Thursday, December 17, 2009

I freak out in your dream, I freak out in my dream...

There is one subject that filmmakers seem to love making films about. That subject is making films. Tom DiCillo's 1995 indie flick Living In Oblivion portrays the trials and tribulations of Nick Reve, the over-stressed director of an indie flick. Self-referential in a way that reminds me of Frederico Fellini's (more on that one later), Living In Oblivion takes the movie-about-a-movie genre in an interesting direction.

The story is told almost entirely through dream sequences, as various members of the cast and crew have nightmares about what can go very wrong in the making of a no-budget movie. I thought this was a very effective way of examining the hardships faced by independent filmmakers; it wouldn't be believable for everything possible to go wrong during the filming of a single movie, but it's absolutely believable that the people with the most to lose would worry to that extent. Thus, in 90 minutes DiCillo manages to demonstrate how many things can plague a set without beating the audience over the head with Murphy's Law.

One thing I really liked was that in the first dream sequence, the film opens up in black and white, then switches to color whenever we are shown a scene that's being filmed. Normally, I see movies or TV shows shot in color for the "real life" sequences and then switch to black and white to represent the camera's point of view. I found this reversal extremely interesting, as it seems to suggest that what's on camera is more important (more vibrant, and thus more colorful) than what's happening behind the scenes. Or I could be reading too much into it, and it could simply be a way to clue the audience in at the beginning to the fact that it's a dream sequence. Either way, I wish that this had been carried out throughout the film.

Interesting, the only part of the movie that's not a dream sequence is when the characters a filming a scene from their movie that is. Wildly over the top and exactly the kind of dream sequence produced in most stereotypical low-budget films, I kept waiting for the reveal that what we were watching took place only in someone's subconcious. However, just when I thought the movie had gotten predictable it threw a curveball at me, and ended with the most obviously unrealistic scenes as the ones that actually took place. Well played.

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