Promise Land Does Not Fade Away

Promise Land, starring Matt Damon, it s solid three star movie. The movie is not earth shattering but the twist at the end totally fooled me and will make you think about large corporate companies differently about what they are willing to do to win.

The general theme is that there are millions of dollars worth of natural gas under the farmland of a small town badly needing money. Matt Damon is a person who must contact all of the homeowners whose land has the resource under the land and negotiate a lease for the corporation to frack the land to obtain the gas. The leases are dirt cheap when compared to the vast amounts of gas but most of the town folk are naive. Damon thinks signing up the homeowners will be easy, but at a town meeting, he is a opposed to an old man, Hal Holbrook, who looks like an farmer with little education. The old man spouts the dangers about fracking, how it contaminates water tables, kills animals, informs the others of pending lawsuits. Matt is blown away by the intelligence of the old man, rather speechless, tries to combat it but loses. This starts suspicion among the local folks. When his corporate bosses investigate the old man, they find out he was an engineer for 30 years, MIT graduate, had a Ph.d. They think Damon cannot handle the situation. Suddenly, a hippie environmentalist appears out nowhere that makes matters worse for Damon as he tries to get owners to sign land leases for drilling rights. It won't be long before Damon begins to give up and admit to failure. Then, he receives a package proving that everything the environmentalist was a lie. So, there is another town meeting where Damon shows the town folk the evidence before they take a vote. Suddenly, the locals are back signing the land leases. Now, the end comes. A mild shocker yet shows what corporations are willing to do. Who actually was the hippie?

Not Fade Away, for those too young, was a Rolling Stone cover song they did in 1964-5. Its a blues song and Stone's brought it back to America then. The movie is about what happened to anyone (mostly guys) between 10-20 yrs. old after the British Invasion of 1964 led by The Beatles and followed by the Rolling Stones. It is about the impact they had- the long hair, the tight jeans, the Beatle boots (actually, Cuban boots), and how millions picked up the guitar and began forming a band, writing their own music. It is about one band who formed and tried through high school and into college to "make it", get a recording contract and be famous. Along the way, the familiar battles between parents and kids about things that seemed alien to them: long hair, rock music, rejection. The girls eye members of the rock band, they love guys with long hair, which was so different at that time. Just being in a band could get you a girl.

Not Fade Away will probably go to DVD fairly quick. It's a two star movie. It is a nostalgic film for those who lived it (as the director did) or for those interested in rock history and the impact The Beatles\Stones\Dylan had. The music is original-early Stones songs and some Beatle and one by The Kinks, their riveting, "All of the Day and All of the Night", which was so ahead of their time.

The movie is interesting but could have been better. It is a time piece, but Across the Universe, is much better because it spans the period from 1964-69, a dramatic time in the US when everything changed. Not Fade Away does not have any big stars and shows how the band eventually out grew their obsession to be the next "Stones" as they enter college and change course and interests. Many members stayed in their hometown but some set their sights on California and moved out there to pursue their dreams by 1968. It WAS the place to be, a place where the action was. If you were not there, you were out of the loop.

Of course, Los Angeles still is a magnet for the same reasons. Fame seekers arrive their all the time, everyday. But, in the sixties, it was like, "everything starts on the West Coast in San Fran or LA."

Not Fade Away is ultimately a journey of the lead character pursuing his dream, which began in a rock band and evolved into going to film school in LA. That is where the movie ends. Even though his girlfriend ditched him at a LA party, even though he is hitchhiking home late at night, he grins. He knows he is on the road- the road to fame being in LA.

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