The 1980s yielded some very strange, just outside of the mainstream, films. Films that have a grandiose nature within a small frame, that deviate from the typical, Hollywood sensibilities of what should go in films and how they should be made - challenging subjects inside unlikely vessels. It was a time of experimentation. Films like Ladyhawke, After Hours, Buckaroo Banzai, even Ferris Bueller's Day Off would be hard pressed to see production today. Over the past two decades we've seen this territory approached, but very seldom reached, and in all this time there has been no more beautiful an enigma than Miracle Mile.
Miracle Mile begins with a very simple premise: Harry (Anthony Edwards) accidentally meets the girl of his dreams, Julie (Mare Winningham), and after a successful afternoon together plan for a date. Accidents happen and he misses it. The payphone outside the diner where they were supposed to meet is ringing, so Harry picks up... A frightened voice, who'd gotten the wrong number, tells him that nuclear weapons have been launched at the US, and there's only 70 minutes left. From there the movie takes a serious shift. If Harry really does have such a short time he wants to spend it with Julie, and he'll do anything to get to her. With everything at stake and nothing to lose, Harry, and any of the colorful crowd awake past midnight whom he shares his secret with, are capable of anything. Things get chaotically strange.
The film is a dark, dark comedy, playing off the increasingly bleak perspective of the period right before the iron curtain fell. It's also a romance, and a powerful one. It runs like a chaotic dream where you're constantly finding and losing what you're looking for. LA's Miracle Mile, is transformed from a fun and funky few blocks of city into a tremendous labyrinth. The art direction is astounding and the soundtrack by Tangerine Dream permeates the entire film, accompanying the atmosphere superbly.
The film was originally penned as part of the 1983 Twilight Zone Movie. At one time the script was listed as being among the top 10 best unmade screenplays. Writer and director, Steve De Jarnatt put a significant amount of personal funds and legwork into make the film happen. Not only was the script making film companies uncomfortable, but De Jarnatt didn't have much directing experience; only one previous film, Cherry 2000 (which looks awesome, but I haven't seen it), and writing credits for the Bob and Doug McKenzie movie, Strange Brew. Following Miracle Mile, De Jarnatt's career has been entirely in television. He's worked on everything from X-Files and ER to Lizzie McGuire. Here's hoping he returns to film someday. I'd like to see what else his mind can conjure up.
Miracle Mile is available on DVD, and is up on YouTube:
BUY THE FILM: Amazon
And if you want just a little taste of the flavor of Miracle Mile, check out these samples from Tangerine Dream's score:
Miracle Mile: Original Soundtrack From The Hemdale Motion Picture
01 Tangerine Dream - After the Call
02 Tangerine Dream - Running Out of Time
03 Tangerine Dream - Museum Walk
FILE: Samples from Miracle Mile (1988)
BUY IT: Amazon