taking place at the heart of FDA’s celebrations marking the centenary of UK film distribution. Exactly 100 years ago, feature-length films were emerging as a storytelling medium in their own right, two decades after the invention of the cinématographe machine. It was in December 1915 that the fledgling yet ambitious enterprises dedicated to supplying and promoting filmed entertainment founded their UK trade association (now FDA).

For further information on the autumn 2015 release schedule, please visit www.launchingfilms.com.

Notes

• STATE OF THE ART CINEMA is an interactive exhibition offering a snapshot of contemporary film poster design and photography from the UK and around the world. It showcases the skills of graphic designers and typographers and their use of symbols and illustrations, as well as on-set and portrait photographers – all aimed at distilling the essence of a film, its storyline, setting and characters, into a single, coherent, compelling image or montage.

• STATE OF THE ART CINEMA is free of charge to visit. It is currently showing at The Strand Gallery, 32 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6BP. Free colouring/activity sheets for children will be available throughout.

• Established in 1915, FDA celebrates the UK film distribution sector’s centenary year in 2015. Today distribution remains the lynchpin and locomotive of the entire film business – films only come to life when they are actually experienced and shared by public audiences. Discover more about how films and audiences connect at FDA’s dedicated website, www.launchingfilms.info.

• Films released by FDA’s 32 member companies generate 99% of UK cinema admissions. FDA’s President is Lord Puttnam of Queensgate CBE. Copies of the 120-page FDA Yearbook 2015 are available free on request, subject to availability.

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15th Aug2015

I am Chris Farley (DVD)

by timbaros

img028American Comedian Chris Farley was only 33 when he died of a cocaine and morphine overdose a few days before Christmas in Chicago in 1997.
The new documentary ‘I am Chris Farley’ tells his rapid ascent to stardom and his even quicker descent to a life of alcohol and drugs, and eventually to an early death.

‘I am Chris Farley’s’ was made in conjunction with the estate of Chris Farley, so the producers had access to all of the relevant people in Chris’s life, including his family, friends, and fellow comedians and television co-stars. From his days as an unknown comic at Chicago’s Second City Theatre (where lots of famous comics got their start), from where he was plucked to be on the popular NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) for five seasons, to eventually following the path of former SNL’ers to star in movies. Chris’s brother Kevin Farley (who is also a producer of the film, and is also a comedian) reminisces about his brother Chris during his stand up comedy act. Kevin then talks about their lives growing up in Madison, Wisconsin, where they had a normal life, with a father who gave his boys a lot of freedom. Kevin talks about Chris’s life in high school and college and laughs about the way in which Chris would throw himself to the ground and do pushups to impress women. While Chris did graduate from college and worked for a time for his father at the Scotch Oil Company in Madison, he didn’t get his professional start in comedy until he joined Ark Improv Theatre in Madison. It was clear then that Chris was the stand out star, footage from his shows display a comedic style that surpassed his costars. Even when he went on to be part of Chicago’s Second City Theatre, his on stage presence was larger than life. But it wasn’t until he got to SNL that he was able to display his true comedic talent, with the aid of professional comedy writers in an intense weekly live television show setting. Farley was a member during one of SNL’s peak times, and his fellow cast members included Adam Sandler, Mike Myers and David Spade. Not only did Chris outshine and outperform his fellow cast members, he was the one who provided the huge laughs on the show, whether in his role as ‘motivational speaker,’ to a skit where he auditions for Chippendales alongside host Patrick Swayze (in which Farley takes off his top to reveal a huge belly), to any role that he was given, Chris was truly the funny man. But according to the people who knew him, he was also a softee, a very sincere guy who would take a liking to everyone, and everyone would take a liking to him. SNL creator and Executive Producer Lorne Michaels talks, at length, about how he mentored Chris in his early days of being on the show. Myers talks about the times they spent together on the set and how Chris was the nicest and most sincere guy there. But it’s David Spade who brings the best of the memories of Chris in the film – they both started at SNL at the same time, so they shared the incredible feeling of being first-timers on the historic television show. Spade mentions many funny moments he and Farley shared together on the set, including the many times when Chris would walk into his shower at work, stark naked (with his penis tucked in) and proceed to give Spade a huge hug – Spade says this was just the kind of man Chris was. Spade and Farley would eventually break out of television and into films. And after they were released from their SNL contracts in 1995, they made the films “Tommy Boy” and “Black Sheep”, both critically panned but made lots of money. But in between these films, Farley’s personal life was not as shiny as his professional life. Drug and alcohol problems led him to rehab an astonishing 17 times. Michaels was instrumental in trying to help Farley overcome his habit, but it was a demon that Farley was unable to kick, which led to his premature death where he was found on a linoleum floor in his apartment in Chicago. Eerily enough, John Belushi, another overweight comedian who got his start at SNL and became a huge movie star (Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers), also died at the age of 33, of a cocaine and heroin overdose, in 1982.

‘I am Chris Farley’ is a best of Chris Farley documentary that shows the best of his professional work. We are also treated to his spot on the David Letterman Show where he bounds onto the stage, making sure you knew he was in the room, his hair all over his face, clenching his fists, and then in true Chris Farley fashion, falling over backwards in his chair. While the documentary doesn’t really explain why Farley got involved in alcohol and drugs in the first place (perhaps no one knew), it’s a very good tribute to a celebrity who died way before his expiry date. “There’s a category of people who I’ve worked with who are infuriatingly talented’ – Michaels says – “and Farley was one of them.”

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