COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 46min

STARRING: Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Alison Lohman

Les miserable: Buscemi

The lower rungs of the entertainment industry are a greasy breeding ground for leeches of all stripes. Writer-director Tom DiCillo (Living in Oblivion) and his star Steve Buscemi have a dead-on feel for celebrity’s meaner streets, and as weaselly New York City paparazzo Les Galantine, Buscemi turns sleaze into an art form.


Self-described “licensed professional” Les is a repugnant, pitiful, going-nowhere blowhard who lets his bristling defences down with intuitive, eager homeless Toby (Pitt, another regular in the cinematic margins) only to languish in the wannabe dust when his protégé takes off with a reality TV show and a pop star girl (Lohman).


You might not take DiCillo’s point that those at the top are generally as flawed and grasping as those beneath them — or that if they weren’t to begin with, showbiz would corrupt a saint. And he does veer a degree or two off narrative course at times. But his high-spirited shot at the fame game-part comedy, part social commentary, part perceptive profile-is blessed to have Buscemi on its team.