MIRACLE MILE
1988, Park Circus, 87 min, USA, Dir: Steve De Jarnatt

Musician Anthony Edwards is feeling good after a first date with a cute waitress (Mare Winningham), but his night takes a turn for the worse when he answers a ringing pay phone and obtains a terrifying piece of information: The U.S. has just fired a nuclear missile and the end of the world is at hand. The action all takes place in real time, more or less, on and around Wilshire Boulevard, and the compact sense of time and place makes for a taut, riveting modern-day noir.


BLOOD SIMPLE
1984, Janus Films, 99 min, USA, Dir: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Hangdog Texas bar owner Marty (Dan Hedaya) hires a corrupt and corpulent detective (M. Emmet Walsh) to kill Abby, his unfaithful wife (Frances McDormand), and her lover (John Getz). What follows from this simple, familiar crime premise is one of the most assured moviemaking debuts of the 1980s. Full of intuitively stylish bite, poisonous one-liners and goosebump-inducing setpieces, this neo-noir put Joel and Ethan Coen on the map of filmmakers to watch.


CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS
1989, MGM Repertory, 104 min, USA, Dir: Woody Allen

Comedy is tragedy plus time.” Successful ophthalmologist and wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau) is in a bind when longtime mistress Dolores (Anjelica Huston), fed up with years of noncommitment and empty promises, threatens to go to his wife with the truth. While Judah considers a wickedly devastating solution to his problem, documentary filmmaker Clifford Stern (Woody Allen) must put aside his passion project about a philosophy professor and instead profile his successful weasel of a brother-in-law Lester (Alan Alda). All of Allen’s hilariously hyperbolic obsessions are in fine form here - religion, guilt, sex, death, disgust with the mainstream - but darkly tainted with a bleakness rarely seen in his career of filmmaking.


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