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…?

Emmerich Brings Destruction (Again)

2012 Movie Still

So we didn’t post it but I’m assuming that in passing most folks have heard something or other about Roland Emmerich’s upcoming film 2012 which from the title alone, I took to be some end of the world, Mayan calendar disaster movie. I was only partly right. You see, no one told me this would also be a direct ripoff of Deep Impact. So it’s not caves but spaceships. Seriously…what gives?

It stars John Cusack, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover, Oliver Platt and the totally awesome Chiwetel Ejiofor and includes huge special effects which are bound to attract the big crowds but I just can’t get over the fact that this is such a rehash (of already rehashed stuff). And here I was hoping for something even mildly original. At some point, I’d love to see someone do a good 2012/Mayan Calendar story.

I won’t kid you though – hubby’s already marked the calendar and I’m going whether I like it or not. At this point, I’d rather poke my eyes out.

You can see the trailer over at Yahoo. Personally, I prefer the teaser trailer; it had more doom and gloom.

Review: Knowing

Knowing One Sheet

Director: Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City)
Screenplay: Alex Proyas, Stuart Hazeldine, Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White, Richard Kelly
Producers: Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Alex Proyas, Steve Tisch
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 130 min.

It’s difficult, and a little sad to see the turns that Alex Proyas’ career has taken. It has taken him from one cult film to another and it seemed, on the surface at least, that 2004’s I, Robot could be the film to break him into mainstream popular culture while retaining his great director credibility. The markings were on the wall: the casting of Will Smith in the lead role and the grumblings of the studio mingling in the production raised a few red flags but no one was prepared for the travesty that was the adaptation. And so it seemed that Proyas might be finished. How long can two great films sustain a career?

Knowing Movie StillIt was only a matter of time before the director took on another project with a studio that would allow him his own vision and, hopefully, that vision would produce a great final product, but it’s fair to say that no one expected Knowing to be that film. Surprise!

Conceived by author Ryne Pearson and flushed out by a team of writers, the film stars Nicolas Cage as John Koestler a professor of astrophysics who finds himself in the middle of a mystery when his son brings home a sheet of paper covered in numbers which had been stored in a time capsule for 50 years. At first, the numbers don’t seem important but after a few drinks, anything is possible and the doctor thinks he sees a pattern in the numbers. A nigh-full of research later, he has a whiteboard full of circled numbers and a more questions than when he started circling. He’s come to the conclusion that some of the numbers mark the date and number of deaths of major tragedies to have occurred over the past fifty years and even a few that have yet to occur. It all sounds fantastic and yes, you do need to put your brain on a bit of autopilot here because the major plot points are not playing in the realms of reality but don’t fall asleep just yet. The good stuff is coming.

Would you like to know more…?

The Apocalypse Goes Animated: 9 Trailer

9 Movie PosterIf it’s not enough to have the voice talents of Jennifer Connelly, Elijah Wood, Crispin Glover, John C. Reilly, Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau simply add Timur Bekmambetov and Tim Burton to the advertising to get my attention.

Shane Acker’s animated film 9 already sounded pretty cool: a post-apocalyptic nightmare in which all of humanity is threatened (in the apocalypse, isn’t humanity always threatened?), but when you add in those voice talents and the names of both Burton and Bekmambetov as producers, I can’t help but get excited at seeing the trailer. Talk about two directors with differing visions but one thing is for sure: both of them are very particular about the looks of their films so I’m assuming the same is true for this animated fare.

This trailer doesn’t disappoint. It doesn’t give you much but it’s certainly eye catching and has me wondering how I ever missed this announcement. Acker’s full feature is adapted from his short film of the same title which was both nominated for an Academy Award in 2005 and won a SIGGRAPH Best in Show Prize (if you’ve seen any of the SIGGRAPH stuff, you know this is a pretty huge deal). The full feature was animated in Luxembourg by Attitude Studio and though I’m not familiar with any of their work, their showreels are pretty impressive.

9 is scheduled to open September 9, 2009.

Trailer is tucked under the seat or in impressive HD over at Apple.

Would you like to know more…?

31 Days of Horror: Day 8 – In the Mouth of Madness

German Version of In the Mouth of Madness PosterAny horror movie list needs to have at least one or two John Carpenter movies on. I thought about throwing Halloween on the list but that is just too simple and everyone has seen it. I’also have to say I’m a bigger fan of In the Mouth of Madness than of his other horror movies. Carpenter manages to create a modern H.P. Lovecraft classic story. In my mind it is fairly easy to create a world where a serial killer is stalking people but it is not so easy to create a terrifying descent into madness caused by reality being broken. In the Mouth of Madness is just one such movie and it is bizarre, creepy, humorous, terrifying and extremely compelling all at the same time.

Sam Neill is John Trent, a private investigator who specializes in Insurance Fraud. He is hired by the Arkham (Arkham in H.P. Lovecraft stories is a New England Town) Publishing to track down Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow). Sutter Cane is basically Arkham’s version of Stephen King. Sutter Cane has gone missing and the company wants to find him so that he can finish his latest novel which is sure to be worth millions. Trent agrees and heads home to start reading Cane’s works so that he can try to figure out where Cane might be. Shortly after he starts to read the novels he experiences nightmares for the first time. We have already been told that Cane’s novels can “affect” less stable people. Eventually Trent heads off to find the town of fictional town of Hobb’s End as he becomes to believe that the town actually exists. On his journey he is accompanied by Linda Styes (Julie Carmen) who works for Arkham. On his journey a lot of weird things happen. I could mention a few of them but they really have to be seen. My favourite of them all though revolves around an innkeeper and her husband.

In the Mouth of Madness really plays with the aspect of the world just not being right. In essence it is broken and the people you normally meet are in fact monsters. An example would be something along the following: while you might think your neighbor is just the average person he is really in effect a deranged deformed killer who has been abusing his family. You just were unable to see him for truly what he is. Are you actually insane and just believe this or is he really that evil monster. This is just an example I made up but I feel it covers the themes of the movie fairly well.

When we first meet John Trent we know right off the bat that he has been locked away insane but we do not know why or if he is actually truly insane. What we witness throughout In the Mouth of Madness is John Trent’s downfall once he enters into the world of Sutter Cane. It is a fun disturbing journey that really is worth taking and while it is not as simple as the typical slasher horror it is much more compelling in my mind.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for Day 9 of the 31 Days of Horror.