2014’s COLD IN JULY is now available for streaming on Netflix. That means if you have Netflix, you can go watch it right this minute. That means you should go do that. But if you need some coaxing first, here’s what I said when I named it one of the best movies of 2014:
Most critics will go with BOYHOOD as their 2014 movie of choice, as far as the matter of fathers and sons goes. This one is more my speed. COLD IN JULY is a tense rural thriller that managed to surprise me, despite me having read and loved the original novel by Joe R. Lansdale. And it still totally works on that level, even on multiple viewings — but there’s more to resonate here than simple edge-of-seat suspense and dynamics and old-fashioned East Texas shit-kicking. And don’t get me wrong, Don Johnson as Jim Bob Luke is an absolute gas. If this movie could have ignited a Jim Bob cable series, no one would be happier than me.
But what lingers for me are the quiet moments, the history unexplained, the things unsaid. That’s what you get when you have Sam Shepard on board. His is not an overly verbal character, but his anguished close-ups carry the Biblical weight of what his Ben Russell grapples with when he finds out what’s become of his son Freddy, who he never knew because the boy was a baby when Ben went to prison. Michael C. Hall’s character, Richard Dane, is a far more immediately relatable figure, but he’s got some dad stuff to grapple with as well — not just his fears and hopes for his young son, Jordan, but the unseen, barely discussed specter of his own father, most noticeably in the form of his dad’s old cabin, a pivotal setting in the film. This movie is about a bit more than thrills and chills, though of those it’s got more than most.
Plus, the hero has a mullet. Beat that, anything.
And if you like COLD IN JULY, be sure to check out HAP & LEONARD!
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