August 28, 1995 12:00 PM

Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney, James Le Gros

This is a shrewdly funny, if narrowly focused, film about the seat-of-the-pants world of low-budget, independent filmmaking. Smartly scripted and directed by Tom DiCillo, who spent six years as an actor before directing the wanly hip Johnny Suede in 1990, Oblivion follows a single disaster-filled day in the life of a director (Buscemi, oozing angst) as he desperately tries to fulfill his vision and shoot his movie despite whining actors, bumbling crew members, exploding lights, malfunctioning fog machines and a makeup man who relies on Preparation H to erase the bags under an actress’s eyes (“It shrinks tissue,” the guy reasons). Le Gros is particularly droll as studishly monikered Chad Palomino, a posturing young star who picks his nose between scenes and comes on to every woman on the set with the line, “Do you like jazz?” (Though the director denies it, the character is reportedly based on Brad Pitt, who was in Johnny Suede.) When Palomino and the director fight, the actor screams, “The only reason I took a part in this movie was because someone said you were tight with Quentin Tarantino.” (R)

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