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188. The Truman Show (#177)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Kurt North, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Peter Weir’s The Truman Show.

Truman Burbank has the perfect life. He has a good job, a loving wife, a charming best friend. He lives an idylised existence, one where he wants for nothing. However, a series of freak occurences jolt Truman out of his blissful world and force him to confront a potentially horrifying reality: what if everything that he knows is just an elaborate lie?

At time of recording, it was ranked 177th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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“The Truman Show” Didn’t Just Predict Our Future, But Also the Future of How Movies Would Be Sold…

More than twenty years after its release, it feels like everything that might be said about The Truman Show has already been said.

The Truman Show is that rare Hollywood blockbuster that feels somehow simultaneously timeless, timely and prescient. It speaks to anxieties that resonate throughout history, fears that were very particular to the cusp of the millennium, and to nightmares that were yet to come. It belongs at once to that age-old anxiety that the world is an illusion and human comprehension is insufficient, to the difficult-to-articulate existential uncertainty of the so-called “end of history”, to a future in which everybody would willingly become the star of their own Truman Show.

Indeed, The Truman Show seems to say so much about the world outside itself and the human condition that it’s possible to miss the film itself. Peter Weir’s late nineties blockbuster is a surreal slice of history itself, a relatively big budget mainstream release starring one of the most famous people on the planet, built around a rather abstract high concept. Not only was the film a massive critical success, it also managed to survive and prosper against a heated summer season.

While its actual themes and contents might be dystopian, The Truman Show itself offers an optimistic glimpse of a kind of blockbuster that seems increasingly unlikely.

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Non-Review Review: The Way Back

The Way Back is an impressive technical accomplishment. Peter Weir has repeatedly demonstrated that he really is one of the very best directors working today, and that he’s a deft hand at establishing mood and atmosphere. The Way Back, the story of a prison escape from the coldest depths of Siberia, is packed with beautiful vistas – from mountains snuggled in clouds to endless desert to icy tundras – and it’s also efficient and effective. However, it seems to spend so much time on the scenery that it almost forgets about the characters.

They got snow where else to go...

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Non-Review Review: Master and Commander – The Far Side of the World

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a movie that, like Gladiator before it, finds a lot of appeal in resurrecting a genre that was pretty much dead in cinema. As such, despite being well-produced and well-acted, the core of the movie is one of nostalgia – we’ve all seen those classic tales of men at war on the oceans, what might be termed swashbuckling sea-faring adventures. However, unlike Russell Crowe’s earlier film, Peter Weir’s attempt to revive the men-at-sea adventure movie never quite landed with the public – to the point that the genre hasn’t really seen a resurgence, nor has a sequel been produced. Which, to be honest, is a bit of shame. Master and Commander isn’t quite as powerful an experience as it could be, but it is – like the ship on which it is set – well built and sturdy.

It's long and hard and filled with... never mind...

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