December 27, 2012 |
"Promised Land" certainly sounds promising. It's got a strong cast and an intriguing premise that has the added bonus of real-world relevance. But, good intentions and good work aside, the film flounders before it reaches its conclusion. The film, which stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski, who co-wrote the script (from a story by Dave Eggers), ends up too gimmicky for its evident earnestness. Smoothly directed by Gus Van Sant, it wants to both entertain and enlighten, but that combination eludes it. The tale of what transpires in a small town when a large corporation attempts to purchase control of a previously untapped natural resource, "Promised Land" was originally conceived of with a focus on the wind energy boom.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 19, 2011 |
Reporting from Mendota, Calif. -- The Knucklehead Code of Honor always included honesty and kindness. Humility is a recent addition. "We never had to worry about gloating before because we never won before," said Vaness French, coach of the Knuckleheads, otherwise known as the Mendota High School chess team. The nickname refers not to human blockheadedness, but to the cylinders on vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycle engines known for their durability. Drought-weary Mendota — a Central Valley town of stilled machinery and packinghouses surrounded by industrial agriculture — is the kind of place that requires durability just to survive.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 25, 2011 |
On a chilly day in March, a U.N. human rights lawyer came to this tiny farm town to investigate unsafe drinking water — part of a world tour that also included Bangladesh and Namibia. Advocates who had long been trying to call attention to Central California's increasingly tainted groundwater were elated. Ruben Tavarez, a school board member, was miffed. "It makes it sound like Seville is a Third World country!" he said. "There's nothing wrong with the water. The pipes are just bad. " Indeed, when students in the city of Visalia, where Tavarez works as a substitute teacher, asked about nitrate contamination in Seville, he drank a big bottle of water in front of them, making a point of telling them he'd filled it from his tap at home.
March 21, 2011 |
They covered the body with a child's blanket, a fluffy blue-green cloak decorated with white lilies. Beneath the cloth was a man, maybe in his 40s, missing his right arm from the elbow, a final insult to one of the countless victims of this agricultural town's tsunami nightmare. On a warm late-winter morning, four recovery workers bent low, slowly lifting the corpse in silent deference, before splashing through the muck and ooze of the rural rice field toward the road. On Sunday, the ritual was repeated again and again, at least a dozen times, as teams ?
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 7, 2010 |
The beige notice appeared on Becky Quintana's doorstep one recent morning here in Seville, a century-old settlement nestled amid fruit and almond groves in the Central Valley. "Boil your water," it warned in bold, capital letters. Alarming as that was, the blue "unsafe water alert" that came the next day was more worrisome: Don't drink, cook or even wash dishes with the water ? and don't boil it, because that just concentrates the nitrates. But, a day later, more pastel-colored circulars arrived.
August 31, 2010 |
Thirty-nine months ago, standing in the wasteland that was once his beloved farm town, Greensburg School Superintendent Darin Headrick made a bold promise to the media, to parents and to himself: "Whether we have 270 kids or we have one, we will be open in the fall," he said. Just days earlier, on May 4, 2007, a monster tornado had roared into Greensburg, its 200-mph winds slicing through cars, trees and sheetrock like helicopter blades. Ninety-five percent of the buildings were flattened, including the town's elementary and high schools.