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Living in Oblivion
Living in Oblivion
Actors: Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney, Danielle von Zerneck, James LeGros
Director: Tom DiCillo
Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Drama
R     2003     1hr 30min

Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent Release Date: 05/13/2008 Run time: 90 minutes Rating: R


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Movie Details

Actors: Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney, Danielle von Zerneck, James LeGros
Director: Tom DiCillo
Creators: Dermot Mulroney, Danielle von Zerneck, Hilary Gilford, Tom DiCillo, Frank von Zerneck, Jane Gil, Marcus Viscidi
Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 02/11/2003
Original Release Date: 07/21/1995
Theatrical Release Date: 07/21/1995
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 16
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Member Movie Reviews

James B. (wandersoul73) from TYLER, TX
Reviewed on 6/22/2009...
This one is pure zany fun!
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

"Have you ever had a dream with a dwarf in it?"
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 11/12/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Ever have a bad day at work? I mean a day where you wonder why you even bothered getting out from underneath the covers of your warm, cozy, comfortable bed? I suppose everyone has, and each job has its' own hardships to be dealt with, but the world of independent filmmaking seems to be a particularly harsh and difficult occupation, fraught with unique difficulties, requiring of those who masochistically toil within its' domain to survive not on a day to day basis, but from one scene to another, often having to compromise their artistic intent and vision to accommodate the necessity of completing production before the funding runs out.

Living in Oblivion (1995), written and directed by Tom DiCillo, who also did the earlier indie film Johnny Suede (1991), which starred a then not so well known actor named Brad Pitt (it's worth looking for, if you enjoy films of an extremely off-beat nature and want to see Brad Pitt sporting a coif the size of Rhode Island), stars Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs, Ghost World), and Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich). Also appearing are Dermot Mulroney (About Schmidt), Danielle von Zerneck (La Bamba, My Science Project), and James LeGros (Phantasm II).

The film takes a humorous (to us, at least) look at hardships suffered upon Nick Reve (Buscemi) as he desperately tries to move forward his no budget film, focusing specifically on difficulties within his efforts to complete a couple of scenes of this seemingly ill-fated endeavor. Problems arise in the form of boom microphones in the shot, temperamental talent (actors, to you and me) missing their cues and/or marks and flubbing or forgetting their lines, out of focus cameras, exploding Fresnel (pronounced "fre-nel") lights (these are focusable spotlights used in film, television, and theatre), noisy sets and just the general boobery of an inexperienced (i.e. cheap), inept, or uncaring crew.

DiCillo really presents a very funny story here, one obviously based on his own, personal experiences as an independent filmmaker, given the level of detail including the usage of various industry terms and stereotypes (many stereotypes are based on some degree of truth). I thought all the actors appearing here did extremely well. Buscemi is great and completely believable as the frazzled director, trying to conceptualize his ideas to film, placating the emotional erratic actors and dealing with his bumbling and equally unstable production crew. Keener plays Nicole Springer, and actress whose career has seen better days (she's constantly referred to as that actress who had the shower scene in that Richard Gere movie) now stuck in independent movie hell, doubting her talents and abilities, usually requiring Nick to prop her up to continue. LeGros is wonderful Chad Palomino, a patently transparent, superficial, Hollywood pretty boy `slumming' between more prominent roles who continuously disrupts his scenes with `suggested' improvements, usually involving some inane idea ("Hey, what if I was wearing an eye patch?") or for himself to be more conspicuously displayed or highlighted within the scene, with Nick usually acquiescing in an effort to assuage the biggest name associated with his film. Next there's Wolf (Mulroney), the completely pretentious and overly sensitive cinematographer (beret and all) who's constantly second guessing Nick's perception of how the scenes should be shot. Last, but not least is Nick's AD (assistant director) Wanda, played by von Zerneck. I've read where people thought her portrayal was over-acted, but I'd have to disagree. If you've talked to anyone in the industry, they would probably tell you she acted exactly like an AD acts on the set of a film. She may have exaggerated her role a little bit, but most likely only because DiCillo instructed her AD is basically the director's liaison between the crew and sometimes the cast. It's the AD's responsibility to communicate the director's instructions to all, ensuring everyone knows what's going on at all times, and also to be aware of everything that's happening on, and sometimes off, the set or location and keeping things on schedule. They take care of all the details that would take away from the director doing his/her job of, well, directing. I thought von Zerneck did very well, having to mollycoddle Nick while verbally whipping the crew, keeping them in line and on their toes. The more time wasted, the more production costs rise. The AD may not be the most popular person on the set, but they certainly serve a vital role. Scenes to watch for...when Nick, completely frustrated with his inability to get a scene shot without some sort of interruption or snafu occurring, explodes in a tirade all over the crew, going into extensive detail with regards to his perception of each of their faults with respect as to why the production isn't going as smoothly as planned...the scene where Chad Palomino causes numerous stoppages in filming as he interjects his own thoughts about the scene, oblivious to irritated crew...finally, the scene involving a dream sequence, featuring one rather angry dwarf named Tito, who Nicole accidentally refers to more than once as `Toto'...Tito's objections to typecasting become apparent during a diatribe directed at Nick...'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!' advice? If you're an independent filmmaker, be wary of how you use dwarves in your films.

The wide screen (1:85:1) picture provided on this DVD looks pretty good, and the audio is clear and crisp. Special features include an interview filmed before an audience with director DiCillo and Buscemi worth watching if you enjoyed the film. DiCillo outlines how the concept for the film came about, and Buscemi relates how he used his own directorial experiences in presenting the character of Nick, rather than basing off someone he's worked with...also included is a commentary track by DiCillo and a deleted scene.

Hilarious and accurate
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This movie is so well-crafted and funny I'd recommend it to anyone. If, however, you've ever been involved in independent film, you'll find it even more hilarious. It's so dead-on at capturing all the headaches, squabbles, technical nightmares, bad food, and creative frustrations inherent in most low-budget filmmaking, you'll laugh even as you relive the pain."
Failure begets success
Eric J. Douglas | San Diego, CA | 09/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Living in Oblivion" is one of those unassuming, low-circulation titles that make you wish your fellow citizens had more taste in cinema because then perhaps Hollywood would try making smarter films more often. Although, at the same time, you're almost glad they don't so you can hoard all these great movie experiences for yourself. The movie, in a nutshell, is about the agony and frustration of trying to make a low-budget film about a woman who was abused as a child and who is about to get married to someone she works with. Steve Buscemi, as the director, tries his damnedest to get the scenes to work, but instead is stymied at every turn: technical difficulties; incompetence by his crew; personal problems with his actors and the his crew; an obnoxious dwarf; and of course, past-its-expiration-date milk. It's these annoyances and hindrances that bring out the best scenes in the movie -- the "real" movie and the "in-production" movie. Buscemi gets to do a couple of his signature explosive outrages, like the Tasmanian Devil, only more coherent and quite a bit angrier (and less hair). Catherine Keener, one of the most underrated actresses in the business today, is smartly sensitive yet brutally honest with her feelings; not quite as sarcastically vicious as she was in "Being John Malkovich" or "Death to Smoochy". Those two actors were ostensibly the reason I originally saw the movie, but I bought the DVD due to the movie's originality, cleverness and humor as a whole. The special features include a few deleted scenes (including one great musical bit with the dwarf actor, Peter Dinklage), and a college film class interview with Dicillo and Buscemi. A screen gem that will have you alternately roaring with laughter and appreciating the way a movie can hit your emotions and your mind in such a sweet, unsuspecting way."