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Posts Tagged ‘fracking’

A church filled with homeless men in "Overnighters"

A North Dakota church becomes a haven for homeless men drawn by the fracking boom.

“THE OVERNIGHTERS”  My rating: B+ (Opens Nov. 7 at the Alamo Drafthouse)

90 minutes | PG-13

A documentary that plays almost like a scripted drama, “The Overnighters” is both a deeply personal story of a spiritually-driven but flawed individual and a damning commentary on the American economy in the new millennium.

Jesse Moss’ film is set in Williston, N.D., a small town in the midst of the fracking boom. There are lots of well-paying jobs in the petroleum industry, and that has attracted thousands of desperate men who arrive daily by car, camper and bus to find work.

Problem is, many if not most of them won’t get a job.  They are more or less stranded in Williston with no income, no housing, no hope.

That’s where Pastor Jay Reinke of the Concordia Lutheran Church comes in.  Reinke has turned his church into a crash pad for these newcomers, allowing many to sleep in their vehicles in the parking lot while others camp out in the church’s offices and classrooms.

Reinke’s motivations seem altruistic — “Who is my neighbor? How do I serve him?” — but there’s a price to pay.

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Rosemary DeWitt and Matt Damon in "Promised Land"

Rosemary DeWitt and Matt Damon in “Promised Land”

“PROMISED LAND”  My rating: B+ (Opening Jan. 4 at the AMC Studio 30 and Barrywoods 24)

120 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Matt Damon is this generation’s Jimmy Stewart. The guy rarely looks like he’s acting and yet we believe everything that comes out of his mouth, every gesture his characters make.

Certainly it’s hard to imagine any other contemporary actor pulling off what Damon accomplishes in “Promised Land,” a film that could easily have become a shrill pro-environmental screed but which, in Damon’s capable hands, becomes something far more challenging and subtle — a character study of an individual who may have convinced himself that wrong is right.

In the latest from director Gus Van Sant, Damon plays Steve Butler, a hotshot aquisitions man for a natural gas company. Steve’s job involves traveling around the country to purchase drilling rights from farmers and other property owners. He can take a failing ranch or a economically-strapped town and turn it into a cash cow.

As he unassumingly notes, he makes people millionaires. Clearly, Steve loves his job. He gets to hand out big chunks of money, turn around lives, leaves the world a better place.

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