Monday, January 19, 2009

"Miracle Mile"

1988; written and directed by Steve de Jarnatt

My first experience with Miracle Mile came some time during the close of the 1980s. I remember watching it on a rented VHS and being blown away -- no pun intended.

Back then it was little more than a surprisingly effective low-budget thriller about two star-crossed lovers who finally meet mere hours before the end of the world.

Twenty years later it's still a surprisingly effective low-budget thriller, one that still shocks with the strength of its convictions. But the passage of two decades has added a sweet nostalgic ache to the thing that only ratchets up the film's tragic aspects.

Anthony Edwards plays a jazz trombonist who accidentally intercepts a panicked phone call from a missile silo employee. The bombs -- yes, those bombs -- are about to drop. After convincing himself it's no joke, Edwards first tries to warn a motley collection of diner customers about the impending disaster, then rushes through the city to rescue his new-found love, the spiky-haired Mare Winningham.

All the fast-paced action takes place in a pastel Los Angeles of palm trees, monumental architecture and flashing neon lights that feels like spending a long night inside Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. In addition to its throbbing soundtrack by Tangerine Dream, the film is a showcase of perfectly preserved Reagan-era collectibles.

Denise Crosby shows up as an executrix with a cell phone the size of a Wii. A television station signs off at the end of its broadcast day to waving flags and the national anthem. Eyeglasses and earrings alike are big and round, red shirts are paired with blue suit jackets, dresses are purple and teal. Two people meet and fall in love and run from disaster through the streets of an eerily sleeping Los Angeles. It's hard to believe we once lived in a such a strange and candy-colored time.

When time finally runs out -- and it does -- two worlds are gone forever: de Jarnatt's sleek nightmare of stylish annihilation, and the version of it many of us lived in back then.


Churlita said...

Sigh. The color scheme of this post reminded me of some OP shirts I had back in the 80's.

John Hornor said...

This was one of my favorite movies in the eighties and nineties. I loved anything to do with nuclear annihilation.

Some jackass stole it out of my dorm room. Never found out who. But when I do...

C. Michael Cook said...

Wow -- I thought I was the only one who'd seen and loved this movie.

Two more reasons to like the both of you, I say.

John Hornor said...

I thought it might be, but I just checked...Miracle Mile is on Netflix Watch Instantly area.

I can watch it right now, if I wanted to. And I didn't have to work. Or watch Obamascenion.