Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Truman Show

Peter Weir, 1998 (8.4*)
This parable on modern existence from master Australian director Peter Weir (Witness, Fearless, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, Mosquito Coast) was a breakthrough for comedic actor Jim Carrey: we all finally discovered he could seriously do drama as well. Here he plays unsuspecting ‘everyman’ Truman Burbank, who doesn’t know that his every move is being watched as a live reality show, and is extremely popular, as his audience is addicted to his everyday struggles with life, work, romance (with Laura Linney), and friendship with Noah Emmerich.

The tv show is brilliantly conceived and directed by Oscar-nominee Ed Harris, in perhaps his best performance; he has to deal with a couple of hundred cameras, and an unpredictable, curious, intelligent, and increasingly mobile subject; he also has to exploit the audience's sense of conscience without having much of one himself; in short: he's the god of Truman's world. Truman is a likeable guy, so everyone pulls for him and the film audience becomes like the tv audience, so there’s a nice circularity to it all. This is a fantasy bordering on modern reality, perhaps a bit too accurately – it’s actually kinda scary in a Big Brother kind of way, where God is the director and everyone’s watching our every mistake and apprehension and shortcoming blown up larger than life, without our knowledge, but somehow with the feeling that we’re being monitored. Paranoia Planet!

Note: If you like this concept, check out the more comedic Ed TV from director Ron Howard, in which Matthew McConaughey signs a contract to do the show so he knows he's being filmed by producer Ellen Degeneres. Unfortunately, he's not the actor Carrey is.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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