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The Film Club: A Memoir

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At the start of this brilliantly unconventional family memoir, David Gilmour is an unemployed movie critic trying to convince his fifteen-year-old son Jesse to do his homework. When he realizes Jesse is beginning to view learning as a loathsome chore, he offers his son an unconventional deal: Jesse could drop out of school, not work, not pay rent - but he must watch three At the start of this brilliantly unconventional family memoir, David Gilmour is an unemployed movie critic trying to convince his fifteen-year-old son Jesse to do his homework. When he realizes Jesse is beginning to view learning as a loathsome chore, he offers his son an unconventional deal: Jesse could drop out of school, not work, not pay rent - but he must watch three movies a week of his father's choosing. Week by week, side by side, father and son watched everything from True Romance to Rosemary's Baby to Showgirls, and films by Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese, Brian DePalma, Billy Wilder, among others. The movies got them talking about Jesse's life and his own romantic dramas, with mercurial girlfriends, heart-wrenching breakups, and the kind of obsessive yearning usually seen only in movies. Through their film club, father and son discussed girls, music, work, drugs, money, love, and friendship - and their own lives changed in surprising ways.


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At the start of this brilliantly unconventional family memoir, David Gilmour is an unemployed movie critic trying to convince his fifteen-year-old son Jesse to do his homework. When he realizes Jesse is beginning to view learning as a loathsome chore, he offers his son an unconventional deal: Jesse could drop out of school, not work, not pay rent - but he must watch three At the start of this brilliantly unconventional family memoir, David Gilmour is an unemployed movie critic trying to convince his fifteen-year-old son Jesse to do his homework. When he realizes Jesse is beginning to view learning as a loathsome chore, he offers his son an unconventional deal: Jesse could drop out of school, not work, not pay rent - but he must watch three movies a week of his father's choosing. Week by week, side by side, father and son watched everything from True Romance to Rosemary's Baby to Showgirls, and films by Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese, Brian DePalma, Billy Wilder, among others. The movies got them talking about Jesse's life and his own romantic dramas, with mercurial girlfriends, heart-wrenching breakups, and the kind of obsessive yearning usually seen only in movies. Through their film club, father and son discussed girls, music, work, drugs, money, love, and friendship - and their own lives changed in surprising ways.

30 review for The Film Club: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cathleen

    I quit. I cannot stand to read any more. I had been looking forward to reading this and was very much hoping to include it in the library's blog, but I can't do it. I kept pushing and reached the half-way mark, but no more. A father allows his teenage son to drop out of school on the condition they together watch three movies (of his dad's choice) a week -- no job required, no pretense of schooling. The movies themselves are only cursorily discussed, which seems one of the biggest flaws both with I quit. I cannot stand to read any more. I had been looking forward to reading this and was very much hoping to include it in the library's blog, but I can't do it. I kept pushing and reached the half-way mark, but no more. A father allows his teenage son to drop out of school on the condition they together watch three movies (of his dad's choice) a week -- no job required, no pretense of schooling. The movies themselves are only cursorily discussed, which seems one of the biggest flaws both with the plan and with the book. Yes, I get it that this was more about the two spending time together and building communication, but when the father condones heavy drinking, smoking, and sex in the house, and he just waits for his son to have a random epiphany about moving forward in life, he loses huge points in credibility, to say the least. The father himself is self-congratulatory in the worst way and more than happy to excuse even glaring faults in himself; I neither liked nor could sympathize with him, especially when he chooses Basic Instinct for the second film. This isn't even well-written. I just feel sorry for all connected to this book, including those who read it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    I don't think I've read a more self-serving, craptastic piece of writing--it barely touches on how they felt about the films they watched together. Instead he pompously tells his son to watch for things in the films (things that HE likes or notices, but he doesn't seem to ask his son what his SON liked), then gives a 4 sentence wrap up at the end. Most of the book is the authors pointless (to the story) search for a job and how he lectures his drug abusing drinking son about how he'll "get over" I don't think I've read a more self-serving, craptastic piece of writing--it barely touches on how they felt about the films they watched together. Instead he pompously tells his son to watch for things in the films (things that HE likes or notices, but he doesn't seem to ask his son what his SON liked), then gives a 4 sentence wrap up at the end. Most of the book is the authors pointless (to the story) search for a job and how he lectures his drug abusing drinking son about how he'll "get over" girls. Honestly, if this book wasn't billed as a man and his son watching movies, I would have actually felt better about it, but it's billed as something that it really isn't. I'd love to know more about how they felt about the films, about what they agreed or disagreed on, and what his son really learned both about film, and about life in general. Alas, it was not to be.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    There is a limit to what you can force your child to do, especially once they've reached the age of 16 and are taller than you. David Gilmour recognized that fact and (bravely) let his son Jesse drop out of school on the condition that, together, they watch and discuss three movies each week. A former film critic for the CBC, Gilmour makes his movie selections with the intention of teaching his son as much as he can in the time they have left together. Being neither a father nor a son myself, I m There is a limit to what you can force your child to do, especially once they've reached the age of 16 and are taller than you. David Gilmour recognized that fact and (bravely) let his son Jesse drop out of school on the condition that, together, they watch and discuss three movies each week. A former film critic for the CBC, Gilmour makes his movie selections with the intention of teaching his son as much as he can in the time they have left together. Being neither a father nor a son myself, I marvel at the picture Gilmour paints of this extremely complicated relationship. These two make mistakes, get angry and disappoint one another, but they never shut each other out for long. I was pleasantly surprised (and a little awed) by the candor of their conversations and the range of topics they discuss, many of which I imagined to be off-limits to a teenage boy. I'm most impressed by Gilmour's faith in his son, even in the wake of some horrible decisions and dangerous mistakes. He clearly understands Jesse in a way that many parents don't -- as an individual with completely separate (and sometimes incomprehensible) motivations. This understanding is what allows him to push through his feelings of fear and failure, and keep trying to forge a relationship with his son. This book was an honest and unflinching look at the father-son relationship, both funny and bittersweet. I came away with a new understanding of why sons need fathers in their lives, and what it means to let your children grow up.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jon Grice

    I like the father and son exchange regarding movies and life in this little memoir from Gilmour. THE FILM CLUB is a nice, light read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    As far as I'm concerned I'm fairly easy to please. I am a snob in most every way; however I tend to put forward that facade more so than is actually true as opposed to apparent. That said.... This book is God awful. David Gilmore is easily one of the most self-righteous and self-absorded authors I've ever read (with particular concern and attention being paid to the fact that his painfully obvious solipsism is without any romantic suggestion to the likes of Updike, Mailer, Hemingway, etc.) He is As far as I'm concerned I'm fairly easy to please. I am a snob in most every way; however I tend to put forward that facade more so than is actually true as opposed to apparent. That said.... This book is God awful. David Gilmore is easily one of the most self-righteous and self-absorded authors I've ever read (with particular concern and attention being paid to the fact that his painfully obvious solipsism is without any romantic suggestion to the likes of Updike, Mailer, Hemingway, etc.) He is obviously under the impression that he is the best father ever and that he's got a great idea by letting his son drop out of school as long as he watches 3 movies a week. Um, fuck you. I work 9-5 and am a full time drunk and watch at least twice as many as that in a week. This isn't some new and radical form of communication or child rearing, it's a direct betrayal to responsible parenting in general. This smug son of a bitch thinks he's stumbled upon a cool and hip new way of parenting because his baby doesn't like school. B.F.D. Nobody liked school. You know what Gilmore's writing reminds me of? Diablo Cody; self-indulgent tripe. Yeah, you're cool. We get it. Stop writing because you're terrible. I wouldn't wipe my ass with the torn pages of this waste.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about this book. There are so many writers out there who are now writing memoirs about their experiments in living. I am not so sure that they aren't conducting the experiment just to get material for a book. David Gilmour, an out of work television host/film writer, decides to let his teenage son drop out of school on the condition that he watch 3 movies with his father a week. He doesn't have to get a job, do anything to help his struggling (divorced) p I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about this book. There are so many writers out there who are now writing memoirs about their experiments in living. I am not so sure that they aren't conducting the experiment just to get material for a book. David Gilmour, an out of work television host/film writer, decides to let his teenage son drop out of school on the condition that he watch 3 movies with his father a week. He doesn't have to get a job, do anything to help his struggling (divorced) parents around the house, or even partake in a hobby. It seems that as long as he sits with dad to watch films, he can sleep all day, drink all night, and spend his cash on cigarettes and beer. Oh, and he's an aspiring rap singer. That said, it could have been a better book. Gilmour picks some interesting films, and they could be fodder for discussion between father and son but rather they seem more like background. Most of the son's concerns revolve around girls - which ones like him, which ones he likes. Exposure to the films of Woody Allen or Francois Truffault don't really seem to provide any solice when he gets dumped by his beautiful girlfriend. "Dad, do you think she really likes me?" Yawn.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    One of those books that I picked up on a bit of a whim at the library that was deliciously light weekend fare that could be read in a couple of quick sittings. The premise of this one is rather remarkable - a Canadian father offers to let his son drop out of school if he watches three movies a week. There are quite a few things in this book that really disturb, not the least of which is the fact that the son is hard to like. He drinks a lot, is an aspiring rapper, and it is hard to tell whether One of those books that I picked up on a bit of a whim at the library that was deliciously light weekend fare that could be read in a couple of quick sittings. The premise of this one is rather remarkable - a Canadian father offers to let his son drop out of school if he watches three movies a week. There are quite a few things in this book that really disturb, not the least of which is the fact that the son is hard to like. He drinks a lot, is an aspiring rapper, and it is hard to tell whether he really is getting that much from the films they are watching. Sometimes, you wonder whether the father is trying to be more of friend to the son than he is a parent, something I just find intolerable. You would think the films would provide the groundwork for discussion abut life and all the learning that would supplement the high school experience, but these discussions are rarely chronicled. Essentially, the films serve more as a background to the larger story of a parent helping his son deal with the various heartbreaks that come with growing up. Despite the above mentioned criticism, I couldn’t help but enjoy this book. Watching a great movie, much like reading a great book, is such an affecting experience, at times it can be almost spiritual. John Irving has a great quote in “The Fourth Hand” where he notes that movies can be mutually appreciated, but the specific reasons for loving them cannot satisfactorily be shared. Movies are comprised of the whole range of moods you are in when you see them – you can never exactly imitate someone else’s love of a movie. What is so great about this book is that we get to hear, multiple times about multiple movies, why Gilmour loves them, and I love to hear people talk and write about things they are passionate about. In the book while imparting advice to his son about his rap lyrics, Gilmour advises his son to essentially write what you know, and those various points in this book where the author writes what he knows about filmmaking are tough to beat. Here, for example, is a quote that I loved: “American Graffiti isn’t just about a bunch of kids on a Saturday night. When a very youg Richard Dreyfuss drops in on the local radio station, there’s a gorgeous moment when he catches Wolfman Jack doing his gravel-voiced routine. Dreyfuss suddenly understands what the center of the universe really is: It’s not a place, it’s the embodiment of a desire to never miss out on anything – not somewhere you can go, in other words, but rather a place you want to be. And I loved the speech the hot-rodder gives, about how it used to take a full tank of gas to “do” the town strip, but now it’s over in five minutes. Without knowing it, he’s talking about the end of childhood. The world has shrunk while you were looking the other way. I don’t want to wear out my welcome talking about Proust and American Graffiti, but how else can you look at that beautiful girl in the Thunderbird who keeps appearing and disappearing at the edge of Dreyfuss’s vision, except as an example of the Proustian contemplation that possession and desire are mutually exclusive, that for the girl to be the girl, she must always be pulling away?” There were various moments, such as that, that made this book worthwhile. If you love movies and you love to hear people talking passionately about movies, this book has enough to keep you satisfied.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bon Tom

    Why is this book so low rated is beyond me. It's pure 5 stars for me not for pathetic attempt to level up the field (which my lone and small opinion couldn't do anyway), but because I just couldn't go any lower even if I wanted. No reason for deducting the points from perfect work, that is biographical at the same time. Btw, when we rate autobiographies, what it is that we do, actually? Are we expressing a verdict on a person's life and choices? Pretty stupid and self-absorbed thing to do even i Why is this book so low rated is beyond me. It's pure 5 stars for me not for pathetic attempt to level up the field (which my lone and small opinion couldn't do anyway), but because I just couldn't go any lower even if I wanted. No reason for deducting the points from perfect work, that is biographical at the same time. Btw, when we rate autobiographies, what it is that we do, actually? Are we expressing a verdict on a person's life and choices? Pretty stupid and self-absorbed thing to do even in real life, let alone when such person went to lengths of producing a nice little package of his life in condensed form for your convenience, so you can enjoy it at your leisure. To those interested: Look, much of the book is about the process of young male trying to grow up. And, from my own experience and pretty much everyone I know, it's fair to say this is EXACTLY what's going on with hormone flooded young men that are not kids anymore, but still not accomplished or mature in any other way either. Except for constant, frantic, impossible to quench, thirst for willing female. Even, amazingly, if and when such a female is found. I'm pretty sure it's the state of existence, experience of which made the expression "one track mind" come to life. It's an emotional equivalent of trench warfare, I'm telling you. Needless to say, for the person trapped in a body of a young man, there are likely to be some issuezz. The father Gilmour found unconventional approach to deal with those, and they seem to have done the trick in this case. And there's one other, supremely delicious thing. This book is credible reference of good movies and reasons for why exactly they might be great. For instance, I'm trying for years now to sell the greatness of True Romance to everybody who's willing to listen. For me, it's one of the best movies ever made. But I never managed to put the genius of it into right cocktail of words that would do it justice. Gilmoure, on the other hand, did it no problem. Expressed half assedly the axiomatic truth about it. It was as if I was reading my own words, that I forgot how to produce after traumatic hit in the head. With so many things about this book being cold hard truths, I will keep the idea of homebrew education with curated media (movies, games, audiobooks, what else?) in my toolset for that frighteningly close future, when my kid hits the trenches of public education. One of the educational books in my repertoire could very well be this one.

  9. 5 out of 5

    elena

    3.5 stars

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Awhile back I read a touching memoir called Life, Death & Bialys about a father-son pair who take a baking class together and discover new and wonderful things about their complicated relationship. I was hoping that The Film Club would give me an equally warm-hearted feeling. This is the story of a 16-year boy who just isn't quite cutting it in school. He is bored in class and does not seem motivated to do any of this work. His film loving father decides that maybe letting him drop out of school Awhile back I read a touching memoir called Life, Death & Bialys about a father-son pair who take a baking class together and discover new and wonderful things about their complicated relationship. I was hoping that The Film Club would give me an equally warm-hearted feeling. This is the story of a 16-year boy who just isn't quite cutting it in school. He is bored in class and does not seem motivated to do any of this work. His film loving father decides that maybe letting him drop out of school for a bit will create a long-term solution. But, there's one catch. His son must watch three movies a week with him. The shocked son readily agrees. And so the Film Club begins. I then thought perhaps this would be like a book I read and LOVED a long time ago (courtesy of my Aunty Marji) called The Day I Became an Autodidact by Kendall Hailey - about a teenage girl who homeschools herself with a definite plan to take control of her own education and learn everything on her own. I so wished I could be her - staying home everyday and just reading and reading and reading and becoming an expert on so many things. I thought perhaps Mr. Gilmour had a similarly structured plan in mind for his son - only with movies instead of books. Alas, I was sorely mistaken. Instead of arranging weeks of films by genre or time period or director - and teaching his son what he could about a given issues - Gilmour appears to pick his films at random. He spouts off a sentence or two about each movie (mostly while his son rolls his eyes or gazes off into the distance) and then he just hits play. Gilmour clearly has a great deal of knowledge about film, and I felt like the book was a vehicle for him to espouse his views on the given films, rather than give the reader any insight into how the films may have affected his son - or creating any meaningful dialogue between the two. In addition to the movie watching, Gilmour spends much of the book focused on his son's pathetic love life. His son shares quite a bit with him about the girls who lead him on and break his heart, but who he can't help being unnaturally obsessed with. And Gilmour offers to him quite possibly the world's worst advice, over and over. The two also seem to drink a lot together, despite his son's young age, including a stint in Cuba where the two order beer after beer. Gilmour is then shocked when his son reveals that he uses drugs (perhaps the persistant malaise, lack of interest in anything, and disastrous personal relationships were not big enough red flags?) - and despite Gilmour's stern warning at the beginning of the book that if he finds out his son is using drugs that The Film Club will stop and his son will be cut off - not surprisingly for a father with no boundaries, the incident is brushed aside and Film Club continues in all its pointless nonsense. Along the way, Gilmour is also proud to include stories about his more than civilized relationship with his ex-wife - who strangely appears to have no objections to this weird "educational" situation. There is no doubt that Gilmour loves his son, but he portrays him in this book as one of the biggest losers of all time. It would be nice in a couple years to include an Afterward (hopefully) showing how The Film Club saved his son from an otherwise dead-end high school career, and how his son is now a successful film maker, or something of the sort. I am a big believer that mainstream high school is certainly not for everyone, and that home-school or self-directed learning is a great option for many kids. But, I still believe a semblance of focus and a plan is necessary for learning to actually take place. This book did nothing to prove me wrong, and I found it a colossal and disturbing disappointment.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susannah

    46 pages into this book, and I had to put it down. I like challenging books, but I don't like the challenge to be having enough self-control not to throw the book across the room. To be fair, memoirs are probably a pretty indulgent genre. Written by people about themselves, it's no wonder that when they go wrong, they go horribly wrong as with The Film Club by David Gilmour. I don't necessarily take issue with this story of parents who let their son drop out of high school. Gilmour makes a convi 46 pages into this book, and I had to put it down. I like challenging books, but I don't like the challenge to be having enough self-control not to throw the book across the room. To be fair, memoirs are probably a pretty indulgent genre. Written by people about themselves, it's no wonder that when they go wrong, they go horribly wrong as with The Film Club by David Gilmour. I don't necessarily take issue with this story of parents who let their son drop out of high school. Gilmour makes a convincing argument when he describes how worried he is that he and his son's mother (Gilmour's ex-wife) will lose their son if they don't pursue this option. Also, initially, he establishes ground rules: no drugs and three movies per week. Being a movie fan, this doesn't seem like a hardship. But the red flags started to go up almost immediately. The kid's supposed to be 15- or 16-years-old, and he drinks and smokes. He has sex with a girl he likes and tells his dad that the girl had an orgasm, but he's still worried the girl doesn't really like him. Dad tells him that girls don't have orgasms with boys they don't like. Um, red flag. Actually, two red flags. As long as Gilmour is sharing this anecdote, might a short discussion of safe sex practices be a good idea? And the way he assuages the kid's concern is a little . . . off putting. Mostly, Gilmour is absolutely blind to his kid's problems. He calls his ex-wife, the kid's mother, to talk about how great the kid is (naturally, because she's the only one who truly understands and agrees). He talks about how even teachers who were troubled by the kid's poor performance at school were taken in by his charm. His kid may be a loser, but he's the best kind of loser: a lovable one. The kid does unthinking things that a 15, 16-year-old does - he drops out of school, smokes, drinks, has sex, does drugs - and I don't fault him for it. The problem is that neither does his dad.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jelena

    No, not the David Gilmour. Having clarified that, “The Film Club” is about a father and his son watching films together over a particular period of time. The reason for reading this are the cineastic comments: The unadulterated admiration for Spielberg’s “Duel” is contagious, just as it was a delight to see how differently we perceived “The Shining” or “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Still, this memoir is neither about film-making nor about film-viewing per se, and that is felt every step of the way. Us No, not the David Gilmour. Having clarified that, “The Film Club” is about a father and his son watching films together over a particular period of time. The reason for reading this are the cineastic comments: The unadulterated admiration for Spielberg’s “Duel” is contagious, just as it was a delight to see how differently we perceived “The Shining” or “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Still, this memoir is neither about film-making nor about film-viewing per se, and that is felt every step of the way. Usually we get half a dozen introductory sentences from the father, mostly amounting to trivia and/or (technical) aspects worth noting. There hardly are any personal remarks from the father as an experienced film buff, and no encouragement at all for the newbie son to make up, re-evaluate and argue his own mind. There is a system behind the particular choice of films and there is reason. I just wish they were more thoroughly elaborated. Especially in categories that are casually mentioned but are likely to give the most personal point of view, like Guilty Pleasure (those really trashy films that you can’t help but love, like “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” for me) or Hidden Gems (brilliant yet little known films or performances, some of which for me would be “The World's Fastest Indian” or “The Fall”). Again and alas, the films are merely the backdrop here. The real issue at hand is the attempt to overcome a family crisis. A 16-year-old lies about his grades, drops out of school for reasons none other than pure laziness, bums his days away around the house and develops an interest for hard-drugs. All the while his father nurtures and encourages said behaviour, treating him with kid gloves, indulging him by portraying every angsty teenage breakup like the end of the known world, and believing the solution to everything to be showing the son films. If this were literary fiction, my suspension of disbelief would be put into overdrive and burst by the sheer absurdity of such a concept. Me sprouting dragon scales overnight seems saner. Considering that those are unmodified, biographical facts, this is likely the most self-congratulatory idiocy I have ever come across. I am reluctant to judge a spoiled kid for being a dimwit. But a grown man whose premise is that school as such is to blame for his brat’s shortcomings and who tries everything to pass the issue of his own unemployment onto others is something else. There is something uniquely aggravating about this sad attempt to be hip and cool and to be a homie and all laid-back when guidance and stability is needed. Either out of some insane fear of growing older and not being one of the kids anymore, or out of plain numbness and lack of backbone. It doesn’t make you look cool, it makes you look miserable. When it comes to the one fifth of this text dealing with films, there is little insight here. It is smothered by other contents. So just get something good and thorough instead, that really dives into film and film-making. When it comes to those four fifths dealing with family issues, then this conclusively demonstrated why there should be equally strict capability test for biological parenting as there are for adoptions. Man, you do not deserve to go by the name of David Gilmour.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Peter Derk

    What? I read a book that isn't a comic book? Has the world gone mad? Well, sometimes I like to get away from my regular, capital-L literature featuring metallic men and men who fly around in jet suits and metallic men who have the metal in their skeletons instead of using it as skin. The Film Club. Recommended to me by a friend a really long time ago, I got around to it on a trip and read most of it in two plane rides. Welllllllll that's not entirely true. There was also a 3-hour airport delay wher What? I read a book that isn't a comic book? Has the world gone mad? Well, sometimes I like to get away from my regular, capital-L literature featuring metallic men and men who fly around in jet suits and metallic men who have the metal in their skeletons instead of using it as skin. The Film Club. Recommended to me by a friend a really long time ago, I got around to it on a trip and read most of it in two plane rides. Welllllllll that's not entirely true. There was also a 3-hour airport delay where I proceeded to get a little thrashed on airport beers. Can you all read after drinking? Because I really can't. I wish I could because those are two activities that almost seem made for each other. A whiskey in one hand, some book about an eastern european gulag in the other. What could be better? And I must say, when you're loaded the pages FLY by. I mean, it's almost TOO fast. Scratch that. It IS too fast, which is probably why I didn't retain all that much. But what's really weird, flipping backwards in this book, I did remember most of what had happened. Just not off the top of my head. "Oh yeah...that's the part where he sets up his son with beers on the porch to discourage neighbors from moving in." "Oh yeah...that's the part where he and his son talk about cocaine." Okay, the book. The author definitely has a gift for talking about movies. It's the kind of book that makes you want to go back and watch some of those old terrible movies that everyone says you should watch. I usually respond to those people with a polite "BITCH do I LOOK LIKE someone who does fucking homework?" However, I sometimes carry a backpack and I have adult braces, so the answer to that one is Yes more often than I'd prefer. The movie parts are great, but the father/son stuff fell a little flat for me. I thought it was going to be great. A son who hates school gets the chance to drop out provided he and his father watch three movies a week together? Sounds like fertile ground, no? Well, it turns out, no. I mean, I hated school. HATED it. I even tried that BITCH/homework line there a few times, and it was only slightly less effective than it is now. I would have dropped out to watch three movies a week, absolutely, no doubt. Hell, I would have dropped out if I had to commit three murders a week with a parent. That would have been a decent trade in my eyes. Sadly, however, I never got the offer. And though the son in the book learns a lot about film, I would say that the remarkable thing about the whole adventure is the fact that, clearly, education beyond the 8th grade might be kinda bullshit. I don't know for sure, I don't know if the son is in a gutter somewhere, but I doubt it. And he seemed to be going through the same shit that we all went through at that age, namely a series of extremely painful relationships that ended in ways that were hurtful to all involved. THANK GOODNESS WE ALL STOPPED DOING THAT STUFF, HUH? HAHAHAHA! HUH!? -ahem- At any rate, for doing something like this, the true outcome is that it's no big deal. It's no big deal in that the kid seems about average. In fact, I know a lot of people would question the wisdom of doing something like this, myself included. But on the other hand, I don't think fathers and sons spend a ton of time together. Especially after those sons are over the age of 15. Really, the experiment here seemed to be about whether it was worth it to have a potentially drastic negative impact on your son's life with this plan, but the benefit would be that you would have spent a good long time doing something together when he was of an age that the two of you could actually have an intelligent discussion. I feel like a lot of dads check out during this part of life. Shrug and figure there's not much use talking to kids during those teen years. Ultimately, the reason it all works out is because the parents obviously care about their son. They may not make all the right choices, but they think a lot about the choices they do make, and the entire book reads like a letter of love and admiration from a father to a son. So the reading of the book didn't do a lot for me. That said, I'm glad that someone out there did something like this. And I can't imagine a lot of people (those with shithead dads excluded) who would prefer a high school diploma over some quality time spent with dad.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kathrina

    Here's what I've learned about David Gilmour: He's a talented film critic, a mediocre writer, and a ridiculously irresponsible human being. I was going to say irresponsible father, since I think his approach to parenting is horrendous and naive, but I have to back up and say no, his whole personal and professional life that he brings to light through this memoir is despicable, hypocritical, and undignified. He's an alcoholic, he spends his money irresponsibly and stupidly, his current wife is to Here's what I've learned about David Gilmour: He's a talented film critic, a mediocre writer, and a ridiculously irresponsible human being. I was going to say irresponsible father, since I think his approach to parenting is horrendous and naive, but I have to back up and say no, his whole personal and professional life that he brings to light through this memoir is despicable, hypocritical, and undignified. He's an alcoholic, he spends his money irresponsibly and stupidly, his current wife is too forgiving of his aloof, "cool" parenting, he doesn't follow through on any of his "promises" or ultimatums, he thinks his career on television actually matters to anyone but him, he's not sure his teenage son can understand the word "simultaneously", nor can he find Florida on a map, but dropping out of school is a good idea, he's afraid of actually parenting his son for fear he might "hurt" him. And apparently he has a daughter by another mother who doesn't get a line of mention. Even though this is not a good book, I enjoyed reading it for two reasons. One, the small amount of actual film criticism was quite interesting, and I wish that was the whole book, because it's the one thing I can trust this author to write intelligently about. Two, I enjoyed pointing out Gilmour's hypocrisy and plain spineless parenting mistakes. Insert "such as" here: Gilmour and his loser son have way too many conversations about his son's stupid and pointless lovelife. Point for Gilmour that his alcoholic, drug-taking, smoking, sex-having, high-school-drop-out 16-year-old-son is willing to communicate with his father. But when this son asks him for his opinion on his current love interest, Gilmour answers that he'd "say whatever I'd have to say to make you feel better." Oh, that's a good idea. Tell your son that his skanky, slutty girlfriend is a catch, because that's what he wants to hear. And here's some great advice for your 16-year-old: "...it's alright to go to bed with an asshole but don't ever have a baby with one." Wait, did we have the conversation about birth control, yet? Ah, not today's problem... So, anyway, the maybe 20 pages or so of film analysis are pretty interesting. But reading film analysis does not equal actually watching the films, and, believe it or not, watching the films does not equal a high school diploma. It's weird that maybe you thought that.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    I may be the most permissive mother in Monsey, but compared to the father who wrote this book, I am in control. The book opens when the son, Jesse, age 16, is failing out of school. The father, writer David Gilmour, makes the staggering suggestion of letting him drop out of school under two conditions: 1) no drugs (alcohol and nicotine ARE allowed, though) and 2) he must watch three movies per week with David. Since David did a stint as a film critic for a while, he gets to choose all the movies I may be the most permissive mother in Monsey, but compared to the father who wrote this book, I am in control. The book opens when the son, Jesse, age 16, is failing out of school. The father, writer David Gilmour, makes the staggering suggestion of letting him drop out of school under two conditions: 1) no drugs (alcohol and nicotine ARE allowed, though) and 2) he must watch three movies per week with David. Since David did a stint as a film critic for a while, he gets to choose all the movies, and he uses the films as a means to homeschooling. Along the way, the two engage in many heart-to-heart talks, particularly on the subject most on young men’s minds: young women. In spite of the very minimal demands David makes of Jesse, Jesse does improve over time. At the outset, David lets Jesse sleep as late as he wants every morning, but within a few months, Jesse gets himself a job, committing himself to at least that much structure. The book spans about three years, and at the end, Jesse returns to school. In other words, David’s laissez-faire parenting strategy worked. As an added boon, it seems he deals with a lot less chutzpah than I do. Most of the reviews I read rated this book low because they disagree with David’s decision. I’m giving it a 3 because it’s an emotionally honest parenting memoir. But I was leaning heavily toward a 2, and I've compensated for the lower rating by including it on my "regrettable reads" shelf. David and Jesse live in world very different than the Orthodox Jewish community in which I operate, and the descriptions of their relationships with women rather disturbed me, as did the partying and drugs. It's certainly easier to keep your kid on the straight and narrow if everyone around you lives on the straight and narrow. Another problem, though not in the category of "regrettable," was that sometimes the film discussions got dull and repetitive. Some of them WERE interesting and made me aware of movies I hope to check out for myself, but when I had absolutely no familiarity with the film under discussion AND it didn't sound like something I'd enjoy, I got bored with it. Still, the book made me think, and it made me feel. I don’t have to agree with everything to recognize good writing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gena

    Not sure where to begin. When I read a review of this book I was intrigued, it turned out not to be what I was hoping. To me this book was more about a father and mother (divorced) and a step mother making a decision to roll the dice on their sons future by letting him lead them around by the nose. At every turn the father agonizes over his sons relationships with his girlfriends (the kid is 15 when this experiment begins). At 15 the son is smoking, drinking with his parents as his father reward Not sure where to begin. When I read a review of this book I was intrigued, it turned out not to be what I was hoping. To me this book was more about a father and mother (divorced) and a step mother making a decision to roll the dice on their sons future by letting him lead them around by the nose. At every turn the father agonizes over his sons relationships with his girlfriends (the kid is 15 when this experiment begins). At 15 the son is smoking, drinking with his parents as his father rewards him with fancy dinners out and vacations to Cuba. My head was spinning with the many times the father engaged in conversations that were inappropriate (to me but this is my review so....). This goes on until the kid is 19 and some where in those years he experiments with drugs leading to a hospital stay. The book is full of the father's critique of the movies he has selected for he and his son to watch. No surprise as the father has had a career as a film critic, has had his own talk show and has authored 6 novels. At the end of the day (and the book) my question is "Does the end justify the means"? You read it and be the judge. As for me, I am still stumped about the generous reviews this book received. Chosen by the Chicago Tribune as One of the Best Memoirs of the Year Recipient of Spectacular Acclaim.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Todd

    Lets get this out of the way...this is not written by the guitar player from Pink Floyd. This was a remarkable book. It is usually not the genre that I read, however, it combines two of my favorite things...parenthood and movies. Gilmore does a fantastic job of identifying many of the fears of parenting, adulthood and the overall human experience. If it sounds sappy, it was not. It is a story to which any parent can relate. It is about watching your child grow, providing guidance even though you h Lets get this out of the way...this is not written by the guitar player from Pink Floyd. This was a remarkable book. It is usually not the genre that I read, however, it combines two of my favorite things...parenthood and movies. Gilmore does a fantastic job of identifying many of the fears of parenting, adulthood and the overall human experience. If it sounds sappy, it was not. It is a story to which any parent can relate. It is about watching your child grow, providing guidance even though you have doubts about the parenting methodology, and how to let go when your child moves on. It also has wonderful moments that attentive parents only hope to have with their child. As well, it can frighten at times because you know every child will feel both physical and emotional pain (how, as a parent, will you react). Throughout this memoir, film history and interesting cinema triva is featured. Gilmore splices his relationship with his son and his professional knowledge of film. Gilmore permitted his son to leave school with the condition that they watch three movies during the week. I highly recommend this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    I couldn't get through this one. The first thing that bugged me was the language. It was one of those "hey! I can swear!" books that was just for shock value. But that doesn't surprise me coming from this author who does seem to want to be "hip". Gilmour said that he wasn't trying to be cool, but actions speak louder than words. If you are letting your teenager drop out of school, have sex, smoke, and top it off by requiring him to watch rated R movies, then sorry, but I think you're trying to b I couldn't get through this one. The first thing that bugged me was the language. It was one of those "hey! I can swear!" books that was just for shock value. But that doesn't surprise me coming from this author who does seem to want to be "hip". Gilmour said that he wasn't trying to be cool, but actions speak louder than words. If you are letting your teenager drop out of school, have sex, smoke, and top it off by requiring him to watch rated R movies, then sorry, but I think you're trying to be cool. I'm coming from a place where I am actually trying to educate my daughter myself because she does not fit into that public school mode. I get that. I guess I just don't understand why he set the bar so low... infuriated, I am not one who feels the need to finish a book just to say that I did. I skipped to the end to see that he went back to school (good-- and I'm sure that this Film Club idea helped him, I just don't like the book!) and curiously, the last line of the book reads: "You're so cool, you're so cool, you're so cool." Was this about making a kid cool?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ms.pegasus

    What do you do if you're a 15 year old boy, wrenched with exploding hormones, bored by the mere thought of a classroom and aroused only by relevance to your personal NOW? That's Jessie Gilmour. Worse, what do you do if you are his parent? Canadian novelist and film critic David Gilmour shares an extraordinary three years of empathy, anxiety, despair and joy in this brief memoir. Jessie is musically gifted, sensitive, eager to appear as the adult his lank body suggests, but painfully vulnerable t What do you do if you're a 15 year old boy, wrenched with exploding hormones, bored by the mere thought of a classroom and aroused only by relevance to your personal NOW? That's Jessie Gilmour. Worse, what do you do if you are his parent? Canadian novelist and film critic David Gilmour shares an extraordinary three years of empathy, anxiety, despair and joy in this brief memoir. Jessie is musically gifted, sensitive, eager to appear as the adult his lank body suggests, but painfully vulnerable to his own internal emotional chaos. Warnings, interventions, and serious talks have no effect on Jessie's failing grades and “lost” homework. Gilmour offers a gutsy proposition. Jessie can live in his house and drop out of school if he agrees to watch three movies a week with Gilmour. A further rider to the agreement stipulates: No drugs. Jessie leaps at the opportunity. It's like grabbing a “get out of jail free” card in Monopoly. For Gilmour, its a reflection of his own anguish. Of course he's haunted by the image of an aged, aimless Jessie slumped over in a cloud of marijuana. Even worse outcomes are too horrible to even contemplate. Gilmour hopes to forge a connection with his son through his own passion for film. The alternative is to grind on as a grim disciplinarian until Jessie finally rebels. Jessie's heartbreaking rollercoaster of relationships and David Gilmour's own stretches of unemployment are the background to their film viewing. Gilmour avoids the route of an art film curriculum. He wants Jessie to enjoy this experience and is careful to provide an appealing mix of classics, “guilty pleasures”, and what he calls “hidden treasures”. Truffaut's 400 Blows, the documentary Volcano, Hitchcock's Notorious, and Joe Eszterhaus's Basic Instinct, are among the many selections. Gilmour comments on technique, and historical context cautiously with elaborately constructed casualness. There are good moments. Jessie opens up about his own feelings and confusion. There are disappointing moments. Jessie is so wrapped up in his own head that sometimes he can scarcely notice what he is viewing. Occasionally, Jessie reacts with a blank shrug as his dad enthuses about a scene or a director. Gilmour chides himself for a short temper, but the reader is impressed with his patience and self-control. The project is one of self-realization for David Gilmour as well. “I return to old movies not just to watch them again but with the hope that I'll feel the way I did when I first saw them. (Not just about movies, but about everything.)” (p.136) Gilmour's passion is infectious. Readers will wish he had written a companion volume on film history. His opinions are quirky (he loved Ishtar), and illuminating (his explanation of the two staircases Hitchcock built for Notorious). This is a book that will appeal to any parent with an interest in film. This was my second reading of the book, and it was a pleasant surprise to find how much I enjoyed reading it again. NOTES Youtube video interview of David and Jessie Gilmour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANmFt...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    This guy is a jackass. I'm pretty sure he wanted to be praised for his cool guy solution for his son who wanted to drop out of high school. He says no problem, just watch three movies every week with me. You want to drink? Sure. Drugs? Okay. Sex here in the house? No problem. Sleep until 5? Yes! Just watch movies with me! Idiot. And when your book is titled "The Film Club" you should probably talk about films instead of just naming a few you watched. What a waste of time. This guy is a jackass. I'm pretty sure he wanted to be praised for his cool guy solution for his son who wanted to drop out of high school. He says no problem, just watch three movies every week with me. You want to drink? Sure. Drugs? Okay. Sex here in the house? No problem. Sleep until 5? Yes! Just watch movies with me! Idiot. And when your book is titled "The Film Club" you should probably talk about films instead of just naming a few you watched. What a waste of time.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marija Andreeva

    3.5 I really liked this one. Don't let the stars fool you. I really loved the way this book was constructed. It is a moving story about the relationship between a father and a son, through their joined engagement in watching movies. Along with the interesting references about movies, I really liked the gentle perspective of a father who worries if he is really raising his son in the right direction. Great book, I highly recommend! 3.5 I really liked this one. Don't let the stars fool you. I really loved the way this book was constructed. It is a moving story about the relationship between a father and a son, through their joined engagement in watching movies. Along with the interesting references about movies, I really liked the gentle perspective of a father who worries if he is really raising his son in the right direction. Great book, I highly recommend!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

    interesting premise... once you get past the misogyny

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    This really drew me in and made me want to watch a lot of movies!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia

    For me, it’s difficult to like a book if I don’t like any of the characters. I was really excited to read The Film Club, about a 16-year-old boy who wishes to quit high school and does so, with his father’s blessing, with the caveat that he must watch three movies a week (all chosen by the father). The result, according to the book jacket, is high-quality father-son bonding, the likes of which rarely happen after a boy has reached his teen years. While I did read about conversations Jesse had wit For me, it’s difficult to like a book if I don’t like any of the characters. I was really excited to read The Film Club, about a 16-year-old boy who wishes to quit high school and does so, with his father’s blessing, with the caveat that he must watch three movies a week (all chosen by the father). The result, according to the book jacket, is high-quality father-son bonding, the likes of which rarely happen after a boy has reached his teen years. While I did read about conversations Jesse had with his father that did indeed demonstrate their emotional closeness, I wasn’t particularly impressed with Jesse or his father. Jesse is repeatedly described as a pale-faced smoker who doesn’t want to get a job (or go to school), wakes up in the early afternoon smelling hung-over, and who is obsessed with a beautiful girl who enjoys treating him like crap. The father, for his part, is some sort of wealthy TV personality with a drinking problem whose latest project is coming to an end and fears having to work as a substitute teacher (?). Though he’s low on money, he refuses to stop eating at Le Paradis, clearly an expensive French restaurant, and when he begins talks with someone about a new project, he prematurely celebrates by taking his son and his ex-wife on an expensive trip to Cuba (they go to the airport in a limo), where he drinks too much (as usual) and comes home to find out the project has fallen through. As if the reader were an idiot, the father (also the author) waits until page 118 to mention that if he has any addiction, it’s eating in expensive restaurants when he can’t afford them (he forgot to mention his other addiction of drinking too much alcohol). While I'm neutral as to the idea of letting a teen drop out of school and making him watch movies as a form of education (after all, I was intrigued enough with the idea to want to read this book), I find Gilmour's other parenting methods dubious at best. Jesse isn't required to work and he spends his dad's money on cigarettes and booze. When Jesse's heart is repeatedly broken, he copes by drinking too much and using cocaine (one time this even lands him in the hospital with the fear he's had a heart attack). His father doesn't recommend or require that he see a therapist, talk with a member of the clergy, write in his journal, go to the gym, meditate, or any number of other healthier ways of coping with heartbreak. If you still want to read it, I'll let you figure out how it ends.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christian Hamaker

    I'm seeing plenty of 3- and 2-star reviews for this one, and I don't get it. As a film buff, I was drawn to the book because of its title and premise, but I understood that I wasn't going to get deep film analysis. Rather, this was obviously going to be a father-and-son story, with the film club as a framework, or even a McGuffin. Therefore, the undercooked film analysis wasn't a barrier for me. What too few of the reviews I've seen mention is the quality of the writing. This might not be prize- I'm seeing plenty of 3- and 2-star reviews for this one, and I don't get it. As a film buff, I was drawn to the book because of its title and premise, but I understood that I wasn't going to get deep film analysis. Rather, this was obviously going to be a father-and-son story, with the film club as a framework, or even a McGuffin. Therefore, the undercooked film analysis wasn't a barrier for me. What too few of the reviews I've seen mention is the quality of the writing. This might not be prize-worthy journalism, but it's personal, affecting prose, without airs. As someone who has tired of literary tropes in genre fiction, I found the book refreshing and, if not quite un-put-downable, often compelling enough to keep me reading just-one-more-chapter. It's a good thing the book won me over so early. On its second-to-last page, Gilmour speculates about an "over-rated film club" that would feature "The Searchers" and "Singin' in the Rain," two unimpeachable films. His concluding barbs threatened to undo everything that had come before. But no. I had so enjoyed the book that I just let that clanging insult go.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    The memoir of a fellow who allowed his son to drop out of high school if he would agree to watch three movies (of his father's choosing) a week... With his father. It was a pretty entertaining book, and an interesting concept. Especially to someone like myself, who has little feeling for school (especially high school, which I didn't bother attending) and very strong feelings for film. But it was a very quick read. I had hoped that it would have been more about the movie watching aspect, but ther The memoir of a fellow who allowed his son to drop out of high school if he would agree to watch three movies (of his father's choosing) a week... With his father. It was a pretty entertaining book, and an interesting concept. Especially to someone like myself, who has little feeling for school (especially high school, which I didn't bother attending) and very strong feelings for film. But it was a very quick read. I had hoped that it would have been more about the movie watching aspect, but there was little to this: The names of some the movies and a sentence or two between him and his son. The brevity of this coverage and the lack of effect that these movies seemed to have on his son (he was 15 after all), lead me to think of it more as the story of a father trying to do a good job raising his son as he progresses through his teens. As that stands, it's a fun book, with some interesting angles. There is a list at the end of the movies that they watched, but for those of us who really enjoy reading about movies, just the list isn't particularly interesting.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eva van Loon

    Most unaffected writing style I've come across for a long time. As engaging as Gilmour himself. At once a painless course in film studies and a fresh and honest depiction of the ties between fathers and sons. Most unaffected writing style I've come across for a long time. As engaging as Gilmour himself. At once a painless course in film studies and a fresh and honest depiction of the ties between fathers and sons.

  28. 4 out of 5

    ▫️Ron

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The book deserves a lot of the criticism I'm seeing on Goodreads. People who like it seem less compelled to say why than those who don't. I'll take a minute to tell you why I like it. It's an examination of a desperate father having a second (or in this author's case, maybe a 4th or 5th) mid-life crisis. He's overly involved in his son's post-adolescent coming of age, and clinging to it in an unhealthy way - in fact, he's likely making it much harder on his son... all while seemingly, genuinely, The book deserves a lot of the criticism I'm seeing on Goodreads. People who like it seem less compelled to say why than those who don't. I'll take a minute to tell you why I like it. It's an examination of a desperate father having a second (or in this author's case, maybe a 4th or 5th) mid-life crisis. He's overly involved in his son's post-adolescent coming of age, and clinging to it in an unhealthy way - in fact, he's likely making it much harder on his son... all while seemingly, genuinely, seeking to be a good dad. He comes across as a sort of youth and masculinity vampire. It's desperate and a thing to behold. This is a man with some serious difficulty with women and feeling comfortable in his own skin... but you know what? That's a LOT of men - and he's at least willing to examine it and confess to the trouble (to some degree - a lot of his failings are only under examination when you read between the lines). It's a struggle that kills guys all the time - we should look at it more closely, or we'll continue seeing guys kill themselves mid-life, like salmon who have finished spawning. While David congratulates himself for leaving certain interaction to Jesse and his peers... he does so while fostering the most iron clad dependence I've ever seen described between a parent and child. Dependence that the son only succeeds in escaping from when he abandons the entire experiment the book is describing (without abandoning his gains - namely, specialist knowledge to be an informed critic, a job his father is grooming him for in a transparent attempt to hijack his son's interests and imprint himself on the boy as hard as possible in the last remaining years of the son's reliance on his parents). But I like the book. You don't have to like characters to like a book. You can learn a lot from someone who's living very differently than yourself, and who has glaring flaws (this author has a troubling view of women, beyond understandably taking his son's side when things go wrong with his relationships). When you confess to the fact that your boy turns to you, fearful that his feelings emasculate him - and you dispel that fear while reinforcing it with everything else you do... it paints a picture of the condition of masculinity in our culture, and the microcosm of the family. A framework that is fraught with hypocrisy and ugliness. A propping up of male ego at the expense of women. Career, education, and aspiration are all described pejoratively against women, while these attributes are being sought for his son. Everything he wants for his son, he rejects in his son's female peers. It's stark. That doesn't make the examination invalid. I hope David and Jesse can escape the prisons they've inherited. They're said to almost kill the kid repeatedly through the book... and yet are never recognized (by the characters) as hazardous constructions of their own making. An honest look at a tragic state of being. edit to add: I'm downgrading the book to 3 stars (from 4). Much of the work's value as layered revelation about the faults of it's author are too subtle to accurately characterize him - and I don't want to imply that the book's virtue is in the face-value content of the book itself.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nicole A

    This book annoyed me to no end. Congratulations, your privileged white son managed to be a success in life despite being an unlikable slacker. As a parent, I can somewhat get behind the ideas of homeschooling or "unschooling" but that is not the situation here. I get having to compromise and put up with certain teenage inevitabilities in order to keep your kid talking to you, but this father seems to completely indulge his son in smoking, drinking and fucking around (don't do drugs! But here, ha This book annoyed me to no end. Congratulations, your privileged white son managed to be a success in life despite being an unlikable slacker. As a parent, I can somewhat get behind the ideas of homeschooling or "unschooling" but that is not the situation here. I get having to compromise and put up with certain teenage inevitabilities in order to keep your kid talking to you, but this father seems to completely indulge his son in smoking, drinking and fucking around (don't do drugs! But here, have more wine). Besides that, author David Gilmore just seems so damned pleased with himself about everything. Surely he could have come up with a better reason to write a book where he could wax poetic about his favourite movies. A blessedly quick read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mike Schutt

    This book had great promise— and I think Gilmour saw that promise—in a redemptive and rich relationship between a father and son. It just didn’t turn out that way. So the result, even after some great scenes, some wonderful insights from the movies, and some very gritty relational details, was pretty disappointing. For me, the disappointment was depressing. The love of father and son was there, but the substance— the redeeming authority, challenging conversations, and leadership— were just missi This book had great promise— and I think Gilmour saw that promise—in a redemptive and rich relationship between a father and son. It just didn’t turn out that way. So the result, even after some great scenes, some wonderful insights from the movies, and some very gritty relational details, was pretty disappointing. For me, the disappointment was depressing. The love of father and son was there, but the substance— the redeeming authority, challenging conversations, and leadership— were just missing. No hope. Nothing redemptive. Poignant. Nicely told. Great insights. Just short of what it might have been, had the reality behind the relationship had more substance.

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