Shilling for a movie that I think many of the readers of WARN would find of interest...
Cold in July is a modern day western with noir and dark comedy elements. I was most impressed by how the film explores questions of violence, masculinity, and domesticity in a tightly woven anxiety producing plot where the music--a direct homage to John Carpenter's work--is central to the film. The music tells a story; it is not for ambiance or for cliche background effect. Cold in July is very inter-textual and self-aware: there are some nice winks to George Romero and Sam Peckinpah within the film.
Because I do not want to ruin the story for potential viewers, Cold in July finds its energy from a simple premise: what happens when a "regular" man, a "family man", kills a burglar, and that deed is the beginning of his discovery of a world that "normal", average, everyday people, should avoid?
Hitchcock apparently said that all of his stories, for the most part, are driven by how the main character's curiosity and nosiness leads to their own crises. Cold in July follows that rule.
Cold in July is based on the book of the same name.
Have you ever enjoyed an adaptation and then felt compelled to seek out the source material?
Immediately after watching Cold in July, I decided to buy the book by Joe. R. Lansdale. Authors have styles, of course, but some authors are just damn good writers who transcend a given genre or medium and tell good stories. What did I discover? He also wrote the short-story upon which Bubbahotep, one of my favorite movies, was based upon.
Using these Internets, I looked up some of Lansdale's interviews.
What else did I find out?
Joe Lansdale is an accomplished martial artist and was recently inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of fame.
In his interviews, Lansdale routinely discusses how growing up in Texas, witnessing white racism and its horrible power to limit the life possibilities of black people during the end of Jim and Jane Crow, and trying to understand his father's racist behavior, influences the stories he tells. .
The "diversity" in Joe Lansdale's stories are not forced: they are an accurate reflection of how the color line dominates--in different ways and to various degrees over time---American life and culture. Art, popular or otherwise, which is not honest about race, is by implication, not honest about the human experience...and should be assessed on those grounds.
We have some literate folks here on WARN. Because I like Joe Lansdale's work, who else would you recommend that I read?
We have been talking a good amount about questions of masculinity this week, spurred on by Cold in July, do you have any suggestions for films or other works of fiction in any genre that explore "what it means to be a man" in a smart, meaningful, poignant, ironic, funny, or insightful way?
[The recent Blue Ruin is on my list of must see films. I missed its limited run here in Chicago to much regret.]
A few that come to mind for me:
Predator (yes, that Predator)
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance