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Editorial Reviews

Product Description



Following their super-quirky films Twin Falls Idaho and Jackpot, the Polish brothers take a leap of faith with their third picture, Northfork. And it pays off handsomely. Somewhere in the desolate Midwest, the town of Northfork is about to be drowned in the waters held back by a new dam. It's up to a group of men (in identical black suits and fedoras) to clear out the last stubborn landowners. Meanwhile, a deathly ill boy bargains with a delegation of heaven-sent searchers--at least that's what they seem to be. Is this Fargo meets Touched by an Angel? That's the peculiar feel of this otherwise unclassifiable movie, which veers from academic artiness to wacky blackout humor. Who can explain the restaurant where diners must guess the lone menu item? And who would want to? James Woods and Nick Nolte lead a game cast through this oddly winning enterprise. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • "Bare-Knuckle Filmmaking: The Contruction of Northfolk"
  • Photo gallery
  • 24 Frame News segment

Product Details

  • Actors: James Woods, Nick Nolte, Douglas Sebern, Claire Forlani, Duel Farnes
  • Directors: Michael Polish
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Unknown)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: December 30, 2003
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000UJL82
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,045 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Northfork" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

I like a lot of bad movies.
Eric Paulsen
Among one of the few residents who refuse to leave is Nick Nolte who plays a devoted priest who is taking care of very ill boy in an abandoned hospital.
S. Calhoun
Also, this film is just an absolutely beautifully executed work of cinema.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 63 people found the following review helpful By audrey TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 19, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This film is based on the first screenplay by brothers Michael and Mark Polish, though it is the third of their trilogy to be filmed.
Set in a small Montana town in the 1950s, this is the story of town with a mythic past that is now doomed. A dam will submerge the town soon, so there is palpable, imagic tension as three storylines develop: first, a young adopted boy, dying, is returned to Fr. Harlan (Nick Nolte) as his parents leave town, so the priest keeps vigil over the youngster and comforts him as much as possible; secondly, six agents (including James Woods and Mark Polish) with a monetary incentive have been sent to roust out those landholders who refuse to budge, and they have a number of surrealistic experiences along the way; finally, whenever the young boy collapses he encounters four purported angels who seem to be searching for him.
It would be interesting to give this premise to a half dozen filmmakers and see the various movies they come up with; in the Polish brothers' case, we get a remarkable melange of images and themes -- angels, death, wings, bearing witness to each other, loneliness and human grief -- all set in a dream-like landscape. The cast is flawless, the pacing is slow (which makes it easier to enjoy the extraordinary visuals), and the stark situation is emphasized using a variety of techniques to film in color though almost always appearing to be black & white.
It's fascinating to listen to the brothers' commentary which tells us, among other things, that these guys were basically bankrupt when they made the film and that their father became the production designer because he was the only person who, when asked to build an ark, just said "How big?".
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Daniel M. Hobbs on May 4, 2004
Format: DVD
In 1955, the town of Northfork, Montana was flooded when the gates of a completed dam were closed. Against this backdrop, two related stories are told. In one, three teams of men, motivated by rewards of lakefront property, attempt to get local die-hards to move on before their homes are flooded. This story is filled with humor - visual gags, offbeat characters, and a 100% off-the-wall scene at the local diner. But there are human touches, too, as one father-and-son team argue over whether to save their wife/mother's coffin from the rising flood.
In the other story, Father Harlan (played with heart-breaking tenderness by Nick Nolte) takes care of Irwin, a young orphan who is dying. As Irwin drifts in and out of consciousness, his fevered mind creates visions of angelic beings and reunion out of the landscape and his pitifully few belongings - a model airplane, a comic book, bird feathers he's collected.
This film is very carefully crafted. The two, interleaved stories are visually unified by the "big sky" landscape and a color palette of muted blues, grays, and tans (everything - land, water, buildings, machinery, people - is color-coordinated). The transitions between the two stories deliberately link the fantasy-like character of Irwin's angelic visions with the absurd elements in the evacuation story, and at one point suggest that Irwin's dreams may not be that far off the mark. And finally, Nolte's monologue, inspired by his own experience, goes straight to the heart of the matter.
The result, for me, was a gentle and moving meditation on the inevitability of change and loss, and the grace we find through humor and acceptance. This is visual poetry, a movie to watch again and again.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 8, 2004
Format: DVD
Northfork (Michael Polish, 2003)
Michael and Mark Polish, the same writing team behind the delightfully twisted Twin Falls, Idaho, now unveils Northfork. I'm not sure there are enough good things I can say about this movie, and yet I feel I lost a lot in translation from the big screen.
The basic structure around which all the stories revolve is the moving of the (real) town of Northfork, Montana, to higher ground in 1955. Various subplots involve three teams of related men hired to move the locals who refuse to leave their homes; the priest who runs the local orphans' home, which is left with a sole orphan to place; and four individuals impossible to describe who are searching for a relative.
The acting in this film is simply superb, which is to be expected given its high-powered cast. James Woods, Nick Nolte, Kyle McLachlan, Claire Forlani, Daryl Hannah, Peter Coyote, Michele Hicks, Ben Foster, and Anthony Edwards, among many others, all make appearances (one wonders only why the Polish brothers didn't case their favorite actor, underrated comic genius Garrett Morris, in this one). The sound transfer to the DVD is one of the worst I've ever heard, however; the voices are mixed so painfully softly compared to the ambient sound that subtitles are a necessity in some parts of the film unless you want the cops citing you for noise violations. Use the subtitles. You want to catch what's going on.
Despite the darkness of the locations and cinematography (which lends the film a claustrophobic, ominous air throughout), the main feeling of the work is a sense of pure whimsy. Angels in Montana in 1955? Well, that would seem to be the case, along with a conspiracy to hunt them down and amputate their wings. James Woods actually says the words "Whatchoo talkin' bout, Willis?
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