Fix it in post?
Beginning writers are always buried under suggestions of "write what you know". Well, is it any wonder that people in the movie business come up with movies about their jobs like this one?
Tom DeCillo got his start as a cinematographer before going the route of writer/director of a number of indie films, including this one. So, it's a natural that his perspective of movie-within-a-movie centers on the detail-obsessed take-by-take daily production side of filmmaking.
Our production is helmed by Nick Reve (Steve Buscemi), who is tormented by problem after problem on the set of his low budget film. Catherine Keener plays his young starlet in a role that shows her range through the subtle changes in her performance in each subsequent take shown in the film. We also have the unreasonably self-absorbed soap star (James LeGros) who everyone fawns over as long they can stand his lack of professionalism. Throw in a variety of unique sorts into the crew and their own agendas and behind the scenes couplings, and you have a set rife with tension.
This film has an unusual history in that it was filmed in three parts, with the first originally just a short that was then expanded upon after it turned out well, and DeCillo pursued some other ideas he'd had to put into the film. These different sections are not so subtlely covered by having them appear as dreams. I can hear some of you cringing at the thought, but the technique actually works here because the repetitive drudgery of the filmmaking process has a certain dreamlike, deja vu quality to it.
Aside from an unusual narrative structure, Living in Oblivion also boasts a nearly non-existent plotline. The film that we are seeing being made has little sense to it (much as it would seem just dropping onto the set on a few random days of most films), and the characters making that film do their best to roll with the punches up until the production itself is in jeopardy. The film's solution is imaginitively appropriate to the scene they are shooting at the time.
I feel like this one has a chance to cross over to those folk who normally aren't into independent film - it's not a rollercoaster like so many Hollywood offerings tend to be, but an entertaining, if not completely straightforward, examination of its subject.
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