"It has been a season of cults and extreme religious visions," writes Andy Webster in the New York Times. "Vera Farmiga wrestles with faith in Higher Ground, and Elizabeth Olsen escapes a charismatic leader's grip in Martha Marcy May Marlene. In Preston Miller's dramedy God's Land, a commune of Taiwanese immigrants in Garland, Tex, waits for a spaceship to descend and deliver it to the promised land. Or dimension, rather." Ultimately, Webster finds that "Miller is far too leisurely — and takes far too much time — with a story largely blind to the sometimes fatal cost of fanaticism."
For Andrew Schenker, writing in Slant, "while Miller has his share of fun reveling in the absurdity of the group's belief system and behaviors, he's far more interested in both the fraught interaction of alien cultures and the emotional toll the need to believe can exact on individuals and families. Organized into a series of sequences prefaced by a fixed-take close-up of an individual to be featured in the ensuing scenes, God's Land assumes a multi-character approach, highlighting different members of the cult and residents of the town of Garland, Texas where the group has set up camp to await the apocalypse. But these attempts to deepen the picture of a community and its temporary residents often strike the wrong note, largely because the characters (a clerk at a local Target-style superstore, a language instructor hired by the cult) come off as flat caricature, partly the result of less-than-stellar acting. The film is far more successful when it either focuses on the central family or suggests via visual means the odd correspondences between cult and town."
God's Land is at the Quad Cinema in Manhattan through Tuesday and is viewable online at Fandor through Sunday. Fandor is not only running Glenn Kenny's reflections on taking on a small role in the film and Andrew Grant's interview with Miller but also the production diary that Miller and producer Jeremiah Kipp kept in 2009. Well, actually the even-numbered entries; the odd-numbered entries have been appearing at the House Next Door. If you're looking to read them in order, here goes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.
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