Back Again: The 19 Best Movies That You Didn't See in 2009
by Alex Billington
January 21, 2010
Although it's now 2010, that doesn't mean we can't look back at some of the best movies you didn't see last year. Back by popular demand, it's our third annual list of the 19 Best Movies That You Didn't See in 2009 (you can find the older lists here: 2008, 2007). Featured below is a hand-picked selection of the best independent and mainstream films that were either quietly dumped by distributors, ignored by audiences, or just not marketed well. So to give these films some extra time in the spotlight, and to support some of the best filmmakers out there, we've put together this 2009 recap just for you. Read on for the complete list!
I would like to encourage everyone to watch at least one of these that they haven't heard of (or didn't see) beforehand. If you spend the two hours or so that it will take to watch even one of these movies mentioned below, it would mean that much more to the filmmakers who put so much time and effort into making each of these movies. This isn't about getting kudos for mentioning certain films, this article is about pointing out movies that don't deserve to be forgotten and are begging to be watched. So pick one and watch it tonight!
Opened on October 16, 2009
Directed by Lone Scherfig
A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.
Why it's on here: An Education contains one of the best performances of 2009 from the extraordinarily talented, and quite beautiful, Carey Mulligan. Not only that, but the story is meticulously crafted yet paced well enough to never bore. It's a charming, sometimes frustrating, and occasionally comical story of a British girl getting a chance to grow up. It takes a lot to impress me with a film like this, and I can't say it was my favorite film of last year, but it certainly was one that I haven't forgotten. And I'll be rooting for Carey Mulligan at the Oscars - she deserves to win for Best Actress.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Opened on April 10, 2009
Directed by Sacha Gervasi
At fourteen years old, best friends Lips and Robb Reiner made a pact to rock together forever. Their band Anvil, hailed as the “demi-gods of Canadian metal,” influenced a musical generation including Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax. Though Anvil never made it, they never stopped playing or believing.
Why it's on here: Here's the second-best documentary of last year. In this rags to rags story, we're privy to the tale of Canadian metal band Anvil, toted as one of the most influential bands of its generation -- and one of its least successful. Having never hit it big despite garnering a world-wide following, Anvil bandmates Robb Reiner and Lips embark on the journey of recording their 13th studio album. There wasn't a single film last year that displayed more heart than Anvil!. While on a calamitous European tour, you'll cry out as the band is stiffed. Again. Lips and Robb are now in their late fifties, still chasing their boyhood dreams. I've never wished more success for someone. Long live Anvil! (Written by Brandon Lee Tenney)
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Opened on November 20, 2009
Directed by Werner Herzog
Terence McDonagh is a drug- and gambling-addled police detective working in post-Katrina New Orleans investigating the killing of five Senegalese immigrants.
Why it's on here: I'm sure a lot of people will be wondering why this is on here at all, but screw it, it deserves to be. There is one simple reason for that: I went to see this expecting to hate it, and walked out loving it. It's such a crazy movie and I love seeing Nic Cage get even wackier every minute. This was the film he needed to do to let all that craziness out (and get back on track with his acting). Combine Cage with Werner Herzog, lots of drugs, Eva Mendes, and Xzibit, and this is what you get - a crazy but highly entertaining cop movie. Just make sure you go in ready to laugh your ass off, even if you think you're not supposed to be laughing. It'll help you enjoy it even more!
The Brothers Bloom
Opened on May 15, 2009
Directed by Rian Johnson
The Brothers Bloom are the best con men in the world, swindling millionaires with complex scenarios of lust and intrigue. Now they've decided to take on one last job - showing a beautiful and eccentric heiress the time of her life with a romantic adventure that takes them around the world.
Why it's on here: From the director of Brick comes this brilliant con man comedy. It took me a few viewings to fully appreciate The Brothers Bloom, but it was one of my top 10 movies of 2009. I love the score, created by Rian Johnson's cousin Nathan Johnson, and the three lead performances from Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, and Mark Ruffalo are fantastic as well. It's a great con man comedy with a story that takes them all over the world. And the whole movie itself is kind of a con, too, and it will take repeat viewings to figure out, but it's worth it. Johnson is one of my favorite directors for a reason - he knows how to make unforgettable, original movies.
Straight to DVD on October 6, 2009
Directed by Tom Shankland
A relaxing Christmas vacation turns into a terrifying fight for survival as the children begin to turn on their parents.
Why it's on here: I'm not the biggest fan of horror, but after seeing this at Fantastic Fest last year, it instantly became one of my favorite horror movies of all-time. It's a creepy but beautifully shot horror/thriller about some children who go crazy and kill their parents while on Christmas vacation. Sure, that's been done a few times before, but The Children is still worth seeing because of its style. Director Tom Shankland does a great job keeping the story contained on a low budget and not going all out with effects or anything like that. Plus it's always great to come across an indie horror movie that even I can call a personal favorite.
Opened on July 31, 2009
Directed by Louie Psihoyos
Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists, led by renown dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health.
Why it's on here: This documentary from director Louie Psihoyos is, flippers down, the best of the last year. A little bit heist film, a little bit environmental outcry, and a lot of one of the most staggering, nearly unbelievable explorations of human immorality I've ever seen. Led by infamous, world-renown dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, a team of activists infiltrate a small cove in Taijii, Japan in order to expose the blood-boiling truth that thousands upon thousands of dolphins are slaughtered each year without any repercussions. The film ably blends the tension and excitement of an action film with brain-swelling knowledge and an intensity that could cause the comatose to join the picket lines. See this film. Or do you hate dolphins? Come on! (Written by Brandon Lee Tenney)
In the Loop
Opened on July 24, 2009
Directed by Armando Iannucci
A foul-mouthed comedy that draws on non-specific events to create a world that is terrifyingly familiar: The US President and UK Prime Minister fancy a war, but not everyone agrees that war is a good thing.
Why it's on here: There's a difference between you and I. For one, I have an expanded vocabulary of curse words and insults. It's not that I grew up any different, but simply that I've seen Armando Iannucci's chest-burning comedy In the Loop. Over the course of 106-minutes, the characters (mostly Peter Capaldi) actively create countless new ways to insult each other. It is all part of a wicked political satire that is simultaneously authentic and absurd. It is also evidence that Anna Chlumsky, the star of My Girl (and My Girl 2) still has an acting career. And she's lookin' good. (Written by Neil Miller of FSR)
The Killing Room
Straight to DVD on October 13, 2009
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
Four individuals sign up for a psychological research study only to discover that they are now subjects of a brutal, classified government program.
Why it's on here: This incredibly intense thriller got screwed in a straight-to-DVD release, which is unfortunate considering it's such a great movie. The Killing Room is sort of one of those stuck-in-one-place movies about four people who think they're going in for a research study, but we soon discover they're in the secret CIA MK-Ultra program. Liebesman shows that he's a very capable director with this, using nuance and emotion to pull us through the story, which does have big twists and turns this time. Even Nick Cannon does a good job starring alongside of Timothy Hutton and Shea Whigham. If you want to see a very well directed thriller, start with this, you won't be let down.
Opened on April 8, 2009
Directed by Derick Martini
Set in the late 70's, seen through the innocent eyes of a fifteen year old boy, Scott, Lymelife is a unique take on the dangers of the American Dream. This funny, sad, violent and sometimes tragic look at first love, family dynamics and divorce weaves an intricate tapestry of American life during a time of drastic economic and emotional change.
Why it's on here: I first saw this at the Toronto Film Festival in late 2008 and instantly fell in love with it. I could've put it on here solely for all of the hilarious Star Wars references (since it's set in late 70's), but it's actually a great movie as well. It's another coming-of-age drama full of fantastic performances from brothers Rory Culkin and Kieran Culkin as well as Alec Baldwin. It's a bit more subtle than most movies on here, but the writing is top-notch and the directing is good, too, which amounts to a movie I think most should try and seek out.
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Reader Feedback - 75 Comments
You missed 'Brothers at War' and 'Not Evil Just Wrong.' Both bear the significance of 'The Cove.' Good call on 'Thirst', though.
Vegeta on Jan 21, 2010
damn! I've only seen Moon on this list! I'm seriously slipping!
dave13 on Jan 21, 2010
I was happy to see 'The Road' on this list. I finally got to see it since it didn't open anywhere near me at initially, but I read the book first and the film was pulled straight out of my imagination. Bleak, despondent and incredibly realistic as post-apocolyptics go.
OhPlease on Jan 21, 2010
HA! I've seen The Road, The Boat That Rocked (The original version) and Worlds Greatest Dad. I can watch all of these right now as well, on the internet.
Xerxex on Jan 21, 2010
I did pretty good this year with Firstshowing's list.... SEEN -An Education -Bad Lieutenant -The Brothers Bloom -The Cove -In the Loop -The Killing Room -Mary and Max -The Messenger -Moon -The Road -Thirst -World's Greatest Dad UNSEEN -Anvil: The Story of Anvil -The Children -Lymelife -Mystery Team -Pirate Radio -A Town Called Panic -Women In Trouble
Andrew DiDonato on Jan 21, 2010
I have seen 17 out of these 19. SO TAKE IT!!
Dance_Godzilla on Jan 21, 2010
I've only seen "The Brothers Bloom" on this list!!! Let's watch the rest... I follow this list for 2 years and she always has great references, keep so! Thanks Alex!!
Tiago Cabral on Jan 21, 2010
This is now my wish list. Minus Mystery Team.
Angry Chief on Jan 21, 2010
A Town Called Panic, Mary and Max, Moon, and Brothers Bloom are all films I've been dying to see.
Al on Jan 21, 2010
Netflix que - longer. Thanx Alex!
bozo on Jan 21, 2010
I saw Moon, definitely my favourite movie of 2009. The Road is due to release here on March 18th, 2010, so we'll just have to wait. But also, it has a lot of potentional and I think it will be a awesome movie!
Robbie on Jan 21, 2010
What about "Me Love You Long Time #14"?
r on Jan 21, 2010
Which should I watch, The Boat that Rocked or Pirate Radio? I believe they're the exact same film, but if someone could enlighten me as to if there is a difference i'd appreciate it.
peloquin on Jan 21, 2010
You missed Assassination of a High School President. That movie was great
Sancle on Jan 21, 2010
Only seen three on this list, I'll have to devote some time to finding and watching these. Technically AHSP was from 2008, anyways it only got a dvd release which was a shame.
John I.G. on Jan 21, 2010
I'd like to add Spike Lee's filmed performance of "Passing Strange" to this list.
James on Jan 21, 2010
The killing room WAS way underrated.
Cody on Jan 21, 2010
Actually make that 4, and 5 of them were on my to see list but somehow disappeared from it.
John I.G. on Jan 21, 2010
Of the list, I want to see Moon, An education, Thirst and The Road. I just saw The brothers bloom and although it has some sparks of greatness, i left the theater with an overall feeling of dissapointment (being the fan I am of "Brick" is just only natural). And about mystery team, well, we know you're a BIG fan, but... don't know...
leinergroove on Jan 21, 2010
Alex -- why is it that EVERY time you talk about a horror movie, you feel obligated to preface it with, "I'm not the biggest fan of horror"?
Kevin on Jan 21, 2010
Somehow I missed The Road in theaters despite it being one of my most anticipated films of the year. Alas, I must wait patiently for the DVD to be released. The following are the others from the above list that I've managed to see already. The Brothers Bloom Moon (actually played in theater here!) In the Loop World's Greatest Dad I don't see myself seeing The Children unless I see much more support for it other than on this list.
malars on Jan 21, 2010
Malars check the internet, it works perfectly...lets face some of these films have to be watched on the internet.
Xerxex on Jan 21, 2010
I've only seen Pirate Radio, and I loathed it. I will be so glad the when the era of self-celebratory Baby Boomerism in cinema is over. That said, I'm eager to see all the rest of these. Off to update the Netflix queue...
SKE on Jan 21, 2010
The Women in Trouble and In the Loop captions are really well-written. They make me want to go see those movies, right now.
Neil on Jan 21, 2010
Moon was probably the most underrated movie I've ever seen in my life. Whoever was in charge of promoting this movie dropped the bomb and should shoot themselves for being an such an idiot! Last year had a lot of great sci-fi movies, but Moon was the best one I saw. Heck, it was one of the best movies I saw last year. Sci-fi ain't all about big budget special effects. A lot of film makers forget that special effects are a tool for telling a story. They shouldn't be used as substitutes for the story. This movie proves that if you've got a really great story, you don't need big explosions, big space battles, and ugly monsters to keep someone interested.
Brad on Jan 21, 2010
should be: The 19 Best Movies That Your parents may not have seen in 2009. go away
loci on Jan 21, 2010
SKE you probably saw the dumbed down version, see the original!
Xerxex on Jan 21, 2010
Mary and max is by the same guy who did Harvey Krumpet which is another great stop motion film out of sundance, i really want to see mary and max now
Zade on Jan 21, 2010
Good list. I loved The Road, In the Loop, Thirst, The Brothers Bloom, An Education and Anvil! The Story of Anvil out of your list. I wasn't too high on Lymelife. Pretty excruciating if you ask me. I can't believe I haven't see Moon yet. I need to get on that!
Joshua on Jan 21, 2010
I have seen most of those films. An Education, The Road , Moon, The Children were all good in their own ways. Looking Forward to Thirst. Too bad The House of the Devil didn't make the list. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call: New Orleans MOVIE REVIEW: http://film-book.com/film-review-bad-lieutenant-port-call-orleans/ The Killing Room MOVIE REVIEW: http://film-book.com/film-review-killing-room/
ProMovieBlogger on Jan 22, 2010
Hello Big Fan, Goodbye Solo you sir dropped the ball.
Me on Jan 22, 2010
I thought this was a very interesting list; then I saw you put down "The Killing Room" quite possibly one of the worst movies I had ever seen. Terrible.
David on Jan 22, 2010
I really don't get the big fuzz about Moon. The movie's backstory & script didn't make ANY sense.
Faskil on Jan 22, 2010
one word: GAMER
gamus on Jan 22, 2010
Can someone please chime into why everyone always talks about World's Greatest Dad. I enjoyed the movie, but didn't think very highly of it. The way the movie was made reminded me of the way a bunch of emo kids act, as in this movie is dark and a comedic and if you don't like it you just don't understand us. I stress I did enjoy it but its not a good movie.
Tom on Jan 22, 2010
I fucking hate this list you do every year. It is SO goddam condescending. I saw almost all of these movies. You aren't some magical insider with secret knowledge of all the good, independent films that are released every year.
Ox on Jan 22, 2010
Alex, You should make it the the top 20 movies you haven't seen and add Adam. I barely heard of that movie and it was surprisingly really good.
Hale18 on Jan 22, 2010
Thanks Alex, I always look forward to your list. There are several films i need to see now.
john from long island on Jan 22, 2010
Nice to see a list of films with a few titles I haven't seen, or heard of. So I'll seek them out. The movie "Trucker" should also be on this list. Nice little film was some great performances. On your list, however, I don't recommend "The Children" was on the worst and unscariest movies I've ever seen. Not a single moment of tension for me. Just laughable acting and writing. "The Killing Room" is good, but very boring. And I absoutely hated the first half of "Lymelife" but thought the last half was great. So I'd recommend that with caution.
Film Fan on Jan 22, 2010
I SAW BOTH MOON AND THE ROAD AND I HAVE TO SAY WERE MY BEST MOVIE OF 09 AND BOTH SAM ROCKWEL AND VIGGO WERE MY 09 ACTORS. Avatar AND James Cameron are overratted 0f 09 George Clooney is my overratted actor of 09. I HATE HOLLYWOOD SAM ROCKWELL OR VIGGO FOR THE OSCAR OR NOMINATION
sarahn on Jan 22, 2010
i don't know if i can sit through Anvil. Been staring at the movie poster on the netflix and just can't push play for the life of me. i've seen lymelife and world's greatest dad and i do believe these were the past years sleeper hits, but you also forgot It's Complicated. That was an awesome movie. Going to put the other movies in my que and check'em out. Thank you!
Sylvia Hubbard on Jan 22, 2010
Except for a town call panick and women in trouble i've seen em all. Nice list though. I would've included 'goodbye solo'.
dex on Jan 22, 2010
Titles that could have been added to the list: American Violet (this had like a one week engagement at my local AMC theater. To tell you how unappreciated the film was, the movie was preceded by a trailer for Driven with Sylvester Stallone. Yeah, a movie that came out in 2001.) Bright Star Tyson Goodbye Solo Not Quite Hollywood That Evening Sun The Damned United The Rock-afire Explosion Red Cliff
Travis on Jan 23, 2010
Oh yeah and Julia you lose again.
Me on Jan 24, 2010
please ignore this guys list lol The few Best Movies That You Didn't See in 2009 (or 1984) according to PinkSushi Tetro/Francis Ford Coppola Adam/Max Mayer Thirst/Korean Paris, Texas/Wim Wenders/watch this ! Sugar/Anna Boden,Ryan Fleck The Road/ dvdscr all over the place. 95 % of films mentioned by Alex is available through free dwnl. u can either drive to the nearest cinema( doubt any of those gonna be running) pay the bucks or stay next to ur home cinema enjoy while scratching ur balls
PinkSushi on Jan 24, 2010
Until now I've seen seven of these movies mentioned, among those have been for example Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Moon and World's Greatest Dad. They are all interesting and entertaining movies in their own way, and yep they certainly deserve a bigger attention. Going to see The Road soon, as well as Goodbye Solo and Big Fan.
cine_phil on Jan 24, 2010
Paris Texas i think everybody saw that in the 80's
Me on Jan 24, 2010
I've been waiting this list for a month! Thanks, Alex!
Febryo on Jan 26, 2010
48 Comments and no one talks about the Anvil movie. ... So what else is new?
Shockeye on Jan 27, 2010
Man props to you Alex for putting 'Moon' on here. I have been waiting with great anticipation for this years list, as last (2008) had such unknown (to me) greats like Son of Rambow, the Wackness, City of Ember, Taken, Young People Fucking were all such amazing films, and if it wasnt for your list I would have never remembered to have seen Son of Rambow (which I knew of from their heavy myspace plugging, and the Wackness which I skipped at the Newport Film Festival) But Duncan Hunter, twitter: @MANMADEMOON, is the kind of spur of the moment, jugular director that I would love to work with, who seems to have such a passion and marrow of life in his work and Sam Rockwell, well, just shame, shame to all the cosmos, for the Academy snubbing him. Yeah we all want our faves to get nominated, but its a TRAVESTY he didn't get a nod or at least Mansell for the score; which was stunning, perfectly fitting and grossly hypnotic. Thank you so much for putting it amongst the others here in your fine list. Personally I think a film such as this blows the garbage Soderberg did with Lem's Solaris right out of the ballpark. Great about The Road too, so sad the marketing & stop/go release of this one, it was just gutted at the box office eh? I mean what a shame it was in theater's for such a short time, I had to travel 2 hours to see it after it was a week into being released.....very sad. Viggo is amazing and the Cormac's book is so stunning it was always one of my favorites. Sadly it is a film that deserved much more attention than it received and again man, you have this stuff down packed with this list, I cannot tell you enough how impressed I am... I also heavily agree w/ no. 25 about the marketing and PR for Moon, horrendous, they should never work in the industry again...seems so many good films the past five years have been wrecked with havoc by idiots that work for the studios/ All that hard work by the actors and writers, and crew, only to have it all be null and void because of the swill that DONT do the correct job at promoting them. That is just not right in any way. Loved Brick, so anxious to see Brother Gloom and loved Joseph Gordon Levitt in Brick. Surprised you didn't have '500 days of Summer' listed. I thought it was a bit refreshing for a chick flick, and JGL is just stunning in everything. An Education I only heard about around SAG time, and The Children, which I am stoked now to see because of you mentioning it, sounds like a giant sleeper of a beauty like The Orphanage and The Host was, so thanks for that. On another note, I thought 'In The Loop' was bloody boring. Then again I saw it at its premier with a bunch of stiff, NYFilm Academy Tote Carrying Neanderthals, so those uppity Hampton type silver spoon in rear end type Film Fest groupies, so I may have to give it a go again..... no. 36 you hate boils over to your ignorance, need an enema? Of all the sites on the net riddled with those elitist college film pukes, this one is by far, arguably the absolute best one out there, as for me, each year I find a gem....like last years City of Ember (save bill Murray's horrid character) Thanks again Alex!! ken
ken on Feb 3, 2010
Great list. I saw the title and thought "Mystery Team had better be on there" and it was! Our podcast had Dominic Dierkes on to talk about the making of Mystery Team among other things including the founding of Derek Comedy and hijinks at NYU. Check it out on Mostly Comedy on the Shut Up and Listen network. http://shutupandlistenpodcast.com/podcasts/mc-04/
Mostly Comedy on Feb 3, 2010
One word: "INK" 😉
lolo on Feb 9, 2010
Woah, love the list. Just saw Mary and Max as per your recommendation and I really think you could've given a little bit more in the description. As in: it is one of the saddest movies I have ever seen, while being both hopeful and hilarious. But seriously do you know how depressed my woman is for the valentines day weekend? I cried like a baby myself. Beautiful movie? Absolutely. Mostly hilarious? Not at all. Certainly finds its way to my top ten list of all time, however.
chris on Feb 13, 2010
This is great, I've been waiting for this list thanks, I've already watch all your 2008/2007 just brilliant flims. Again thanks for proving this. Paul
Paul Sutton on Apr 13, 2010
So glad you included The Road in this list. It is an affront (and a bewilderment) the way this heartbreakingly beautiful movie was marketed/distributed -- or, should I say, the way it wasn't. I actually saw it twice (once in an unheated theater in Concord, NH in January!); and that only after mounting a full-out online search to find someplace within the Northeast that was screening the film. I had to drive thirty or so miles both times to reach the respective theaters. I plan on buying the DVD as soon as it surfaces and am talking up this film to whomever I can. It left me rattled, haunted, speechless (literally). Has become one of my favorite films ever. Viggo and MacPhee? Brilliant in their roles. And yes, I did read the masterpiece by Cormac McCarthy, absolutely loved it -- and this film was a worthy cinematic adaptation. To all who missed The Road, buy/rent the DVD. Watch this film.
Steve P on May 5, 2010
I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with your pick of "The Children". It was well shot, to be sure, but I thought it was something of a yawn-fest. Regarding "Pirate Radio", I completely agree with you. Yeah, it was a little bit long, but just about everything else about it clicked.
Matt on May 7, 2010
I am a little disappointed that "Pandemic" didn't make the list. It was a fabulous indie dealing with governmental experiments in small American town. The timing of the release was even better . . . right in the middle of the swine flu pandemic. Really worth watching.
Brandi on May 14, 2010
The only film on this list that i have seen would be The Messenger, and I can't say i enjoyed it.
tom on Jun 5, 2010
The Messenger was a great film.
Me on Jun 5, 2010
Next year, and I hope you do this next year, put them in the order you think we should watch them; as opposed to in alphabetical.
Chad on Aug 27, 2010
I thought "the children" was really good too, i was almost not going to watch it because it look low budget and cheesy at first but it was to my surprise really great .
Nick Barber on Nov 6, 2010
Hey FirstShowing.... will you be doing a list this year? Thanks
KYUSS123 on Jan 7, 2011
Looking forward to this list for 2010
Declan Higgins on Jan 16, 2011
Thirst is fantastic, and Pirate Radio is in my top ten of favorite movies. I just wish I new a few people who've seen them! They definitely belong on this list.
SiriusOutlook on Jan 23, 2011
i think four lions should be noted in 2011 list, and maybe exit through the gift shop for 2010
AmongGiants on Jan 24, 2011
When is the new list for 2010 coming out? It's been over a month now..
Brad on Feb 5, 2011
any sign of the new list?????
bored guy on Feb 12, 2011
The Moon was boring & shit what the hell you talking about? & for Mary and max -1/10 oh come on "the Departed" is a real good movie high Q scenario 10/10.
erry on Feb 17, 2011
is he alive?
bored guy on Feb 24, 2011
hipster heaven here.... there are reasons these films are not widely watched and it's nothing to do with blockbusters or the latest craptastic hollywood sequel/fanboy film
Jj Mm on Mar 10, 2011
Seen them all, BITCH
TCANSON on Apr 6, 2011
Moon was great. The Road sucked. Will try to see Children & Anvil.
Ben Samuels on May 16, 2011
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