Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber Studio Classics - MIRACLE MILE on Blu-ray ""

Friday, August 7, 2015

Kino Lorber Studio Classics - MIRACLE MILE on Blu-ray

MIRACLE MILE (1988; Steve De Jarnatt)
I have a real strong personal connection to this movie in that it was the first film that my wife and I ever watched together. It was my choice to show it to her and I was rolling the dice a little as it is something of a bleak (if ultimately quite romantic) movie. Thankfully, it went over well and became this touchstone for us. It was such a big deal in fact that we actually looked into having our wedding at Johnnies (the famous diner from the movie). It turned out to be now owned by the .99 Cent Store nearby and though they did rent the place out for filming purposes, the cost was a bit out if our price range. That said, I am certainly glad the place hasn't been torn down yet as it is a cinematic historical monument (as it was a featured location in dozens of films). There are far too many chunks of Los Angeles's movie history that have disappeared and the mere thought of that fact always saddens me. 
MIRACLE MILE is a movie with a pretty simple premise. A man accidentally intercepts a random phone call from a missile silo employee who is trying to reach his father and warn him an impending nuclear strike. From there, the man (Anthony Edwards) has to try to convince others (and himself) that this unthinkable scenario is really going down. That scenario is inextricably tied to a new romance which he is just developing with a woman (Mare Winningham) which he met earlier that day at the La Brea Tar Pits museum. It's a wonderfully handled "meet cute" setup that we see through the opening credits of the film. I've always loved that the movie cuts immediately to the chase as far as the relationship angle goes which allows it to dive into the main thrust of the apocalyptic plot rather quickly whilst still hooking us in. I think there are a lot of things that make this movie stick out in people's minds. Its certainly garnered a good sized cult fanbase for itself since its release in 1988. The epic love-at-first-sight story alone would be enough to make it stand out, but when you throw in the end of the world as a backdrop, there are few other movies like it. Both Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham make a believable smitten duo from the very start so the tension of him trying to get back to hear once he's heard the fateful news is quite a powerful dramatic device indeed. I occasionally play out a disaster simulation in my head wherein some gigantic earthquake cripples Los Angeles and I'm separated by many miles between me and my wife and family. It's perhaps the most terrifying thing I can imagine really. The basic idea of being divided from our loved ones is a very basic primal fear that we can all relate to. Also there's the distress surrounding the ideal of a basic breakdown of civilized behavior that people would undoubtedly have in such a situation. The end of the world as we know it has a remarkable and horrifying effect on people in the movies of course, but it's not too much of a stretch to see that really playing out. I mean, the way that people treat each other on the California freeways often seems one step removed from barbaric and vengeful behavior. 
MIRACLE MILE is a wonderfully "Los Angeles" movie though in that it uses lots of great and memorable locales throughout its runtime. It's a movie that has inspired a great deal of affection in a lot of people and that makes the familiar locations something that fans can really connect to. I have a buddy who, when he first moved to the city years ago, did his own personal tour of many of the filming locations to acclimate himself to L.A. I've always meant to do such a tour on my own, but I have incidentally stumbled upon many of the places in the movie over the past decade myself.
One more thing that really burns MIRACLE MILE into my head is the dreamy score by Tangerine Dream. They are a band that is very much tied to a lot of cult movies for some reason. I think they were either drawn to that type of project or their music just lent itself to that sort of movie. Films like THIEF, SORCERER, THREE O'CLOCK HIGH, RISKY BUSINESS, LEGEND and THE KEEP are all the better for having Tangerine Dream scores. It's neat that MIRACLE MILE has this connection to these other cool movies.

Special Features:
This MIRACLE MILE Blu-ray is one of those rare cases where the director is allowed to get involved and help really add some nice content for fans of an older movie that has a lot of champions. Hat's off to both Steve De Jarnatt and Kino Lorber Studio Classics for putting together what will easily be one of my favorite discs of the year. Here's what this Criterion-level release contains:

-Not one, but TWO Audio Commentaries - 1st you have one with director Steve De Jarnatt and critic Walter Chaw (who actually wrote a book about MIRACLE MILE). Good stuff. The second commentary track features De Jarnatt again and cinematographer Theo Van De Sande as well as production designer Chris Horner.

-"Excavations from the Editing Room Tar Pits: 28 Year Old VHS Dailies" (11:20) 

-"Harry and Julie: An Interview with Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham" (12:23)

-Supporting Cast Reunion (14:24) - Features Ten of the cast members all assembled in Johnie's Coffee Shop to talk about their memories of the film.

-Alternate "Diamonds" Ending  (4:30)

MIRACLE MILE is currently on sale at 55% off on Amazon, as are tons of other Kino Lorber Studio Classics Blu-rays. I highly recommend picking some up:

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