You won't find a smarter, more amusing, or more accurate send-up of low-budget filmmaking than Tom DiCillo's 1995 independent feature, Living in Oblivion, wherein a motley cast of would-be artistes blunders its way through a day on the set. Steve Buscemi plays goateed Nick Reve, a harried, sweating director whose crew of numbskulls and egotists seems hell-bent on ruining his film. The trials and tribulations of independent filmmaking are not foreign material for writer-director DiCillo, who cut his teeth as Jim Jarmusch's cinematographer on 1985's Stranger Than Paradise before going on to direct his own work, such as the offbeat 1992 comedy Johnny Suede. Like that film, Living in Oblivion rides a precariously thin line between the real and the surreal, featuring a midget actor and an exploding smoke-effects machine, as well as a ridiculously narcissistic Brad Pittesque character played by James Le Gros. While films like Get Shorty, François Truffaut's Day for Night, and Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt suggest that moviemaking is hip and glamorous, Living in Oblivion will have none of that. The film within the film feels like a director's primer on what not to do, and this modest-budget gem both lovingly and caustically strips the "cool" veneer from the filmmaking process. They should show this one to kids thinking of entering film school. It might make them think better of it. --Nick Poppy
Why does my character have to be a dwarf?
He doesn't have to be.
Then why is he? Is that the only way you can make this a dream, to put a dwarf in it?
No, Tito, I...
Have you ever had a dream with a dwarf in it? Do you know anyone who's had a dream with a dwarf in it? No! I don't even have dreams with dwarves in them. The only place I've seen dwarves in dreams is in stupid movies like this! "Oh make it weird, put a dwarf in it!". Everyone will go "Woah, this must be a f***in' dream, there's a f***in' dwarf in it!". Well I'm sick of it! You can take this dream sequence and stick it up your ass!