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Film within a film on Generation X
By Brian Offenther

A sister film to the Kevin Smith-helmed "Clerks"(1994), "Living in Oblivion" looks at a gaggle of mid-1990s Generation X-ers plagued by workplace frustration, low-stakes sexual politics and their own anti-cool coolness, getting together and, you know, do stuff.

You'd somewhat expect them to be somewhat more put-together than our heroes who work as the namesake "Clerks." But director and writer Tom DiCillo deflates any romanticism of filmmaking with an opening sequence of the cinematographer (Dermot Mulroney) of the film within the film determining if the milk at the small table that serves as craft services is still good. Of course, it isn't, as he finds out too late.

The actors he's trying to shoot aren't much more put together. The female lead (Catherine Keener) is most known for a nude shower scene in a Richard Gere movie, and has recently been romantically linked with the male lead of the film played by James LeGros. LeGros' character, rumored to be based on Brad Pitt, is a genuine movie star taking a role in a low-budget film to gain street cred. He's also your classic Hollywood archetype with a bloated ego hidden by good looks.

They are all overseen by the film within the film's director, played by Steve Buscemi. Buscemi gives one of his best performances as he flusters his way from one problem to another with a genuine compassion and quirky, if somewhat abrasive, charm. It's Buscemi at his most Buscemi.

Like the preceding "Slacker" and "Heathers" from a few years before and the contemporaneous "Clerks" and "Clueless," "Living in Oblivion" finds the zeitgeist of the times with young people too smart and unambitious for their own good.

Perhaps because it's set almost completely in the limited world of low-budget indie films instead of the general life of young adults, it never got the attention it deserved. But don't let that fool you. The film is every bit as good as the others.

'Living In Oblivion' (1995)

Where to see it: Arcade, 57 Fuxing Rd W.

When to see it: Sunday, 8pm

Admission: Free

What to see: A low-budget independent film about making a low-budget independent film, it's a stylized dark comedy starring the perfectly cast Steve Buscemi as a director seemingly unable to lead his cast and crew through even one shot.

Brian's rating: 9/10

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