The United States of ‘Zombieland’ on Netflix

The zombie comedy was hardly fresh territory when Zombieland (2009) came along (and really, will anyone top Shaun of the Dead?) but it nonetheless does a fine job of mining the humor inherent in the end of the world. Jesse Eisenberg is the loner college geek who finds that his obsessive-compulsive instincts are just what […]

‘State of Play’ – political intrigue with Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck on Netflix

Politics, journalism, and murder swirl through State of Play (2009), the American adaptation of the sharp, award-winning British mini-series. Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) is the old school reporter in rapidly evolving newsroom, still using an old IBM computer with the blinking cursor while everyone else is hooked up to the web. Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) […]

‘Black Dynamite’ on HBO Max

A tongue-in-cheek tribute to the black exploitation action cinema of the seventies, Black Dynamite (2009) is a dead-on parody of the sloppy filmmaking, aggressive overacting and slapdash writing of the cheapest films of the genre. Michael Jai White, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film, dons a neatly sculpted afro and a tough guy mustache […]

‘Get Low’ with Robert Duvall and Bill Murray on Amazon Prime

A lovely film about regret, self-punishment and redemption on a scale both human and mythic (or at least American folkloric), Get Low (2009) is a feature film with the personality of a short story, filled with quietly offbeat characters and directed with a deft balance of comedy and tragedy. Which is why it had a […]

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in Greg Mottola's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age film 'Adventureland.' Photo credit: Miramax

‘Adventureland’ – coming of age on HBO Max

Adventureland (2009, R) is more than just a chintzy theme park outside of Pittsburgh, where college grad James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) spends a summer trying to save money for graduate school. It’s the real world adventures of life in the space between college and independence, that place where you think that you’re an adult but […]

Morgan Freeman is Nelson Mandella in ‘Invictus’ on Netflix

Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandella as the newly-elected President of South Africa in Invictus (2009), Clint Eastwood’s reverent tribute to Nelson Mandella’s efforts to unite post-apartheid South Africa. This isn’t a biography of Mandella. Audiences come to the film with the understanding that Nelson Mandella spent 24 years in prison for protesting South Africa’s apartheid […]

‘Public Enemies’ on Peacock

Public Enemies (2009) is Michael Mann’s take on the gangster glory days of the depression, when the most flamboyant and notorious bank robbers became the outlaw heroes of the day. That makes Johnny Depp great casting as John Dillinger, whose spree of daylight bank robberies and daring getaways between May 1933 (when he was paroled […]

‘District 9’ – the aliens have arrived on Hulu

The aliens arrived almost thirty years ago, their crippled spacecraft hovering to a halt over Johannesburg, where it remains floating over the city. That defining image hovers over the entirety of District 9 (2009), a savagely whipsmart satire of first contact with an alien species that has been reduced to repressed immigrant population stranded in […]

Michael Stuhlbarg stars in the 2009 film by Joel and Ethan Coen

The Coen Bros.’ ‘A Serious Man’ – a modern Job on Peacock

A Serious Man (2009) is a serious (and seriously funny) meditation on little themes like the meaning of life and why are we here and how can we know God’s purpose, and is as funny, heartbreaking, questioning, trying, exasperating and sincerely inquisitive a portrait of the human condition as you’ll find on screen. You could […]

‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs’ on Netflix and Hulu

A town gets a buffet line for a weather system in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009), a colorful animated feature based on a children’s storybook tale. Director/writer team Phil Lord and Chris Miller cobble a story around the storybook’s premise but it’s the whimsical imagery of raining hamburgers, a Jell-O mold castle, an […]