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Top 10 movies of 2009*

by Howard McQuitter, II

[*Editor”'s Note:  Howard”'s selections were done before the Academy Awards and were only listed in the March issue of The Alley.  This month we include the list with notes.]

Hurt Locker
War/drama
Rated: R
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) has the most dangerous job in the world, disconnecting road bombs in Baghdad. There”'s not enough money to compensate him for his task. Sometimes Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), James”' superior, thinks James is a little crazy.

Baader Meinhof Komplex
Drama/History/Thriller/Adventure/Mystery
Rated: R
Director: Uli Edel
German with English subtitles
The meanest leftist groups in the west, the Red Army Faction, aka Baader Meinhof Gang, emerges in the late 1960s and into the 1970s in reaction to too much ultraconservatism in the West German government. They seek to take extreme measures, bombing banks, government buildings, etc., against the status quo.

Inglourious Basterds
Drama/War/Comedy
Rated: R
Director: Quentin Tarantino
The Nazis have their hands full when a young American Jew, Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), from Tennessee and a team of like-minded American soldiers capture and scalp Nazis. Christoph Waltz (Col. Hans Landa) is terrific. Diane Kruger (Bridget von Hammersmark) is very convincing and I”'m sure she studied actresses of the past such as Ann Sheridan, Ingrid Bergman, Laraine Day, and Carole Lombard. Melanie Laurent (Shosanna Dreyfus) as well as Kruger did her homework of actresses back in the “Golden Age” (circa 1939 to 1950) of film.

An Education
Drama
Rated: R
Director: Lone Scherfio
Almost quiescent in nature, “An Education” is a stellar movie that most critics, and segments of moviegoers, liked very much. An unknown to most American audiences, Carey Mulligan (she reminds me of Hayley Mills in the 1966 movie, “The Trouble with Angels”) plays Jenny, a secondary student, who becomes involved with a much older man, David, played nicely by Peter Sarsgaard (“Boys Don”'t Cry”, “Orphan”).

Up
Animation/Family
Rated: PG
Director: Peter Docter
Edward Asner lends his voice to widower Carl Fredericksen and Jordan Nagai lends his voice to pesky Kid Russell who hangs onto Carl”'s floating house. Breathtaking and charming, there are references to Frank Capra”'s 1946 film “It”'s a Wonderful Life”. Entirely a wholesome affair, Pixar Pictures creates another animation wonder.

White Ribbon
Drama/Thriller
Rated: R
Director: Michael Haneke
Do not blink. Black and white films today are very rare. Don”'t panic; you”'re not looking at a film made in 1956. But when you realize what you are watching; pre-world war I north German town where a lot happens and nobody knows why or who, even the audience.
German, Italian, Polish, Latin in English subtitles.

Broken Embraces
Drama/Romance
Rated: R
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Spanish with English subtitles
Back story is essentially of a mistress Lena (Penelope Cruz) to a wealthy film producer Ernesto Martel (Jose Luis Gomer) who to his dismay, wants to be an actress. Director Harry Caine (Lluis Homar) falls in love with her and her with him. Martel is insanely jealous and possessive of Lena. Circa 2008, in Madrid, Harry tells his young friend Diego (Tamar Novas) what happens with him and Lena and his nemesis back in the early 1990s.

Precious
Drama/African American
Rated: R
Director: Lee Daniels
Heart-wrenching tale of an obese, 16 year old African American girl subjected to two rapes by her father, producing two children. She continues to be verbally and physically abused by her mother, Mary (MoNique). Overweight, dark-skinned, nearly illiterate, Miss Precious/Clareece (Gaboruney Gabby Sidibe) faces an uphill battle to break out of the circles of violence and debasement. Controversial in the African American arena, even though many African Americans marched to theaters to see it, the assessments in many cases were tepid, if not quite skeptical.

The White Academy cabal “generously” gave a black director”'s film a nomination for best picture only for the second time in the Oscar”'s 83 year history. John Singleton”'s “Boyz n The Hood” received a nomination for best director seventeen years ago. However, this year”'s best picture category has been widened to a gaudy ten. Wow ”“ “Precious” finds a niche.

Up in the Air
Drama/Comedy/Road
Rated: R
Director: Jason Reitman

With unemployment rife in America, “Up in the Air” as good as it is, is still like the proverbial fingernails scratching across the chalkboard. Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) makes his living by traveling from city to city (Omaha, Wichita) setting up interviews to tell employees they”'re fired, or the euphemism used by him or his assistant Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), “I”'m here to talk about your options.” Bingham practically lives in various Hilton Hotels, meeting Alex Gordan (Ver Farmiga) to a crashing “success”.

A Serious Man
Drama/Comedy
Rated: R
Directors: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Setting is St. Louis Park, Minnesota, 1967 where Jewish professor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) teaches at a Jewish School. He”'s a nice man with a lot of problems. His wife Judith Gopnik (Sari Lernick) tells him in their kitchen that she”'s leaving him for a neighbor ”“ Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed). At school, a boy tries to bribe Larry for a better grade. If you have been in Minneapolis over 40 years, you will catch references to locations and a chain of supermarkets no longer with us.

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