Snapshots - #42: Thor: Ragnarok, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, LBJ

Thor: Ragnarok (2017), (♦♦♦♦½): Thor has saved earth twice by now and has, for the last two years, wandered the universe searching for infinity stones. He hasn't found any. He has, however, become prisoner of an enemy of Asgard, Surtur, who tells Thor that his visions of Asgard engulfed in flames is a premonition of Ragnarok—the destruction of Asgard, which is already in motion. Thor frees himself and arrives at home to find Loki sitting on the throne, passing as Odin, and neglecting his duties to protect the Nine Realms. With Odin's exile, Asgard's enemies have been reassembling, but Odin's death may just free Hela, a goddess against whom neither Thor nor Loki are enough.
It was in Thor: The Dark World where Loki, an antagonist, first threatened to steal the show. He became the villain that Marvel fandom loves to hate. While Loki is at his most charming in this film, the director, with the help of a sparkling screenplay, has very much exploited the great chemistry of t…

Promised Land (2012) (♦♦♦♦)

Steven Butler is a small town Iowan working for a billion dollar corporation in the natural gas business. Steve and Sue, his coworker, are sent to a small town--not too different from the one where Steve grew up—to make farmers sell their lands to Global Natural Gas for a small percent of what they would be worth once the multibillion dollar company extracts natural gas from their parcels through a process called fracking.

 Steve and Sue start canvassing the town signing people up on contracts, but an independent environmentalist named Dustin Noble, who claims he lost his generations-old dairy farm after selling the land to Global makes town folks rethink their stance towards the sale. Since the folks aren’t in agreement, a vote is postponed until three weeks later to decide the fate of the town.
However, after relentless assault from the environmentalist and confrontations with town folks, Steve has a change of heart, but is it too late?

Directed by Gus Van Sant and co-written and co-produced by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, Promised Land is a small jewel about corporate greed and its environmental impact which isn’t preachy but a hard look at how big corporations cover their tracks to avoid legal and societal repercussions. Eclipsed by bigger and better films last year, Promised Land shouldn’t be ignored regardless. The script is solid as well as the acting and the message.

Matt Damon in the role of Steve leads an all-star cast the likes of Frances McDormand as Sue, Rosemary DeWitt as Alice, John Krasinski as Dustin and Hal Holbrook as Frank, the science teacher. All deliver understated yet poignant performances as honest town folks, some armed with education, others relying on old fashion honesty, but all deeply convincing.

In summary, Promised Land is a very good story of corporate greed with potentially disastrous consequences for a small farming town in the heart of America. Direction, screenplay and acting are superb. Promised Land shouldn’t be missed!