2018 Year in Review

As the year comes to an end, it is tradition that I assess the films that have come out this past year.

So I have made my very own TOP 10 list of films that stood out to me this year. There are some honourable mentions AND some that stood out in their genre.

Here are my TOP 10 Films of 2018:

A Quiet Place
dir. John Krasinski
screenplay. John Krasinski, Bryan Woods, Scott Beck
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08QUIET-PLACE1-articleLargeThe reason why this film is so unique is the fact that there was pure silence on screen. I’ve never experienced something like that. Normally, people think that having silence on screen is bad because it’s dead air but Krasinski utilized that and played off the tension and anticipation of sound. I also appreciated the fact that the score did not overpower those moments of silence and that it was used subtly throughout.

Annihilation
dir. Alex Garland
screenplay. Alex Garland

Annihilation
Natalie-Portman-in-Annihilation-Movie-Stills-natalie-portman-41052828-1200-518Annihilation is one of the best science fiction films to be released in the past 10 years. It’s an original piece from the mind of Alex Garland and he truly blew me away with this film. It had such a strong cast of actors and the story kept getting better, it had so many twists that I did not see coming and it really does make you reach maximum anxiety levels. The film is beautifully shot and has a powerful story. This made it into my top 3 sci-fi films of all time and I am definitely looking forward to his next film.

Aquaman  
dir. James Wan
story by. James Wan, Geoff Johns, Will Beall

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James Wan has been in the spotlight for his horror universe of The Conjuring and those films are all so incredibly unique to the horror genre. Wan has his own style and he definitely brought it in Aquaman. This film was simple and the visuals enhanced the story, making it one of the best DC films to be released. DC has such strong characters and they’ve been successful with their standalone films. The future is bright for DC because they are trusting their directors and they will be able to create unique worlds.

Ben is Back
dir. Peter Hedges
screenplay. Peter Hedges

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Ben is Back is such a heart-wrenching film and it depicts the harrowing truth of addiction. Lucas Hedges gives the performance of his career thus far and Julia Roberts is a knockout. Peter Hedges penned a brutally honest screenplay and made very powerful choices, especially the ending. This is an underrated film and it needs to be seen!

Blackkklansman
dir. Spike Lee
screenplay. Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee

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maxresdefaultA Spike Lee Joint has never been so exhilarating and relevant, I have never felt so many emotions at once during a film AND I left this film absolutely enraged. This film is one of the best movies of the year and it deserves more recognition. Everything about this film was perfect and the way Spike Lee integrated every single piece of media that has been consumed by mainstream audiences was genius. This was a masterwork and it’s incredible that he was able to use this medium to speak about the corruption in the United States right now.

Black Panther
dir. Ryan Coogler
screenplay. Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole

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Black-Panther-PhotosMarvel’s 18th film in it’s universe had the first black superhero in the spotlight. Black Panther had such a massive cultural significance earlier this year and it became an instant phenomenon. This film, directed by Ryan Coogler meant so much more to the black community than any other Marvel movie and the reception proved that. Every single actor in this film did a a great job in telling T’Challa’s story and I know that Stan Lee was proud of this major accomplishment.

Roma
dir. Alfonso Cuarón
screenplay. Alfonso Cuarón

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44320-Roma_-_Alfonso_Cuaron__Film_Still_Alfonso Cuarón really delivered on all front with Roma. It’s a beautiful film because of how effortless he made everything seem. The story is simple and tragic but the love that is shown on screen mends those heartbreaking feelings at the same time. It’s beautifully shot and the visuals were so incredibly powerful that I didn’t need subtitles to understand what was happening. Yalitza Aparicio gave a beautiful performance and I felt everything with her.

Ocean’s Eight
dir. Gary Ross
screenplay. Gary Ross, Olivia Milch

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This cast of women truly saved 2018 and it was the best version of any Ocean’s movie. This film was so much fun and Sandra Bullock was excellent in this alongside Cate Blanchett. It was interesting from beginning to end and it was filled with many nods to the first Ocean’s film. I would like a trilogy with these lovely ladies! Also, Anne Hathaway stole show and I’m happy she’s back! The heist was extravagant and fun because it was taking place at the MET Gala and many audiences don’t know what goes on inside the Gala, so it was very refreshing!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
screenplay. Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman

spider-man-into-the-spider-verse-movie-slice-600x200
spider-man-spider-verse-animated-film-1Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the BEST Spider-Man movie that has ever been released. Not only was the animation superb but to have every single version of Spider-Man on screen showing the multiverse made it so unique! The best part about this film is that kids are introduced to the youngest Spider-Man, Miles Morales. Miles is half black and half Latino and it was lovely to see that representation on screen! Sony definitely has a universe of their own to expand on, especially with this character and this animation!

 
 Widows
dir. Steve McQueen
screenplay. Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen

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WIDOWSSteve McQueen and Gillian Flynn working together was truly a dream team and I loved every single second of this thriller. It was such an intense film and it kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time. This cast was phenomenal and I was amazed that everyone got enough screen time and each of their backstories flowed effortless through each scene. The standouts were Daniel Kaluuya and Elizabeth Debicki, pay very close attention to their performances!!

The two films that I have yet to see but I know would have been in my TOP 10 for 2018 are…

The Favourite
dir. Yorgos Lanthimos
screenplay. Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
Hop in for a free ride with

If Beale Street Could Talk
dir. Barry Jenkins
screenplay. Barry Jenkins 
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Both Yorgos Lanthimos and Barry Jenkins have created such beautiful films in the past and I’m always excited for their new projects!

 

The Honourable Mentions:

Best Action Movie: 
Mission Impossible – Fallout
dir. Christopher McQuarrie
screenplay. Christopher McQuarrie

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Best Comedy: 
The Spy Who Dumped Me 
dir. Susanna Fogel
screenplay. Susanna Fogel, David Iserson

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Best Kids Movie: 
The Incredibles 2 
dir. Brad Bird
screenplay. Brad Bird

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Best Coming of Age Film:
Eighth Grade 
dir. Bo Burnham
screenplay. Bo Burnham

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The Legendary Stan Lee

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Stan Lee 1922-2018

Stan Lee, was born as Stanley Martin Lieber on December 28th, 1922 was the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics.

Stanley Lieber started off as an assistant in 1939 at the new Timely Comics division of Pulp Magazine and comic-book publisher Martin Goodman. Timely Comics, byt the 1960s, evolved into Marvel Comics.

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Captain America Comics #3

Stanley Lieber made his comic book debut in 1941 with filler “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge”  in Captain America Comics #3, using the pseudonym Stan Lee. This initial story also introduced Captain America’s trademark ricocheting shield-toss.

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(left) Jack Kirby and Joe Simon

When Joe Simon and his creative partner Jack Kirby left in 1941, Martin Goodman appointed Stan Lee, just under 19 years old, as interim editor. Stan Lee remained as the division’s editor-in-chief, as well as art director until 1972, when he would succeed Goodman as publisher.

In the late 1950s, DC Comics revived the superhero archetype and became successful with the updated versions. Publisher, Martin Goodman assigned Stan Lee to come up with a new superhero team.

The first superhero group Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created together was the Fantastic Four.
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The Fantastic Four skyrocketed and team grew in popularity! Stan Lee collaborated with Jack Kirby many times on the following titles and created heroes such as, The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and the X-Men.
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Stan Lee also collaborated with Bill Everett to create Daredevil and with Steve Ditko, Doctor Strange.

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Stan Lee also created Marvel’s most beloved character Spider-Man, all of whom lived in a shared universe.
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As these characters took off and these comics flew off the shelves, Stan Lee made sure to engage the reader and create a community between fans and creators. He built a credit panel on one of the pages of the comic and would incorporate upcoming news and stories from Marvel and its staff members.

Throughout the 1960s, Lee scripted, art-directed and edited most of Marvel’s series, moderated the letters pages and wrote a monthly column called “Stan’s Soapbox”, often signing off with his trademark motto, “Excelsior”

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Later on in his career, Stan Lee became the figurehead and public face for Marvel Comics. He had created an empire and continued to create more stories.

The Marvel characters that Stan created had naturalistic, human qualities, while having superhuman powers. He created a domesticated hero who could possibly have trouble getting through school, bad tempers, worried about paying their bills, suffer from a mental illness or ptsd or even falling pysically ill. All of this was realistic and audiences could identify with any one of these characters.

There are children that look up to Hawkeye because he’s a deaf supehero, Daredevil because he’s a blind superhero and Wade Wilson who battled with cancer. It’s so incredibly important to have this representation and Stan wanted these stories to be told.

In August 1996, Marvel created Marvel Studios. They had arranged a seven year deal with 20th Century Fox to cover markets in the United States and internationally. The first film to be released worldwide was Blade, based on the vampire hunter. The film made $70 million in North America.

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Following the success of Blade, Bryan Singer tackled the X-Men in the early 2000s and the first Marvel franchise was born at 20th Century Fox.

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The X-Men resonated deep with audiences because of how different each of them are. Each character have such beautiful human qualities and their mutations make them different, but some of them learn to embrace their differences and that’s what makes the X-Men so important!

Stan Lee began his famous cameos in the first X-Men as a hotdog stand vendor on the beach.

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In 2002, Columbia Pictures along with Marvel Studios adapted Spider-Man, thus creating one of the best superhero triologies of all time. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man captured the original comic hero in such a natural way and made his spidey powers something all children would hope for. Since Spidey is Stan Lee’s most cherished character, so it makes sense as to why there have been three different versions of Peter Parker.

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In 2008, Kevin Feige was named President of Productions at Marvel Studios as Iron Man began filming. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was born and Stan Lee got to see his characters come to life. Stan Lee has always credited his wonderful staff of artists and writers who plan to continue his legacy by creating more characters that fit in with the universe.

Stan Lee has impacted so many lives with his characters and he loved what he did. Stan Lee was a trailblazer and opened so many doors for many comic book artists today. Without Stan Lee we wouldn’t have had the incredible universe we have today.

Most of us grew up on Marvel films and branched out into the comics because we loved the universe so much. Every single Marvel film has had a Stan Lee cameo and every audience that I’ve been apart of would always start cheering when he appeared on screen. Stan Lee was just a special human being and he brought so much joy and laughter to so many people.

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Iron Man (2008)

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Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

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Thor (2011)

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The Avengers (2012)

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Deadpool (2016)

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Venom (2018) 

He created a universe that has so many characters people can identify with and just appreciate their stories. We have actors who are so incredibly dedicated to these characters and the stories because they want to honour what Stan created.

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It’s a very sad day today because a legend has left us. Stan Lee will live on forever in the comic pages and the on screen cameos. He has made a huge impact on pop culture and he will be dearly missed.

Excelsior Stan Lee

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CBM’s & the Death of Film Criticism

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The latest comic book film under fire with criticism and controversy before its release is Sony’s “Venom”.

The review embargo lifted Tuesday and as usual, all eyes were on Twitter as #Venom was filled with negative reviews. Let’s be honest here, we all had very low expectations for this movie considering that Sony was at the helm.

However, the excuses for this film being bad are not focused on the film whatsoever. Most of the reviews compare Tom Hardy’s performance to other actors and just throw away the rest of the review by saying “it’s more of the marvel formula”. It’s annoying to me that these critics NEVER focus on the film itself and discuss the good and the bad, they always compare to other films or other performances.

Exhibit A: Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

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Why would you start off the review comparing a brilliant actor like Tom Hardy, who has had no sexual assault allegations made against him and has treated his colleagues with the utmost respect to Harvey Weinstein? Why would you assume that a film would even be made about this horrible human being, let alone imply that Hardy would even take that role? What does this piece have to do with his character Eddie Brock and Venom? I read the rest of the review and again it draws comparisons to the entire MCU, which has a different foundation entirely. People need to stop comparing comic book films to the MCU films, especially if they have a different tone or universe.

Exhibit B: Owen Gleiberman, Variety

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Owen Gleiberman decided to use the first 3 paragraphs of his review expressing his distaste for Tom Hardy’s method acting, comparing Eddie Brock to his other performances, and AGAIN to other well known method actors.

comparison 2Gleiberman compared him to 3 different actors for a role that is not supposed to be taken this seriously. Again, it’s a comic book movie and we all know that Tom Hardy can work magic with any kind of script. Why compare to other method actors and why degrade his work based on a FILM you didn’t happen to enjoy. Let’s not forget that Mr. Tom Hardy has been nominated for an Oscar, let alone be in many Best Picture nominees. Why not plug his next project “Fonzo” instead of dragging him and saying he’s the “eager grandson”. Why are you degrading his acting capabilities based on one film?

We all know Tom Hardy is a very versatile actor and he has given us so many great performances. Everyone is so quick to blame the actor because they’re the face of this whole collaboration but the writer and director are also ones to blame. I haven’t seen the film but I can already tell that Tom Hardy, along with Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed kind of save the material with their acting abilities. Many actors have had that problematic film but at the same time you can’t drag them in this way.

I truly blame the Internet for the way film criticism has turned out. Everyone awaits the Rotten Tomatoes score and what Twitter has to say. Other than this randomized general consensus, I doubt any of you have at least one credible critic that you trust. There is no Roger Ebert giving in depth reviews and actually giving readers a balanced criticism. Critics today, either rip a film apart or praise every inch of it, there’s no in between anymore.

Audiences base their interest on a film on what social media says or the score on Rotten Tomatoes. If either one expresses their disgust for whatever film, they avoid it and the film suffers. Audiences are not getting fair reviews and it sometimes hurts the box office numbers. I guarantee Venom won’t have an issue racking up the numbers because it already broke pre-sale records for October, but it still puts a damper on the movie going experience. The Internet has ruined the way people discuss films because I’ve noticed it’s never a healthy discussion, especially online.

The most unsettling reason why the Internet has ruined Film Criticism is the “Fandom Mentality”.

Exhibit C: Fandom Wars on Social Media 

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As I personally scrolled through the #Venom tag I saw similar block of reviews that were tweeted by six different accounts, all saying that Venom is a horrible movie and that they would rather watch A Star is Born this upcoming weekend. This happened last year when people thought Harry Styles would attend the Oscars because he had a couple of lines in Dunkirk. I get that this is huge for Gaga, but her fans went a bit too far with this one. If you want to support your favourite person then go on and do so, there’s no reason to create this controversy… how much time do you have on your hands?

Also, these are two very different films that are going to draw two EXTREMELY different crowds, so why even compare. I know for a fact Venom has absolutely no Oscar buzz, so why treat it as such? This is also why I plan on documenting this upcoming Oscar season because every year there is so much madness on social media for absolutely no reason. If you love a movie, feel free to love that film but please do not bash everything else for the hell of it, it gets frustrating.

At the end of the day, I implore you all to find a critic that you trust because basing what you watch from a Rotten Tomatoes score or privileged writers on social media are not the ones who are credible. Most of the time those who have a blue checkmark don’t know what they’re talking about.

Venom and A Star is Born are both being released this weekend, feel free to go to the cinema and have a good time! Also, to my Canadian family, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

The End of the X-Men

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In light of the new Dark Phoenix trailer that dropped Thursday at midnight, I wanted to reflect on the X-Men franchise as a whole.

The original trilogy that was released in the early 2000s was something special for 20th Century Fox because Marvel Entertainment had sold them the rights to the X-Men characters, as well as Elektra, Daredevil and Fantastic Four. During the same period, Marvel also sold the rights of Spider-Man to Sony.

Marvel’s debut feature was Blade (1998), starring Wesley Snipes, who was a vampire hunter. It grossed $70 million and was a solid comic book debut for the company. Shortly after, the world of the X-Men was brought to audiences with the help of Bryan Singer. X-Men (2000) grossed $158,000,000 in the U.S. & Canada and almost $300,000,000 worldwide. The X-Men trilogy eventually made over $1.1 billion worldwide.

Marvel knew that comic book films were in demand and with the reception the X-Men got from audiences, they knew they were about to explore so many other options. The X-Men trilogy was left in the hands of 20th Century Fox and I am so grateful that we were able to get the X-Men in all their glory, for the most part. The X-Men franchise may have had some issues, but they corrected themselves along the way.Image result for x-men movie stills

Looking back at the cast of the X-Men, you had some pretty remarkable actors who created their own versions of these characters. We look back at this cast and we find it hard to believe that they were all together in this franchise. We had legends like; Sir Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, Ian McKellan as Magneto, Halle Berry as Storm and Hugh Jackman as Logan aka Wolverine. All of them took this seriously, they took a chance with a comic book film and they were all dedicated to these characters.

The reason why the first X-Men trilogy was awesome, was because of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. People loved him so much that they even gave him an Origins trilogy. Unfortunately, they weren’t very good but it didn’t matter because everyone loved Wolverine. It was a bonus because it lead them to make Logan, which is still one of the best cbm’s in history. It was also a perfect sign off for Hugh Jackman after 14 years. That’s the issue with these sequels, sometimes the company gets greedy and they create spinoffs that were not needed in the slightest. Wolverine Origins also gave us the most inaccurate depiction of Deadpool, but thankfully Ryan Reynolds was adamant about fixing Wade.

I enjoyed the X-Men trilogy. The first two were pretty solid and then The Last Stand happened. No one I know enjoyed the events that unfolded in the final instalment of the trilogy because of how they handled Jean Grey. Famke Jansen’s portrayal of Jean has always been spot on and I personally feel they did not do her justice. Jean Grey has immeasurable power, she is literally the most powerful mutant and they just threw her storyline away. After The Last Stand they focused on Wolverine because of how well he was doing, but no one, NO ONE, forgot what happened in The Last Stand, go ahead and ask the comic book fans around you, they will tell you exactly how they feel about it.

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20th Century Fox wanted to correct  their mistake with The Last Stand, the backlash was ridiculous for a pre-twitter environment. People never forgave them for it.

Until they came up with an idea.

Why not make a prequel?

Why not show a young Charles and Erik?

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This was the best idea they could have ever come up with because they cast two of the most brilliant actors of our generation. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender took these two roles so seriously, they would study Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen’s mannerisms and accents in order to get the younger version of their characters right.

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The prequel trilogy of First Class, Days of Future Past and Apocalypse were films that explained each characters backstory and also fixed many issues the original trilogy faced. The main issue is the timeline from X-Men: The Last Stand. Something that Days of Future Past did right, is correct the timeline and it completely worked in their favour. The prequel trilogy is possibly better than the original trilogy and most comic fans are okay with how it worked out because we have 4 dedicated actors covering the most powerful beings in Marvel history. Even if you didn’t enjoy the franchise, you have to admit that Fassbender, McAvoy, McKellen and Stewart did not disappoint and definitely delivered.

The other reason why many people identify with the X-Men and feel so connected to their world, is because they are accepting of everyone and don’t exclude those who are different. Instead, the X-Men and Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters celebrates these differences.

Yes, it’s fictional.

Yes, they are all mutants.

I know it may sound odd, but everyone who has felt like an outcast their whole life, can identify with feeling that way, and the one thing the X-Men celebrate, is being different. Whether you read the comics or watched the films, the X-Men will always be unified because of their differences and I think that’s something lovely to share with the world.

X-Men: Days of Future Past does not get the credit it deserves. It is the best film out of the prequel trilogy because it parallels the society we live in. People are so terrified of those who are different, that society tends to send them away instead of accepting them or try to understand their way of life. People exile them, treat them so poorly and they continue to strive, resisting society’s social constructs and having their voices heard. This film showed that and maintained to correct the timeline.

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The X-Men franchise explains issues in society by using the mutants storyline, they are different and society avoids listening to those who are different. It’s pretty simple and it makes a solid connection to the human condition. The X-Men may have been shafted because of that other team, but really look back at this franchise and take notice of what they did.

Dark Phoenix is coming out February 14th, 2019 and I’m very excited to see Sophie Turner’s version of Jean Grey shine. Her standalone has been long overdue and the trailer is really giving me hope! Since this is the end of the X-Men franchise (under to 20th Century Fox), I plan on doing a full marathon leading up to Dark Phoenix, because it truly is the end of an era. After almost 16 years, Fox has to say goodbye to the X-Men and so do we.

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