starring Matt Damon, John Kraskinski, Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt
screenplay by John Krasinski & Matt Damon, based on a story by Dave Eggers
directed by Gus Van Sant
by Walter Chaw The first warning sign is that Gus Van Sant's Promised Land is named after a Natalie Merchant song, though that's really all the warning you need. Give this to Steven Soderbergh, another director who, like Van Sant, has alternated small, personal projects with the occasional crowd-pleaser: At least when Soderbergh does it, it's not simpering crap like Finding Forrester or Milk. (The best Van Sant film of the year, in fact, is Julia Loktev's astounding The Loneliest Planet.) Here, alas, Van Sant is reunited with Good Will Hunting buddy Matt Damon, directing a screenplay Damon co-wrote with co-star John Krasinski from a story by (gulp) Dave Eggers. Featuring enough self-satisfaction to power Ed Begley, Jr.'s enviro-car for a century, Promised Land is the kind of movie that suggests everything Conservatives believe about Lefties being tree-hugging, privileged morons is pretty dead on the mark. What I'm saying is that it's stupid; Ayn Rand ain't got nothin' on Damon and Krasinski.