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Living In Oblivion

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  •  
    Mark Tolch
    Senior Member

  • Living In Oblivion



    Released By: Shout Factory
    Released On: November 17, 2015
    Director: Tom DiCillo
    Cast: Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney, Peter Dinklage
    Year:1995

    The Movie:

    Ask most people about that independent 16mm black and white film from the mid-90's, and they'll cough up Kevin Smith's name faster than you can say, "Snowball". But as great as 1994's Clerks is, the next year saw the release of another independent film that was (in my opinion) far superior to Smith's ode to the cash register; Tom DiCillo's Living In Oblivion, an independent film that looks at the perils of...independent film making.

    Director Nick Reve (Steve Buscemi) wants nothing more than to get his new film in the can. He's got an upcoming star hot off of a Richard Gere film in Nicole (Catherine Keener), an established screen legend named Cora, and a gung-ho crew led by no-nonsense Assistant Director Wanda (Danielle von Zernick). The actors know their lines, there's quiet on the set, the scene is well underway and going smoothly, until a boom mic drops noticeably into the frame. Resetting the shot, Nick proceeds to take care of business when a blast of noise from the street disrupts the actors a second time. A minor freakout and the crew are rolling again, when a set light detonates and showers the set with glass. Another boom mic error, an intrusive alarm, an ancient smoke machine...the technical distractions come hard and fast, determined to prevent Nick from realizing his dream.

    But it's not just mechanical issues plaguing the shoot, it's also the people...oh, the people. From actors to crew, Nick has his plate full with personality problems galore. A luxuriously-maned movie star insists on changing his lines, his blocking, everything about his scene, at the last minute, but can't seem to find his mark. The Assistant Director, in a relationship with the cameraman, causes trouble when she falls for the celebrity. The celebrity, meanwhile, is banging his co-star. The co-star is the object of Nick's affection. And then there's Tito (Peter Dinklage), the rage-filled dwarf from the Lynchian dream sequence who gets more and more angry with each take. Nick's aging mother showing up on the set after escaping from a nursing home signals that the production has truly gone off the rails, and it'll take all of Nick's abilities and patience with his fellow filmmakers to get it back on track again.

    Born as the result of Writer/Director Tom DiCillo's frustrations in trying to get a film made after his debut Johnny Suede went largely unnoticed, Living In Oblivion uses that angry cynicism to hugely comedic effect. Does this stuff really happen in the world of independent film? I don't know, but I do know this; watching Nick call his leading man a "Hostess Twinkie Motherfucker" cracked me up to the point of tears. Dermot Mulroney's camera operator is also hilarious, becoming more and more profane as the film progresses, and Peter Dinklage as the pissed-off dwarf is the icing on the cake, visibly shaking with anger at Nick's insistence on having a dwarf in the film to make it surreal. Every aspect of every cast member is perfect, right down to the boom operator's white boy hip-hop attire, and they channel DiCillo's dialogue perfectly. Living in Oblivion sports no wasted celluloid, with tight pacing and wickedly funny entertainment from start to finish, and still packs a punch 20 years after its release.

    And hey, DiCillo hasn't stomped all over the memory of it with Living In Oblivion II....

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Shout Factory brings Living In Oblivion to Blu-ray for its 20th anniversary in an AVC-encoded 1.85:1 transfer that looks amazing. From the grain of the black and white 16mm
    opening sequence to the wonderfully colored dream sequence, the film looks fantastic with sharp detail and nary an artifact to be found. Having only seen this film via third-generation VHS, this new transfer is a thing of beauty.

    The DTS-HD Master Audio stereo track is adequate, being that the film is predominantly dialogue driven, with the soundtrack remaining clear and well-balanced throughout the running time, and no hisses, crackles, or pops.

    Shout has rounded up some decent extras for this release as well. First up is In Our Own Oblivion: The Miracle Making of a Film (42:20) an in-depth look at the origin and making of the film, with numerous interviews with all of the major players. DiCillo discusses his frustration with spending years on Johnny Suede to have it passed over by the viewing public so quickly, and his inability to get his second feature made, and addresses some of the rumours that have surrounded the film for years. Buscemi and other cast members talk about working on the film and how special it was, and how they contributed on-set to getting it made. Interestingly enough, the first segment of the film was all that was originally intended, until everyone realized that it needed to be a full feature. This featurette is definitely worth checking out, it's only flaw being that it nullifies some of the other bonus features by making parts of them redundant.

    One Deleted Scene (2:07) is included, and I won't spoil it....but it was tearing the laughs out of me by the end of it.

    Q&A with Tom DiCillo and Steve Buscemi (16:43) is a panel-type interview from the Golden Age of Cinema Film Festival, in which DiCillo and Buscemi rehash some of the information from In Our Own Oblivion, while adding a few other pieces of information.

    A feature-length commentary with Tom DiCillo is also included, and this wordy dude covers all angles of the film, barely stopping to take a breath. While he repeats a lot of the information found in In Our Own Oblivion, he has a lot more of a chance to expand on that here, and he does. Definitely required listening for fans of the film.

    The Final Word:

    What a fantastic film. Living in Oblivion stands strong and funny as hell 20 years after its release, and this Shout! Blu-ray is a great way to see it.


    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!






















    • Mark Tolch
      #2
      Mark Tolch
      Senior Member
      Mark Tolch commented
      Editing a comment
      Originally posted by Ian Jane
      "And hey, DiCillo hasn't stomped all over the memory of it with Living In Oblivion II...." Ha! A good point. Also I liked Johnny Suede.
      DiCillo has done some pretty great stuff. Including not making a sequel, haha.

    • Newt Cox
      #3
      Newt Cox
      Senior Member
      Newt Cox commented
      Editing a comment
      I first saw this in the late 90s when I was trying to watch every film Buscemi was in. Great movie,and one I will end up getting the Blu Ray of.

    • Mark Tolch
      #4
      Mark Tolch
      Senior Member
      Mark Tolch commented
      Editing a comment
      Can't go wrong with the blu!
    Posting comments is disabled.

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