Land of Plenty - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Land of Plenty Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ March 16, 2007
Very well done movie about post 9/11.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ March 14, 2013
Upon her arrival back in the United States, Lana(Michelle Williams) is met at the airport by Henry(Wendell Pierce), the pastor at the homeless mission she is volunteering to work at. They have their work cut out for them as the vast seas of homeless in Los Angeles almost make her nostalgic for the time she spent on the West Bank. Still, she has a personal mission in delivering an envelope to her uncle Paul(John Diehl) whose mission is to make the United States safe for right wing radio talk shows while stalking Hassan(Shaun Toub) on his collections of Borax.

I appreciate the fact that "Land of Plenty" takes notice of how large a problem hunger is in the United States but not so much that I enjoyed being lectured about it in totally ponderous fashion instead of coming up with a solid story to tell. Nor could the movie make any valid suggestions or even any kind of connection between guns and butter in wartime, as most of the post-9/11 paranoia is now thankfully dated. Wendell Pierce and Michelle Williams can only do so much with so little, as the movie otherwise lets John Diehl, an otherwise fine character actor, free rein to go over the top in playing a stereotypical character, thereby sucking all of the oxygen out of the room.
½ September 2, 2013
From purely cinematic perspective, this movie is a delight, featuring captivating performances and beautiful cinematography. When it comes to the story though... I appreciated a foreigner's view of post-9/11 America, but the portrayal was way oversimplified and one-dimensional. It shows even in the character development. As much as I liked Michelle Williams and her performance, she was given little to work with, while John Diehl's kept chewing scenery.
½ September 22, 2009
The contemporary America after 9/11 depicted by Wim Wenders. I basically love this film and understand his points as one of those who are somehow obsessed (have love and hate) with the image of "U.S.A." as foreigners. What amazes me mostly is that Wenders keeps the same kind of attitude and energy on describing and thinking about America as much as he did in "Paris, Texas" back in 80s. This film is (meant to be) much more political, and characters are little bit too symbolized, but Wenders's story and characters are both very much flesh and blood. Even though he is a very symbolical character, and I guess he look too typical as a Vietnam Veteran or a patriot activist, he seems to be existing in the reality. I think the film is little weak in terms of the drama of process how two people who have completely different background and ways of thinking start to kinda understand each other (the relationship between the uncle Paul and a girl Lana), Wenders's technique to make a "meaningful" fiction out of what really goes on in the real world and to let you start to think about the issue that the film is dealing with is now very sharp and professional.
November 7, 2007
Land of Plenty, is like a clumsy, well-meaning intervention in a family quarrel. Mr. Wenders may not have the power to heal the rifts his movie acknowledges - and his account of them may not always be persuasive - but there is nonetheless something touching about his heartfelt concern.
June 10, 2007
I did not immediately find Wim Wender's work compelling, but once I warmed to his leisurely pace and stories that end but don't necessarily conclude, I found his work a great pleasure.

"Wings of Angels," is probably his most accessible work, and though I've seen it several times, I could watch it again with pleasure right now. I actually came to his work via "Tokyo Ga," his documentary about the work of Ozu and about Japan itself. It's where he made the famous (or infamous) comment, "If there is one shining jewel of the cinema, it is the work of Ozu." Then, because our library purchased a wonderful world cinema video collection, I worked through his earlier films, "Kings of the Road," "Alice in the Cities," and others, which are art house films lacking in conventional plot or drama.

Of his American films, "Paris, Texas," and "The Million Dollar Hotel," stand out, although once again, I had to see "Million Dollar Hotel" twice before I much liked it.

His latest film, "Land of Plenty," dwells on a part of LA we so seldom see in films or in TV. It's gritty and dirty, not the picture Hollywood generally shows. The would-be lone agent driving around the city in pursuit of imaginary plots by terrorists is obviously mentally ill. Yet he is so earnest, he wins our grudging sympathy if not respect.

This film actually moves a great deal more than most of Wender's efforts, but the real action is just as psychologically based as in his earlier work. But after all this time I've begun to appreciate both his pace and the way his stories just continue on after our voyeuristic look into them ends.
April 21, 2007
5.5/10. Interesting but not entirely successful film. Nicely acted, a bit slow moving and a tad overlong, it is different. Michelle Williams gives a sincere performance.
January 1, 2007
A very polarizing movie. Vividly portrays what happens when people give in to paranoia. They see terrorists around every corner, egged on by the government's "war" on terrorists. Very disturbing.
October 24, 2006
RATING (0 to ****): ***1/2

German filmmaker Wim Wenders decided to make a political film, his commentary on America today. Unfortunately, there was no hope of distribution here, as there apparently wasn't a market for a film that was both liberal and Christian.

Too bad, since the film has beautiful cinematography which would have probably looked even better on the big screen.

Its real strengths, however, lie in the wonderful performances by Michelle Williams (Lana) and John Diehl (Paul), with an equally well-done script. The parallel editing between their stories leaves us wanting to know more at each cut (at first, about Lana and Paul, and later on, the story), in what would be an otherwise boring film if told in a strictly linear fashion.

The potential of being alienated by this film will depend on just how strictly you oppose the two viewpoints mentioned above. More likely than not, you'll be too moved and intrigued to care. It definitely has an opinion, but Wenders doesn't follow the traditional path of political films to fire as many cheap-shots as possible.


MPAA: Not Rated (but would be R for some language and a scene of violence)
Runtime: 1 hour, 59 minutes (116 minutes of "real movie")
October 15, 2006
[b][i]United 93[/i][/b], directed by Paul Greengrass, takes a sobering look at the plane that was hijacked on 9/11 and then overtaken by passengers when it became apparent to them the captors were on a suicide mission to fly the plan into a building. It's realistric, not at all exploitive, in fact Greengrass employed no name actors to avoid this possibility. Although I think this was a good idea, my biggest problem with the film was the lack of character development of the passengers. 9/11 is still fresh to us, yet this film played too much like a documentary and the victims (and heroes) of United 93 remained as faceless after watching this film as they were beforehand. Perhaps that was the intent, but, at least for me, it left me less emotionally invested in the film. Other than that, well done.

[b][i]Land of Plenty[/i][/b], directed by Wim Wenders, takes a Post 9/11 look at a paranoid Vietnam Vet and his social worker niece who come together after the death of a homeless Middle Eastern man. The film stars John Diehl and Michelle Williams. The film has some poignant moments and at times has the potential to make some very moving social statements, but too often falters due to some extreme stereotyping of Diehl's Vietnam Vet character.

[b][i]CSA: Confederate States of America [/i][/b]is a mockumentary directed by Kevin Wilmott. This extremely low budget film takes a look at America....had the South won the Civil War. The satire is often biting, and parts are funny even though you may feel uncomfortable watching. That said I think I was more impressed by the idea than the actual film-making. In other words interesting, but it could have been so much better.
½ April 13, 2005
Welcome to the 14th annual Philadelphia Film Festival, where all the thrillers are �taut and compelling�, the comedies are �hilarious and outrageous� and the dramas are �powerful and poignant�. Actually, that is what the overly complimentary festival program, which printed positive capsule reviews for all of the featured films, would have you believe. Film festivals are a cineaste�s paradise. Not only could I freely jump from one screening to another (one day I topped out at four films, yet I was still ready for a fifth), but I was able to see some films before their national (or limited) release and a few that may never be seen outside of the festival circuit (some deservedly so). However, you must be cautious when choosing which films to see since the quality of films at ranges widely. The fact that I am a poor decision maker does not put me in a great situation. After the first four days of the film festival, my self-doubting has occasionally proved accurate. However, my poor-decisiveness did fail me at times and I ended up seeing a handful of good films.

It is easily apparent why this well-organized event has so many repeat attendees. I encountered one cinephile who exclaimed with much fervor that it is her 5th year, while another nonchalantly affirmed it was his 12th experience and it would not be his last. There is a friendly spirit that pervades the atmosphere at every screening. While waiting on line or quietly sitting in the theater chair, I have been approached by tremendously gregarious film lovers and I kindly reciprocated. Over the past week I have been eating popcorn for meals and coffee has been my beverage of choice (actually, it served more purpose as a stimulant). On opening night, last Thursday, I overheard (ok -- I was eavesdropping) a partier at the pre-screening party declare that �Philadelphia knows how to do it right�. All I could think to myself on this lavish opening night was, �I hope so�.

I walked into the Prince Music Theater around 7:50 for a 7:30 party followed by an 8:30 screening of �Ferpect Crime� (yes, the title is deliberately misspelled). I wish I could say I was fashionably late, but I�m simply not very punctual. There was a large group of people circulating throughout the lobby (one must quickly adapt to large crowds and lines at a film festival). As I squirmed my way through the well-dressed crowds, I felt lost. Literally � I was lost; I could not find the stairs. After aimlessly wandering around a bit (I would soon master this maneuver), I was found by an elderly usher who asked, �Are you lost?� I responded, �No, I was just looking around. Do you happen to know where the stairs are?� He gave me detailed directions; �Right to your left, sir�. I chuckled with a thankful sigh, fully conscious of my foolishness, and proceeded up the stairs. This small anecdote is basically a representation of my festival experience so far; I was disoriented but enthralled by the spectacle. Only five minutes later I descended down those same stairs to the first screening of the film festival.

As a volunteer at the festival aptly articulated, �the film festival was off to an auspicious debut with a sold out opening night�. The Spanish director of �[b]Ferpect Crime[/b]�, Alex de la Iglesia, was present to introduce the film (afterwards he conducted a hilarious Q & A). In his humorous introduction, he struggled with English and casually denounced his own film. I was a bit wary that this would soon turn into an �I told you so� moment, but fortunately, the film was not awful. However, the director did overshadow his own production. The shallow �Ferpect Crime� has an agenda and it wants to constantly remind you how much of a vicious dark comedy it is. It goes from being simply shallow to being completely misanthropic. The overt malice is momentarily amusing, but grows tedious and misguided social commentary dulls its sharpness.

By far the worst film to have polluted the screen was [b]�[/b][b]Land of Plenty[/b][b]�[/b]: Wim Wenders� �response� to 9/11. I actually admire (correction: previously admired) some of his work from the 80�s, so this was very disappointing. Once again, a filmmaker should have resisted the urge to make a seemingly obligatory film in reaction to 9/11. I believe that directors should not make �responses to 9/11� when they really do not have much to say or have no skill in making their response cinematic. In �Land of Plenty�, Wenders wishes to portray the strengths and weaknesses of America through the two main characters. One is a pill-popping, freedom fries eating, and racial slur spouting stereotype of an intolerant and paranoid war veteran (scary nightmares included!). This paranoid man tracks down suspicious looking Arabs (which, to him, is every person with slightly dark skin) like a child with his first plastic spy kit. The other (the war vet�s niece) lead is an altruistic and understanding daughter of a communist missionary who has just traveled the world and has recently returned to America, where she feels sympathy for all the homeless people in Los Angeles. This equally overblown character is played by Michelle Williams, who, like so many other young actresses, supposes that becoming a brunette will make everyone forget about her blonde days on Dawson�s Creek and take her seriously. I would Michelle, if you did not make such poor film choices. The characters in the film are so over-the-top that they become mere caricatures and any type of redemption seems entirely false. In the film, one person asks another if the vodka he is serving is harder to swallow than lighter fluid. However, it is a trick question: the answer is this film. �Land of Plenty� is plenty of bullshit.

Among the better films I have seen so far this festival is the honest Australian coming-of-age film [b]�Somersault�[/b], which revolves around a vulnerable and dependent teenage girl (Charlize Theron look-alike, Abbie Cornish) who leaves home within the first five minutes of the film after being caught kissing her mother�s boyfriend. The director, Cate Shortland, makes an impressive debut and uses the camera as a color-changing mood ring, reflecting the characters� moods at the moment. She also displayed deft skill in providing contrasting imagery of cold and hot. The �nymphomaniacal lost soul� seems to be a common theme at the film festival. [b]�Right Now�[/b], a film modeled after the French New Wave style of filmmaking, follows a nineteen year old young lady who wants to escape the banal, so she runs off with her new boyfriend, who just happens to be a bank robber. Knowing this is based on a true story truly baffles me. I wonder when filmmakers began producing films about people who are not special at all. It is reflected in the film, which is satisfying, yet ordinary. The audience, like the main character, is stuck in the mundane. Luckily, we have the expressive Isild Le Besco to appreciate.

The best documentary, and perhaps the best film yet, is [b]�Murderball�[/b], which deservedly won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at Sundance this past February. This superlatively entertaining and involving documentary chronicles the past few years of the U.S. Paralympics rugby team, although the focus is not mainly on the sport. The filmmakers wisely opted to explore the personal lives of the charismatic athletes and how they coped with their handicapped status. They do not describe their situations with dread, but with hope and gratitude, which makes for an inspirational tale. I guarantee it will be a huge hit when it is inevitable released (hopefully soon).

On Tuesday I was diagnosed with a plight called fatigue. I was on the verge of a breakdown � both physical and mental. A man has got to rest! Perhaps my friends and family were accurate in calling me certifiably insane for seeing so many films in a short amount of time. Next week I will recap all of the films I have seen (there are many more) and give out my own special awards.

Just some grades for films I have seen so far:

Ferpect Crime: C+
Right Now: B-
Land of Plenty: D
Somersault: B
House of D: C
Mysterious Skin: C
I Know Where I'm Going!: B
Muderball: B+
The Holy Girl: B
Ma Mere: (undecided, but I'm very mixed)
5 x 2: Five Times Two: B-
½ January 16, 2014
Convincing performances from Diehl, Williams. Wenders attempt to allegorise post-9/11 USA is telling
½ September 2, 2013
From purely cinematic perspective, this movie is a delight, featuring captivating performances and beautiful cinematography. When it comes to the story though... I appreciated a foreigner's view of post-9/11 America, but the portrayal was way oversimplified and one-dimensional. It shows even in the character development. As much as I liked Michelle Williams and her performance, she was given little to work with, while John Diehl's kept chewing scenery.
April 1, 2013
Begins with a lot of excitement and anticipation then seems to wander off into an abyss of nothingness - disappointing !!
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ March 14, 2013
Upon her arrival back in the United States, Lana(Michelle Williams) is met at the airport by Henry(Wendell Pierce), the pastor at the homeless mission she is volunteering to work at. They have their work cut out for them as the vast seas of homeless in Los Angeles almost make her nostalgic for the time she spent on the West Bank. Still, she has a personal mission in delivering an envelope to her uncle Paul(John Diehl) whose mission is to make the United States safe for right wing radio talk shows while stalking Hassan(Shaun Toub) on his collections of Borax.

I appreciate the fact that "Land of Plenty" takes notice of how large a problem hunger is in the United States but not so much that I enjoyed being lectured about it in totally ponderous fashion instead of coming up with a solid story to tell. Nor could the movie make any valid suggestions or even any kind of connection between guns and butter in wartime, as most of the post-9/11 paranoia is now thankfully dated. Wendell Pierce and Michelle Williams can only do so much with so little, as the movie otherwise lets John Diehl, an otherwise fine character actor, free rein to go over the top in playing a stereotypical character, thereby sucking all of the oxygen out of the room.
March 8, 2013
I predicted the ending before it happened.
½ September 2, 2012
the music was good. (as always) and the interview with wenders (dvd bonur feature) was interesting.
June 6, 2012
Depuis les attentats terroristes du 11 septembre, Paul, un vtran de la guerre du Vietnam, est devenu paranoaque. Il arpente les rues de Los Angeles avec sa camionette bourre de gadgets la recherche de complots terroristes. Pendant ce temps, Lana revient aux tats-Unis, aprs avoir pass la majorit de sa vie en Afrique et au Moyen-Orient. Elle espre retrouver l'oncle dont elle a perdu la trace, un certain Paul...

Malgr ce qu'en disent les critiques, Wim Wenders est trs loin d'avoir perdu la main. Avec Land of plenty, Wenders nous plonge encore dans un de ses univers, l o tout est magique, o on se sent instinctivement aspir. Sincrement, Wenders surpasse Hitchcock dans l'habilet crer des univers (Hitchcock le surpassant toutefois dans l'ambiance). Seul ppin, bien que je dnote beaucoup de ressemblances avec Paris, Texas, c'est qu'il me semble que, malgr des performances et des personnages incroyables, on ne ressent pas le mme pincement au coeur qui vient autant nous chercher que dans les autres films de Wenders.
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