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MIRACLE MILE

USA, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Steve De Jarnett

4.05 am. Outside Johnnie's Coffee I Shop on Los Angeles' Miracle Mile a public phone rings. When Harry lifts the receiver he is about to trigger the beginning of the end. Of the world.

This seemingly unlikely premise opens Steve Dejarnatt's delirious action-thriller-comedy-drama-romance. In the space of 87 minutes writer/director Dejamatt, (whose 1987 debut feature Cherry 2000 has acquired something of a cult following) shows exceptional bravado in this the most unlikely nuclear-holocaust pic ever, concocting a heady mix of exploitation film conventions (race-against time thriflers/'smash-em-up's'/50's sci-fi) with a glistening visual style, equal parts high-tech and 50's kitsch-like the Miracle Mile itself, the once fashionable strip of Wilshire Boulevard which runs from the ultra-modem skyscrapers of downtown LA to the primordial La Brea Tar Pits.

In the tradition of the cinemas great romantic heroes, but without the luxury of time, Harry, a shy jazz muso fights to protect his very new girlfriend Julie, while attempting to escape from LA before the big blast. The resultant nightmarish trip through the city of one-night last stands detours into a bewildering array of sub-plots including the touching reunion of an elderly couple, the freeway pile-up to end them all, a bathed swipe at LA lifestyles (body worship, hyper-execs, etc.) and the surprisingly lyrical scenes that book-end the film. It's a tribute to Dejarnatt's undeniable skills as a director that he can successfully combine these disparate elements.

A cult movie waiting to be cultivated.

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