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THE TRUMAN SHOW
Almost predicting the rise of reality television, this movie by director Peter Weir is about the highly public life of Truman Burbank. The world watched his birth, his school days, his wedding…and yet Truman doesn’t know. He thinks this highly elaborate TV soundstage that recreates the fictional island of Seahaven is his life. Though a problem arises when Truman overhears a crew member’s radio signal that is clearly dictating his every move. Every attempt to explore has a much too logical explanation. He begins to question everything he’s known, since he’s only seen the world through TV (he has a fear of water and lives on an island, so he isn’t going anywhere). This film offered the first outstanding dramatic performance from Jim Carrey, who was only known up to this point for his rubber face in movies like The Mask. He was able to create a vulnerable character here that put his skills on display. This innovative story had a lot to say about our perception of reality being heavily influenced by what the media feeds us. It also points a finger at the media and questions how far they ethically should go for the next ad dollar. The film has great picture detail on Blu Ray and a featurette on the special effects of the film along with some deleted scenes.
Ghost was a blockbuster in the 90s. It earned Whoopi Goldberg an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress and brought girls to the theater so see this love tale between Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. Their relationship ends quickly when Sam (Patrick Swayze) is killed during a robbery. Rejecting the light, he opts to stick around on earth as a ghost. While researching his own death, he realizes that the robbery was part of a larger scheme. His efforts to solve the crime and protect Molly are difficult since he can’t seem to communicate. Fortunately, he finally communicates with a con artist spiritual advisor (Whoopi Goldberg) who is surprised that a spirit is actually speaking to her. While the ghostly element makes this an interesting murder mystery, it is the chemistry between Swayze and Moore (especially the famous pottery scene) that captured audiences. The Blu Ray contains similar features found in previous releases, including an audio commentary by director Jerry Zucker and writer Bruce Joel Rubin, as well as “The Making of a Classic” that interviews the cast for a retrospective take on the film, and “Alchemy of a Love Scene” that attempts to diagnose why that scene has become so iconic. The transfer to Blu Ray looks good for a film that’s 20 years old.
DAYS OF THUNDER
This film is a near imitation of Top Gun, with the fighter planes being replaced with race cars. It is also made by the same filmmaking team of director Tony Scott, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and star Tom Cruise. The eerily familiar plot is about Cole Trickle, a cocky race car driver who dreams about NASCAR fame, but has little experience. He shows great instinct, but has a distaste for the rules. His behavior improves as he is taken under the wing of a top mechanic (played by Robert Duvall). There is also a feisty love interest (this film is where he first met Nicole Kidman) and a big finale full of car crashes. If you already saw Top Gun and aren’t a racing fanatic, than you can probably skip Days of Thunder because it’s basically the same film. Also, the Blu Ray transfer is spotty with some sections have a clean transfer and other sections having lots of grain and artifacts. The only special feature is the film’s theatrical trailer, but you can just watch Top Gun’s trailer and see the same thing.