Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Bowfinger in Oblivion

Bowfinger - shooting Eddie Murphy running across a busy highway through "stunt" drivers.

Two films I think are superb examples of comic outcomes from shooting on a low budget. Bowfinger, possibly Steve Martin's last great comedy, and Living in Oblivion by Tom DiCillo. Both films relay the attitude and stigma of working at the lower end of the wage scale. Living in Oblivion features an interesting cast, in particular Tom Jarmusch, brother of Jim Jarmusch. Tom DiCillo was the director of photography on a couple of Jim Jarmusch's films including the short film "Coffee and Cigarettes" which Tom went on to direct the photography for when it was shot as a feature.

Tom DiCillo's "making of" a low budget film was inspired by Tom DiCillo's own experiences with early efforts at making his own films and the character of Chad Palomino played by James LeGros is based on Tom's experience directing Brad Pitt in Johnny Suede. Keeping in mind that Brad was not really anybody in those days, at least outside of his own head. I think that's the point DiCillo is making with his character Chad. Anyway, DiCillo's style is unusual, he sort of brings together combinations of Hal Hartley, Jim Jarmusch, and Bruce Robinson. The only film that seems to differ is Box of Moonlight starring John Turturro.

Tom DiCillo is about to embark on a new movie called Lost in Blue which has been announced but so far I'm not aware what the synopsis is. So, if you haven't seen a Tom DiCillo film at least try a few, I particularly recommend Double Whammy or The Real Blonde if you want a taste of Tom's non-cult works.

Bowfinger is one of the funniest films mostly because it is so tight, the ensemble cast are excellent, the premise is taking Dogma as content rather then form, and Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy both get their timings right. I wonder if the studios kept away from this flick therefore giving Martin and Murphy more artistic license in post. If ever there was an inspiring comedy about film making, Bowfinger is it, film making done using every resource but the proper ones. Beg, borrow, steal, cheat and lie for the sake of making "Chubby Rain", a science fiction bubbly, written by an accountant and crewed by Mexicans.

These are not new films, but if you've never seen them and need some comic relief on the wrongs of production, then rent, buy, or burn (Whatever it is you do) and have a good laugh.

Living in Oblivion

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