Indie all the way

Acclaimed independent director Tom DiCillo will show two of his films this Thursday in Portland.

Acclaimed independent director Tom DiCillo will show two of his films this Thursday in Portland.

Many might be more familiar with DiCillo’s collaborations with Jim Jarmusch as the director of photography for the quintessential indie film Stranger Than Paradise, or 2003’s Coffee and Cigarettes, but for nearly two decades, DiCillo has amassed his own catalog of impressive films.

Living in Oblivion and Delirious are among them, and the director will play both films at Living Room Theaters, followed by a question and answer session Thursday.

His 1991 debut feature, Johnny Suede, is about an excessively nostalgic rocker of the same name living in New York City during the 1990s. Suede, played by Brad Pitt in one of his first starring roles, is just trying to get a band together, and meet a girlfriend, but he is bent on recreating a rock sound that has been out of fad for thirty years.

The dry, oddball drama made a splash at Sundance and was nominated for the grand jury prize, but found no larger audience.

It took DiCillo four years before completing another project. In interviews, the director has said directing a film is one of the most frustrating, bitter processes he’s been through. For his next film, Living in Oblivion, he turned this angst into a dark, satiric comedy about a director trying to make a low-budget movie. Steve Buscemi gives one of his best performances as the director of a seemingly doomed project blighted by an egotistical star actor.

The joke is that the film is both about low-budget filmmaking and is a low-budget film. It started as a short film but grew into something larger. DiCillo looked outside the film industry to get funding, and he got much of the money from the actors. Or, more exactly, he got money from people and then gave them parts. You might guess this tactic would lead to a horrible end–it doesn’t.

Living in Oblivion pulls off an amazing feat: showing the frustrations of shooting scene after scene, but making it enjoyable to watch.

The actors and, surprisingly, the curmudgeon DiCillo had such a good time shooting it they decided to make it into a full-length film.

Fast-forward 10 years and three films later: Delirious, also starring Buscemi, debuts at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. It’s about a paparazzi photographer and a homeless man. Not many have seen this film, including me, because despite raving reviews and awards won at various festivals, Delirious didn’t pick up distribution in the United States. But if his other films are any indication, this will be, at worst, enjoyable. And you can’t beat a film with an accompanying conversation with the filmmaker.

Living Room Theaters is a fairly new downtown purveyor of independent film and older classics (currently playing 2001: A Space Odyssey and Casablanca) projected with digital, high-definition projectors in a cushioned and high-class design setting with a full bar and food menu.

They also offer a sturdy student discount ($6 for students, $9 for the general population), but the markdown does not apply to the DiCillo event. Luckily, for those who can’t slap down the $20 to see the director speak, his movies will play all week at regular price.

DiCillo Q&A

Thursday at 7 p.m. Living Room Theaters$20