The Truman Show

Jim Carrey in The Truman Show

It was over a year ago that Paramount first declared its intent to “get back, with very little investment, into the television production business.” But it’s not enough just to announce to the world that you want to make TV and you don’t want to spend a lot of money doing so. Eventually, you actually have to make that TV. And to their credit, Paramount has finally announced just what shows constitute their minor TV footprint. The winners are: An adaptation of Caleb Carr’s novel, “The Alienist,” (which is about late-19th century police psychology, and not someone who’s racist against aliens, as the name might suggest). A “limited series” (like a mini-series, but more prestigious-sounding) based on a biography of  Charles Lindberg. An Amerification of Peter Moffat’s BBC Series The Village Narc: The Show Ghost: The Show Terminator: The Show The Truman Show: The Show Par for the course as far as original ideas are concerned, but one stands out in particular (Hint: it’s the one mentioned in the title of this article). Unlike all the other book and movie and TV adaptations on Paramount’s TV slate, this Truman Show show has the potential to be something different, something more than just a previously written work squashed and stretched into 13-ish episodes, something astoundingly, soul-erodingly meta.

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LEGO

Something I always try to remember when annoyed with product placement is that our whole, real world is itself filled with product placement. It’s just that there’s a level to its presence that we tolerate, and anything beyond that level in a movie is where we get uncomfortable. We don’t talk to each other in sales pitches, for instance, the way Laura Linney does to Jim Carrey, satirically, in The Truman Show. But we see products and are conscious of them as such every single day. We see LEGOs in any child’s playroom or pediatrician’s waiting area or Star Wars fanboy movie critic’s office. They’re as much a staple of life as the Mac computer I’m typing on or the can of Coke Zero I’m drinking or the nameless but recognizable trademark of Polo Ralph Lauren on the sweatshirt I’m wearing. The LEGO Movie is more than mere product placement, though. The whole thing involves a world made out of the product. It’s like that classic Tootsie Roll commercial where everything is made out of Tootsie Rolls. Hershey has done a number over the years featuring worlds of chocolate, too. But those are commercials, and The LEGO Movie is not. It’s something we pay to see rather than something paid for in order for us to see it. Still, the world of the product idea makes it kind of okay. We’re not seeing our world invaded by life-size versions of the product, a la Transformers. We’re seeing a different universe, […]

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series-7-the-contenders

It’s too bad I already recommended The Running Man this month (for post-Ender’s Game viewing), because even more than the first Hunger Games movie it really fits well with the new second installment, Catching Fire. But that’s okay, you can still add that to this week’s bunch of movies to see. I just won’t include it below. The same goes for Battle Royale, the most obvious movie to highlight for being similar to this franchise, though that one does make more sense as something to recommend after the first movie. Should Battle Royale II: Requiem take its place now that we’re talking about The Hunger Games 2? I haven’t seen it and hear it’s really terrible and it doesn’t seem to coincide plot-wise, so no. Instead I’ve got 12 other movies better worth your time as you wait for the first part of Mockingjay to hit theaters and continue the abruptly halted narrative of the Hunger Games story. As usual, the list will probably involve some spoilers if you haven’t seen Catching Fire.  

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Andrew Niccol loves thought-provoking ideas. Gattaca, his script for The Truman Show, and Lord of War are works of varying genres that all posed interesting questions. His latest film, In Time, looks to be his most commercial endeavor yet. Although there apparently will be a few action beats, Niccol set out to craft a human story with social commentary. This appears to be, more than anything else, a love story set within a chase thriller. And that chase happens to look fantastic, courtesy of cinematographer Roger Deakins. This is the first film which Deakins shot digitally, and after the experience, the legendary cinematographer expressed the possibility that he may leave film behind for good. As Niccol describes below, it makes sense why he would. Here’s what Andrew Niccol had to say about the world of In Time, the Gattaca connection, Deakins going digital, and what to expect in the action department:

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“I want to say one word to you. Just one word: plastics.” Apparently half-drunk, distant-relatives looooove The Graduate — or at least think that that infamous bit of advice is in any way helpful to graduating seniors. To those who may consider dropping this at their next grad party: please don’t. That said, there are plenty of movies out there that can help those men and women who will soon be donning caps and gowns to better live their lives in these fragile times. No, I’m not talking about Alexis Bledel’s Post Grad — little on the nose, no? Here are seven tidbits of wisdom every soon-to-be graduate should ingrain in their memories, and a few digestible movies to help them go down.

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For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by presenting a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today. Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, please don’t jam a beret-wearing Ed Harris into our heads. Part 18 of the 36-part series takes a look at “Conflict With a God” with The Truman Show.

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