on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2014 1 Jul

Cold in July

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | Tags: , , , 2 Comments

While B & K are approaching the capital of the Northwest Territories, Yellowknife,  I’m thinking about some American or Canadian Noir thrillers that are situated in that area, but nothing comes to mind. A lot of Steve Hamilton’s books evoke  cold winters in Canada, but the stories told there are  located at Lake Superior, the East Coast. Hamilton once said:  „To me, when I think about “hardboiled” or “noir,” I think about cold. When just going outside to your car is an act of courage, that has to say something about you already, right? I know that Raymond Chandler’s idea of hardboiled was a sun-baked street in Los Angeles, but for me there’s just something about a frozen lake and a cold wind that will turn you inside-out.“ So far, so cold. Meanwhile I’m in the middle of the showdown of Michael Koryta’s book, in the mountains of Montana. A very different headspace. News came that a rather free adaptation of a Joe R. Lansdale  novel arrived in the cinemas of Great Britain: COLD IN JULY.  Richard Dane (Michael C Hall) is woken in the middle of the night by his wife Ann (Vinessa Shaw), who’s heard an intruder. He finds his gun, creeps down the hallway, and moments later, his entire life has changed. (The film gets quite mixed reviews, read excerpts of one of them in comment no.1.)  Texas is the territory of a lot of Lansdale books, and his great novel „The Thicket“ will be released in Germany in August, titled „Das Dickicht“. And it’s a Western Noir!

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  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Co-stars Sam Shepard, Don Johnson and Vinessa Shaw give lovely, nuanced, economical performances, but this is Dane’s story and it’s Michael C Hall’s film. He’s outstanding in what is essentially a portrait of a man whose conscience is under extreme duress, conveying Dane’s vulnerability and desperation with subtlety and restraint.

    Lansdale’s novel is classic modern American noir, poignant, brutal, morally ambivalent and deeply atmospheric. Cold in July’s strength is in the way it renders that literary atmosphere cinematically. A sensual film, redolent of the oppressive heat of a Texas summer; it uses blurred lights and lens flare, moody thunderstorms and purring engines to evoke a noir sensibility, an oppressive evocation of doomed male honour and wasted lives. Narratively, the film wears its ‘80s setting lightly, with occasional reminders like VHS tapes or an early mobile phone. Aesthetically, though, it’s deeply reminiscent of Michael Mann’s 1986 masterpiece Manhunter, with its gorgeous colour palette, its interior scenes bathed in melancholy turquoise light and its creepy electronic soundtrack.

    The film was seven years in the making, and by director Jim Mickle’s own account, a labour of love. The care and skill that he and co-writer Nick Damici put into their stylish adaptation are evident; they’ve taken Lansdale’s novel, stripped out a great deal and made significant changes to the plot, but kept and distilled the essences of characters, relationships, themes and moods. In that sense, it’s a true adaptation, rather than a straightforward filmed version, and all the better for it.

    – Yasmeen Khan

  2. Michael Engelbrecht:

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