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Somewhere Cinematic: Hollywood Movies On Hollywood
Posted December 02, 2010 to photo album "Somewhere Cinematic: Hollywood Movies On Hollywood"
Sofia Coppola’s award-winning Somewhere is the latest in a line of films that examines movies and movie stars. Nick Dawson casts an eye over some of the best.
Slide 10: Living in Oblivion (1995)
The mid-1990s was a time when indie filmmaking was booming, and so it was not surprising that around that time there was a movie that captured the experience of working in Indiewood. As with so many of the movies discussed here, Tom DiCillo’s extremely funny Living in Oblivion is inspired by real life, in this case the writer-director’s experiences working on his 1991 debut Johnny Suede. The movie tells the story of a day on the set of writer-director Nick Reve’s (Steve Buscemi) new film, which stars self-doubting actress Nicole (Catherine Keener) and the narcissistic pretty boy lead actor Chad Palomino (James LeGros). (Despite widespread belief to the contrary, DiCillo says that Palomino is, in fact, not based on Brad Pitt, the star of Johnny Suede.) Living in Oblivion does a great job of showing the insecurity of the film’s principals: the first two segments of the film are nightmares about the day ahead that Nicole and Nick have. In her New York Times rave, Janet Maslin called Living in Oblivion “Tom DiCillo's wonderfully funny behind-the-scenes look at the perils of film making, no-budget style.” Maslin continued, “While he nominally presents the directing process as a series of hellish travails, Mr. DiCillo captures such delicious mischief that his indictment becomes a valentine.” Indeed, although indie filmmaking is presented as a literal nightmare in Living in Oblivion, the movie itself had a charmed, dream-like life. It began as a short film starring Keener, which then expanded when DiCillo wrote two further segments; and when DiCillo couldn’t get funding for the film, cast and crew members raised the requisite money themselves in a utopian example of communal creative endeavor. "I know making this movie saved me from myself," DiCillo once said. "I was in the most negative, the most utterly disparaged state of mind that I've ever been in in my life. The strangest irony for me is that Living in Oblivion came directly out of my own disappointment and somehow saved me from it."