Thursday, September 8, 2011

Drawn To Watching Bad Movies

"The Miracle Mile" is a bad movie (1988) in terms of all the individual attributes typically considered when reviewing movies -- acting (average), script (below average), plot (depressing), cinematography (made-for-tv) etc. But every time I put my 15-year old worn-out copy in the VCR, I cannot stop watching the bleeding thing from start to finish.  The movie was way before Anthony Edwards made it bit with ER (on NBC) and certainly before mobile phones were actually portable (and weighed less than 15 pounds).  The premise of the story is that of nuclear holocaust getting in the way of Harry (Anthony Edwards) meeting the woman of his dreams, Julie (Mare Winningham) and living happily ever after.  I suppose anyone familiar with the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles would appreciate all the landmarks that they showed in the movie -- Johnnie's on Fairfax and Wilshire, Park La Brea, the tar pits, etc.  Maybe it is the appeal of driving through the deserted streets of LA at 2 am and the calmness of Wilshire Blvd. as shown in the movie that somewhat gives it a dream-like texture.  And this is before nuclear war (sort of like before gridlock hits the city). I mean how many movies are there that show the end-of-the-world from a local LA neighborhood perspective?  Maybe it's some kind of fascination with the macabre in figuring out what to do when you only have a couple hours to live. The only curve ball the director, Steve De Jarnatt threw is how the story of Harry and Julie ended -- sad but very poetic.  De Jarnatt went for the jugular in opting to portray the deaths of these lovers by sinking a crashed helicopter into the La Brea tar pits.  Yes, those dreaded tar pits. So after all, maybe this kind of ending (not necessarily cinematic) is enough to pull a bad movie by its bootstraps into the video store shelves for cult classics. (BTW, I find it somewhat spooky that this movie was released on Sept. 11, 1998, exactly 13 years before the attack on the World Trade Center.)

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