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Promised Land (2012)

 -  Drama  -  4 January 2013 (USA)
6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 24,122 users   Metascore: 55/100
Reviews: 92 user | 230 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

A salesman for a natural gas company experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town, where his corporation wants to tap into the available resources.

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Title: Promised Land (2012)

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Director: Gus Van Sant
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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David Churchill
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Waitress
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Michael Downey
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Frank Yates
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Arlene
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Rob
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Drew's Girl
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Drew Scott
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Claire Allen
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Coach
Garrett Ashbaugh ...
Basketball Player
Jericho Morgan ...
Jericho (as Jerico Morgan)
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Storyline

Corporate salesman Steve Butler (Damon) arrives in a rural town with his sales partner, Sue Thomason (McDormand). With the town having been hit hard by the economic decline of recent years, the two outsiders see the local citizens as likely to accept their company's offer, for drilling rights to their properties, as much-needed relief. What seems like an easy job for the duo becomes complicated by the objection of a respected schoolteacher (Holbrook) with support from a grassroots campaign led by another man (Krasinski) who counters Steve both personally and professionally. Written by Focus Features

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What's your price?

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

| |  »

Language:

Release Date:

4 January 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Terra Prometida  »

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$173,915 (USA) (28 December 2012)

Gross:

$7,556,708 (USA) (18 January 2013)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cinematographer Linus Sandgren shot the film with Hawk V-Lite 1.3x squeeze anamorphic lenses on 4-perf Super 35 for a final aspect ratio of 1.85:1. According to him this is the first time this combination has been used on a feature film (he and others had used it before on commercials), and the negative area used was 70% larger than that of regular 1.85:1 and 30% larger than 3-perf Super 35. See more »

Goofs

When Steve is in his hotel (shortly before Sue calls him and he answers "Alice"?) he closes his Macintosh computer, but the white Apple logo stays lit through the rest of the scene. The Apple logo should have turned off as soon as he closed his computer as the hard drive spun down. See more »

Quotes

Sue Thomason: I no longer sing in public.
Rob: What? I mean, what's the point of having good hair if you don't sing in public.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Through most of the end credits, the camera zooms out to a wide shot of the town where the film takes place. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #21.54 (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
Written by Rodney Crowell
Performed by Emmylou Harris with Dolly Parton & Linda Ronstadt
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc.
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Much more than an environment film!
25 March 2013 | by (singapore) – See all my reviews

Its easy to see Promised Land just as the trailers promise.Namely as a film about the environmental hazards of drilling for natural gas using a process called fracking ( hydraulic fracturing), that is not as harmless as its made out to be, and placing this neatly in a decaying small town in the agricultural heartland of America. Promised Land works at that level too, but more importantly it is the study of its protagonist Steve Butler, played by Matt Damon.Matt Damon and his co writers John Krasinski and Dave Eggers, have written a role which is ostensibly a corporate salesman for big oil but could easily have been a Wall Street trader coming to terms with the troubling reality of the financial world.

Steve Butler is the study of a man seriously out of depth, he is doing a job that he thought he was good at, but suddenly his modus operandi seems childish and outdated.Matt Damon does not reveal his moral core throughout, he continues to wear the amour of his flannel shirts, that he buys to blend in, before he gets to the job of converting the townspeople to sell out their future.Perhaps he has risen to his level of incompetence, a classic example of the Peter Principle.But in the hands of Gus Van Sant its not just about professionalism.He befriends a charming single woman in a bar, in a town like this its a miracle she exists.He turns his charm on her just like he does with his audience. His favorite trick is walking upto the front yard of a house and asking the kid who may be playing there,"Are you the owner of this place?'When the confused kid says, "No", he asks,"Then how come you are doing all the hard work?".That's a slam dunk.

But Steve this time has competition, a man more handsome, more charming and apparently smarter arrives out of nowhere, with a bunch of damning photographs which graphically illustrate the nightmare that the residents are about to wreck on themselves.He not only steals the town but also the girl.How Steve will deal with this double whammy is the neat resolution of the film.The resolution exists because filmmaking is a costly enterprise, but as we learn through the course of this film, reality is far more complicated than that.

He has a partner, Sue, played by Frances McDormand, who is the perfect choice for this role.She is tough and business-like and we see her cringe more than once as Steve turns into a bigger and bigger wreck.She is a travelling hockey mom, her sons baseball game is her only silver lining.She manages to remain sane because of this emotional anchor which Steve does not have.The reality of the environment debate is complicated and it needs a scientist to decode, played here by Hal Holbrook, who is able to do a more comprehensive job of using Google to figure it all out.And yet as he and Steve concur,ultimately its all about our consumption pattern that we are not willing to discuss, let alone change.The sad eyes of Halbrook see no hope, only sparks of revolt, which he provides with his research to the residents.

We start off in Promised Land by looking at Jason Bourne and then forget all about him.Perhaps this is part of what Damon was aiming for, to become an actor again rather than a one man action movie franchise.He succeeds to a very large extent.Francis McDormand is surely an American national treasure and her performance here is reason enough to see this film.The cinematography is deliberately fuzzy but maybe the goal is to make a pretty landscape look ugly and grainy, photographing the lush landscape and its wonderful actors in sharp focus would have made it a pretty picture, detracting from its weary tone.

The oeuvre of Gus Van Sant is full of pieces that study the American landscape from an intimate leftwing lens.From Milk which looked at a gay rights activist to Elephant, which quietly observed the Columbine shootings with a docudrama approach, his films try to decode the American ethos. Along the way he makes brave choices like reshooting Psycho shot by shot, a decision for which he has been much vilified, but his reasons for doing so as a serious director were commendable.Cinema is better off with experiments like those, never mind if they fail, or don't make people happy.

Promised Land remarkably reminds one of Peter Bagdanovich's classic 1971 film The Last Picture Show in its study of the collapse of the American dream.That film perhaps sets the stage for this one, all the young people have gone away to the city and those that remain must make frightening life choices.Its easy to see the poverty struck town as a microcosm of America and the title as a commentary on the shattered "Great American Dream" (surprisingly not trademarked yet).Mr Van Sant delivers a richly textures film that neatly sidesteps the environment question and places individual choices at its centre.

Published on my blog mostlycinema.com


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