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The Truman Show 3

Volunteer of the Month Jen McLean on The Truman Show

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June means it’s Pride Month, and have we got Frida programming to commemorate the occasion! But I’m a Cheerleader, a growing favorite at our theater, returns this weekend, followed by Cheryle Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman and Tony Scott’s The Hunger later in the month. Other exciting events this June include the highly-anticipated return of K.A.O.S.’s original late night shadowcast Cult Soup and Showa Godzilla Weekend, marathoning all 15 of the original Godzilla movies over the course of 5 days. Also happening this month is Peter Weir’s sci-fi dramedy The Truman Show, celebrating 25 years since its premiere in 1995.

Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is the star of The Truman Show, a 24-hour-a-day reality TV show that broadcasts every aspect of his life without his knowledge. Since birth, his entire life has been an unending soap opera for consumption by the rest of the world. And everyone he knows, including his wife and his best friend is really an actor, paid to be part of his life. That is, until he finds out the truth all for himself. Satirizing the false realities created by TV and media, the film earned critical acclaim for the way it used its exaggerated premise to interogate our culture’s ongoing obsession with “peeking in” on the private lives of others. 25 years later – in the age of social media – this message holds up just as well as the movie’s arresting aesthetics and Carrey’s moving performance. 

In addition to being the 25th anniversary of the film, this will also be the first time (to my knowledge) that we’ve ever played The Truman Show, a feat we owe to our second June Volunteer of the Month Jen McLean! While Jen has been with us for a while now, I never spoke to her until approaching her about doing an interview. She was very approachable and open in both our interactions, noting that she was already familiar with my work on the blog and not at all afraid to explain why the movie resonated with as much as it did when she first saw it. As someone who may or may not have cried while recently listening to the music that plays during the opening credits (“It’s a Life”, in case you’re wondering), I can share her deep appreciation for The Truman Show and the powerful mixture of emotions it inspires.

How did you find out about The Frida Cinema?

My friend and I had gone here to see The Worst Person in the World and then shortly thereafter I came here with my friend to see Strawberry Mansion. They were both just movies that I hadn’t really been exposed to, so getting to see them in a theater environment was just really wonderful and I just kept showing up afterwards.

What made you want to volunteer here?

It’s always important I feel for people to find a community space and to be able to be a part of one that’s so art-oriented has been really wonderful. But I think just getting to be in an environment of people who either share similar interests or similar wants of a shared space is really great.

Tell us a little bit about The Truman Show.

Well, I would honestly say that was the first movie that I really enjoyed as an individual outside of any external influence. I even have a tattoo for it! I was 19 and an existentialist, so I got the pin that Lauren [Natascha McElhone’s character] wears on her sweater. A large part of it for me is that it’s very nostalgic and just getting to see what movies can be, like it’s so cool.

What were your other choices for Volunteer Pick of the Month?

Juno, which is arguably the greatest movie of all time, and then Earth Girls Are Easy, which is a wonderful semi-musical 80s alien makeover movie with Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum. And also Jim Carrey! So both wonderful and silly and great.

What is your favorite Frida memory?

I really adore getting to see every week the people that I volunteer with for my shift, so like Aidan and [Shift Supervisor] Garrett and [Concessions Attendant] Jonathan. They’re wonderful people and I just love getting to come here and having a safe space and just getting to know people in that regard, it’s really lovely.

If you could program any movie here, what would you pick?

The live-action Popeye with Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall! That one’s wild, it’s so weird! That or Muppets Take Manhattan. Any shot of full-length Muppets walking is so jarring, and they have a few of those.

The Truman Show screens starting Friday, June 9th.
Friday, June 9 – 3pm, 5:30pm
Tuesday, June 13 – 5:30pm, 7:45pm


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