Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Cinema File #243: "The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones" Review

Ever since the fifth and thankfully last installment in the epic Twilight Saga graced our theater screens, Hollywood has been in a desperate search to find that next big terrible franchise inspired by some high concept young adult literary series. So far, the results have been a bit mixed, though with the exception of The Hunger Games, still generally disappointing. The Host presented us with an interesting setting and a potentially complex villain in its benign invaders, but was too poorly executed to take advantage of them. On the other hand, Beautiful Creatures, for all its complete lack of subtlety, had a certain campy Southern-fried charm. This of course brings us to The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, the first in what I read could be as many as six films not counting various spin-offs, that despite a few bright spots and some obvious style and potential, makes me dread the coming years should this new “saga” come to fruition.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Post-48 Hour Film Festival Best Of Screening - We Won Ourselves Some Shit!

Hey everybody.

Just a quick missive before I go to bed. Just got back from the 48 Hour Film Festival Best Of Screening, where the best 14 out of some 30 some odd short films made in two days were screened and given a series of awards. The film I helped make, called Cordless, got in, and got a few awards including Best Use Of Prop (an Extension Cord/Dennis Cord). It was a fun night, and I have to congratulate all the people who took part, got selected, got awarded, and so on, including the production team Post House who made my personal favorite A Moving Tale, and took home Best Picture.

Anyway, here's a little logic puzzle for you. Check out the link below, another film in the Best Of Screening called Able. Make sure to stay till the end for a wonderful and heartwarming musical number.

Now watch this link, another film that screened, in the Musical Category no less, called Larry's Morning.

Pretty fucking good right? Now watch our movie. Cordless, and pay special attention to the ending credits.

Yeah, there's that, whatever the fuck that is...But here's the twist. Guess which one of these won Best Song. Seriously, guess. The answer may surprise you. Personally, I shit my pants.

Goodnight everybody.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Cinema File #242: "Fruitvale Station" Review

There is a movie that I have not seen and will never see called Hatchi, starring Richard Gere and what I assume to be a fairly lovable dog. I can’t explain the reason why I refuse to see this movie without major spoilers, but suffice it to say, if you’ve ever seen the classic Futurama episode “Jurassic Bark,” from what I understand the movie is basically that, stretched to feature length, without all the goofy sci-fi and jokes. Every once in a while a movie comes along that promises to be so gut-wrenchingly sad that just the prospect of sitting through it is a challenge, regardless of whatever merit it might otherwise have as a film. Such is the case with Fruitvale Station, the harrowing true story of Oscar Grant’s final day before being brutally murdered in the titular subway terminal on New Year’s Day, 2009. The film begins with real life cell phone camera footage of the incident and ends with an extended dramatization of the crime that is every bit as visceral and charged with importance as it should be. If only the rest of the film could have lived up to such a powerful ending.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Brief Site Update/Life Update - Upcoming Projects, Lack of Posts...

Hey everybody,

If you read this blog on a daily basis as some 500+ seem to do according to my uniques, you've probably noticed the little subtitle above, where it says this blog is updated daily. It actually used to have a more elaborate and vulgar thing on it, but I took it down in an ill fated attempt to look legitimate while under review for a critics association. Fuckers. Anyway, if you've been paying attention for the past few weeks, you might have noticed that I've missed a day twice in the last month or so, after an otherwise sterling record of posting random unreadable shit daily. Well, I'm here to let you know that that's...probably going to continue.

Here's the thing - writing a daily blog is hard as shit when you also have a regular job. I've prided myself on being able to post essay length material so frequently, and I've been able to do this because on the weekends, I have time to write multiple pieces in preparation for the next week. The problem is, the last few weeks I have been dedicated to a special project of late that has occupied most of my weekends. It's actually kind of fun. See, I'm writing a screenplay with my friend and colleague Nate Zoebl that was actually inspired by a post on this blog. Guess which one of these movie pitches I'm working on (HINT: it's probably the one I say I think I'm going to write as a script).

Anyway, just wanted to drop a line and say that the situation is temporary, and as soon as we're finished, I should be back to full steam, but until then, expect more missed days as other shit gets in the way. On the plus side, I'm thinking of devoting at least one day a week to posting regular updates on the screenwriting process, as well as with other ideas for movies I think I might want to write next. So stay tuned, and sorry for the lack of free content.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Cinema File #241: "The World's End" Review

Edgar Wright’s past collaborations with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have been marked by brilliant deconstructions of beloved genres, from the zombie rom com Shaun of the Dead to the showcase of nearly every action movie cliché imaginable in Hot Fuzz. The third and supposedly final installment in their thematic Cornettos Trilogy tackles a type of movie that until now I had erroneously believed to be somewhat uniquely American, specifically that nameless genre of comedic films set amid one epic night of drunken and or drug-fueled debauchery, seen most recently here in the states in the absolutely abysmal 21 and Over. Though certainly better than the misadventures of Jeff Chang and co., The World’s End isn’t the funniest of the previous films (that’s still Shaun of the Dead) or the most novel concept (still Hot Fuzz), but in the end it might just be the most well put together and ultimately satisfying of the trilogy, and once you realize what its all really been about, maybe the most heartfelt as well.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why They Don't Let Me Write For Marvel Comics: eXcell

One of my biggest problems with the X-Men franchise, apart from the often far too heavy handed Civil Rights allegory, is that the world created by the premise seems like it should be a lot bigger than it is. There have been hundreds of mutants introduced into the Marvel Universe over the years and a few dozen "X Books" published to contain them, but if you think about the different books in the series, almost all of them branch off of the main story of one school expanding its operations. I always felt that when you are dealing with such a global phenomenon, limiting the scope of it to a single group, even if its a very large and multi-generational one, is a colossal waste of a great idea. I've always wanted to see X books about mutants who've never met and never will meet Professor X or any of the graduates of his school, mutants in another country, or with an entirely different frame of reference. I'm sure they've done it before, but not to the extent that I'd like. That was sort of the idea behind today's pitch for how I'd do a Marvel mutant story, and its called eXcel.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Cinema File #240: "We're The Millers" Review

I'm sure I'm just over-analyzing this, as it isn't exactly a new phenomenon especially in mainstream comedic film, but I'm beginning to wonder if 2013 might just be shaping up to be the Year of the Asshole. It just seems like every wide release comedy I've seen this year has presented me with unlikable characters that demand I either appreciate them for their unlikablility, or take part in an arduous journey to accept their redemption, either of which must take place before I can find any of it funny. If there was any genuine humor to be found in the first big comedy of the year Identity Thief, it was locked behind the impenetrability of the main character's unapologetic dickishness, but at least they tried (and failed) to reform her, which is more than I can say for the douche bags from The Hangover III, who I'm just supposed to love because they're jerks I guess. Hell, This Is The End took the idea of redeeming assholes to literally biblical proportions. Even when it was done well, as in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, it still feels like an unnecessary hurdle I'm expected to leap, when I could just as easily go watch Ghostbusters for the 100th awesome time and get four instantly likable protagonists for my trouble.

Guess what the first 500 pics on Google Image Search were.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Intercourse The Penguin - Episode Two! Now Available!

Check out the latest episode of my Podcast's other spinoff Podcast Intercourse The Penguin, wherein my mother and I discuss a Kennedy-centric episode of the sci-fi series Red Dwarf, and a Rape-centric episode of the drama Private Practice. And then we argue a lot.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Schlockbusted #5: "Battlefield Death Tales" Review

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s it seems like a great deal of my favorite movies and television shows were in an anthology format, showcasing multiple stories rather than one single narrative. On TV you had shows like the 80’s Twilight Zone, the 90’s Outer Limits, Tales from the Crypt, Tales from the Darkside, Monsters, and Amazing Stories, and on screen you had the Darkside movie, Body Bags, and the Creepshow franchise. If you can even call it a genre, it’s one that seemed to go out of style for a bit, but in recent years has made something of a come back, mostly in movies like Grindhouse, The ABCs of Death, and what I hope is now the annual found footage VHS series. As they are becoming more prevalent, they are also becoming more esoteric. One movie available on Netflix I plan on watching and reviewing here pretty soon is called Barrio Tales and features three horror shorts based on aspects of Spanish and Mexican culture, sort of a Hispanic version of Tales from the Hood. I guess it was only a matter of time before they got around to anthologizing my favorite kind of movie, though after watching the collection of Nazisploitation shorts in Battlefield Death Tales, I kinda wish they’d taken a little more time to get it right before throwing out such an enticing, but ultimately disappointing offering.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Did A Thing! - Watch my short film "Cordless" online right now!

So...I did this thing a few weeks ago, and its kind of awesome as shit. My friends and I belong to an independent film collective called The Edwin J. Hill Social Club, and every year for the past two years now we've participated in a local film festival competition called The 48 Hour Film Project, where teams sign up to write and produce a 4 to 7 minute short film in two days. Each film must contain a specific prop, a specific character (name and occupation), and a line of dialogue, and the genre is assigned at random.

Our first effort, a movie called 7 Minutes Or Less can be found below (if the video doesn't work CLICK HERE). The genre is Road Movie and the required elements were A Pizza Box, a Tourist named Edward or Emma Bulmer, and the line "I have good news and bad news."

This years video is called Cordless. Check it out below (or HERE). This time the genre was fantasy, and the required elements were an Extension Cord, an Assistant named Dennis or Denise, and the line "That's not a real word."

Unlike last year, this time we actually got into the Best Of, a collection of 10 to 15 of the best videos as determined by the three festival judges, which kicks even more ass than the video does in the first place. Check it out, and if you're in the Columbus area near the Studio 35 theater on August 29th, you can see our short film on the big screen along with the other best ones selected. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Cinema File #239: "Kick Ass 2" Review

Alan Moore’s seminal comic book mini-series The Watchmen explored for really the first time what it would be like if superheroes and costumed vigilantes existed in something close to the real world. In Moore’s alternate history, kids don’t read comic books about superheroes, because they have no need to indulge in a fantasy about something so commonplace (they read about pirates). Mark Millar’s Kick Ass series is a radically different approach to the same idea, in a world much closer to our own where superheroes started out as comic book fictions, only to inspire the fans who loved them to put on their own masks. My only real problem with the original Kick Ass film was the removal of a third act twist from the comic that I felt added an extra layer of complexity to one of the film’s most interesting characters, but other than that it was a perfectly entertaining action comedy and certainly much more faithful to the source material than the previous Millar adaptation Wanted. Its sequel Kick Ass 2, while tonally much different, is a worthy successor that expands upon what made the first one so good in pretty much every way.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Cinema File #238: "Lee Daniels' The Butler" Review

Lee Daniels' The Butler, not to be confused with some obscure short film from 1916 nobody ever heard of until a frivolous lawsuit, is as the court ordered new title suggests brought to us by the illustrious director of The Paperboy, easily one of the worst films of 2012 now perhaps best known as "that movie where Nicole Kidman pees on Zac Efron's face." That Daniels would follow up a sleazy 70's exploitation pastiche with a sweeping crowd pleasing biopic and civil rights movement travelogue is only the first surprise of The Butler, the second being that its actually not that bad. It still has all the hallmarks of Daniels' limited capacity as a director, its simplistic, about as subtle as a brick to the head, and often gets lost in weird and pointless tangents, but the worst elements of his style are mitigated by a genre that would seem to lend itself to his particular brand of shallow excess, and if you dig a little deeper and allow yourself an off kilter perspective, I think there might be something more going on here than just a patriotic portrait.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stop Or My Mom Will Podcast! - Episode 7, Part 2!! Now Available !!!

We're back once again with Part Two of Episode Seven, where mom and I talk about the film Now You See Me, A town full of midgets with baseball bats, The Death Penalty (not administered by a town full of midgets with baseball bats), 9/11 Truthers, and Woody Harrellson's dad for some reason. Enjoy.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

The Cinema File #237: "Lovelace" Review

In an age where movie studios have less of an inclination to pursue anything resembling an exciting new idea, that strange phenomenon of cinematic cloning that I first noticed way back in 1998 with the simultaneous releases of Armageddon and Deep Impact seems to crop up at least once a year nowadays. Last year we had dueling Hitchcocks, and this year we’ve already had two White House under siege movies in Olympus Has Fallen and the far superior yet commercially disastrous White House Down, and we very well might have had two sets in one year had it not been for the uninsurable nature of Lindsey Lohan. What started out as two competing biopics about the not-so-glamorous career of Linda “Lovelace” Boreman is now one, and while we’ll never know how Lohan’s Inferno might have tackled this same material, we have some idea what it might have been like to watch via her latest film The Canyons, which regrettably had less stringent rules regarding its own insurance policies. If only for the presence of the much more talented Amanda Seyfried in the title role over Lohan, I have to imagine that Lovelace would have ended up being the superior effort regardless, though that shouldn’t take away from the quality of the film in its own right.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Schlockbusted #4: Devils Of War

There was a time during the innocence of my youth when all it took for a Nazisploitation movie to excite me were the default tropes of the format. As long as I got Nazis and zombies, or Nazis and demons, or Nazis and some other supernatural or science fiction element mixed together, I’d usually end up satisfied. Apparently I have now officially seen enough of these kinds of movies to where that isn’t enough anymore; I now require a good story on top of all that. Sickening, I know, and given how poorly written and dependent on fan service many of these movies are, well, it’s entirely possible that I’ve finally managed to watch myself into a corner with this genre. And so it goes with today’s entry in this little impromptu Nazisploitation review trilogy I’ve started, Devils of War, which ten years ago might have knocked my swastikas off with its low-budget charm and earnest sense of badass fun, but try as it might, it never quite makes it over the top.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Cinema File #236: "Elysium" Review

As the credits rolled on Elysium, the sophomore sci-fi epic from Neill Blomkamp, the first thing out of my mouth was an emphatic “Wow!” Ordinarily that’s the kind of reaction you’d want after seeing a big high concept spectacle like this, like when you walked out of Avatar having just been immersed in this magical world of blue cats, hair sex, and floating mountains that somehow still have waterfalls even though that doesn’t make any sense if you think about it for more than five seconds. For many, Blomkamp’s first film District 9 elicited that same response, though personally I found that while it was genuinely entertaining, it was also more than a little overrated. His new film, at least based on the middle of the road reviews I’ve read thus far, is if anything proving to be underrated. Far from “lukewarm” or “just okay,” Elysium is nothing short of amazing, which is to say that it is startlingly, amazingly terrible. I mean, really…just…Wow!

Artist rendering of my soul after watching this shitty movie

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Cinema File #235: "The Canyons" Review

Typically I try not to feel sorry for celebrities, but try as I might, I can’t help but feel a little bad for Lindsey Lohan. Maybe it sounds trite after so many years on the tabloid rollercoaster, but I’ll always remember that precocious little girl talented beyond her years, before she was chewed up by the  Hollywood  system and spit out a broken human being like far too many child stars. Would she have needed to drink so heavily if she didn’t have to escape the constant attention of a culture so desperate to live vicariously through the fake lives of the rich and famous? Would she have gotten into as many car accidents if she weren’t affronted at all times by the flash bulbs of paparazzi trying to fill our demand for the elusive panty-less crotch shot? In the end, it is of little use to dwell on the past or our culture’s arguable culpability for the sorry state of young Hollywood, and we can’t let it distract us from the simple fact that Lindsey Lohan’s latest film The Canyons, designed as her illustrious come back vehicle, is easily one of the worst films of 2013, which is really saying something in a year that has already seen the admittedly much worse InAPPropriate Comedy, which come to think of it also featured Lindsey fucking Lohan!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Cinema File #234: "2 Guns" Review

Did you ever find yourself watching a movie, and just as the credits start to roll, you realize that literally every important plot beat, not to mention all the best moments, were in the trailer in pretty much sequential order? 2 Guns, the new buddy cop movie starring Mark Walberg and Denzel Washington, is probably the most egregious example of this phenomenon that I've seen in a long time, and when a movie is apparently simple enough to condense its entire story into a two to three minute ad, you've already run into some big problems. If you've seen the ads for 2 Guns, you really don't need to see the movie at all, unless you're excited enough about the set up to want to see the same action comedy cliches you've seen a thousand times played out just long enough to wear out their welcome. Its technically well-made and is elevated by the talent and charisma of its two main leads, but in the end, its marred by a lack of ambition and a sense that we've seen this all before.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Schlockbusted #3: "Frankenstein's Army" Review

As I've mentioned on this blog many times before, one of my favorite film genres is that of the often maligned and ignored Nazisploitation movie. Though we have recently been treated to a relative plethora of high concept Nazi movies in the recent past including Manborg and Nazis At The Center of the Earth, its new found success especially in the straight to DVD realm has led to a glut of increasingly silly and poorly made stabs at an already silly concept that have given ideas like Nazi Zombies, Nazi Cyborgs, and Nazi Zombie Cyborgs a bad name (if they didn't have one already). In the coming days I'll be reviewing three examples from the past year that I've chosen mostly at random from what's available in the Nazisploitation marketplace, to showcase how far we've come in the world of campy sci-fi fascism. First up, a movie I've been waiting for for a long time ever since I heard the title– Frankenstein's Army.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Stop Or My Mom Will Podcast - Episode Seven, Part One, Now Available!

Another week, another episode of Stop Or My Mom Will Podcast. This time its episode 7, part 1 all up in your faces, where my mom and I attempt to address various topics of import before descending into a screaming match over our clashing worldviews. Also, we talk about anal a lot. I have no idea why.


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Thursday, August 8, 2013

In Defense Of: Pinocchio And The Emperor Of Night

So, in case you haven't noticed, I have this weird obsession with puppets. I don't know what it is, but there's something about the thrill of coming up just to the edge of the uncanny valley as inanimate creatures made to look alive are made to then act alive, only to highlight that they are not in fact, alive. Its that same creepy magic that only exists in stop motion animation and has largely been lost in the age of CGI. And yet, for whatever reason, I've never really been a huge fan of the story about arguably the most famous living puppet, Pinocchio. Its particularly strange considering my love of fairy tales, but I've never been able to watch the Disney film or any incarnation and feel the reverence and wonder that I gather I'm supposed to. However, I did just watch a movie I didn't know existed before last week, a dark and twisted unofficial sequel to the Disney movie called Pinocchio and the Emperor of Night, and after watching it, I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Cinema File #233: "The Way Way Back" Review

Way way back in the 1980's a movie like The Way Way Back might have been a simple but still delightful coming of age romp in the John Hughes mold about young love, teenage awkwardness, and growing up white and middle class. Unfortunately, we now live in a time when that kind of movie doesn't really satisfy anymore, as complexity and over-analysis rule the day. Now the perpetually shy kid has to wind up somewhere on the Autism spectrum, the cool amateur philosopher mentor has crippling arrested development, and the bad guy, instead of getting his comeuppance perhaps via a haphazardly placed pastry sent reeling into his face, now just sort of lives with the fact that some people know he's a jerk. Still, for all its needless complications getting in the way of nostalgia, The Way Way Back is probably the most earnest example of its genre that you're likely to see anytime soon, and gets it mostly right from beginning to end.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Cinema File #232: "Only God Forgives" Review

One of the most apoplectic reviews I've ever written was for last years tour de force of boredom The Master, a film with expertly detailed characters full of depth and potential, thrown haphazardly into a plotless narrative that utterly and almost spitefully failed to do anything with them. Only God Forgives has a similar feel, even as it has the exact opposite problem. It's just as slow moving, pretentious, and up its own ass, but it actually has a story that I could see myself enjoying, if only the characters weren't so bland and poorly developed, and their interactions so obfuscated and elusive that I can't possibly engage with any of it. Like The Master, Only God Forgives is less of a movie as it is an endurance test daring you to turn away in disgust, and while I got about 12 minutes into P.T. Anderson's opus before wanting to flee in terror, I got to that point in under 5 this time around. Not sure if that makes it worse, or if it even matters at this point.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Cinema File #231: "The Smurfs 2" Review

Yeah, yeah, I know, it's freaking Smurfs 2, what do you think I might have to say about it? I get that this is in no way a movie designed to appeal to me, so really any opinion I might have is kind of pointless, but I watched it, I can't unwatch it, so I might as well talk about it. Screw it, let's do this thing.

Full disclosure, I didn't see the first Smurfs movie, because at the time I wasn't reviewing movies online on a regular basis, so I had no real reason to. Unfortunately, this time I do, and since I previously made a pledge to see every animated movie this year and this one technically counts, here I am, reviewing the stupid Smurfs movie. And it is stupid, not that I should have to tell you that. I'm not just talking stupid in the way kids movies were always supposed to be before Pixar showed us all a better way, but really, obviously, a greater than average level of stupid. I don't want to believe that there are kids in this world so devoid of taste that even at their young impressionable age they can find this tripe entertaining, but I know there are many, which is no doubt why Smurfs begat Smurfs 2 in the first place.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Cinema File #230: "Rock Jocks" Review

I'm as big a Kevin Smith fan as anyone. Watching Clerks for the first time and seeing an auteur able to produce a film purely on the strength of a great script, without the kind of budget that at the time made filmmaking seem prohibitively expensive. was a revelation to me as an aspiring filmmaker. Years later, after fostering my love of cinema, Smith would impact me yet again with his Smodcast network, inspiring me to start my own podcast, which in turn inspired this very blog you're reading right now. I owe a lot to the guy, which is why for all its charms and even the tacit approval of Smith on a recent episode of Smodcast, I can't get behind the new film Rock Jocks, a movie so derivative of this beloved director's debut film that it skates right past homage into shameless rip off in the first five minutes.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Cinema File #229: "The Conjuring" Review

A few years ago, a movie came out called Flash of Genius, starring Greg Kinnear as Robert Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper. For some reason, this movie has since become my go to reference for bio-pics, not because it is particularly good or bad, but just because I find it so fascinating that anyone would care enough to make a movie about a guy who didn't invent the windshield wiper, but rather the mechanism by which it can change speeds. Sure, there were intellectual property issues, but still, seriously, that guy? If only we had interesting real world subjects to make movies about, maybe involving the kind of things that usually only happen in the movies, but actually happened in real life. Or barring that, I suppose we could just slap the "based on a true story" label onto some bullshit we just made up. Oh, by the way, I just saw a movie called The Conjuring, about a team of ghost hunters who combat evil spirits and demonic possessions. I'm told its based on a true story, you know, except for the part about the evil spirits and demons being real things.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Stop Or My Mom Will Podcast - Episode Six, Part Two! Now Available!

Check out Episode Six, Part Two of my podcast Stop Or My Mom Will Podcast! E

This week we talk about X-Files re-runs and Quantum Leap, because new shows and relevant topics are for losers. We have another lengthy discussion about freedom of speech vs. security, and then talk about Goat Monsters that do not lick Popes in any way. Also, we set up a spin off that has already debuted, as if this was recorded some time ago!

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Cinema File #228: "R.I.P.D." Review

When I first saw the trailer for the new film R.I.P.D., I had the reaction that I imagine most people had, that this was just an obvious spin on Men In Black, crossed with Ghostbusters. Strangely, many people saw this as a reason to instantly declare that the movie was doomed to failure, while for me it was its main selling point. I like Men In Black (the first one anyway), and I love Ghostbusters, so even with the perennially underwhelming Ryan Reynolds at the helm, there had to be something to this project, right? And there was, but unfortunately what little good that does spring forth from this quirky premise of heavenly street cops is buried beneath a sizable pile of blandness, shallowness, and more missed opportunities than you can shake a stick at.

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