My latest NetFlix arrived this afternoon. For some reason I had never gotten around to seeing Living in Oblivion. It’s one of these movies about making movies that everyone who has seen has loved. Especially if they’ve ever worked in production.
I’d put it off because I’d assumed it was just goofy fluff. I think the problem is that I confused it with another movie about making movies, The Big Picture by Christopher Guest (which I have just placed in the NetFlix hopper, to arrive in good time to my front porch).
Tom DiCillo directed Oblivion, and if someone had explained that he was the DP for Stranger than Paradise, I might not have put off seeing this film for long. Also, I had not known that it starred Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, and Dermot Mulroney.
It’s definitely worth watching, and I expect I’ll see more of DiCillo’s work. But if you just read the comments on IMDB it sounds like fucking Shakespeare. And I think the reason is that with the digital revolution and the explosion of film schools, a significant percentage of serious movie watchers have, at some time or another, worked on a film set. And Living in Oblivion does a solid job of delivering the verisimilitude of what it’s like on a movie set. One of the highlights is Dermont Mulroney as the director of photography who wears a beret and a leather vest without a shirt. We’ve all worked with someone like that … or someone who wants to be like that.
Apparently the piece began as a 30 minute short, but everyone enjoyed the experience so much, that they tracked down more funding and extended it into a feature.
There’s a great establishing scene that opens the piece. It’s 4:30 in the morning. Two production assistants are loading up the craft service table with stale cookies a handful of grapes, and a carafe of coffee. No one else has arrived yet. One of them opens a half gallon carton of milk and gives it a sniff.
“I think this milk’s gone bad.”
“When did you get it?”
“That can’t be it. I just bought it Tuesday. Wait — what’s today?”
Someone finally snagged the recliner that had been dumped in front of my house. That took a good three or four days. And I can’t imagine it was an easy task to haul it into the pickup truck. The deluge the other night must have soaked it with a good thirty pounds of water.
This week is bulky trash pick up. It comes to my neighborhood maybe twice a year. And always the week proceeding the King William Parade. The neighborhood commission doesn’t want anyone to have some lame reason why their yard or curb is filled with unsightly crap as the parade with all the public officials and the media comes tromping down our streets.
This means that the enterprising trash pickers are cruising the neighborhood looking for the tasty morsels to snatch from the mounds of brush and household refuse. I don’t mind this — I’m a supporter of the time honored scavenging arts. But it does create a maddening bottleneck with all the trucks inching along the street — the drivers hopeful, discerning.
But it’s not just the residential neighborhoods. For some reason I have been seeing people’s shit dumped out along the Mission Trail where I ride my bike. This was out on Villamain along the railroad tracks between Missions Espada and San Juan.
Next, I stopped to inspect the Bridge to Nothing. The location for a Carlos Pina short film of the same name. It’s a decommissioned bridge that spans a little canal that shunts off the San Antonio River. It’s a cool location, and I was thinking if it might lend itself to an upcoming dance video. It’s filled with aesthetic potential, but I came to the conclusion that it won’t do for the performance.
There’s another place I want to scout as a location. It’s a much larger decommissioned bridge. You can see it from up on I-37 as you head north from the Alamodome. It’s on the eastside. If I wasn’t still fighting this damn cold, I might have cycled over to the place. But, instead, after coming home from my more humble bike ride, I got on my computer and used Google Maps to get a satellite shot down on the bridge. And then I thought maybe I’d try the “street view” setting. I’d tried this before, but wasn’t able to get it to do much.
Wow! It’s working great now. After cruising around the closed off ramps to the eastside bridge (360 degree street-level photos), I headed over to check out my block.
The Google photo truck had obviously come down my street around Halloween. The Witte’s house and the Cortes’ house are both festooned with loads of fake spider webs. With no little trepidation I rotated around to look at my house, fearful that I’d be sitting on my porch and picking my nose. But I was nowhere to been seen. My truck wasn’t even in the drive.
There’s actually a way to cruise down the photographed streets. All I did was to use the arrows on my keyboard. It’s not a fluid movement, but it’s a rough approximation.
I found this on my windshield early this evening as I was heading out to the grocery store. Some fucking bird had perched in the pecan tree above my truck and took a dump on my windshield. And for some reason this stink bug couldn’t keep away.
I call this piece Stink Bug on Guano.
Look for my entire guano series at the finer digital photo galleries this coming First Friday