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Indie Memphis Wednesday Picks

The Indie Memphis Film Festival continues today at Malco's Studio on the Square. Our picks for the day's highlights:

Pick of the Day: The Book of Noah

Imagine The Book of Noah's Paul and Noah as alternate-reality, less zany, more real-world versions of Jay and Silent Bob. Then imagine the pair as mostly antagonistic to each other, rivals for the same girl, and caught in the morass of late-twentysomething unrealized potential.

Noah (Patrick Cox, who undoubtedly has the best beard in this year's Indie Memphis Film Fest), the Silent Bob in this analogy, is too crafty for his own good. Rather than dedicating himself to a steady job, Noah hatches a plan to dognap loved pets and then return them for the reward. Paul (Drew Smith) berates Noah for his shortcomings but can't face his own. Angela (Corie Ventura) is Paul's once and -- he hopes -- future flame. (Unless Noah has something to say about it.) Of course, Angela has her own rapids to navigate, among them Roberto (Andy Mathes), a shady strong-arm type trying to go legit, whom she's dating.

It sounds like a lot, but the threads unspool in orderly fashion and with a comic touch that'll leave you engaged and entertained. Shot in Memphis, The Book of Noah will look plenty familiar to locals, including scenes with Kudzu's and Hollywood Pet Star as backdrops. With loads of local music, including Lucero, the Glass, Andy Grooms, Twin Pilot, the Coach and Four, Effingham and Wheatstraw, Jeffrey James and the Haul, and Snowglobe, it'll sound familiar too.

In a strong performance, Drew Smith gives off a slight Dane Cook vibe -- and he also clocks in as the writer and director of The Book of Noah. Ryan Parker does sharp work as the film’s cinematographer.

Playing in tandem with The Book of Noah is the Hometowner short The Professionals, written, directed, and edited by Adam Remsen with a cast that includes local filmmakers C. Scott McCoy and Laura Hocking (Automusik Can Do No Wrong, Eat), among others. The Professionals is just fun. Ironically titled, the five-minute short is a one-camera gag about inept filmmaking as a cast and crew try to get a scene in the can. Murphy's Law is in effect. -- Greg Akers

Screening at 3:20 p.m.

Doc Pick: Greensboro: Closer to the Truth

In a dramatic, tragic event that slipped through history's tracks, five people were shot and killed in Greensboro, North Carolina, at a 1979 anti-Klan rally staged by the local Communist Workers' Party. The victims were unarmed protesters. The assailants were Klansmen and members of the local Nazi organization, who drove through the rally and, after one of their cars was hit with a piece of wood, got out and started shooting.

Greensboro: Closer to the Truth captures surviving figures from every side of the incident -- including racist leaders from the time -- 25 years later at the staging of a "truth and reconciliation conference" to discuss the event. The story that emerges is one of a tragedy forged out of widespread mistakes: The anti-Klan protesters, while undoubtedly in the right, look naïve and needlessly inflammatory in retrospect. The racist thugs were guilty of a grotesque over-reaction to a mild provocation. But the real culprit may have been the Greensboro police, who declined to place officers on the scene despite the potential for violence.

Showing in concert with Greensboro: Closer to the Truth is Dick-George, Tenn-Tom, a sharp little doc that also peels back a layer of recent regional history in taking a wry, twisty look at the relationship between Richard Nixon and George Wallace.

Screening at 5:55 p.m.

Feature Pick: Broke Sky

A well-shot feature about a couple of carcass-removal technicians from rural Texas whose lives are complicated when a hitchhiker they'd picked up turns up dead, Broke Sky won the Soul of Southern Film award for best narrative feature at this year's festival. It wouldn't have gotten my vote, but it is a reasonably well-filmed, well-acted feature that gives a funny, detailed procedural account of a particularly odd job. It falls apart for me when if morphs into a psychological thriller down the stretch. Previously a winner at the Dances with Films festival in Los Angeles.-- Chris Herrington

Screens at 8:40 p.m.

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