Testament (1983)

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Tis the season for bummer movies about nuclear war.  A normal reaction to modern politics—including tensions heating up between the United States, Russia, North Korea and the Middle East, with wars raging with no end in sight—is usually to watch something lighthearted as a distraction.  Sometimes, though, I feel like watching a movie that mirrors society’s current woes, escalated to the most extreme outcome, has a sort of cathartic quality to it.

Testament is a film about a normal family in the 1980s in a small beach community up the California coast.  Carol Wetherly (Jane Alexander) must take care of her children after nuclear war breaks out.  No one knows who is responsible, no one knows who launched the nukes first or even what countries were involved.  Does it matter, really?  Her husband is presumably killed in a blast that took out San Francisco and it’s up to her to take care of her children, plus a neighborhood child whose parents are missing.

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Miracle Mile: An Analysis of a Cult Film and a Discussion with Director Steve De Jarnatt

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A phone rings.

A phone rings and you answer it, expecting a call. A wrong number. The person on the other line, you think, is pulling your leg. The end of the world, they say. The nukes are coming and it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when—only a few hours and the world as we know it will end. What do you do? Do you say anything? Is the ensuing panic justified, as the death rattle of civilization, or is it a lot to do about nothing… innocent lives being lost in a senseless riot?

This is the reality of the criminally underseen 1988 film, Miracle Mile, a masterpiece that is receiving newly-found cult appreciation.

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