Thursday, June 4, 2015

"Cold in July" with Don Johnson and Michael Hall (2014)

When Richard Dane; played by Michael Hall; shoots an intruder in his home one night he is hailed as a hero by the local townsfolk. But Richard; a local picture framer, doesn’t quite see it that way.  He knows that he has taken a life and that no good can possibly come of it.

No charges are filed as the shooting appears to be justified, although the dead man was unarmed, Richard was blinded by a flashlight and was in fear for his safety as well as that of his wife and child.
Plagued by guilt over the shooting he goes to watch the body being buried. As he is watching the burial he is approached by the dead man’s ex-con father Russel; played by Sam Shepard; who is clearly looking for revenge. He intimates that Richard’s son is now in jeopardy.  When he reports this to the local police they don’t really seem too concerned at first. But, as their interest in the case heats up, it becomes apparent that they are hiding something.

At this point another man enters Richard’s life, which is quickly spinning out of control. Jim Bob; played by Don Johnson; is a hard man. You can tell it by the way he carries himself. He quickly establishes that Richard has been used by the local au help cover up their own involvement in a Federal sting operation involving a pornography ring. The man Richard is supposed to have killed is involved in that ring and has received Federal protection in the Witness Protection Program.

This leaves 2 problems; if the man Richard is supposed to have killed is not dead, then who did he kill? And why do the local police now seem to be his enemy instead of his friends? As the plot thickens even Russel becomes part of the team with Richard and Jim Bob to find the truth behind it all. And when all the facts are in Russel has to face up to something almost unspeakable.

This may be one of Don Johnson’s best films to date.  Sam Shepard is superb, as he always is, as the dead man’s father. He brings a physiological aspect to the film which really helps to convey the story. And Michael Hall is excellent as the prototypical “everyman” who is just trying to protect his home and gets caught up in something way over his head. Just how he manages to rise above it is one of the most gripping parts of the film.

Excellent direction by Jim Mickle, who also wrote the screenplay from the novel by Joe R. Lansdale, along with such excellent performances, will keep you on the edge of your seat for this entire film.

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