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    A dam shame

    "Northfork," a drama about the imminent flooding of a small town creatively crafted by the Polish brothers of "Twin Falls Idaho" fame, takes on the unfortunate air of an inside joke that you're not invited to share.


    I hate to come down hard on a film as non-traditional and cinematically assured as "Northfork" when there are "Bad Boys II" and leagues of "Extraordinary Gentlemen" out there, but come down hard I must.

    Directed by: Michael Polish.
    Written by: Mark Polish, Michael Polish.
    Cast: James Woods, Nick Nolte, Claire Forlani, Duel Farnes, Mark Polish, Daryl Hannah, Graham Beckel, Josh Barker, Peter Coyote, Jon Gries, Robin Sachs, Ben Foster, Anthony Edwards, Marshall Bell, Kyle MacLachlan, Michele Hicks.

    Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
    The Polish brothers film (they made the sublime "Twin Falls, Idaho" as well as "Jackpot," which I have not seen) is by turns original, beguiling, and lovely to look at in that almost black-and-white way, a sumptuously photographed experience in which something always shines like white light burning through a cross-shaped cut-out in an outhouse — a chrome fender here, the rim of a teacup there.

    And while "Northfork," a Treasure State-laden yarn about a small town circa 1955 about to be consumed by floodwater when the new dam goes in, luxuriates in the exquisiteness of its own details, you leave the film feeling emotionally removed and a little bit cross, as if everyone involved in the making of the film were privy to some in-joke, yet, for some inexplicable reason, they left you out. It's like the pie shell of an early Coen Brothers drama without the filling, a shaggy dog story told with confidence and authority but one that soon becomes a little too silly for its own good (around the time the knowing winks kick in).

    While a band of black-clad "evacuation agents" (among them James Woods, Peter Coyote, and co-writer Mark Polish) attempt to smooth-talk the last remaining Northfork residents out of their community's threatened domiciles (there's 1.5 acres of lakefront property in it for them if they make their quota of 65 displacements), a young boy, abandoned by his parents and tended to by the local priest (Nick Nolte), engages his fevered imagination that courts, among other fantasies, an odd quartet of thespians who fear the boy may be the angel they seek.

    The Brothers have, alas, thrown one too many religious metaphors at the dam problem. Northfork is admittedly well crafted but otherworldly and aloof.

    AUGUST 3, 2003

    Reader comments on Northfork:

  • northfork   from lodiza, Sep 8, 2003
  • Re: northfork   from smwvc, Jan 12, 2004
  • Re: northfork   from Mariann, Feb 15, 2004
  • Re: northfork   from Cathy, May 27, 2005
  • northfork leaving me unsettled   from doug cameron, Sep 16, 2003
  • Re: northfork leaving me unsettled   from JS, Oct 1, 2006
  • this is one lousy pretentious film   from Ottodachat, Dec 24, 2003
  • Re: this is one lousy pretentious film   from Jay, Dec 19, 2005
  • NorthFork; A Must See?   from Rysa4, Jan 6, 2004
  • Re: NorthFork; A Must See?   from CCMadsen Las Vegas, May 17, 2004
  • warning   from j.wasc, Jan 24, 2004
  • Northfork   from stillstarsong, Feb 15, 2004
  • Re: Northfork   from oxnard, Sep 20, 2004
  • one of best flicks i've seen   from baker b., Mar 10, 2004
  • Re: one of best flicks i've seen   from GM, Aug 22, 2004
  • this is a great film   from joe, Jul 2, 2004
  • Re: this is a great film   from gina, Oct 14, 2005
  • Northfork review   from crazy marty, Jul 2, 2004
  •   from Marvin Anderson, Aug 24, 2004
  • Northfork   from A, Dec 29, 2004
  • Glasses   from BD, Jan 29, 2005
  • Obviously over ignorant people's heads   from Ardvrk, Apr 14, 2005
  • Re: Obviously over ignorant people's heads   from gina, Oct 14, 2005
  • No-one cares what you think   from Matt, May 21, 2005
  • northfork   from fran, Aug 23, 2005
  • maybe one of my favorite movies   from dianne cunningham, Aug 31, 2005
  • magical surreal creature   from jpippie, Sep 26, 2005
  • Re: magical surreal creature   from JS, Oct 1, 2006
  • Waste of 103 minutes of my life...   from Kate, Sep 3, 2005
  • As usual, reviewers hate good movies   from Aileen, Oct 12, 2005
  • Northfork is a great, ambitious film   from Bill Eger, Apr 26, 2006
  • North Fork   from fan, May 10, 2006
  • Re: North Fork   from JohnnyD, May 29, 2006
  • [no subject]   from , Aug 11, 2006
  • Northfork movie   from Kirin Davids, Aug 11, 2006
  • Just finished it......   from Jim, Sep 6, 2006
  • [no subject]   from , Nov 23, 2007

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