Jim Mickle on COLD IN JULY and Remaining Faithful to Joe R. Lansdale
Over at Bleeding Cool, Brendon Connelly interviewed Jim Mickle about Cold in July and Joe R. Lansdale.
And now he’s seen Cold in July…?
He’s seen it three or four times. It’s been an interesting experience. He was on set for maybe three or four weeks and saw a lot of it being shot, he was there for Don’s first day and all that kind of stuff. But it was terrifying the first time I sat behind him. It was a screening at Sundance in a giant theater there, with 1500 seats or something. In many ways, sitting behind him for that screening was the most nerve wracking experience. We’d changed a lot of things and taken shots at trying to nail his tone and style, having to mix elements up to make that work. The first time he was like “It’s good, it’s good” but later on he said little things like “I think next time we should make sure the characters stick a little more to my dialogue… I think next time they should have a little less flexibility to improvise things.” That kind of thing, and he’s totally right about.
We just had a screening in Santa Fe, the fourth time he watched it. He said “The first time I watched it I liked it, but it was surreal and I couldn’t really form an opinion. Now I’ve seen it four times I really like it.”
It was a similar thing with Michael. I sat with him the first time he watched it and there’s a process… even for myself it’s hard to know if you like it like it because you’re so close to it. I need distance.
So, you say you went for his tone but what is that? Can you describe that tone to me?
That’s hard. Well… it’s funny. There’s a harsh sense of humour that runs through it. But a part of his tone is that he can go all over the place. Bubba Ho-Tep, which most people know him from, was crazy and over the top. Then he has this book Acts of Love and the first time I read it I thought “I can’t believe I know this guy” because it’s so dark. It’s so dark. It came at a time in his career when he wanted to shock audiences. Cold in July, I think, is somewhere right in the middle with doses of the over-the-top sense of humour but also doses of an emotional, gut-punch vibe.
Part of Joe’s work is that it’s all over the place but there’s still that old-fashioned storytelling quality, and a sense of humour that can undercut the stories but other times enhance the moment. And there’s a real love of 50s style things, and Westerns make their way into all of his stuff. He says that he used to come up with stories, maybe not any more but Cold in July and others, by eating popcorn his wife would make for him before bed. She’d put a lot of lard in that would give him dreams.
Read the rest of the interview at Bleeding Cool.
The movie tie-in edition of Cold in July is available from all finer outlets.
Cold in July the movie, starring Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Sam Shepard (Black Hawk Down), and Don Johnson (Miami Vice), is currently playing in theaters and on VOD.
Book cover design by Elizabeth Story.