Saturday, June 4, 2016


Even though it came out at the end of 2014, I just got to see Jim Mickle's Cold In July. Based on the novel by Joe R Lansdale (Bubba Ho Tep, Paradise Sky, Hap And Leonard novels), Cold In July is a tale of two fathers, one protective and loving/one an ex-con with revenge on his mind. Things get complicated. The film was written by Nick Damici and Mickle. You may know Damici, who also co-stars in Cold, in Mickle's Stake Land and Adrian Garcia Bogliano's Late Phases. 
I'm actually glad there was such a lag before I got to see Cold, because I definitely would have been re-writing parts of my last book. That said, a violent Jim Mickle film co-starring Don Johnson has been high on my list of must sees. Mickle's previous films, Stake Land and We Are What We Are are modern classics and two of my favorite films.
In addition to Damici and Johnson Cold also stars Michael C Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) and Sam Shepard (All The Pretty Horses, Blackhawk Down). The film is set in 1989 and opens with Dane's (Hall) home being broken into. Dane goes for his gun and winds up shooting the burglar by accident. It's a pretty clear cut case of a man defending his home and family and Sheriff Price (Damici) reassures Dane that the man he shot, Freddy Russell, is a wanted felon and a piece of shit. All should be fine, except that Freddy's father, Ben (Shepard) has just been paroled and wastes no time letting Dane know that his son is in danger now. The movie has barely started and Mickle and company are laying on the tension so thick. It calls to mind the most harrowing moments of Scorcese's Cape Fear or Saulnier's Blue Ruin. 
Again, we're not even halfway through the movie and we're on a fast train to every parent's worst nightmare and the real story hasn't even started yet! I don't want to give away too many of the surprises, twists, and turns of Cold In July, because it really is a very rewarding and exciting film.
The score by Jeff Grace is fantastic and really adds a John Carpenter feel to the movie, in fact, I just saw on Twitter describe the movie as John Carpenter making Blood Simple. I can't disagree and I'd throw a comparison to Sam Peckinpah at the height of his power (Straw Dogs or Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia). The cinematography is gorgeous as well.
For the fact that Cold wastes no time in getting it's hands dirty, Mickle keeps a tight reign on the pace. He balances a slow burn with a lot of action. In an age of CGI fight scenes, to see a violent shoot out unfold at slow realistic pace is almost unnerving. Mickle has an amazing power behind the camera and I think people are going to be talking about him decades from now in the same breath as the aforementioned masters.
Also, you're going to be surprised how much you've missed Don Johnson!    

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