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Overall Rating
3.4

Awesome: 20%
Worth A Look: 20%
Just Average46.67%
Pretty Crappy: 6.67%
Sucks: 6.67%

1 review, 9 user ratings



Land of Plenty
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by Erik Childress

"Lukewarm 9/11"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The times we live in after 9/11 almost demands two things. The first is that we remain paranoid that such a catastrophic event can occur again at any time and any place. The other is allowing that wag-the-dog paranoia to neglect the other important issues of our country. Wim Wendersí latest film is about two people trying to do what little they can about each. But like the former concern, it spends so much time on the obsession with terror that we dilapidate our ability to ultimately care until itís too late.

John Diehl (in a very good performance) is Paul, a retired Green Beret who now spends every waking minute in a loaded van driving around downtown Los Angeles, making taped notes about anyone looking suspicious. He looks for signs of the next big attack, obviously not trusting the government to do anything about it or admitting that they donít have enough manpower to cover all of California, let alone the U.S. Occasionally heíll even collect evidence and bring it his own personal C.S.I. team. In this case, Jimmy (Richard Edson), a junkyard recluse who either owes Paul tremendous favors or is bored enough with life to help with anything.

On the flipside is Lana (Michelle Williams). Sheís been living abroad for the last decade with her family, but is coming home with the intention of going to college. Sharing an idealistic attitude with her father, she goes to work at a homeless shelter under the care of family friend, Henry (Wendell Pierce), who gives her a place to stay. While in town, she aims to get in touch with her Uncle Paul and catch up on the family he left behind years ago.

Land of Plentyís first hour divides its time between the two, mainly keeping them apart with their own priorities. Paul spends so much time talking into his headset (basically to himself) that we donít know if we should embrace, condemn or sympathize with his motives. Lanaís life is no greater cause for interest, listening to the facts of the disenfranchised and wondering why more isnít done about it. Both of these characters are exercises in a very specific kind of depression. Isolated from nearly everything but their beliefs, any pragmatist understands that their efforts are doing little more for the problems than satisfying their own desperation to do something about them.

It takes a rather obviously random shooting of a Middle-Eastern man to bring Paul and Lana together for more than just parting conversation. Paul is convinced the murder has grander implications. Lana wants to find the family of the homeless man and deliver his body to them for a proper burial. You thinking what Iím thinking? ROAD TRIP!!! Actually its here where Land of Plenty begins to find its beating heart, or more specifically Paulís. When Lana has finally lost touch with Paulís obsessed impracticalities she perfectly delivers the filmís funniest reaction, something weíve been wanting to shout out for over 90 minutes.

Paulís humanity has been hidden away probably since his days in Vietnam, so it comes just in time that he realizes another questionable tragedy is not the path to fixing the world. Lanaís optimism is destined to backfire on her someday, although her activism makes her a doíer and not a preacher which is something we need more of. Their scenes together towards the very end strike a resonance, particularly the final shot, and its too bad it took so long for them to become a team rather than just two wandering individuals in search of a cause.

Paul & Lana donít quite fit into the two Team America categories, although they are both out to fight the assholes of the world the best way they can, or so they think. The same goes for director Wim Wenders, whose recent efforts are so issue-loaded (The End of Violence, anyone?) that he needs more than just an auto-focus on his cameras. Land of Plenty is no different, although it recovers a little better. Wenders might as well get up in front of audience, talk for an hour about what he believes is wrong for the world and then present the final 45 minutes as a short film he made about the subject(s). We might tune out during Wendersí speech, but at least weíd be left with a pretty good short film.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10595&reviewer=198
originally posted: 10/28/04 23:56:42
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2005 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/03/09 brian Conspiracy theorists unite---and wake up! 5 stars
1/13/09 Shaun Wallner Wonderful story. 3 stars
5/06/07 yuko i like it 4 stars
2/20/05 Serge Beautiful movie about human self-delusion. Great actors, great soundtrack, great director. 5 stars
9/30/04 Jean Wood a delicate movie that observes the dichotomy of America in times of war 4 stars
9/25/04 Brian Pretentious, awkward dialogue and soliloquies to God and self. Cheap appeal to 9/11 emotion 1 stars
9/19/04 Elliot Keifer Amazing performance by John Diehl. 5 stars
9/16/04 Sara Barata Definitely worth a look 4 stars
9/16/04 Peter "Help him in his helplessness." Oh my. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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