Movies.ie goes through the looking glass as we celebrate seven of our favourite alternate realities
John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) wakes in a bathtub, with no memories of his life, his wife, his alleged murder, or the world he’s in, in which the moon is ever-present and shadowy men dart through the alleys. Stylishly gloomy, Dark City offers a polarizing whirl of arresting visuals and noirish action with an unforgettably bleak surprise ending…
The Truman Show
Truman (Jim Carrey) has the perfect life, maybe too perfect? He has the perfect wife, strolls through the streets of his perfect town where everyone knows his name, grabs beers with his best bud as they talk about the good old days, and goes to bed content. But little does he know that he’s the biggest reality TV star of all time… A funny, tender, and thought-provoking film…
In his best role to date Keanu Reeves plays Neo, a computer geek who rails against the injustices of the state-and is then offered the chance to pull back the curtain and confront The Man directly. Or rather, the robots enslaving humanity, plugging our species into a virtual reality known as The Matrix while they happily absorb our energy. Neo learns how to master and manipulate The Matrix, how to bend the rules of what we deem “reality.”
Set in the near-future, eXistenZ depicts a society in which game designers are worshipped as superstars and players can organically enter inside the games. At the center of the story is Allegra Geller whose latest games system eXistenZ taps so deeply into its users fears and desires that it blurs the boundaries between reality and escapism. When fanatics attempt to assassinate Allegra, she is forced to flee. Her sole ally is Ted Pikul (Law), a novice security guard who is sworn to protect her. Persuading Ted into playing the game, Allegra draws them both into a phantasmagoric world where existence ends and eXistenZ begins.
Another film which delves into the dream world, this 1984 flick starred Dennis Quaid as a gambler with psychic powers. To pay off debts, he is persuaded to take part in an experiment where he links up with sleepers and tours through their dreams, solving a neurosis here, dealing with a demon there. Some of the dreams are funny (one middle-aged man’s fidelity nightmare is hysterical); most are pretty nasty, though, especially a trip through an 8-year-old’s primal fears. In the end, things get a bit silly: Quaid has to save the USA by fighting off the forces of evil in the President’s nightmares. Sound bonkers? Well it was the ‘80s….
The Lovely Bones
Teenager Susie Salmon (played by Irish gal Saoirse Ronan) suffers a brutal death but with the help of director Peter Jackson, her afterlife is glorious. Working from a sparsely descriptive novel by Alice Sebold, Jackson creates heaven as a series of vistas, prairies and magical wonderlands where Susie learns to deal with her haunted her final moments.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Fnally an indie favourite! Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, takes place inside the mind of Joel (played by Jim Carrey) as he tries to stop a procedure to completely remove all memory of his former lover, Clementine (Kate Winslet). This may be a stretch for most mainstream cinema audiences but at its heart, the film is a heart-breaking and touching love story. The fact that the audience can still identify with the love story at the heart of all the weirdness is testament to how good Michelle Gondry’s film is.