Jeff Nichols's third film is a universal story told with a Southern working-class voice that's nearly unparalleled in modern American cinema. OA contributor Linc Leifeste interviewed Nichols about his Southern roots, his relationship with actor Michael Shannon, and some of the themes that run through his films.
Ronald Dominique raped and murdered twenty-three men near New Orleans and Houma, Louisiana, between 1997 and 2006. Most of them were poor and black, and many were the wandering type—men Dominique picked up in his truck at night, not ones whose disappearances for a stretch of time would particularly alarm their families. After one of Dominique’s would-be victims escaped and alerted authorities, a task force that had been assembled to investigate the murders matched Dominique’s DNA to DNA found on one of the bodies. Dominique confessed over a period of two days to all of the killings.
I hate the word “best” when it comes to food. Food should taste like some place, not some thing, not some mythical ideal version of whatever dish you happen to be eating at that moment. That doesn’t exist. What does exist is an amazing region with an endless variety of unbelievably good food that you should go and eat the hell out of.
People (and the mainstream media) want to talk about hate mongering, condom distribution, and clean water. I want to talk about why black men can’t be gay, about HIV as a symptom of broken social infrastructure, and about what’s so taboo about plain ol’ shit.
I immediately turned to my production partner and said this would be either the beginning or end of the film. For me, it is the big reveal. It underpins the entire film with immense gravity: Every single day, Sam goes through this grueling routine—which an audience can barely stomach for twelve minutes—in order to be able to enjoy life. I could watch that scene forever, and struggled to cut it down. Sam’s struggle is borne raw.