Good news, Kansas City movie fans. For anyone wishing to avoid the Oscar-contending cinematic magnificence of films such “Lincoln”, “Les Misérables”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, or “Django Unchained” there are two new films arriving on KC screens this weekend—neither of which appear burdened with any of that pesky magnificence.
“Promised Land” (R – 106 min)
Corporate sales partners (Matt Damon and Frances McDormand) arrive in a desperate farming community—a vaguely named, could-be-in-your-state kind of town—to secure drilling rights for their gas company. Believing hard times will have inspired the townsfolk to cash in, they meet unforeseen resistance in the form of respected schoolteachers (Hal Holbrook and Rosemarie Dewitt) and a grassroots activist (John Krasinski).
Early word is that “Promised Land” falls far short of Damon and Van Sant’s previous collaboration “Good Will Hunting”, spurring critics to spew a lot of “you can’t go home again” nonsense.
Nonsense, because nobody went anywhere near home. The didn’t even drive by the old neighborhood. For starters, “Promised Land” is topic-driven (“Fracking bad!”) as opposed to character-driven (“Will Hunting smart!”). And instead of collaborating with Ben Affleck (and an army of uncredited script doctors) this time around, Damon worked with John Krasinski, whose only previous screenwriting effort was the earnest but terrible adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men”. The story for “Promised Land” was contributed by the brilliant Dave Eggers, who co-wrote 2009’s brilliant “Away We Go”. But Eggers did not write this script, nor did he bring his brilliant wife and co-writer Vendela Vida along for this ride. And neither he nor Krasinski, who starred in “Away We Go”, had director Sam Mendes tucked away in his wallet for brilliance protection.
Is it any good? More importantly, is it persuasive? At the very least, critics seem to agree that Damon’s performance is worth watching.
47% Rotten / 40% Liked at Rottentomatoes
“Texas Chainsaw 3D” (R – 92 min)
Decades ago, some nasty things happened in Newt, Texas. Nasty, as in “chainsaw manufacturer Stihl does not recommend the following uses for their products”. The townspeople of Newt long suspected that the Sawyer family was behind all that nastiness, and when their suspicions were finally confirmed some of the more goal-oriented residents took up torches and barbecued every last Sawyer they could find.
There appears to be, however, some slim chance that not quite every Sawyer reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Enter Alexandra Daddario as Heather Miller, who learns she has inherited property (and at least one extremely voided chainsaw warranty) from a long lost grandmother in—cue scary music—Newt, Texas.
Horror fans will be stunned to learn that critics hate this horror movie. Which may be because “Texas Chainsaw 3D” is neither old nor foreign, or, possibly, because it is a lousy movie. But seeing as horror movies are thin on the ground lately, horror fans may want to check it out either way.
43% Rotten / 80% liked at Rottentomatoes
“Promised Land” and “Texas Chainsaw 3D” are now playing in a Kansas City theater near you.