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I saw The Living Wake when it screened at the Austin Film Festival in October of 2007. It was a rather amusing story of a man preparing for what he believes to be his final day of life. He wants everyone he's ever come to know throughout his life to be there to witness his wake where he will perform and then die on the spot. To say this film is offbeat would be a pretty fair way to judge it. The humor had a lot of people howling in the audience (my friend, a fellow aspiring screenwriter, was one of the many howling). I thought it reminded me in a sense of some of the work of Wes Anderson, but my friend (who is not a fan of Anderson) disagreed. After all was said and done, the film was quite enjoyable even though there were moments that were a little awkward to say the least. I hope it finds a distributor (whether it be on DVD or in the theater). It deserves it.
I've been following this film since its inception and have been proud
to watch it slowly go from festival to festival and finally get a
release. I managed to catch this several years ago, I believe around
2006 or 2007. Recently I noticed it getting release and a lot more
attention, and I could be more happy or proud. The film really is
great. It's unique and quirky and Mike O'Connell brings his unique
humor to it, and it's even quite touching. I won't say this is for
everyone, but all film should strive to do what this did and create a
unique and original experience.
K. Roth Binew is a self proclaimed genius artist who has just discovered he has a very limited time to live. To go out with a bang, he decides to return to his hometown to reconcile with family, face his enemies one last time, and finally be laid to rest after a living wake. To help him, he enlists his aid and friend Mills, who leads him around on a bicycle powered rickshaw.
As mentioned, this is not your average comedy. Mike O'Connell leads the viewer around from one point to another, taking care of whatever business he desires, be it trying to get some of his self published books placed in the local library or facing his parents one last time. And the character of Binew is as puffy and conceited as you might expect from a self-titled proclaimed genius. But the experience of Binew's life is so unique that it's quite entertaining. And Jessie Eisenberg is such a great foil to Binew's craziness, as a fairly level headed character, that one of the joys of the film is seeing the two interact. But, what works so well here is the films heart. These characters are very well crafted in more than just their uniqueness. You can tell a real passion was placed into them. It is in the quieter moments that you find the films worth. There is even a moment at the end that is cause for tears, but I won't spoil that here.
Again, this won't be everyone's cup of tea. The script was partly written by O'Connell, who crafts a unique brand of humor. Anyone who is not into it, probably will be a little turned off by the character created. But, in his writing, he crafts a complex figure. We've seen these kinds of characters before, misunderstood artists whose unique look and way of life is their charm. But even for such a story, this is a unique take. A good example is the musical number thrown in a little over halfway through the film. While this might seem out of place, it fits in very well with Binew's character, whom one could imagine bursting into song at any given point simply because he feels like it and believes it adds something to life. Such is K. Roth Binew.
Sol Tyson handles the film well. He never makes a point at showing us just how ridiculous things are. He simply treats it as life. The film is also colorfully filmed and the choice of location is quite enjoyable. I really can't complain about much of anything in the film. It's an enjoyable journey through the final day of one very unique individual.
I don't expect the majority of people to enjoy this film. It certainly isn't a film built for mass audiences, and one can only hope that the majority of people watching WOULD enjoy it. However, I found this to be a fantastic experience and think that anyone who can see it and is looking for a comedy wholly different from anything you'll see this year should run to the theater and catch it while you can.
I was surprised to see that it's user rating is so low, currently at a 5.7, I decided to rate it a 9. This was honestly one of the best films I've viewed in a while, especially in the genre of comedy. The main characters K. Roth Binew and his "Biographer" Mills go on for hours attempting to appease all of K. Roth's dying requests as it is believed he will die this day will be his last here on earth, as his is apparently diagnosed with an unnamed terminal illness. K. Roth's mission is to find the brief but powerful monologue he father claimed would come to him before the end of his dying day. It is a very quirky and eccentric comedy yet it has enough depth to keep you emotionally involved in the film down the very last scene. I would recommend this title for almost anyone.
If Leon Redbone made movies instead of music, this would be it! This
movie is kooky, funny, and just plain out there. It has the feelings of
1920s slap-stick with a dark humor that comes off being incredibly
enjoyable (think of those piano playing guys from Family Guy). The
script is incredibly witty and outrageous situations are portrayed as
regular mundanely regular occurrences for our main character. The movie
is really a slice of Americana and experiments with artistic expression
in a multitude of ways.
At its heart, The Living Wake is a story about a man trying to find his way in the world as he comes to terms with death. We see K. Roth Binew go through his final day on Earth as he tries to figure out the "short, powerful monologue" - his way of trying to reconcile with the memory of his father walking out on him as a child. Really, though, it is about exploring who we are and how we see ourselves versus how we want people and the world to remember us after we pass.
I stumbled upon this movie quite by accident, and am I ever glad I did.
I can not heap enough praise upon it. Everything about it appeals to
me. Mike O'Connell is absolutely hilarious in his portrayal of the
hapless K.Roth Binew, who's last day of life the film chronicles. We
journey with K. Roth and his biographer/chauffeur/poet Mills Joaquin
(played my Jesse Eisenberg) as he attempts to invite all who have
touched his life to his 'Living Wake', to be held later that evening.
Aside from a plot that is well rounded and fulfilling, the dialogue is
both at times snappy and ridiculously over dramatic. O'Connell's facial
expressions and mannerisms alone warrant a viewing. However, what I
enjoyed most about this movie was everything going on in the
background. While Binew's world is populated by people and places that
at first seem familiar to us, upon closer inspection we see that his
world has taken on a somewhat unreal, otherworldly twist. The costumes,
the props, the lighting - even the hand painted signs all lend to a
magical feeling that permeates the film. Even the humble score is
beautiful, particularly the piece playing in the final scene. As of
this writing, the film is available for free on Hulu, and I highly
recommend a viewing. I, for one, having now seen it, will attempt to
find a DVD copy for purchase. It's really that good.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If I had to describe this movie to someone in the fewest words
possible, it would be a Shakespearean Farce directed by Salvidor Dali.
Quirky and very strange, yet I loved this film. I've seen it twice so far, and I'm sure I will watch again. Jesse Eisenberg is stunning as the character Mills. At the appropriate times, the anguish weighs heavily on Jesse's/Mill's face.
And Michael O'Connell is deliciously over the top as H. Roth Binew.
If you want more of the same then go to the local cinema, but if you want a unique and funny experience in the surreal and absurd, and if you love independent film, then you are very likely to enjoy this movie.
Highly recommended, but only to those who don't subsist on Hollywood Blockbusters.
I have nearly memorized the lines in this movie as I have with my
favorite poems and poets. This is incredibly beautiful and tragic. I
have never seen anything like this film.
It is a hopeless English major's dream. I only wish that some more people appreciated this- though not too many- it's too beautiful to be mainstreamed or "hipsterized"- hipsters be damned! I love the hell outta this movie and totally respect the writers. I only wish that there was a genre of film in which more films like this one resided although maybe that's what makes this film so wonderful. I look forward to my future career as a benevolent dictator of an ant farm.
If you're expecting an A-List Hollywood movie, don't bother. If you're
looking to watch a unique and quirky movie with humorously distorted
characters- this is it! I was laughing the whole way through at the
antics employed by the primary characters. Unfolds a bit more like an
on-stage story rather than a screenplay. Some of us can appreciate
Mike O'Connell delivers the slightly abrasive character true to form and Michael Cera's character Mills is lovable.
While it's intended as a comedy, the core issues the lead struggles with are real (albeit distorted) and engage the viewers empathy if not their sympathy!
As far as Indie films go, this is one of my new favorites!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There are good movies and there are bad movies. There are movies that
are so much worse than bad movies that they're entertaining to watch
than something that's just plain bad. Then, there's "The Living Wake",
which is so much worse than movies that are so bad that they're
entertaining that it reaches an undiscovered depth of awfulness so
unspeakably deplorable that I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I
didn't even want to give this movie one star. I wanted to give it
negative stars to offset any stars it did receive, because I can only
imagine people who ranked this highly assumed that the stars they gave
to this movie were the number of ninja stars they wanted to throw at
their screens while viewing this movie.
The movie centers around the flawed notion held by everyone involved in the creation and making of The Living Wake that weirdness and quirkiness are inseparably bound to genius. K. Roth Binew, diagnosed with some punctual terminal illness, uses his last day to search for, I don't know, meaning or whatever, while Jesse Eisenberg pedals him around in a rickshaw. There was nothing funny about this movie. I have never scowled so hard while watching a movie or doing anything. The urge to stop watching this movie was overwhelming as I spent the longest 90 minutes of my life wishing that dude would just die already. Then, after those 90 minutes of needlessly endless quirk, he did die, and it brought me no joy.
If you're thinking of watching this movie, I implore you to stare at a wall or a blank screen for 90 minutes. It'll be a much better use of your time. Whoever put money into this disaster should never be allowed to have money again. When I think of how many starving children could've been fed for the money that went into this movie, it would make me sad, but due to the complete artlessness of this movie and my iron-minded ability to watch it in its entirety, I'm wholly convinced that I have no feelings and that I know no such thing as empathy anymore. My balls are huge. A lesser, smarter man would've stopped watching this movie.
I could pick apart the acting or the writing or the "pee"-poor emulation of certain elements of Wes Anderson films, but why bother? Why bother doing anything? The movie was dedicated "in loving memory" to someone with the same last name of the director. I can only imagine this was a revenge plot. Maybe the director's brother slept with the director's wife or something. I don't know. It's like when a horrible tragedy happens and you look somewhere, anywhere, for answers, but there aren't any.
Please do not see this movie. It was worse than the Holocaust.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Horrible!The whole thing is pointless and annoying.When I saw it I though;"Hey it can't be that bad right?"Wrong.It was terrible.The entire thing was really,really,really bad!I like the actors but in this movie they totally sucked.I understand,it wasn't made to be the best movie ever,but still,it could have been so,so,so much better than this garbage.I wish this review didn't have to be "10 lines of text" because all I have is one word for this crap.Garbage.Transformers 2 was bad and then I saw this...I thought it could be funny and I was disappointed.You really have to hate this movie,it's just so bad!I recommend going to Netflix (This was on Netflix last time I checked but still) and finding a decent movie.
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