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A Promise Keeper and a New Dealer

Promised Land and Hyde Park on Hudson ring in 2013 with style


No one disputes that natural gas is clean energy but some of the efforts to get to the gas are dirty. Filthier still are those who lie through their teeth denying that it might be unsafe.

Promised Land--a first-rate dramatization of what happens when an economically hobbled community is given promises of jobs, better schools and untold wealth--is the first must-see film of 2013. More importantly, it's required viewing for any Idahoan.

Regular Boise Weekly readers should know quite a bit about natural gas exploration and fracking--the method of shooting high-pressured fluids and solids into the Earth's core to enhance gas flow. For nearly three years, we've watched speculators hold sway in a series of Payette County town hall meetings, and we've sat at dozens of kitchen tables, listening to Idaho farmers and ranchers talk about offers to make them wealthy beyond their dreams once they signed away their land and mineral rights. To date, natural gas exploration companies have snapped up hundreds of land leases--more than a few from Idaho legislators.

So viewing Promised Land was a bit like watching a home movie. Exploring broad themes of decency and respect, the film's screenplay, crafted by co-stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski, accomplishes a rare feat: an honest, respectful portrayal of modern farming culture.

Promised Land will resonate with those paying close attention to the fracking debate and gas exploration. If the subject is new for you, this film may shake you to your core. Promised Land will no doubt come under attack from energy corporations for what they will say is its heavy-handedness. Don't believe it. This is a promise worth keeping.

A different but equally noble type of courage is considered in this week's other Oscar-caliber release: Hyde Park on Hudson.

In the genius casting move of the season, Bill Murray perfectly embodies President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in April 1939--a time when our nation inherently trusted its leaders to do the right thing.

"We have all learned the lesson that government cannot afford to wait until it has lost the power to act," said Murray as FDR in a radio address to the nation, assuring an economically crippled United States that it was indeed proper for a government to come to the rescue and that federal bailouts were not a sign of weakness.

In Hyde Park on Hudson, we're reminded that there was once a time in our history when we were less concerned with the personal foibles of our chief executive or his unashamed embrace of intellectualism. What we truly needed, an ultimately received, was a leader in a time of peril.

[ Video is no longer available. ]

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