Embracing the Melodrama Part II #82: Promised Land (dir by Michael Hoffman)


Promised_land_poster_(1987)When I made out my schedule of reviews for Embracing the Melodrama, I did not realize that I was setting myself up for a mini-marathon of Kiefer Sutherland movies but somehow, that’s exactly what happened!  No sooner had I watched and jotted down my impressions of Bright Lights, Big City and 1969, then I started watching a 1988 film called Promised Land (which should not be confused with the recent Matt Damon/Jon Krasinski fracking film).

And guess who stars in this particular film?

That’s right — Kiefer Sutherland!

Now, if Bright Lights, Big City featured Kiefer as a sociopath and 1969 featured Kiefer as a blonde-haired golden boy, Promised Land features Kiefer as a prototypical outsider.

Promised Land opens at a high school basketball game.  Hancock (Jason Gedrick) is the handsome and popular jock who is a star on the court and who is dating a cheerleader named Mary (Tracy Pollan).  Danny (Kiefer Sutherland) is the nerdy kid who gets good grades and who is nicknamed Senator because he wants to enter politics.  He has an obvious crush on Mary but also appears to have one on Hancock as well.  As Hancock runs up and down the court, nobody cheers louder than Danny.  Meanwhile, Hancock barely knows who Danny is.

Three years later and things have changed.  Hancock, having gone to college on an athletic scholarship just to drop out and return home, is now a vaguely fascistic police officer.  Mary has remained in college.  When she returns home for Christmas break, Hancock tries to rekindle their relationship but Mary has moved on.

Meanwhile, Danny has dropped out of school as well.  After spending a few years drifting around, he meets the lively, vivacious, and totally insane Bev (Meg Ryan).  He and Bev get married in Las Vegas and decide to head back to Danny’s hometown for Christmas…

Drama, violence, and tragedy follow!

But you already guessed that, didn’t you?  That’s one of the problems with Promised Land.  From the minute that Bev says that she wants to meet Danny’s family, you can tell exactly how this story is going to end.  And while a predictable plot can sometimes be redeemed by memorable performances, that’s not the case with Promised Land.  Kiefer Sutherland and Meg Ryan both give good and dangerous performances but Jason Gedrick and Tracy Pollan make for a boring couple.

(Interestingly enough, Tracy Pollan was also in Bright Lights, Big City.)

Promised Land does have some historical significance, in that it was the first film to ever be partially funded by the Sundance Institute.  Robert Redford is listed as an executive producer.  But, historical significance aside, there’s really not much about Promised Land to really recommend going to the effort to try to track it down.  It’s not so much bad as just very forgettable.

Here Are the 75 (yes, 75!) songs that are eligible for Best Original Song


The Academy today announced the 75 songs that will be eligible to be nominated for best original song of 2012.  That’s right — 75 songs!  And here they are:

“For You” from “Act of Valor”
“Metaphorical Blanket” from “Any Day Now”
“Let It Rain” from “Being Flynn”
“Learn Me Right” from “Brave”
“Touch the Sky” from “Brave”
“Airport” from “Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best”
“Come on Girl” from “Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best”
“Someday” from “Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best”
“Protect the King” from “Brooklyn Castle”
“California Solo” from “California Solo”
“Casa De Mi Padre” from “Casa De Mi Padre”
“Del Cielo” from “Casa De Mi Padre”
“Yo No Se” from “Casa De Mi Padre”
“No Other Plans” from “Celeste and Jesse Forever”
“Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice”
“By the Light of the Moon” from “Crossroad”
“The Sambola! International Dance Craze” from “Damsels in Distress”
“When You Comin’ Home” from “Darling Companion”
“Death by China” from “Death by China”
“Delhi Safari” from “Delhi Safari”
“Ancora Qui” from “Django Unchained”
“Freedom” from “Django Unchained”
“100 Black Coffins” from “Django Unchained”
“Who Did That to You?” from “Django Unchained”
“How Bad Can I Be?” from “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax”
“Let It Grow” from “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax”
“Thneedville” from “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax”
“Ain’t No Train” from “Downtown Express”
“You Don’t Have to Be a Star” from “Fame High”
“Jose’s Martyrdom” from “For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada”
“Strange Love” from “Frankenweenie”
“Voodoo” from “Halloween Party”
“Luna Nascosta” from “Hidden Moon”
“Song of the Lonely Mountain” from “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
“Abraham’s Daughter” from “The Hunger Games”
“Master of the Seas” from “Ice Age Continental Drift”
“We Are” from “Ice Age Continental Drift”
“Looking for a Sign” from “Jeff, Who Lives at Home”
“From Here to the Moon and Back” from “Joyful Noise”
“He’s Everything” from “Joyful Noise”
“I’m Yours” from “Joyful Noise”
“Wide Awake” from “Katy Perry: Part of Me”
“Cosmonaut” from “Lawless”
“Beaten Up and Broken Down” from “Least among Saints”
“Suddenly” from “Les Misérables”
“Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi”
“When I Grow Up” from “Losing Control”
“Love Always Comes as a Surprise” from “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”
“Ladies of Tampa” from “Magic Mike”
“The Baddest Man Alive” from “The Man with the Iron Fists”
“This Gift” from “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”
“Still Alive” from “Paul Williams Still Alive”
“Dotted Line” from “People Like Us”
“Snake Eyes” from “Promised Land”
“Razors.Out” from “The Raid: Redemption”
“I’m Not Leaving” from “Re:Generation”
“Still Dream” from “Rise of the Guardians”
“Undercover Love” from “Rock of Ages”
“Big Machine” from “Safety Not Guaranteed”
“I Be Here” from “Saint Dracula”
“I Have Secrets” from “Saint Dracula”
“Skyfall” from “Skyfall”
“Breath of Life” from “Snow White and the Huntsman”
“Gone” from “Snow White and the Huntsman”
“One Wing” from “Sparkle”
“Not Running Anymore” from “Stand Up Guys”
“Feel Love” from “Struck by Lightning”
“Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from “Ted”
“Never Had” from “10 Years”
“Dull Tool” from “This Is 40”
“She Won’t Let Go” from “Until They Are Home”
“Kiss Me Goodbye” from “Virginia”
“Anything Made of Paper” from “West of Memphis”
“Hashishet Albi” from “Where Do We Go Now?”
“When Can I See You Again?” from “Wreck-It Ralph”

The National Board of Review Honors Zero Dark Thirty


Oscar season continues!  Just a few hours ago, the National Board of Review announced their picks for the best of 2012.  Like the New York Film Critics Circle, the NBR named Zero Dark Thirty the best film of 2012 and Kathryn Bigelow best director.

I haven’t seen Zero Dark Thirty so I can’t judge whether it’s truly a great film or not.  However, to be perfectly honest, I sincerely hope that it doesn’t win every single critics’ award out there because, seriously, that would be sooooooooooo boring!  I mean, I know that all of you establishment film critics love to jump on the bandwagon but seriously, variety is the spice of life!

As much as I wish that the NBR had kept things interesting by choosing some out-of-nowhere pick for best picture, I am happy to see that they honored Bradley Cooper for his excellent work in Silver Linings Playbook.

Along with naming Zero Dark Thirty as best picture, the NBR also listed the 9 runner-ups.  It’s interesting to note that The Dark Knight Rises does not appear anywhere on that list.

On a personal note, I’ll be posting my own picks for the best of 2012 during the first week of January and, trust me, my picks are going to be a lot more interesting than anything you’re going to get from the National Board of Review.

BEST PICTURE
“Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST DIRECTOR
Kathryn Bigelow (“”Zero Dark Thirty””)

BEST ACTOR
Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”)

BEST ACTRESS
Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Leonardo DiCaprio (“Django Unchained”)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Ann Dowd (“Compliance”)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Rian Johnson (“Looper”)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”)

BEST ENSEMBLE
“Les Miserables”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“Wreck-It-Ralph”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM 
“Amour”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“Searching for Sugar Man”

SPOTLIGHT AWARD
John Goodman

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCES
Tom Holland (“The Impossible”)
Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)

DEBUT DIRECTOR
Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT 
Ben Affleck (“Argo”)

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
“Central Park Five”
“Promised Land”

 

 

BEST PICTURE NOMINEES (alphabetical)
“Argo”
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Django Unchained”
“Les Miserables”
“Lincoln”
“Looper”
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
“Promised Land”
“Silver Linings Playbook”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE NOMINEES (alphabetical)
“Barbara”
“The Intouchables”
“The Kid with a Bike”
“No”
“War Witch”

BEST DOCUMENTARY NOMINEES (alphabetical)
“Al Weiwei”
“Detropia”
“The Gatekeepers”
“The Invisible War”
“Only the Young”

BEST INDEPENDENT FILMS (alphabetical)
“Arbitrage”
“Bernie”
“Compliance”
“End of Watch”
“Hello, I Must Be Going”
“Little Birds”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“On the Road”
“Quartet”
“Sleepwalk with Me”