northfork (2003)


director: michael polish

james woods, nick nolte, daryl hannah

The dreamlike image of a whole town disappearing under water was the apparent inspiration behind Northfork. Itís a million-dollar movie image in a low-budget film, however, so director Michael Polish and his brother, co-writer and co-producer Mark Polish had to content themselves with making the most ambitiously cast art film ever made on the fringe of Hollywood.

Northfork, Montana is about to disappear under the waters of a hydroelectric dam, and a committee of men in black coats and hats have been assigned to evacuate the last holdouts, which include a carnally-obsessed couple, a man with two wives and his own ark, and a house full of angels. The cast includes James Woods, Daryl Hannah, Nick Nolte, Peter Coyote and Anthony Edwards among others, all working for scale to help the Polish brothers create their fantasy of middle American in the mid-50s as a magic place.

Itís a place where the Old Testament and the Wild West and Eisenhower meet, exquisitely shot in a stark palette of browns and blacks barely suffused with livelier tones - post-Dust Bowl colours. Itís also an impressively pretentious bit of filmmaking, portentous and nonsensical and sometimes as static as a photograph, but itís undeniably ambitious, and probably the most interesting American film released this year.