Movie (Rental) Review: Promised Land

JP and I picked up some rental movies last week and among our selections was Promised Land starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski. She knows I have a deep love for all things Jim Halpert and in effect, have a deep affection for John Krasinski. (Jim + Pam foreva!) The movie is about a large company called Global, that hits small towns to buy up the land to drill for natural gas. These small towns are usually very poor, with farmers hurting for their next paycheck, and run down towns that are in need of a huge pick-me-up. Global provides that by paying a “large” amount of money for the land, thus infusing some money into the town, and then subsequently drilling in that land and providing a small percentage of sales from the natural gas  to the landowners. I say large in parenthesis because the land and the natural gas is usually worth A LOT more than what Global tells the farmers, so they take advantage of the small-town farmers who are just desperate to keep their family afloat and make a buck.

Matt Damon plays Steve, a representative from Global, who hits up the small town of McKinley with his counterpart Sue. They visit the townsfolk and try to relate to them and win them over to signing their land to Global through their relatability. Sue has a young son and is “just a mother who wants the best for her kids,” whereas Steve came from a small town in Iowa, where once the Caterpillar factory closed – his town and townspeople were left in ruins of shell of a town that once thrived with work. They try to sell the American dream to these farmers – promising money and better schools and a thriving town. What they don’t talk about is the impact that drilling for natural gas (called fracking) can have on the environment and how other areas around the country have seen the ground and the farms all have the life sucked out of them due to this practice.

Once Steve and Sue start making some sales that will push them to purchasing the majority of the land – in comes Dustin Noble (Krasinski) a environmentalist with a message of how fracking ruined his family dairy farm. I was initially interested in this movie because I judged a student case competition last year where the students talked about the ethics of this practice. It’s an interesting topic, where the mix of the American dream meets the need for money and how that tears apart values that small town farmers have – loving the land and ruining it at the same time. Krasinski wrote the screenplay as a look into the simple life and the things that impact this rural way of life that many of us don’t think about daily. Where does the money come from when the need for produce and other skills can be sourced from outside of America? How do these people cultivate the land and still pay their monthly mortgage?

Overall, the movie was pretty good. Definitely a “watch at home” flick. It dragged a little bit but I thought Damon did an excellent job with his character and of course, John Krasinski is always epic.



Movie Review: The Great Gatsby

If you follow me on Twitter (@shlee83), you’ve probably noticed that I saw The Great Gatsby in theaters on Friday night. Ever since we saw the previews for this remake of a great literary classic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire, we were dying to see it on the big screen! The movie promised a stellar performance by DiCaprio, stunning visuals, and an epic soundtrack. We’ve heard mixed reviews of the movie from others that saw it opening weekend – one of my friends proclaimed that F. Scott Fitzgerald was the most racist person in the 1920s, another person stated that although the movie was visually amazing, the story-line faultered and didn’t keep her engaged.

A little back-story on the story for you…

The story takes place in the summer of 1922 when a young WW1 vet, Nick Carraway, rents a small house in Long Island in fictional West Egg. His cousin, the beautiful and rich Daisy Buchanan lives across the bay in East Egg neighborhood and Nick spends time associating with her and her adulterous husband, Tom. Rumors of the mysterious, youth and filthy rich Jay Gatsby (Nick’s neighbor) start swirling and talks of Jay’s legendary parties creep into the ear of Nick. Eventually, Nick receives an invite to one of Jay’s parties, where he eventually meets the infamous Gatsby, who is sub-sequentially obsessed in his love for Nick’s cousin, Daisy. Still following me?

The story continues to follow Daisy and Jay through their love affair, with the question always lingering in the air – who is Jay Gatsby? I won’t ruin the tale for you, if you haven’t read the book.  Admittingly, it was one of my favorite reads of “mandatory” high school readings. It’s an epic love story that will have your head swirling and your heart breaking for Jay and Daisy throughout the novel. Continue reading

Movie Review: Beautiful Creatures

A few weeks ago I posted a book review for Beautiful Creatures, which like many teenage cult classics like Twilight and the Hunger Games has big promise to be the “next big thing.” If you remember, I thought the book was ok and thought the previews looked a lot better than the book and would blow it away. I was wrong.

The movie was difficult to follow along if you haven’t read the book. JP came and watched it with me and I felt bad and wanted to explain a lot of things to her that weren’t really talked about in the movie. They also changed some things like combine Amma and Marian into one character which makes sense for the film but was kind of strange. I’m not sure if the actors that played the leading characters (especially the guy who played Ethan) were the best actors selected for the role. It’s supposed to be this epic love story between a Caster and a human and if you can’t really find yourself rooting for them to be together, it kind of ruins that magic.

I kind of felt like I did after seeing the first Twilight film though, a little cheesy, a little disappointed, but wanting to see more. There were some high points in the film like Emmy Rossum who sizzled as Lena’s dark cousin Ridley. Emma Thompson as Mrs. Lincoln/Sarafine was epic. Her playfulness, evilness, and just overall craziness in the film was great. There were also some pretty amazing effects throughout the movie which were pretty neat. But overall, the casting kinda stunk (other than the aforementioned high notes), the writing was pretty cheesy, and it was hard to really grasp all of the points of the novel that made it special. But I think that also happens when you have a 500+ page novel and you try to turn it into a 1.5 hour long movie. I’d say wait for this one on DVD and opt out of the movie viewing. And don’t hold your breath that it will be the same as the book – there are lots of changes compared to the novel!

Some cool previews to look forward to: Oz the Great and Powerful starring James Franco and The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio look really neat. Can’t wait to see those in theater!

Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Ever since I first saw the previews of Silver Linings Playbook and that it starred Katniss Everdeen Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, I knew I wanted to see it. Then I heard that it was up for a ton of movie awards, and knewwwww it had to be good. We were finally able to carve out some time this past Saturday night to have date night which included JP’s first time at a hibachi restaurant (she loved it) and a movie.

I honestly wasn’t sure what SLP was supposed to be about, but was pleasantly surprised that it dealt with a very serious topic (bi-polar, depression) wrapped in some warm comedy from Robert DeNiro, Lawrence and Cooper.  Cooper’s character is Pat Solatano who is a substitute history teacher who spends 8 months in a psych ward after a fall-out from finding his wife (also a teacher) in the shower with the history teacher. Pat literally beats the crud out of the history teacher and begins his downward spiral, where he discovers that he’s been suffering from bi-polar disorder for some time.

Pat’s mom comes to retrieve him from the psych ward and bring him home where he continues his obsession with his estranged wife Nikki. Everything he does revolves around wanting to talk to her, to show her he’s changed (clearly he hasn’t), and in turn he stumbles upon Lawrence’s character Tiffany who, after her husband dies tragically, is just as messed up as him.  The rest of the movie really focuses on Pat’s attempt to find “silver linings” in any situation, which he adds to his “playbook” to be a more positive person. Part of that includes working out and taking better care of himself and I serrrrriously could not get over him running around with the garbage bag over him. Reminded me of Rocky Balboa.

source: The Weinstein Company, Mirage Enterprises

This movie was amazing. It was funny when it needed to be and not over-the-top funny, but subtle and quirky and I loved it. Lawrence and Cooper were an amazing pairing and I loved watching their journey through the movie together and hoping and praying that they both find some sanity in their lives – preferably together. A great movie for date night – the guys will love DeNiro and Pat’s family and stuggle. The gals will love Cooper and watching what transpires between Lawrence and Cooper’s characters.  Go see this flick!