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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 8, 2010

Exploring 2009's other fine films


By Claudia Puig
USA Today

Last year was a record-breaker for blockbusters, from "Transformers 2" to "Avatar." But a number of excellent films that flew in under the radar deserve a larger audience and are either now available on DVD or will be soon.

• "Amreeka." An engaging slice of American life as seen through the eyes of a family of Palestinian immigrants who make a difficult, but ultimately hopeful, transition to a country that isn't always sure what to make of them. (On DVD Tuesday.)

• "The Boys Are Back." An unflinchingly honest film about a fractured family coping with divorce and death. The effects of these calamities on their innocent victims children are explored poignantly and with humor. Clive Owen is superb as a sportswriter in the Australian countryside who struggles to raise his two sons. (On DVD Jan. 26.)

• "The Brothers Bloom." This genial comic adventure starring Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz and Adrien Brody feels old-fashioned with its charming romance and stately European locations. But its quirky twisting story, magical realism and witty dialogue make it an enchantingly offbeat genre-buster. (Available now.)

• "The Cove." This well-crafted, suspenseful documentary about the slaughter of dolphins off the coast of a Japanese town informs, unsettles and calls audiences to action. (Available now.)

• "It Might Get Loud." An unconventional documentary featuring real-life guitar heroes Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White demonstrating and discuss-ing their techniques and inspirations. (Available now.)

• "Phoebe in Wonderland." Elle Fanning is phenomenal as the title character in this moving character study of a troubled and imaginative 9-year-old. (Available now.)