Friday, July 25, 2008

Connections

My first real job, naturally, was in a video store. The year Miracle Mile was released to video. I had a crush on a fellow worker, Michael Wall, who had no time for me, but loved this little film. He would put that movie on everytime there was enough of a lull that we could actually watch it. The iconic, amazing poster hung in the window the entire year I worked there.

Right after college, I moved to this little street in Miracle Mile. It was like being back in the dorms, only everyone was cool. An artists' ghetto. Me and a streetful of fun, broke, drunk creators trying to make it in LA. How we loved the romantic art deco architecture, the LACMA, outdoors jazz, the tarpits, the strange 1970s tarpits museum untouched by time, and watching Miracle Mile together. Slightly different ages, but we'd all grown up with nuclear drills in school (Hide under the desk? Really?) and a lifetime of nightmares from THE DAY AFTER. And we're all still friends now, a decade later.

It's funny how life works, and how movies and the internet can connect us.

After I saw Cloverfield, by a writer I admired, I wrote a diatribe saying it crossed the line into plagiarism IMHO and stole too much uncredited from Miracle Mile. That the MM writer/director Steve De Jarnatt is a genius who should have been given thanks by Cloverfield scribe Drew Goddard, and that fans of Miracle Mile would really like to see Steve get back on the creative horse and make another brilliant movie for us.

Steve DJ ended up reaching out to me on Myspace and wishing me well on my own projects, and we've had some lovely chats I'm grateful for. Again, I'm an incredibly lucky and blessed artist.

Meanwhile, someone I was dating gave Miracle Mile a 2 out of 5 stars on Netflix, and strangely enough it was a big eye opener for me. A big WOW. Not sure there's anything there with this person creatively or romantically. Who is he as a man?

I'm normally not a snob about my lists and think that pop culture taste is the least healthy criteria to use for mating, but there's something reaaaaally special about this film. And people who know storytelling (like Drew Goddard ahem) are bowled over and wiped out by it.

By the raw emotion. The wonderful tiny details. The twenty other stories going on we get little hints at. The sheer romanticism of it. The believability. The performances. The stunts accomplished on a small budget. The sly subversions. The humanist viewpoint. The timelock. The dialogue ("Is that your blood or mine?") Over and over again, the inevitable happening and that Steve had the balls to make it the worst thing that could happen each time (Robert McKee's The Negation of the Negation, which almost no storyteller has the guts to do). That Julie becomes a worthy heroine and not a cypher. The way Harry steps up and BECOMES A MAN.

I never considered myself a pitcher, but I think I learned to pitch telling people about Miracle Mile. Because of my passion for the story. Because of the joy I felt when people who had never heard of the movie lit up when I told them how it begins as a romantic drama about a guy who has finally met the love of his life, and then on page 17 he answers a payphone at 4 am...

He answers a payphone and intercepts a call meant for somebody's father. A call from a missile silo. A frantic soldier, saying the nuclear warhead is heading to LA. In 70 minutes. To get out now. And then that soldier is confronted by his superiors, and shot, and Anthony Edwards is told by them to go back to sleep and forget everything he's heard...

From then on out, the movie is 24, realtime. WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Do you believe it? Do you wake up that one loved person you can't live without? How do you convince them? Where do you go to be safe?

And the real genius every screenwriter cites is how LONG it takes for us to know if the phone call is real or not.

The movie is pure campfire bliss. It's in my top 10, and I truly consider it one of the greatest storytelling accomplishments I've ever seen. Absolutely magical.

And I'm in great company. The people who "get it" will go to the mat for this little film that could. Brilliant creators themselves. Every one of their souls blazes as they discuss it and the tiny details that make it sing.

Funny how interwoven it is into my dating life now.

One bachelor, who was the editor for years of a well-respected film magazine, told me that Steve DJ was his first interview ever...That he lied about being a journalist to get the interview just so he could talk for an hour to this amazing artist and indirectly owes his journalism career to him. That he'd love to make the last lines of the film his wedding vows.

A fellow director listened to how much I loved this film and that I'd broken up with someone who didn't get it, and arranged for us to have an intimate romantic screening of it after cooking me an amazing gourmet brunch. All in the middle of his hectic shooting schedule and Con. It felt so special sharing it with him. He vocally adored it and reached out so many times to me during the movie. Turns out he works in a building that is a huge plot point, and jogs past me and the geography of the film every day on his marathon course (Of course I live in the towers Julie lived in. Because I'm that much of a romantic sap.)

Who knows who I'll end up dating longterm or if I'll ever meet Steve in person or if he or I'll ever make another movie, or how the hell you pronounce his last name. But I feel so blessed to have shared the experience of Miracle Mile with the people I have, and to feel interwoven into their lives in a meaningful way. That Steve DJ gave us all the gift of reflection, wonder, and FEELING. That his art shone a light on what it is to be human.

"You and me Harry. We're going to be diamonds."

4 comments:

Freckles said...

Why on earth did I have no idea about the Miracle Mile film?

You were the first person to mention the MM film. I should go and rent it on DVD. I'm intrigued.

That is cool about you working in a video store. You got to see all the new films!

Kid Sis said...

Hope you like it!

My second job was at Eclips Comics working for Cat and Dean. Because I'm that effing cool.

Anonymous said...

Kidsis, who can afford Park La Brea? I had a bohemian ex who lived in one of those funky old apt buildings with hard-to-find parking 'tween Wilshire & 6th St, she had a Murphy bed...I always felt like George Raft heading over there. There's an inside "Miracle Mile" joke on the last season premiere of "24"? The soldier who got Harry on the phone played the neighbor guy in Valencia forced by the terrorists to help them build the nuke. The the most notorious swipe on MM is not "Cloverfield", it's a small art film called "Titanic" That wasn't the theatrical poster, this was; http://www.impawards.com/1989/thumbs/imp_miracle_mile.jpg
You really should Netflix this; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0156729/ It's dee-jar-nay

Kid Sis said...

Logic would say I can afford it!

I showed you all the poster I stared at for a year. Didn't claim it was the theatrical, but thanks for linking to it. Interesting.

yeah, Last Night didn't leave a huge impression on me. Guess I can rent it again, but the subject matter isn't why I loved MM. It's how it was done.

Thanks for the info about 24, that's just perfect!! I love it.

You're the second person to make that claim about Titanic. I don't personally see the resemblence as being plagiarism, but I'll have to look again. Using a helicopter escape with the romantic leads that crashes and leaves them alone staring into each other's eyes as they die? Plagiarism.

And thanks for the pronounciation. I'll ask him to double-check. I naturally did the French, and everyone else did the American, and he himself calls himself Steve DJ so....