Dear Mr. President,
Last night I had a dream. I had an awesome dream. For a brief moment, in a heavy REM sleep, we pleasantly chatted about movies and our genuine, unironic enjoyment of films like Orson Welles' Citizen Kane and Jean Claude Van Damme's Bloodsport. If I ever have that kind of dream again, I'd offer you other movies to watch instead of talking about movies we've both seen and admired. I'd mention movies that had do with pleasant things like nuclear holocaust. There are quite a few films that use nuclear threat and its aftermath as its backdrop. I mean, there are a number of Italian ripoffs like Warriors Of The Wasteland (complete with dune buggies!), or claustrophobic nihilistic horror films like The Divide or sci-fi comedies like A Boy and His Dog or the sad family drama Testament or that movie Wargames where Matthew Broderick plays a heightened version of an Atari game. I mean, there are so many movies. In the end, for me, there are two specific films I would've lent you in that dream. One out of sheer movie snobbery, the other out of necessity. I say necessity because, in the past, you and Kim Jong Un's dong-waving, tough talking rants have caused me to fill my pantaloons with fear. Anyway, here goes ...
Miracle Mile (1988)
I hold in my hands this copy of Kino's blu-ray of Steve De Jarnatt's last film. I love this movie. I love it so much that I bought Miracle Mile, a book by Walter Chow, that serves as a personal memoir and chronicle of the film. For the first 20 minutes, the film acts like a late '80s rom-com: A meet cute occurs at the La Brea Tar Pits between Harry (Anthony Edwards) and Julie (Mare Winningham). As their day out concludes, she mischievously tells him, "One day, Harry, I'm going to screw your eyes blue." Things go awry once Harry gets an ominous call at a payphone from a hysterical guy claiming the button has been pushed. Over the next 70 minutes, Harry scoops up a groggy Julie searching for a helicopter to carry them away from the possibly impending doom. Under the calming Tangerine Dream soundtrack, the couple fights their way through the escalating chaos as news spreads of a possible attack. A lot of critics have called it a thriller when in the end it's essentially a melancholic tale of doomed love. If you are all about getting misty-eyed while watching a movie, I recommend this underseen gem.
I hope this movie is the closest you'll ever want to come to nuclear war. Before the BBC released this film, a couple other films seemed to hammer home the nukes-are-bad message pretty well. One was the BBC's own 1965 semi-documentary The War Game depicting a hypothetical nuclear attack on Britain and then there was ABC's ever-so-popular cautionary tale, The Day After. Sure Nicholas Meyer made a harrowing film that scared the American collective and is even thought to have influenced Ronald Reagan's decision to find any and every deterrent we could to avoid nuclear war.
The thing is that as powerful as it was then, some of that power has faded thanks to the passage of time. Though glum, The Day After concludes with Steve Guttenberg and other celebrities in a bald cap and a sliver of hope. Personally, that hopefulness undercuts the grim reality of the situation and ultimately leaves the viewer detached. You leave knowing nuclear war can be a thing ... in movies. This is where I recommend Threads. Unlike The Day After, Threads is not a big beautiful $7 million Hollywood production with popular actors in "ugly" makeup. Threads, the film itself, is ugly. The moment the bomb is dropped, it doesn't pull punches. Hopelessness and desperation permeate the film. A pregnant woman, initially excited by the prospect of motherhood with her fiance, wishes for the baby's death now that the father has died and her surroundings have been reduced to rubble. Citizens trudge through decimated remains. Mutated generations are born. People die slowly. Conversations are reduced to monosyllabic utterances. Nothing is clean or beautiful. A flower doesn't blossom from the dirt and rubble. You leave Threads knowing nuclear war can be a thing ... in reality.
It's not hyperbole to say it's an important film. If you ever wanted to watch it, come on over to my place so we can watch it on my 13'' inch TV. Severin Films just released a 2K remaster of the film on blu-ray. I know there are bigger TVs out there with better sound and picture but believe me, the power of the film will not be diminished when we watch it. I feel confident enough to say that you will never forget this important film. I think you can safely assume this isn't a popcorn eating kinda movie but if you really have a hankering for some Orville Redenbacher, you bring it. I know you can afford it. Asshole.