Sunday Lists: Hayao Miyazaki, Directed Films Ranked

Hayao Miyazaki List

January 5th marked the 78th birthday of one of the best Japanese animator and filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki. I don’t watch a lot of Japanese stuff in general but I grew up with Studio Ghibli films so some of these hold very close to my heart. There is this fantastic magical and fantasy world that he manages to create.

With that said, there is no better way than to kick off this year’s first Sunday Lists with a list of Hayao Miyazaki’s Directed Films ranked from what I think is the best to the the not so great ones, because lets be honest, there is no worst. Even the last choice here wasn’t a bad film just didn’t execute as well as the others or connect as well with me.

There are a few films not seen yet. The list will be updated over time.

*Only full feature animated films DIRECTED by Hayao Miyazaki has been included here*

1. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

my neighbor totoro

My first Miyazaki film in my memory is My Neighbor Totoro and it has never stopped being my favorite. I know the movie almost by heart, the Cantonese dubbed version dialogue almost all memorized. Its about family and its charming. The little girls are adorable and the Totoro super cute. There are some heartwarming moments and some hilarious ones as well. It balances light-hearted and heartbreaking moments. Its cute and serious in equal measures. Plus, how do you beat a CatBus? You just can’t!

2. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

kiki's delivery service

I love cats and witches. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a well-rounded film as well. I remember there was a phase in the early stages when I had some crappy blogging server somewhere that I had used Kiki has my name. Watching this one when I was a kid was a ride for sure. Witches weren’t evil, they were nice and helpful. This one is  fun little trip full of charm whether its the people that Kiki meets on her deliveries or her learning how to be independent.

3. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

howl's moving castle

Howl’s Moving Castle is based on a children’s novel which actually diverts quite far from its source material a fair bit especially when interpreting Howl’s character. However, maybe it has to do with this being the first Miyazaki film that I saw in theatres and the enchantment that comes from the big screen but this is one film that I love watching over and over again. Because of that, this film is filled with charm. It does get a tad dark and scary here and there but its so magical as well.

4. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

nausicaa

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind that makes me think about how Miyazaki is quite before his time in story telling as you can see how this film set the bar for his career, whether its the female characters he uses or the world that he creates. At the heart of it all, Nausicaa is about a world that has fallen apart environmentally and Nausicaa is trying to find a way to revive it while at the same time, nature has revolted in an unexpected way and she needs to find a way to solve the mystery of what happened. Its such a beautiful film. The only reason its placed lower is because its one that took me a second or third viewing when I was older to fully appreciate its message and its story.

5. Spirited Away (2001)

spirited away

Spirited Away is what put Miyazaki on the map along with Studio Ghibli. Its quite a feat when we think about it. In fact, there is so much to love here. I like this one a lot also. It has dragons and fantastical creatures and some pretty hilarious moments intertwined with a story about reuniting family, gluttony and life in general. Its colorful and beautiful and there are such charming array of characters wrapped up in this one story.

6. Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)

laputa castle in the sky

I know a lot of people who would put Laputa really high up or even consider this one their favorite Miyazaki film. I don’t disagree with that at all. Laputa: Castle in the Sky is beautiful, especially once we arrive at the castle in the sky and all the events that happen from there on out.  It has a cast of silly bandits and a gentle robot and the castle design itself is so detailed and intricate. The only deal is that I’ve never been prone to watch this one a lot but I always enjoyed it whenever someone puts it on.

7. The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

castle of cagliostro

I saw The Castle of Cagliostro because of a blogathon a few years back when it was looking at a debut of a director. I always thought Miyazaki started out his career with Nausicaa but before the existence of Studio Ghibli, he had created The Castle of Cagliostro adapted/based on the Japanese manga Lupin III. Its crime and comedy mixed together for this film and boy is it an adventure. The debut of Miyazaki is a fine start. There are its flaws with this one in terms of storytelling and pacing but there is still a ton of heart and charm.

8. Ponyo (2008)

ponyo

Ponyo is something like Miyazaki’s version of The Little Mermaid fairy tale story which takes a little fish girl who becomes human and meets a little boy. Its so adorable and imaginative. It takes this angle of making the creative angle of the tsunami and then links the whole story together. It is actually quite clever.

9. The Wind Rises (2013)

the wind rises

I saw the premiere of The Wind Rises at TIFF a few years back, the same year that Miyazaki announced his retirement in 2013 (of course, now we know that he has decided to not retire and is working on his next film). Putting aside the ridiculous couple next to me who sobbed the entire movie from start to finish who was incredibly annoying, The Wind Rises is a passion project of  Miyazaki’s and you can see it by the subject he chooses to take as he tells the story of World War II engineer who designs the fighter aircraft. His love for aircrafts and his country and his admiration for Jiro Horikoshi is all highly visible in his work. My issue here is that I don’t share the same admiration and for that, the story falls a little short of what I liked. Its not a bad film in any means because the animation, the visuals, the character designs and the music all work well. I just failed to connect with it but that is the risk of making a passion project film.

Not Seen or Can’t Remember

Conan The Future Boy: The Big Giant Robot’s Ressurrection (1984)
Porco Rosso (1992)
Princess Mononoke (1997)

How would you rank Hayao Miyazaki’s film?
Which one of his directed feature films is your fave?

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Dog Day Blogathon & Sunday Lists: My Favorite On-Screen Dogs

Today is the International Dog Day and Allie at Often Off Topic decided that it was a fine opportunity for everyone to share in a blogathon about dogs in movies. You find all the details of the blogathon when you click on the banner above or HERE. Its Sunday so why not get back to those long-awaited Sunday Lists as its the best opportunity to share My Favorite On-Screen Dogs.

This is in no particular order and will be updated if I remember or find other dogs to add to the list in the future! For the sake of the blogathon though, the initial batch is the 10 selections that I thought of (and yes, I cheated with some of these).

Balto – Balto (1995)

Balto

Review

Balto is a half wolf half dog and because of this, in the small town of Alaska, he is criticized for being wild in nature and untameable, even dangerous. However, when the town gets in trouble, Balto is the dog that goes out and brings the dog sled teams back in a snowstorm to deliver stranded urgent medicine for the infected.

Lady & Tramp – Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Lady & the Tramp

Review

One of my favorite Disney films goes to Lady and the Tramp. It may be one of the first Disney films that I saw because I remember it the most and it had the most lasting effect when I was younger (until Aladdin or other films came along). The story between Lady and Tramp is super awesome. It also happens to be one of my favorite Disney films as well so what more can I say?

Shadow & Chance – Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

Homeward Bound

Its been years since I’ve seen Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey but its always been one that I think about every once in a while. The bond between Sassy the cat and the two dogs, Shadow and Chance are incredible. Its nice to see two different types of dogs also because in reality (while they don’t talk), dogs tend to be the excited and not so obedient type and the smart and obedient type but in the end, they still care a lot about their owners and are loyal in their own way.

Toby – The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

The Great Mouse Detective

The Great Mouse Detective is one of those films that are rarely referred to in everyday conversation however, I like it a whole lot. One of my fave moments are between Toby and the various characters. This dog is  a hound dog who has quite a bit of character and just so dutiful. He’s just a fun and odd character in a story about mouse detective and the mouse world.

Copper – The Fox and the Hound (1981)

The Fox and the Hound

Its an obvious choice to have on the list is The Hound in the The Fox and the Hound called Copper. Copper is one of those memorable characters when I was younger because you know, animals in movies are always such a heartstring tugging thing because of pets, right?  Copper is just so adorable, and the cutest puppy you know. Just look at him.

Snoopy – A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
(or any other Peanuts movie)

Snoopy

Review

Snoopy is an iconic Peantus character so while I use A Charlie Brown Christmas because that is the one I rewatch the most, he’s in a ton of other ones like the Great Pumpkin or Snoopy Comes Home or something. I watched a ton.

Rex & Fly – Babe (1995)

Babe

Babe is one of those films that when you tell someone who knows nothing about it, they kind of look at you weird because its about a talking pig and a farm of talking animals. But then, one of the best parts of the films is how these two dogs become of the parents of Babe in a certain way. Rex and Fly are fantastic parents both being great sheep dogs on this farm.

Goofy – A Goofy Movie (1995)

Goofy

Another Disney choice and probably not limited to just A Goofy Movie, however Goofy made the most impressions to me as A Goofy Movie. It was a movie that initially my mom and my aunt had bought so my cousin and I could share and we used to watch it on repeat whenever we were together so at a certain point, I remembered know all the songs and how can you watch Goofy and not mimick his hyuck and his over the top screams. Memoriable as I said. Its why he still is a family favorite.

Quill – Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog (2004)

Quill

A little out of the left field with this choice as it is the only foreign movie selection here. A lot of people probably would have seen Hachi but I haven’t. My first sad dog movie was Quill: The Life  of a Guide Dog which is a Japanese film about exactly what the title says. We see him from birth to being selected to be a guide dog and then the bond he makes with his owner and his responsibilities and of course, to the departure. Thinking about it makes me want to cry. Its a sad and touching story and if you haven’t seen it, well, Quill is going to tug on some those heartstrings. Just remember that you will need your tissue box…like the entire box.

Dug – Up (2009)

Up

Who can forget about Dug, right? The talking dog in Up. I would have used the “squirrel” moment also because I do that a lot when I’m anxious about something. Dug is just so hilarious and because he talks, its his words that just crack me up every single time as he interacts with every single character in Dug.

And one of the things for the blogathon was to talk about pets and well, I choose to share something about my dog who has passed away since 2010. Here’s a picture of him below. Isn’t he just like a fluffy bear? I miss him all the time. He was so awesome.

Chow Chow

That’s it for this blogathon and Sunday Lists.
Thanks so much for Often Off Topic for putting together this blogathon. 

What are your favorite dogs in movies?

Sunday Lists: Resident Evil Franchise, Best to Worst

Video game adaptations is pretty huge. There aren’t a whole lot of successes but Resident Evil has been the franchise with quite the longevity. Whether you like Paul W.S. Anderson, are a gamer or a big fan of Mila Jovovich, Resident Evil has its appeal for some mindless entertainment especially in all its sequels. Being a fan of the franchise, I have my reasons to love everything that people may hate about it. While they have its flaws, the entertainment level is still there depending on the film. I’ll have a video game adaptations ranked or faves coming out soon as I build up on what I’ve seen.

Resident Evil (2002)

Resident Evil

The original Resident Evil is absolutely the best one out of these Resident Evil. Its a bit more slow burn and focuses more on horror than action while still having that balance and relates the most to the video game franchise that it is basing itself on. The sequence of events and the zombies and the transformation is the origin story of where it all began and how Mila Jovovich’s Alice starts. Of course, the starting point of Alice is really where the heart of this franchise lies and because of that, this takes top spot for creating this iconic female character with her one liners and her straight face. For some, it just seems like bad acting but over the franchise, its grown on me and I think it works so well with the character of Alice.

Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) Review

resident evil retribution

It took a few movies to get back the  fun of Resident Evil franchise back in order. Something always felt a little off but the movie to pump me back up was Resident Evil: Retribution. At this point, it was pretty much an action film. Alice is a bad-ass female character with all the weaponry she has. In this one, she wakes up in a facility that she learns is a replica of a beautiful life and soon meets up with some characters from the video game which has taken too long to show up in the movie. Its fun little action romp with over the top action and one liners. Perfection it is not but entertaining as heck.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017) Review

Resident Evil the final chapter

The Final Chapter makes it here because of its wonderful coming together of important cast members but also because it wraps up all the loose ends from the entire franchise to end the story for Alice. There’s still a lot of action and some suspense and pays homage to some scenes from the first film. Alice is great to watch and the cast works really well. With that said, going back to where it all started makes a great deal of sense for film and its always been the strongest location for the setting and the Red Queen has always been the strongest villain even more than any massive size and oddly morphed zombies would ever be.

Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

Resident Evil: Extinction

To be honest, I’ve always ranked this third installment and the fourth on something of the same spectrum. They both have obvious flaws but fill a different purpose to the story with some iconic characters from the video game franchise coming in play. However, Extinction benefits from a change in setting to the desert where it shows how the world has suffered from the outbreak at Raccoon City.  It sets up the devastation that has swept across the world and how the Umbrella Corporation under the wings of Chairman Wesker and the science mission they have to try to fix the world lead by Dr. Isaacs comes into play and forms their roles. There is a look at all sides of the situation. Alice is incredibly cool here with her motorcycle and meets up with some fun characters. Action and something of a feel-good zombie film for the most. There are some dialogue issues but its starting to shape to what the next few movies embody.

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

Resident Evil Afterlife

For almost the same reasons as Resident Evil: Extinction, I like this one. At this movie, I made a revelation that Alice’s outfits are almost as iconic as the entertainment value of the movie. Plus, its always impressive to see how extensive these mutated zombies can go. However, this movie doesn’t go so much into the zombies. This one is a fun one just because its the first movie after the first movie where Paul W.S. Anderson takes back the reins and we can really feel the tone that makes it very fun. At the same time, he seems to understand this gaming franchise so we see a lot more of the video game characters is. The story fits in with the direction the third set.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

The most forgettable of the live action franchise has to be the direct sequel of Resident Evil called Resident Evil Apocalypse. Alice is fantastic as always but the story itself felt forced and it lacked the entertainment value that the later movies that followed had. It seemed like they weren’t quite sure what direction to it.

Other Resident Evil films (not seen yet):

  • Resident Evil: Degeneration (animated 2008)
  • Resident Evil: Damnation (animated 2012)
  • Biohazard 4D-Executer (short film 2000)
  • Resident Evil: Vendetta (animated 2017)

Are you a fan of the Resident Evil franchise?
How would you rank this franchise from best to worst?

Sunday Lists: Must-Watch Christmas Movies

must-watch christmas movie

Happy Holidays, my friends!

I present to you a list that will gather all the films that me (and my husband) deem worthy to be added into our Christmas movie marathons. We still have some classics that are to be watched
With that said, this will be updated as I see further Christmas Movies worthwhile to be added in. They are placed in alphabetical order.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) Review

charlie brown christmas

The Peanuts are a staple with a lot of people and who doesn’t love Charlie Brown and his ugly Christmas tree and realizing the bigger meaning of Christmas through some unfortunate events. The Peanuts are a lovely cast and A Charlie Brown Christmas is a perfect Christmas movie to watch with the family.

A Garfield’s Christmas Special (1987) Review

a garfield christmas

I’m not sure how many have seen this one but this one was a favorite on TV. Garfield was a fave along with Odie and something about this one really touches me every year especially when Odie makes a cute gift for Garfield and when Garfield finds something for Grandma that truly warms her heart. Its definitely one for the family that we love.

Arthur Christmas (2011) Review

arthur christmas

When modern technology changes how Santa treats Christmas, his youngest son Arthur who is clumsy and only does mail writing packed with a dedicated elf and a lot of Christmas enthusiasm goes on a journey to deliver a gift that was forgotten at the workshop to the child by his own means. This animated movie is a newer selection and one that brings a ton of happiness and laughter.

Elf (2003) Review

elf 2003

Completely my husband’s pick comes Elf with Will Ferrell. While we differ on our views of the comedic value of Will Ferrell for most movies, Elf is the exception to the equation that has really grown in fondness. Its about believing in Christmas and Santa Claus. Its a little nutty but its for that craziness and awkwardness that this movie truly shines.

The Holiday (2006) Review

the holiday

The Holiday is the ultimate romantic comedy that fits so well with the Christmas season. It takes place over Christmas holidays when two women heart-broken swap houses and end up unexpectedly meeting men that change their lives. Be it as a love relationship or a father figure that tells her to see herself as the woman that she is, its a heartwarming tale full of laughter and lovely moments. Its one of my favorite romantic comedy and sometimes I even catch myself watching it outside of the holiday season because its such a feel-good story. Plus, the cast is just perfect.

Home Alone (1990) Review

Home Alone

John Hughes in the screenplay and producer seat along with 90s great child star Macauley Culkin as the iconic Kevin McAllister who gets left behind over Christmas vacation and tries his best to protect his home with traps and tricks. Its a wild ride with a lot of happiness that even the brattiest of kids have a special side to them and deep down its also about family.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) Review

how the grinch stole christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas ranks very high on our must-watch movies. Its one that makes the cut every single year. Its Dr. Seuss for one (and I’ve shared my love for it every opportunity I can get) and the animated version is narrated by Boris Karloff and its so awesome. And finally, You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch is one of my fave Christmas songs to play.

Love Actually (2003) Review

Love Actually is the stories of nine lives intertwined by love during the Christmas holiday. The cast is fantastic and each story has its own heartwarming and thoughtful moments. Its a lot of fun to watch especially the hilarious Bill Nighy moments. Plus, the late Alan Rickman is in this one and he is fantastic.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) Review

Mickey's Christmas Carol

Christmas Carol is such an iconic Christmas story by Charles Dickens and its had so many different renditions. However, the one that holds the closest to my heart is the Disney version packed with Mickey and the fellow animated cast. Its a little silly and keeps it lighthearted and is a family classic at our house.

Now with that said, if you are looking for another Christmas Carol rendition a little less of a short movie but a longer animated version, Disney’s 2009 A Christmas Carol with Jim Carey is a pretty good choice also.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947 & 1994)

Miracle on 34th Street

Does Santa actually exist? Is he just a man that plays the role incredibly well? Miracle on 34th Street is about belief in something that doesn’t have to exist, no matter how out of the world it seems. Both the 1947 and 1994 makes the cut here. The original has a certain magic to it although I still normally watch the 1994 version the most because I just love Mara Wilson.

You can see my reviews for 1947 HERE and 1994 HERE.

Polar Express (2004) Review

polar express

Tom Hanks takes on a multitude of roles here in The Polar Express and while that is a nice gimmick for this movie, its a great movie about the belief in Santa. It has a fantastic musical component to it and its visually stunning. Its a great adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express.

The Teddy Bears Christmas  (1992)

teddy bears christmas

Its been a real difficult trip to find Teddy Bears Christmas. Luckily, some fine people have posted up one of the specials on Youtube. You can find it there if you want to check it out. Its a little dated perhaps but I loved this animated series so much and it had a moment when it was a pretty big thing on TV. At least it was for me. This one is a ton of fun about Ben, a teddy bear that goes looking to retrieve a gift, a new teddy bear, for his owner Sally. While trying to dodge the eye of the humans, he tries to get to and from the toy store before Christmas arrives.

Am I missing any of your faves? Share them in the comments below!

Sunday Lists: TV Ships I Love!

A new segment, folks! Hard to imagine how I still want to do these things, right? Sundays are laid back days to just relax so I figured we’ll do some list posts. Most of these posts will be ongoing and added upon if new choices come in. Some will be Best to Worst countdown, others will just be like a little archive for my faves. Kicking it off is the latter as I share some TV Ships I Love. We’re starting on a small scale but TV shows keep happening so the list will expand (as long as I remember to update it).

These aren’t in any particular order…

November 11, 2017: First Five to Kick Off the List

Jess Mariano & Rory Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)

Rory and Jess

For fans of Gilmore Girls, the debate of who Rory should be with is endless. Dean, Jess or Logan: Who is the best fit for Rory? We’ve had seven seasons plus a Netflix mini-series to think about this. After rewatching the series two times in 2017, my idea of Jess being the best for Rory is solidified completely. Why? Because Jess and Rory together make each other better. In Seasons 2 and 3, they were too young and not able to express themselves too well. However, at the point of the Season 7 and the 10 years gap to the mini-series, its obvious that they are made for each other. Jess knows Rory and knows how to motivate her while Rory inspires Jess and believes in him more than he believes in himself.

 Elena Gilbert & Damon Salvatore (The Vampire Diaries)

vampire diaries

I think that quote best shows the relationship of Damon and Elena and why it works. Stefan and Elena was vanilla. It wasn’t exciting but it was stable. Damon might not be the perfect guy and always makes bad decisions but together, they are good for each other and pushing Elena to be stronger and facing herself more than running away.

Killian Jones & Emma Swann (Once Upon a Time)

once upon a time

It sure seems like the reformed bad boy is something I love. Killian Jones aka Hook is awesome. Him with Emma is one relationship that has so many obstacles but it keeps them on their toes and in the end, strengthens them. Especially since they both have their love burdens that stops them to commit so much.

Betty Cooper & Jughead Jones (Riverdale)

Riverdale

Its probably a little early to put this here. If Betty and Jughead disappoint me later on in the series, I’ll probably remove it but for the first season and so far the second one, they are a fantastic couple. It just feels so perfect and one of my favorite pairings which makes sure that you know Riverdale is really only based on the Archie Comics characters and gives it a different twist. Betty and Jughead feel so natural to be together.

Hanna Marin & Caleb Rivers (Pretty Little Liars)

Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars lasted for seven seasons and for a lot of those seasons, even with some exceptions here and there was Hanna and Caleb. Now, these two are such opposites and yet they both work so well together because they gave each other courage and was supportive. They learned to be honest and Caleb ended up helping them out a lot in many of the A situations with his exceptional tech skills. Hanna and Caleb are just so sweet together that its hard to really hate them despite some iffy decisions.

Lorelai Gilmore & Luke Danes (Gilmore Girls)

GILMORE GIRLS S4 1

Gilmore Girls has a ton of great ships. Lorelai and Luke was one that no doubt a lot of people hoped to happen right from the beginning. In many ways they grew to be as solid as they were by the time we saw them in the A Year in Life mini series. They had their bumps and their bad timings but its nice to see that they finally found each other.

Here are the ones to start and will be updated regularly!
Which TV ships do you like? Share them in the comments!

Opinion Battles Round 15 Favourite Pixar Movie

The next round of Opinion Battles is here! Its Round 15 and we are talking about our favorite Pixar movies! This was a hard choice especially since everyone else’s choice are equally great but Up has a special place in my heart.
Head over and check out the other choices and drop a vote!

Movie Reviews 101

Opinion Battles Round 15

Favourite Pixar Movie

With Finding Dory finally making it to England it is time to go into Pixar’s back category and pick our favourite of the company’s short history. They have broken our hearts over and over again bringing tears to our eyes many times.

If you want to take part in the next round of Opinion Battles we are celebrating the release of Suicide Squad by looking at our favourite villains from a Batman movie, the closing date is 6th August 2016 and email your choices to moviereviews101@yahoo.co.uk

Darren – Movie Reviews 101

Toy Story 3ts 3

Toy Story 3 is the third chapter of the adventures of Woody and Buzz Lightyear who find themselves in the day care centre because Andy has reached college age. The fact this film represents the stage of life where we move on and will no longer need toys in…

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Opinion Battles Round 13 – Favourite Alien Based Film

Its time for Round 13 of Opinion Battles! We’re looking at Favorite Alien-based Film. There are a lot of obvious choices like Alien and Aliens but you know I’m going for those obscure choices and it has to go to a fantastic little film called Attack the Block! Maybe its gained more traction now that John Boyega is a somebody. 😉

Head on over and check out the other choices and vote for which choice you like best! 🙂

Movie Reviews 101

Opinion Battles Round 13

Favourite Alien Based Film

Over the years we have had so many films revolving aliens, be it them invading Earth, visiting or just whacky space sagas. The alien characters have become iconic in cinema because of the mystery surrounding outer space so today we are going to look at our favourite film with alien(s) as the main part of the film. We are selecting this to celebrate the release of Independence Day: Resurgence.

If you want to enter the next round of Opinion Battles we will be looking at our favourite Leonardo DiCaprio roles, if you want to enter send your choice to moviereviews101@yahoo.co.ukwith closing date being Sunday the 10th July 2016.

Darren – Movie Reviews 101

Independence Dayind

I have chosen Independence Day because it is easily the film I have seen the most, the idea that aliens have come to destroy the…

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