I love independent films (which is not a new statement in any way), because they can tell stories you would never see in mainstream cinema. I love discovering new independent films, and honestly I don’t know if there is an independent comedy that I wouldn’t watch or at least be somewhat intrigued by. However, there is a certain film from a man who is truly very relevant today, made when he was just a young comic, and seemingly obscure from cinematic canon, Tomorrow Night is a brilliant piece of work, and of course the man behind it is quite possibly the greatest living comedian – Louis C.K.
What I love about Louis C.K. is that not only is he a brilliant stand-up comedian, but he is also one of the best living film auteurs. It is undeniable that his fame comes from his stand-up comedy, but his true brilliance can be found in his other work. I feel like his television show Louie is enough proof of this, as are his two new shows, the deliciously irreverent Baskets, and the incredible Horace & Pete. C.K. truly has the eye of a remarkable filmmaker, mainly because he is in control of every aspect of his projects – he acts as lead actor, writer, producer, director, editor and sometimes even cameraman. His current projects are popular and brilliant enough for many people to check them out (and honestly, no one deserves praise more than Louis C.K. – he is one of the hardest working entertainers today). However, we can look to his audacious feature film debut if we truly want to see the brilliance of C.K. and understand why he is one of the most talented filmmakers working today.
Tomorrow Night, which was made on a shoestring budget (accumulated from donations from fellow comedians and friends such as Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, David Cross, Denis Leary and Brett Butler), concerns a young man named Charles (played by comedy writer Chuck Sklar), who is a lonely misanthrope who runs a photo processing store, and not having much social skills, he takes passion in his work. He endeavors to ensure everyone collects photographs, until he is only left with two packets – one belonging to a mysterious person that never answers their phone, the other to Florence (Martha Greenhouse), an elderly woman who lives in fear of her cruel husband Lester (Joseph Dolphin), and when an unfortunate accident happens to Lester, and the young Charles and the elderly Florence met, sparks fly, and one of the most uncomfortable romantic journeys ever put on film begins. If this description of Tomorrow Night sounds completely absurd and off-the-wall, rest assured – it is far more surreal and bizarre than anyone could imagine. I will leave out some of the absurd nuances C.K. puts in this film, because they are truly shocking and hilarious, and unbelievably strange, and absolutely worth it.
The best part of Tomorrow Night, other than it being one of the most absurd films I’ve ever seen, is that it serves as a film where there is a veritable collection of current comedy superstars in cameo roles. With this film basically being a project C.K. made with a bunch of friends, there are many undiscovered comedic geniuses (at the time), that now stand at the very top of their craft. Steve Carell plays a hilarious role as a truly nasty soldier working in a mail-room, with Robert Smigel (the man behind Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog), playing his fellow prankster. J.B. Smoove is fantastic as the loud-mouth mailman, while Wanda Sykes is hilarious as his girlfriend. Amy Poehler has a “blink-and-you’ll miss it” cameo as a woman getting sprayed by a man cleaning a sidewalk with a hose (this man is played by Louis C.K. himself), and a frequent collaborator of C.K., Nick DiPaolo, has a wonderfully wry cameo as a disgruntled husband. Tomorrow Night is an exciting film for any comedy fan, because spotting all the current movers-and-shakers that appear throughout this film is a dream come true.
I loved Tomorrow Night. It was a truly strange film, and C.K. clearly paid great tribute to his cinematic influences, because it is clear that this film was inspired by the work of many directors. It has the bleak and nihilistic spirit of Jim Jarmusch, the bitterly cynical absurdism of David Lynch (obligatory to Lynch’s performance on C.K.’s show, Louie, which remains one of the greatest television performances of all time) and the humor of pitch-black Coen Brothers films, along with some John Waters (the purely unabashed revolting humour) and many other great independent filmmakers. The influences are so clear, yet it never feels like C.K. is stealing, but rather paying dedicated homage, which is something very difficult to get right.
Tomorrow Night is such a fantastic film. Everything about it is so strange, absurd and wonderful. It is available for purchase through Louis C.K.’s website for only $5, which goes directly towards the man himself, so it is absolutely worth it, and I highly recommend checking it out (and have a look at Horace & Pete while you’re at it), because it is such a great and obscure film. It is absolutely wonderful, and fans of C.K. will adore it, comedy fans will adore it, indie fans will love it and anyone who just wants something strange will certainly enjoy it. I can’t recommend this film enough. A great independent film from one of the greatest and most hard-working entertainers working today.
Note: this film is so obscure, I couldn’t even find an official poster for it!