Boxing without Referee: Promised Land
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," proudly replacing Roger Ebert as the premiere film reviewer of modern America! Why, yes, film-goer! About twice a year you can come to this site and find a fabulous movie to attend. Or not.
A few weeks ago I went to see "Lincoln." The theater was crowded, and the sound was so low I was worried that I was losing my hearing. But I digress. Before the showing of "Lincoln," one of the eight previews was for a film called "Promised Land." If Hal Holbrook and that cute guy from "Office" are in it, and it's filmed in Pennsylvania, and it's about fracking, I'll suffer through Matt Damon.
Last night Mr. J and I went to see "Promised Land." And take it from someone who despises the entire idea of hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus Shale in rural areas of Pennsylvania: This film stinks.
They say that the documentary "Gas Land" is slanted. Well, there's slanted, and there's horizontal. I don't think I have ever sat through a more poorly-acted, completely unbalanced, and shamelessly overdone piece of propaganda -- and I vividly remember Mel Gibson in "The River."
Mr. J and I would have been better served to stay home and watch the "Pawn Stars" marathon.
I'm going to spoil this movie rotten so you won't waste your precious ducats on it. Matt Damon and Frances McDormand are two egg-sucking corporate scoundrels sent into a bucolic hamlet somewhere in a part of Pennsylvania that looks absolutely nothing like the many parts of Pennsylvania I've seen. Must be in the north somewhere. It's their job to sign up dumb yokels (if it's rural, there have to be yokels, right?) for rights to frack the land.
Enter the noble Hal Holbrook who, in this film, has all kinds of fancy engineering degrees from places like Columbia and Yale. Except now, doddering though he is, he's teaching science at the run-down high school. Noble Hal leads a group of stalwart farmers who cleave to the land ... and urges some kind of "vote" on the issue.
Then enters the young cutie from "The Office." As befits a blogger, I know that his name is John Krazinski because I just asked Spare, but she couldn't spell it off the top of her head, so. Okay. This is a blog. Spelling doesn't count.
John is an environmentalist who has a small little outfit called "Athena." (Readers, trust me on this. Athena did not sign off on this use of Her name.) He takes some hush money from ravenous Matt and Frances, and then he uses it to make signs with dead cows. "Say No to Global."
Ah, "Global." The New World Order come to wreck the Pennsylvania hinterlands.
Spoiler non-alert. John the environmentalist turns out to be yet another pawn in the game of life, sent by Global Gas Galacticus, LL.C. to support clueless Matt and Frances in a sneaky way. In the end, Matt turns hero and tells the town to vote down gas drilling. Exit into sunset with a local gal who came home to her beloved family farm.
For my money, even this gal's farm vista didn't do Pennsylvania proud. Where was this turkey filmed?
Fracking is very controversial, and there are plenty of Pennsylvanians already who gladly go to hearings and lectures to show pictures of their wasteland properties and tell stories of their personal woes. There are also economists who use their economist smartness to show that all the jobs being promised to rural areas are temporary in nature: Once the wells are drilled, the drillers move on. Evidence is abundant and growing to prove that the process is faulty and extremely poisonous even on its good days.
(When a couple of gas company geeks tried to hold a Town Hall meeting in the township where my dear former farm was located, they drew a standing-room, well-informed crowd who promptly booed their PowerPoint presentation and told them to toddle. There will be no fracking in or near Artemas, PA 17211.)
So, why would presumably smart actors like Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, and Hal Holbrook sign up for such a piss-poor two hours of treacle? How can you make a film about fracking without a single shot of a gas pipeline or drilling rig? There are plenty in Pennsy just now.
I dunno. But viewer, if you drop your ducats on this flop, be forewarned. It's you that's the chump, not the poor yokels of Who-Knows-Where, PA.
The proof is in the producing. "Promised Land" was financed by Imagenation Abu Dhabi. Like, seriously. I am not making this up. Even the Joker and the Penguin aren't this duplicitous.
So a movie bashing fracking, and doing so with a monumental propagandizing stupidity, was financed by our finest supplier of overseas crude oil. Priceless.
I'm surprised Massey Coal didn't send in a stipend.
Long sermon short, it's always refreshing to see one despoiler of the environment try to knock off another despoiler of the environment. Free advice? Use less energy, beginning with saving the gas it would take you to drive to the theater to see "Promised Land."