Blu-Ray Review: Miracle Mile

Director: Steve De Jarnatt
Screenplay: Steve De Jarnatt
Starring: Anthony Edwards, Mare Winningham, John Agar, Mykelti Williamson, Lou Hancock
Country: USA
Running Time: 87min
Year: 1988
BBFC Certificate: 15


I‘ve often talked about how expectations can greatly affect how you enjoy a film. With Miracle Mile I didn’t know a huge amount about it before watching, other than the fact it was about the end of the world. However, I’ve long known about it and been interested in seeing it due to its inclusion in a top 1000 movies guide that came free with Neon magazine (which went out of circulation back in 1999). That guide was split into top 10 lists for specific categories and Miracle Mile was their number one pick for ‘apocalyptic movies’. An image of Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham sharing an embrace was the image they chose (see below). That guide was a bit of a bible to me as my love of cinema was blossoming at the time, so I’d try to track down anything topping a category. However, Miracle Mile wasn’t a film that showed up in my local video store and it never made it to DVD. That is until Arrow announced they’d be giving it their spit and polish treatment and bringing it out on dual format Blu-Ray and DVD this month. So, being one of the titles from the guide that had ever evaded me, I was eager to review Miracle Mile when it was offered. The listing in Neon’s guide was all I was really going on though and the image they used always made me think the film was a quietly sad and subtle rumination on love and life at the precipice of disaster (that’s what I got from the image at least).

How wrong I was…

Miracle Mile sees museum guide and jazz trombone player Harry (Anthony Edwards) fall in love with the equally quirky Julie (Mare Winningham). They fix a time and place to go on their all-important third date (as Julie puts it beforehand, “I’m going to screw your eyes blue”), but a power cut causes Harry to sleep through his alarm to wake him for their midnight rendezvous. When he wakes in the wee small hours, he desperately tries to get in touch with Julie and ends up answering the phone at the diner where she works, hoping it’s her. It isn’t. The panicked voice at the other end thinks Harry is his father, and tells him that nuclear missiles are on their way to the USA and will flatten the nation in 70 minutes. A violent end to the call suggests this is no prank and as Harry describes what happened to the customers at the diner, a government worker there makes a call that further cements the fact that they should be worried. The people at the diner quickly make plans for escape via helicopter, but Harry won’t leave without Julie. He dashes off on a wild quest to find her and hopefully still make it to the chopper to have some tiny chance of survival.

Would you like to know more…?

DVD Review: The Sacrifice

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Screenplay by: Andrei Tarkovsky
Starring: Erland Josephson, Susan Fleetwood, Allan Edwall, Guðrún Gísladóttir, Sven Wollter
Country: Sweden, UK, France
Running Time: 142 min
Year: 1986
BBFC Certificate: 12


I‘ve finally made it to the end of my Tarkovsky marathon (view all of my reviews here). I won’t say it was easy. Most of his films are rather long, slow moving and packed with philosophical ideas which largely went over my head. However, I have been consistently blown away by his talents as a director. He took command over some spectacular sequences which will be forever seared in my memory. None of the six films included in the marathon quite matched Andrei Rublev (which I’d seen previously, so didn’t request a screener to review) as my favourite Tarkovsky film. Ivan’s Childhood came close though and I thought highly of all of the films, even if a couple were tougher to get through than others.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, as I still haven’t given my thoughts on Andrei Tarkovsky’s final film, The Sacrifice (a.k.a. Offret or Sacrifice). It sees the elderly Alexander (Erland Josephson) spending time in his remote beach home with his young son, older daughter, wife, two friends and two maids. The group of them debate and bicker about various things until some shocking news is announced on the TV. Several warheads have been aimed towards Europe and the end of life on the planet (or possibly just Europe, it’s not clear) is inevitable. Alexander, his friends and family are all shocked and devastated of course, but it seems there might be one chance to save humanity and it’s in Alexander’s hands.

Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: X-Men Apocalypse

It is big and loud, as I suppose an apocalypse should be. The latest X-Men feature will breeze into cinemas after the left-field success of Fox’s Deadpool movie. If this is Fassbender & Lawerence’s last kick at this particular can, the third of the ‘period-piece’ reboot of the franchise, it looks like they are going to go out with a lot of action and a lot of characters. Brian Singer returns to direct, and here is hoping that among all the chaos of this particular chapter, there is more than a little time for some character building and social allegory that the franchise has been so good at under his watch.

Contained in this new trailer is a chance to see Sophie Turner as a young Jean Grey, Tye Sheridan as a young Cyclops, and Oscar Isaac caked in CGI and make-up as the seriously-full-of-himself heavy. (When they asked him if he was a god, he said, “yes.”)

Trailer: X-Men Apocalypse

X-Men Apocalypse

One of the more satisfying and consistent comic book movie franchises (Brett Ratner X3 shenanigans aside), the X-Men franchise kicked off the now-ubiquitous string of modern super-hero movies in the late 1990s and cemented its relevance. The franchise elegantly managed almost a full casting changeover under the original director Bryan Singer who came back after his Superman Returns adventurism. Now, with Oscar Isaac as the villain, along with Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, James MacAvoy, Nicolas Hoult, and the newly added Rose Byrne and Sophie Turner, we have an acting stable of top order.

The trailer goes big, with the the first mutant being the source of all religious iconography on Earth, while also packing in the requisite action with the grand ideas.

Check out the trailer below.

Cinecast Episode 360 – It’s Like Mustard

 
Sone famous once said that a person’s character can be defined by what he chooses to complain about. What do you despise? Is it Max Brooks? Is it Steve Guttenberg? The video streaming entity such as Vudu? Or is it someone/something else? By all means sound off! So yes, we explore the depths of our personal hatreds on this week’s Cinecast, but equally so, we also share some fondness, nay love, for Charles Grodin, Jean-Marc Vallée, Brent Spiner, Chris Tucker, Louis C.K. and yes, even Mel Gibson.

Documentaries and Ozploitation occupy the bulk of this week’s conversation. Steve James’ documentary, Life Itself (aka you’re better off just reading the book) and Russell Mulcahy’s creature feature, Razorback. But, and this is important. don’t even bother downloading this show until you’ve purchased your 4-pack of Midnight Run sequels. Yeah, it’s that kind of show.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 
 

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 314 – Punchy, Punchy

 
Thanks to our buddy Anthony (@fullantho) for dropping by to be Superman’s bodyguard as Kurt and Andrew flop around with Zack Snyder’s very expensive wet noodle of a Superhero film. Since three’s a charm, we have three feature reviews in this episode before getting to The Watch List. We will not only be talking about Man of Steel, but also the quasi-indie thriller The East and the current who’s who of young stars facing the book of Revelations and more dick jokes than you can shake a stick at, in This is the End. Jerry Seinfeld makes somewhat of a return in our Watch List as a man with exotic cars and famous friends and a taste for java and pastries. Kurt talks wuxia films both past and present while focusing on the awesomeness of King Hu on the big screen. We wax positively on the careers of Tom Cruise and Mark Ruffalo as well as how to elevate a simple genre film into a classic using just great cinematography and good screenwriting. Have at it, folks.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


show content


show content


show content

 


 

[mp3player width=560 height=76 config=cinecast.xml file=http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_13/episode_314.mp3] DOWNLOAD mp3 | 122 MB
if player is not working, try alternate player at bottom of this post

 

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

Friday One Sheet: Sitges’ iPocalypse

I have long been a fan of how the Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya (Sitges) handles its promotion. The ever present spire of the Church of Sant Bartolomeu features in the artwork over the years. This year, adopting the theme of post-apocalyptic cinema has them really step up their game, and because it is 2012, they layer over the aesthetic of high resolution smart-phone video cameras. A very swell poster indeed.

Review: THE DIVIDE

 

Not a moment is given before the gorgeously apocalyptic opening of Xavier Gens new film sees its cast of characters barricaded in the basement bunker of a New York City high-rise. Then the few survivors have all the time in the world, stuck with each other after the world end. Such is the premise of The Divide, a film that is more icky than it is beautiful, as if someone decided to make a less-parable, less-arty version of Fernando Meirelles and José Saramago’s Blindness with video-game aesthetics as book-ends. The Divide is not so much about anything, but much like the directors previous, and quite furious film, Frontier(s), it plays out the situation that leaves little to the imagination, and more than a fair bit of wincing from this viewer. For the film takes its little neo-society of under a dozen and puts them through a hell that one character foreshadows, “but you are going to be swimming through a whole lotta godawful shit before you get out.” Yea, that about sounds right.

The actor who utters this phrase, is none other than Michael Biehn, who James Cameron endeared to science fiction geeks everywhere with the soldier-of-fortune 3-punch: The troubled freedom figher Kyle Reese in The Terminator, stalwart and reliable Cpl. Hicks in Aliens and hair-trigger nutter Lt. Coffey in The Abyss. To say the dude has INTENSE down pat is an understatement, and that Gens has more than a little worship of the actor doing his thing onscreen is apparent. Case in point, Biehn’s first line of dialogue is “Let there be light.” So that kind of says everything we need to know. Biehn plays Mickey, a retired NYC Firefighter turned superintendent – maybe a tad racist – and tightly wound-up nutter, but one that good sense to have a fully stocked bunker in the basement just in case New York takes another pounding from, his words, those towelheads. He is stand-offish and intimidating towards his new found roommates: Josh, a gay man (ex-Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia) his lover Bobby (Michael Eklund) and younger brother (Ashton Holmes), an older mom (Rosanna Arquette) and her pre-teen daughter, a black guy (Courtney B. Vance), a lawyer (Iván González) and his wife Eva (Lauren German) who looks enough like Milla Jovovich that one suspects she be start kicking some ass later on. I list the characters as ‘types’ here and there is a reason for it. The film is not so much interested in developing character as it is tightening the panic-screws on the trapped souls. Initially there are guys in Hazmat suits that have lots of plastic and lab equipment, but little interest in helping anyone. When they take the daughter out of the equation, this is a an act of mercy for the audience considering the five rings of hell the film descends into from there on out.

Would you like to know more…?

Shorts Program: Blind Spot

Chirstmas is coming, and I’m feeling a bit post-apocalyptic. This reminded me of one of the best short films screened at this years edition of Toronto After Dark. Matthew Nayman’s Blindspot combines urban destruction and bad customer service to quite hilarious results. The magic of this short is the way in which things are slowly revealed within the frame. It’s a winner.

Trailer: Stake Land

 

Jim Mickle, you put Zombies in my Vampire movie, wait, you put Vampires in my Zombie movie. Stake Land (Kurt’s Review) was well deserving of the TIFF Midnight Madness Audience Choice Award in 2010. The film is a thoughtful and intense post-apocalyptic road-movie, which begs the question on who should really be getting the gig writing and directing The Walking Dead if they wish things to improve in that series in subsequent seasons. The film has a great John Carpenter vibe leavened with a hint of the higher production values afforded the likes of John Hillcoat and Terrence Malick. It is nice to see that this trailer makes a bold announcement of Stake Land’s visceral tone and sense of humour within the genre. Like the director and his co-writer (and lead actor) Nick Damici’s low-budget debut film, Mulberry Street, there is no bones about being an unabashed genre effort, but they know how to inject a lot of wit, style, brains and heart in the proceedings.

Trailer (and initial teaser) are tucked under the seat.
Would you like to know more…?

Doomsday Marathon: Le Temps du Loup

Doomsday Movie Marathon
timeofthewolf0

An unnamed apocalypse lies at the center of Michael Haneke’s very underrated Time of The Wolf. The unnamed, and unexplained disaster (hinted at one point to have poisoned the water) only adds to the anxiety and dread that shrouds both the characters and eventually engulfs the audience by seriously fucking with expectations. The film begins not unlike his controversial 1997 film Funny Games, with a young bourgeois family (the so called ‘million dollar family:’ husband, wife, one boy, one girl) driving to their isolated cottage somewhere in rural France. They find, while unpacking their gear, another family holed up in their very-much-private property. The other family, like dark doppelgängers (and foreigners to boot) quickly lay waste to the idyllic nuclear family, dispatching Dad and leaving Mom and the children to fend for themselves in the harsh world.

Would you like to know more…?