DiCillo, an insider who based much of Oblivion on his own experiences filming his first feature (1991's Johnny Suede), gets great comic mileage out of the chaos and insanity required to create an illusion of reality so fleeting and fragile that it can be destroyed with a sneeze or a misdirected wisp of smoke. DiCillo's previous adventures in filmmaking have generated much prerelease publicity for the new film, with speculation abounding that Oblivion's film-within-a-film's airheaded, egomaniacal leading man, Chad Palomino (James Le Gros in a scene-stealing turn of vapid glory), is patterned after Johnny Suede star Brad Pitt.
How many novice low-budget writer-directors would have the balls to make fun of this year's poster boy? Not many. Fewer still possess Tom DiCillo's sharp wit and self-awareness. I'll hang on to my misgivings about movies on moviemaking for a while longer. It's the rare filmmaker talented enough to pound those doubts into oblivion.