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Living In Oblivion (DVD) ★★★★

Reviewed by Neil Davey
Stars Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney,
James LeGros, Peter Dinklage, Danielle Von Zerneck,
Kevin Corrigan, Rica Martens, Hilary Gilford
Written by Tom DiCillo
UK certification 15 | UK RRP £15.99
DVD Region 2 | Runtime 87 minutes

Directed by Tom DiCillo


Films about films are often a little pretentious: there's something about that self-referencing navel gazing that can really get one's goat. A happy exception though is TomDeCillo's Living In Oblivion, a genuinely funny look at a day on set of a low-budget, independent film which has finally made it to DVD.

The release is a chance to remind yourself how good DiCillo was and, presumably, still is. It's also then a chance to ask yourself why the man behind this hasn't made much cinematic impact the mid-90s, as well as a chance to see the delightful Catherine Keener and Steve Buscemi in the kind of film and roles that shows them to the best of their considerable abilities.

The action takes place over one day on the set of Nick Reve's low-budget movie. Everything should be straightforward. Reve (Buscemi) has the idea, the set, the crew and the cast. However leading man Chad Palomino (LeGros) has a rampant ego, a few too many of his own ideas and some history with insecure leading lady Nicole (Keener). Elsewhere on set, assistant director Wanda (von Zerneck) has dumped the cameraman, the dwarf in the dream sequence is hacked off at being typecast and the equipment won't work.

It might sound like the makings of a farce but DiCillo's class keeps the lid on the the potential 'whoops-there-go-my-trousers' extremes. Great performances certainly but you have to give considerable credit to DiCillo's control and witty script. In a world where Norbit and Lady Godiva can get funding, why on earth hasn't DiCillo made more films?

EXTRAS *** A little perfunctory but DiCillo's commentary is an extremely welcome addition and makes the rediscovery of this minor classic very worthwhile. There are also deleted scenes and interviews with DiCillo and Buscemi.

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