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miracle mile

2012-07-31 - 11:55 p.m.

A few minutes after posting this, I got the news that Gore Vidal had died. We're losing our great ones, people. We will not see his like again...

So...the original post, if anyone has the heart to read it now...

We got an old movie last night about a guy who gets the phone call that nuclear war is about to start. Miracle Mile. Ergo I thought it was set in Chicago, which Google now informs me that I visited the Magnificent Mile, so oops. All I've seen of LA is East L.A. so I never heard that term. If you've seen the opening scene of this movie, where they're wandering around the museum, you know why I'm thinking, Jeez, did the Field Museum really look that piss-pitiful in the 70s? But then they go outside and I see they're at the tar pits, so then I know it's set in Los Angeles.

There is a great deal of wandering around in circles and (one later realizes deliberate) excruciatingly bad over-acting at the beginning of this film, which at first guess I place in the 70s with a bunch of cheap to rent old cars from the previous decade. Actually it may have been set in the 80s -- it was, I have learned from the fabulous internet assuredly filmed in the 80s -- so those vehicles may have attained the status of antiques and not been so cheap after all, but the hero wears a suit throughout, and the whole story has a decidedly retro flare.

In those days, we were all told that WW3 could start with 15 minutes warning, pretty much out of a clear blue sky -- from that standpoint, the 50s, the 70s, and the 80s are now indistinguishable, since we didn't quite find out until the 90s that most of our opponent's ability to launch a nuclear offense was more huff and bluff than reality. In this film we get more than the famous 15 minutes because (it is patiently explained) America makes the first strike and so we have another hour left before the reply. The Russians, you see, are not as fast on the uptake as Americans. We can launch in 15 minutes, but THEY need an hour. Otherwise it would be a REALLY short film. Go U.S.A!

Near the beginning of the film, our hero decides to quit smoking, perhaps because "the girl" does not smoke, so he sees someone feeding the pigeons and for some reason thinks it's a good idea to throw down his mostly unsmoked Marlboro (and not a Marlboro Lite, either, this guy would totally be a villain in any film set after 1998) down to the sidewalk. Does he think the pigeons want a lit cigarette? No, he just doesn't think. A starling wants it though, and picks it up, but...heh...enough bird-watching...Let's just say that the fire started by an innocent starling provides a key plot element at the beginning, as well as a tiny hint that what we have here is just a tiny tad of tongue-in- cheek.

If you ever intend to see this film, and you might get a kick out of it, so why not, the time to back out is now, because of

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At first the film starts hokey and romantic, and our hero actually rescues some lobsters from the lobster tank, "I guess I'm a romantic," and I'm not a romantic, and I say to DH, "Those are cold water lobsters, they haven't got a chance," but we all know the stupid feel-good tropes of romantic films so we brace ourselves for more stupidity. After all, he is the hero, and he must rescue the girl, and there must be a feel-good moment where he gets the girl -- wait a minute. A feel good romantic comedy about nuclear war? Oh jeez. We don't know whether to dread the puns (A Boy and His Dog) or to dread the "isn't it great we survived when everybody else is dead" (The Road). We just feel that first tingle of dread...

So being the HERO, he can't just try to hop on a plane and save his ass, although my immediate response to the Efficient Queen Bee organizing the plane to Antarctica is, "You want to be on a plane departing LAX when the missiles strike? Really? You never heard of EMP?" There is no time for logic. He must save the girl.

Somewhere around the time where he's involved in felony riding-along with a guy who (but he really didn't mean it) sets two police officers on fire and burns them alive, you realize that this is probably not your traditional romantic comedy. The HERO really isn't going to get out of this. The girl isn't really going to get out of this. And I'm pretty sure that somebody said that the high-powered bitch's plane wasn't really going to Antarctica. It was going to end up in Tijuana, so if they didn't get sprayed with nuclear radiation, all their heads have been cut off by now. Everybody dies. Sort of like life. All that's left is a lot of running around on the hamster wheel before the wheel stops spinning, but you have to give the guy credit -- he's trying to be reasonably decent until he's dosed with a fatal dose of nuclear radiation and then dumped into the ocean to drown.

Maybe one day the space aliens will find their fossilized remains in a crappy museum and say, "Shit, they have better fossils than this all day long at the Field Museum."

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