Living In Oblivion

Tom DiCillo, USA 1995, 90 minutes

This hugely enjoyable Hollywood satire stars the godlike Steve Buscemi as Nick Reve, angst-ridden and pretentious director of low-budget independent movies. During the course of he film, we watch, helpless, as his day on the set of his movie (title: "Living In Oblivion". Wow) goes from bad to worse to absolute, soul-crushing hell. Anyone who has ever thought what a glamorous life film-making must be will find this a real eye-opener: incompetent technical crew, egomaniacal actors, temper tantrums, screaming, kicking, tearing of hair, this is film-making the way it really is - warts and all. The film cuts between `real life' shots of the behind-the-scenes action and grainy black-and-white footage of Nick's film, and a dreamlike, surreal quality pervades throughout, augmented by a haunting, minimalist score and rich, glossy colour. Long-haired auteur Reve, is played just right by Buscemi; starting off keen and in control and gradually, drop by drop, losing his sanity. It seems fitting that Buscemi, the undisputed god of the independent film (how to spot an independent film - 1: It stars Steve Buscemi), should be playing this role, inviting us into his world. The whole cast is fantastic, however. Particular mention must go to James LeGros for bringing the world Chad Palomino. Palomino is a full-blown Star: chisel-jawed, aryan, kindly condescending to work on a low-budget movie. He flirts with anything in a skirt, he patronises the director, he keeps getting `bursts of inspiration' and making suggestions about how to improve the movie. One can't ignore the fact that he simply is Brad Pitt (DiCillo's first film was Johnny Suede, starring Pitt), but it turns out that DiCillo asked Pitt to play Palomino so it's obviously all in the spirit of fun. Also worth a mention is Tito, the dream-sequence dwarf who refuses to be typecast ("Do you know anyone who has dreams with dwarves in them? I don't even have dreams with dwarves in them!"). Anyone who has ever had a bad day will love this movie. "Miss this at your peril!" - Premiere

Review by Ben Stephens
Taken from EUFS Programme 1996-97