Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Great (film) Debates vol. 101

Memories are made of this... movies!

What is your favorite movie-going memory?






Panelist: AndrewPrice

I've got quite a few actually, but nothing beats the day my friend and I stood for four hours in a line that wrapped completely around the mall to see The Empire Strikes Back. It was one of those fascinating moments where you could literally feel history being made and it was great to be with that many people all talking happily about what they thought the movie was going to be. Enthusiasm is contagious. And the movie delivered!

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

It is hard to top memories from one's childhood. Among my best were when our mom's would take my friend and myself to matinees at the big movie palaces in downtown Philadelphia. Ben-Hur in 70mm and Around the World in 80 Days in Cinerama were favorites. But to pick one that stands out above all else, my dad took me to dinner at a great Italian restaurant in Philly, followed by How the West Was Won which was, as I remember, also in Cinerama.

As an adult, I think my favorite memory was taking out oldest son to see the premier of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The film had not been heavily marketed as films are today. There was no Internet to release trailers, etc. No, there was a relatively modest ad in the Philly Inquirer cinema section stating "starts Saturday." There was the poster with Harrison Ford, and names like Steven Spielberg. After that first scene, we were off to the races, and my thought was, "Wow, an old fashion Saturday matinee barnburner made with state of the art special effects. Yee-hah."

Panelist: ScottDS

I can tell you what should have been my favorite movie-going memory but I wasn't, uh, assertive enough. Having said that, shortly after moving to LA, my roommates took me to the Nuart Theater on Santa Monica Blvd. for a midnight screening of Clue, done in the style of Rocky Horror Picture Show with actors performing to the film live on stage. Audience participation was encouraged!

Panelist: Floyd

First, I'm assuming almost everyone around my age (I'm 44) will say "Star Wars -- Imperial Star Destroyer rumbling from the top of the screen." So setting that one aside... I have a couple... I was the ne plus ultra U2 fan when I was in high school/college in the late 1980s -- as much as a kid living in West Texas where they never toured could be. So I was pumped to see Rattle and Hum in fall of 1988 -- and it did not disappoint. Was it hubristic? Aren't most documentaries prideful on some level? The music was fantastic (I still love that album and my Blu-ray gets played every so often as well), the black and white cinematography was gritty and fitting as was the red backdrop in the opening of the color section (cliche now, but not so in 1988). Two: Shortly after law school (1994), my Mom, sister, brother, and I went to see Dumb and Dumber. During the infamous Jeff Daniels "Turbo Lax" bathroom scene there was this sweet blue-haired grandma type in the theater who looked she should have been offended but was instead beside herself with uncontrollable laughter. I'm an eternal 14 year old so I still think the scene is funny... but we all still talk about that Grandma blowing a gasket in Dumb and Dumber. It's become one of our stories. OK -- one more... Getting to see both Patton and Ben-Hur on a 70mm screen in (for late 1980s) Dolby sound... amazing spectacles.

Panelist: T-Rav

I don’t remember which movie I went to watch—I was just a kid — but we got there 45 minutes early, and I drank a bunch of soda while waiting for it to start, and I got sick and ended up going to the bathroom and throwing it all up through my nose. I didn’t know that was physically possible, but apparently it is. Okay, maybe that’s not my “favorite” movie-going moment, but it is my most memorable.

Panelist: BevfromNYC

I know you won’t believe this, but it was seeing Gone With The Wind for the very first time on the big screen with my mother when they re-released it in the ‘60’s. I didn’t know what I was going to see, but it was magic.

Second would have to be spending the summer between my junior and senior year in college at the drive in movie seeing really bad horror films like Dracula’s Dog, Piranha, and Alligator, and Zombie! To this day, Zombie is the only movie I have ever left. I just couldn’t take it. It was gory and just plain bad.

Comments? Thoughts?

58 comments:

PikeBishop said...

Luke turns off his scanner.....hears the voice of his deceased mentor....Vader's wing man explodes.....Han Solo's (the cavalry coming over the hill) yee ha...the Death Star explodes in a ball of fireworks. A packed theatre in August 1977 (two full months after its release) roared and clapped as if they were watching a live event.

I was 12.

Good Times

ScottDS said...

^That's why I'm grateful that, despite Lucas' changes, they re-released the Star Wars Trilogy in 1997. I was 14 and never thought I'd be able to see them in theaters. And my audience roared and clapped the same way at the same scene.

Outlaw13 said...

Seeing the opening scene of "Star Wars" and the first 10 minutes of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" for the first time. Those were the first times I can ever recall being "on the edge of my seat" in movie theater. Exciting and entertaining, everything you go to the movies for, can't say I've felt that way too many other times in a movie theater.

Outlaw13 said...

Another not so fun moment (but funny now) was me sitting in a theater to see "2001, A Space Odyssey" where I began to freak-out thinking I was in the wrong theater when they started showing prehistoric apes (also pre-internet and I was 12).

Collin Chersi said...

The best one that I can think of so far is Man of Steel. I know that's very recent, but it's the only experience that was more than memorable. I'd heard the polarizing reviews from both fans and critics, so I went with my family to see for myself. I figured it would be average at best... but....

Every five minutes I kept saying "Wow" silently due to the acting, story, and special effects. The flying scene left me in awe and wonder. And during the climax, I actually cheered loudly, and even clapped during the credits. No movie has ever done for me. And this is someone who has seen all the Christopher Reeve Superman films as a kid.

While the story does has some problem, it's still the best experience I've had at the theater.

Dwizzum said...

Since Andrew stole my Empire Strikes Back, I will go with Titanic. I went opening night with my then girlfriend for the midnight show. I had no expectations and figured it was be decent and something we both could enjoy. As we stood in line waiting for the theater to clear out from the previous show, I was stuck by the look of shock/sadness on the people as they filed passed me. It wasn't until 3 1/2 hours later that I understood what they were feeling. I remember being so into the movie that about 1/2 way into it I thought "Hey wait a minute, the ship hits an iceberg and sinks". I was so wrapped up in the story I forgot.

Tennessee Jed said...

the beauty of this question .... and the comments is that there truly is no answer better than another. Despite what most of us think about Hollywood, movies have always been magic, for me at least the best one forged with a parent or child.

Tennessee Jed said...

and here is one of my most recent magical movie moments not on screen:

http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2009/01/movies-are-your-best-entertainment-value.html

p.s. someone with the talent needs to make that link work. It is to one of the classic funniest pieces ever written

ScottDS said...

Jed -

Your link is here.

I have some talent, despite what my graphic design teacher says. :-)

tryanmax said...

I remember the movie theaters I miss more than the movies themselves. Where now sits a Sonic restaurant, there used to be the Maplewood Twin, a late-run theater that my parents took me and my brother to most often. There was absolutely nothing special about the building--a purely functional structure--but that was "the movies" to me as a kid.

I also recall the Westwood 8--an early entry into was eventually became a multiplex arms race. Sadly, the thing still exists as a dollar theater in a horribly run-down condition.

More than my first Rocky Horror Picture Show sing-a-long, I remember The Muppet Movie sing-a-long, mainly because I know those songs better. LOL Also, it was more free-for-all--RHPS has become too formalized for my liking.

I remember seeing Titanic several times, though that has to do more with my first girlfriend than the movie.

And I cannot forget seeing Armageddon, the first and last 70mm film I've ever seen, projected on a screen originally designed for Cinerama. (Yes, there was a 70mm print, though I had to look it up b/c I hardly believed it myself.)

tryanmax said...

Oh, two more entries - one weird and one, well, you'll see.

On a whim I saw Hotel Rwanda at a late-run venue. Good movie, but hardly memorable except it was the only time I've ever witnessed several audience members walking out. For the life of me, I don't know why.

The other is the first time I took my children to the movies. It was earlier this year. We saw Epic. It was a really big deal because my daughter is autistic and I didn't know if she'd be able to handle a movie. Then I learned about a sensory-friendly program that AMC runs. (Marcus Theaters has a similar program. Please support these theaters!) All I can say is that it felt so good to do something most people take for granted. And she loved the larger-than-life presentation.

tryanmax said...

From the Iowahawk article:

Dark Spinach: Brooding, conflicted superhero sailor man (Matt Damon) must face his own inner demons and canned vegetable addiction to save his anorexic lover (Gwyneth Paltrow) in the violent screen adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel. Featuring Mickey Rourke as Bluto.

Weren't we just talking about this? I might actually see that adaptation!

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I still recall seeing Star Wars in the theater several times when it was brand new. I recall the theater, my family, the crowd, the cheering, and seeing the film on the screen. It was an awesome experience.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I was glad when they re-leased them, but HATED it when it spoiled them and "re-released" his atrocity. Totally ruined the film.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, Agreed. Both of those movies just grabbed your full attention and kept you on the edge of your seat. Few other movies have done that in my life.

AndrewPrice said...

Collin, I didn't see it in theaters, so the film didn't have the same impact on me, but I did enjoy the film a good deal. I especially liked Michael Shannon. He's a great actor.

AndrewPrice said...

Dwizzum, Sorry for stealing your thunder! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, It is a nice questions.

Thanks for the link! Those are hilarious! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, We had "The 150" which was a round building with a round theater that was built like stadium seating decades before they invented stadium seating. That is still the coolest place I've ever seen a film, but they closed it years ago. I still recall seeing Outland there with my father and later skipping school to see A View To A Kill. Even before the film started, just sitting in that theater was cool.

We have another one too, Cinema 70, which was amazing for seeing 70 MM films because it had this MASSIVE screen. The theater was probably as big as 4 or 5 of the megaplexes to come. It could easily fit 500 people. I miss theaters like those.

Another cool one was the Drafthouse in Arlington. It was a theater/bar combination where you went early, ordered food and drinks, sat at a table, and then they started the show. Great idea!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, You took your kids to see Epic Movie (LINK)? What could your kids possibly have done to deserve such punishment?

AndrewPrice said...

And yes, we were just talking about Dark Spinach. LOL!

tryanmax said...

Yikes! Not Epic Movie! I wouldn't subject myself to that.

AndrewPrice said...

You know, I generally enjoy parodies but that one just left me angry.

PikeBishop said...

Funny post up to the Star Wars re-release in 97. Twenty years later I was dating a younger woman, born in 76. My friends and I were all gushing about how cool STar Wars was back in 77 and my friend Tim halted, looked around and said, "Gee Jody, you have no idea about what we are talking about. In fact you were barely "doing it" in the potty back then."

El Gordo said...

I´m like everybody else. Star Wars and Close Encounters bowled me over. I was thirteen. I never recovered.

The other good memory is being at a preview of Back to the Future. Nothing special happened, I was just in the right mood, the audience was totally involved, laughing in all the right places - it was just a wonderful, happy evening. As I know today, it was as good as it gets, never to be topped.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

This is Epic. :-)

shawn said...

I'm 46 so...
Star Wars- there had been nothing like it before. Simply ground-breaking.

other memories...
Jaws- I was living a little north of Los Angeles and did not go swimming at the beach that summer.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind- scary, thrilling. Back when Spielberg knew how to tell a story.
Superman- First serious comic book movie.
Alien- I left the theater it scared me so much.
Raiders of the Lost Ark- A thrilling update of the old serials.
Batman- Tim Burton's dark and edgy movie. Thankfully it got rid of the silliness of the Adam West series.
Terminator 2- what a thrill ride and ground-breaking effects for the time.
The Matrix- A trippy concept with stunning effects. As Neo would say, "Whoa".

ScottDS said...

shawn -

The Matrix was the only time I was ever ID-checked at the movies. I was 16, so technically not old enough to see an R-rated flick by myself. (Up to this point, parents bought tickets for us.)

So my friend and I bought two tickets for Entrapment and snuck into the Matrix screening. My friend was nervous the whole time and afterwards, I had to badly use the bathroom, but we used the exit at the front of the theater, lest anyone see us. :-)

John Jameson said...

For me, probably the most memorable movie moment was seeing Blade Runner, The Director's Cut, in particular the ending.

I had seen the original version on TV in the 80s and enjoyed it, but had forgotten most of the details. So one rainy night in November 1992, I went out to see the new version in a local theatre. The opening scenes over Los Angeles immediately reminded me that I was in for one helluva ride. Without the voice-over, the visuals and styling dominated the senses. Then, at the end, in the space of five minutes, one emotional impact after another: Roy saves Deckard, then fades away like tears in rain; Deckard has done "a man's job", and is relieved to find Rachel still alive. Finally, he knocks over an origami unicorn, Gaff's words echo "Too bad she won't live... but then again who does?" and Vangelis' stunning score fills the theatre as the credits roll.

Wow!

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, Age differences can lead to some pretty funny stuff. I had a 20 year old ask me recently what my favorite "recent" films were. Most of the things I listed were from the 1990s, when this person was only a couple years old. The response was, "That's not recent in my book."

AndrewPrice said...

El Gordo, I never recovered. Indeed.

On your second part, that is something that is increasingly rare to me too. You go to a film and everyone is just happy. I don't see that very often at films these days.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I was aware. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, I can actually remember seeing each of those movies for the first time -- where I was, who I was with, etc.

AndrewPrice said...

John, That is a heck of an ending on a great film. It's amazing how much can be conveyed with such little dialog at that point.

John Jameson said...

A few other movies have come close: Shawshank Redemption, for example has a wonderfully rich payoff at the end, as does The Usual Suspects. But the emotional, cinematographic and conceptual density of the last few minutes of Blade Runner are probably unparalleled, and totally blew me away.

T-Rav said...

You older guys have all the fun movie-going experiences. I just got a bunch of CGI disappointment. Well, I take that back--there was The Dark Knight, and The Avengers, which was a pretty cool experience because it's the only time I've ever heard an audience applaud at the end. But otherwise, not so much.

AndrewPrice said...

John, The Usual Suspects blew me away. That's one of my favorite films of all time.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I won't lie... cinema used to be better.

John Jameson said...

Was it really better in the 1980/90s than the 2000/10s? That's an interesting question!

John Jameson said...

Andrew, presumably you've seen Shawshank Redemption. What did you think? I'd like to add this to "Mulholland Drive" as movies I think you should review!

AndrewPrice said...

John, Was it a better time? I generally dismiss things like that as nostalgia, but in this case I would actually say yes, when it comes to movies. I think that the late 1970s and the early 1990s are probably our two best periods for great films. Both periods seemed to involve greater creativity and if you start listing "great films," I think you'll see that both periods are over-represented compared to other time periods.

At the same time, those periods were pre-internet and the 1970s was before the widespread use of cable television. So films tended to be much more surprising to people, i.e. they weren't spoiled, and they tended to be "events" because of a lack of competition. So when something like Star Wars came out, everyone went to see it, everyone was stunned, and you saw people talking about it everywhere. That seemed to make films "larger than life," which is something you rarely get today.

Today, films are just one small option in a crowded culture, so events films are kind of rare. And it's very much a struggle to avoid knowing everything about a film before you see it. If Star Trek II came out today, it would almost be impossible not find out that Spock dies before you see the film.


On Shawshank, I like the film a lot as a film. It's well done and beautifully filmed. I am annoyed though that the film is a rip-off of Escape From Alcatraz without giving any credit to the prior film. That's a Stephen King issue that really bothers me time and again.

On Mulholland Drive, you'll be happy to know that it was on TV the other day and I taped it. I plan to watch it soon and review it. :)

John Jameson said...

Great: I'm sure you have been warned already not to ignore the bit before the opening credits. I hope the TV channel didn''t mess that up!

Interested by your view on the late 1970s and early 1990s, what are your early 1990s favorites?

AndrewPrice said...

John, Don't worry, I'll watch that part too. :)

Off the top of my head, here some of my favorites from the 1990s (they're not all early): The Sixth Sense, Fight Club, Hunt for Red October, Terminator 2, Silence of the Lambs, Army of Darkness, True Romance, Demolition Man, True Lies, Pulp Fiction, The Addams Family I & II, Glengarry Glen Ross, Jurassic Park, Hudsucker Proxy, Dark City, The Big Lebowski, Austin Powers, LA Confidential, Last Man Standing, Men in Black, Leon, Toy Story, Apollo 13, The Matrix, The Mummy, Seven, 12 Monkeys, Clueless, The Fifth Element, Reservoir Dogs, Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, The Game, Out of Sight, Ronin.

John Jameson said...

Wow - great list (and a great response to my other post, which I won't have time to respond to for a while). There are many great movies I thought you would mention (e.g. Sixth Sense, Pulp Fiction, Fifth Element, Men in Black, The Matrix), some borderline but unsurprising (Jurassic Park, Austin Powers, 12 Monkeys). However, I am most struck by two movies that I never expected you to mention: Leon and Out of Sight. These are probably my favorite crime/thriller movies of the 90s, although they transcend genre, being borderline romcoms, among other themes. It would be interesting to review them together. One thing they have in common is that the plot is driven by a strong emotional connection between the two leads. Another is that they try to depict the distinction between "bad cool" and immorality/evil. I think both films also invite us to contrast their fantasy worlds with reality, and compare our own fantasy expectations of morality with realistic ones. Very interesting.

Tennessee Jed said...

I have Muholland Drive, and have screened it numerous times. I have copious notes, and it has long been a film I considered reviewing for C.F. even have an outline done. In the end, I decided not to submit it because 1) nobody can comment if they haven't seen it 2) you cannot do a review justice without discussing monumental spoilers. To me, it is Lynch's masterwork, and the best acting of Naomi Watts' career. And yes, at times Lynch does get too cute by a degree or so. that said, it is a great film.

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott, thanks for getting the link to work:)

John Jameson said...

It is my favorite Lynch movie too. It can't be discussed without spoilers: maybe once Andrew has seen it, you and he can do a double bill review? I would comment!

AndrewPrice said...

John, Thanks! No rush.

I definitely intend to review both films at some point. They are two of my favorites from the 1990s. I love the sense of cool in Out of Sight and the chemistry between Lopez and Clooney is fantastic.

Leon is an interesting film because the American version is not very good. They stripped out a lot of the relationship between Leon and Portman because it didn't test well. The result is awkward and incomplete. But when you see the European/long version, the whole story comes through much better, it all makes sense, and it's a fantastic film. Their relationship really is very strong and very touching, even as it's contrasted against the idea of this being a killer teaching a young girl to be a killer. I highly recommend the long version of this film (135 minutes).

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I'll do a review. :)

John Jameson said...

Luckily, I saw the European version of Leon first. I think the LA screen-testers may have been uncomfortable with the Lolita and other adult-like aspects of Mathilde's relationship with Leon, whereas they are integral to the plot: in many ways, Leon is the more child-like/innocent of the two. I agree, it is a fantastic film.

As for Lopez and Clooney, they certainly sparked and sparkled.

Tennessee Jed said...

That's particularly good Andrew since I no longer do them l.o.l!

AndrewPrice said...

John, That's my guess too because what they stripped out was anything even remotely sexual. But that really is integral because it shows how she stops trying to buy him off and instead becomes his friend. It changes the nature of their relationship.

That they did. It's a very sexy film.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, LOL! If I had the time, I would do more.

Koshcat said...

I really like Muholland Drive but I think it takes a few watchings to fully appreciate it. It is really difficult to separate reality from fantasy and he screws with the timeline. Not to mention a nice sex scene.

Backthrow said...

I, too, have several.

1977: STAR WARS, at this theater in Lynchburg, VA. The line wrapped around the building, well into the area behind it. I was 9, and after getting our tickets, my dad and I sat on a bench in the lobby, just outside of the screening room, and we could hear the climax to the previous showing. Nothing was spoiled, but since I didn't know what a 'tie fighter' was at the time, I thought the roars I heard were the heroes fighting some big dragon-monster at the end. The opening was very memorable; the imperial battle cruiser seemed so huge, the underside going on seemingly forever. The whole movie was incredible for a kid that age, in that era. A great, temporary escape from a world with Carter in charge. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, a few weeks later, had the same effect, and I liked it even more than STAR WARS, if that was even possible.

That same summer, a school pal's mom took us here, to see a double bill of JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (I'm not quite sure how I was able to relate to a film made 14 years earlier, and 5 years before my birth... but I managed, somehow) and SINBAD & THE EYE OF THE TIGER. We popped huge quantities of popcorn at home and filled a trash bag or two, and filled a couple of plastic milk jugs with lemonade, and those were our economical movie snacks, smuggled in.

1980: Again at the Pittman Plaza theater where I saw STAR WARS, another school chum and I caught an evening show of the re-released INFRA-MAN. Cheesy as all get out, but we, and the entire (full) theater audience went nuts over it. Later, seeing SUPERMAN II, at the brand-spanking-new theater at the new mall that had opened, was a big deal, and I remember the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end when the trailer ahead of it was for... THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, caught later that year, which was the unparalleled movie event of the year, made even sweeter when Reagan won in a landslide that Fall.

1981: The River Ridge IV theater at the mall became the venue of choice. My dad took me to see the big new movie from George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, which sounded to me like it was going to be filled with boring religious stuff: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Wow.

I was a day student at a private school that year, and for some reason they had arranged the school schedule so we'd get out on noon on Fridays, so I'd hop a city bus to the mall, and caught the movie two more times at the earliest matinee showing; one time sneaking in a Chick Filet sandwich and seeing Indy outwit Nazis, totally alone in an empty theater, center seat. Sweet.

1982: Same mall theater. I was with some friends, to see POLTERGEIST. The theater had a couple of video game machines, past the snack counter, just in front of the door to the screens. Waiting to be let in, I played Galaxian, which I was fairly good at, and was pretty absorbed in the game. When I was done, ready to go in at showtime, my friends informed me that a couple, standing inches behind me while I was at the game console, had gotten into a loud fight, and the boyfriend had pulled a knife, and mall security had come in and escorted them out of the building. I never saw nor heard anything. *jawdrop* --the movie was, of course, terrific, and I was fooled into thinking the story was over when Zelda Rubenstein had driven the spirits out, but then... *double-jawdrop*.

[continued]

Backthrow said...

1986: Attending commercial art school in north central NJ, movies were virtually our only form of entertainment. This was the only time in my life where I'd regularly go to the cinema at least once a week. The multiplex there had a regular 'dinnertime discount', basically a matinee price at their point of slowest business, weeknights at dinnertime. On Halloween, 20th Century Fox had a special promotional event at theaters around the country, a re-issued double feature of two movies they had released that past Summer, priced as a 2-for-1 special. So we went to see David Cronenberg's THE FLY, and James Cameron's ALIENS, back-to-back (a short intermission between, where we'd have to stand in the lobby), for one regular ticket price, which was half the price of a regular ticket, being at dinnertime. And I'd seen both that Summer, so I knew both films would rock. Easily the greatest bang-for-the-buck value I’ve ever gotten at the movies, seeing both hits together for a grand total of $1.50.

1988: Still at school in NJ, beginning of the school year, so some late-Summer fare was still playing. A bunch of us wanted to go see MIDNIGHT RUN, but found out as we walked in that it had come and gone. Some of our crew suggested we see this new flick, called 'DIE HARD', instead. Starring that guy from MOONLIGHTING (which I despised... probably the hype more than the show). I was sure it wouldn't be any good. Few things are better than going into a great movie, cold, with really low expectations.

1995: A new Sony multiplex had their grand opening in Danbury, CT. The place was spotless. BRAVEHEART had just started playing. The film was great, the crowd (all adults, no sign of any little kids dragged in) was completely into it (great audience reactions in all the right places, without being distracting or annoying) and the theater had a tent erected in the parking lot, giving out free 2-liter bottles of Coke to all its new patrons, since it was the grand opening.

The last memorable movie theater experience I've had was seeing Tarantino & Rodriguez's GRINDHOUSE with a fellow geek at a local theater in 2007. The audience was small, but enthusiastic, and the two films and fake trailers between them were fun.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I'll do my best. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, I like Grindhouse as well, though interestingly, over time I've come to like Planet Terror better than Deathproof even though initially I felt the reverse.

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