18 January 2013 | Hellmant
People that try to deny logic in this way (just because they don't like it) are more harmful to the world than fracking is!
'PROMISED LAND': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)
Gus Van Sant and Matt Damon reunite, after 1997's 'GOOD WILL HUNTING' and 2002's 'GERRY'. All three collaborations were starring and co-written by Damon while Van Sant directed. Damon was going to make this film his directorial debut but stepped down due to scheduling conflicts and asked his buddy Van Sant to direct it instead. I don't know what kind of a job Damon would have done but Van Sant is one of the best directors around and does a breathtaking job here once again. Damon co-wrote 'GOOD WILL HUNTING' with his longtime pal Ben Affleck and the two co-starred in the film together; he did the same kind of teamwork with Ben's brother Casey on 'GERRY'. This time around he co-wrote and co-produced the film with actor John Krasinski (of TV's 'THE OFFICE' fame) and Krasinski also co-stars in the film as well. The movie is a heartfelt drama with a strong environmental message about fracking that has some ultra-conservatives upset. No matter your view on the subject the movie is great filmmaking and a must see.
Damon plays Steve Butler, a salesman who's quickly advancing at the company he works for, Global Crosspower Solutions, which specializes in fracking (a controversial drilling method used to obtain natural gas deep beneath the ground). He and his partner, Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand), travel to a Pennsylvania farming town, hit hard by the economy, in order to try and purchase drilling rights from the landowners for their company. The town is very proud of having long survived on passing farm land off from generation to generation. Steve came from a town very similar but life there collapsed when the town's Caterpillar assembly plant closed. Initially Steve and Sue do very well but then a local high school science teacher (Hal Holbrook), who's also a world famous geologist, gets the whole town spooked when he brings up stories of how fracking has severely damaged other towns like theirs who have done business with the same company. The town agrees to put the matter up for a vote in a few weeks time. To make matters worse, for Steve and Sue, an environmental advocate (Krasinski) shows up in town pushing a campaign against Global Crosspower Solutions. Steve fights hard for his company but at the same time begins to strongly question what he's doing, as he also falls for a local teacher he meets at a bar (the beautiful Rosemarie DeWitt).
Fracking was previously brought to filmgoers attention in 2010 with the Oscar nominated documentary 'GASLAND'. That film was informative and very educational but it didn't pack the emotional wallop that this film does. In my opinion this fictional tale is a more effective way of getting it's message across (and it is an important message). Right wing nuts will argue that there's no evidence that fracking is harmful and it's all a liberal conspiracy but you'd have to be a complete idiot to buy that (the facts are undeniable). If you want to argue that the money to these struggling farmers is more important than the damage it does to the land than that's a much more valid argument but people that try to deny logic in this way (just because they don't like it) are more harmful to the world than fracking is. Damon is outstanding in the film, Krasinski is good and I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of the stunning DeWitt with every film I see her in. Damon and Krasinski's script is also impressive and it actually takes one of the best twists I've ever seen in a film. Van Sant's directing is really what makes the movie beautiful though, that plus a great score by Danny Elfman (and a perfectly fitting soundtrack) are really what make the movie a moving film experience that you really won't want to miss.
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