Anger rages in Philip as he awaits the publication of his second novel. He feels pushed out of his adopted home city by the constant crowds and noise, a deteriorating relationship with his ...
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JR has broken up with her professor. She enlists her nervous and obnoxious younger brother Colin to take a short road trip in order to help move out her belongings. They bicker and fight, ... See full summary »
Alex Ross Perry
Alex Ross Perry,
Tyrone aimlessly embarks upon an obfuscating journey into nonsensical frustration as he tries to locate German V-2 rockets at the end of World War II, as a soldier in the United States Army's Operation Paperclip.
Alex Ross Perry
Kate Lyn Sheil,
Bruno Meyrick Jones
Anger rages in Philip as he awaits the publication of his second novel. He feels pushed out of his adopted home city by the constant crowds and noise, a deteriorating relationship with his photographer girlfriend Ashley, and his own indifference to promoting the novel. When Philip's idol Ike Zimmerman offers his isolated summer home as a refuge, he finally gets the peace and quiet to focus on his favorite subject: himself.Written by
Profiles the thought process of one of the most perplexing subculture of people
Philip (Jason Schwartzman) is a mean-spirited, pompous writer, waiting the publication of his second novel so he can rub it in the faces of those like his ex-girlfriend, who either allegedly held him back or doubted his abilities. He is a miserable soul, with a quick ability to insult or belittle someone and never taking anyone's advice or ideas seriously. His relationship with his current girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss) is a shaky one, at that, with Ashley growing tired of Philip's morose qualities and his selfish ability to drop everything in his life, putting her life on hold, and taking different opportunities without even so much as mentioning them to her before his mind is made up. One day, one of Philip's greatest influences, Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), one of the most prolific American authors of the 1970's, invites him to stay at his summer home with his daughter Melanie (Krysten Ritter), where he can hopefully find some tranquility in his life outside of all the mean-spiritedness that has long plagued him. But of course, Ike is just as bitter and cynical as Philip, so the two have their own kind of funny being bitter and cynical together, as Philip takes a low-rent job at a local liberal arts college teaching a creative writing seminar.
Alex Ross Perry's Listen Up Philip is a special film because it profiles a disgustingly mean character in such a way that doesn't derail the quality of the film nor make it an insufferable idea. To make a film centered around a soul who is simultaneously unhappy and absolutely contemptible is one of the hardest things in a dramatic film, in my opinion, because while you're depicting such an angry character you need to give audiences reasons to care or intriguing insights to appreciate. Perry does both, offering a look at a soul who has adopted a morose attitude by choice, and someone who wants to be known solely for his writing and not the kind of person he is in real life.
Jason Schwartzman is the ideal actor for Philip, as Schwartzman occupies a great sense of self-awareness as a performer. He can play a character who knows damn well he's being a smug, narcissistic snob yet almost leads you to believe he doesn't know he's being offensive or manipulative. Schwartzman's charm also lies in his ability to deadpan perfectly, capturing Perry's dry humor quite effectively. Perry also recognizes his supporting characters in a pleasantly different manner, as well, giving them several minutes at a time to grow from empty supporting characters to detailed ones, profiling both Ashley and Ike in their own separate sections of the film. During these sections, Perry shows how both characters are affected by Philip before and after he enters his life, and all of the emotions and feelings are handled nicely through the use of narration by Eric Bogosian, who does a nice job at adding the intellectual layer of thought to the film's premise.
As a writer, a lot of Philip's bitterness, for me, serves as the unconscious part of me that I won't allow be seen by others. The frustration, aggravation, and the heartbreak that brews as a result of exhaustion and dissatisfaction with the way you see other people either completely clueless or disinterested in general. Philip's unnerving attitude is by choice, however, and his active ostracizing of anyone who dare attempts to get close to him shows an insecurity of his own that makes for an interesting profile of a writer. Perry dares show that writers, while often provocative individuals who get us to contemplate a deeper side of life, can also be thoroughly incorrigible souls that can hurt those who try to get close to them or even are forced into having some sort of close relationship with them.
Some of the funniest and truest insights of the film come during the discussions Philip and Ike have, particularly when conversations drift and rift towards the idea of women. In one scene, the two men are walking along a college campus, with Philip admiring the beautiful, young women that litter the quad; "don't pay any mind to the attractive women over there; they want more than you're willing to give," Ike says in a statement of other truth. In another scene, when Philip is actively engaging in a bout of self-deprecation, as all good writers should, Ike calmly surmises, "Don't make yourself more miserable than you already are, that's what the women we love are for," in another statement of complete honesty. These kinds of insights make Listen Up Philip a film to recommend, as they offer the itemized thoughts and musings or writers in a way that allows viewers to penetrate the minds of one of the most perplexing subcultures.
Alex Ross Perry functions in the mumblecore subgenre of films, not necessarily in look, budget, and aesthetic practice, but in tone and focus, centering on troubled characters who can't stop talking and dialog heavily bent on naturalism. Listen Up Philip, for being a film about a vicious, mean-spirited character, manages to be a thoughtful exercise in profiling the conscious and mentality of writers.
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce, and Krysten Ritter. Directed by: Alex Ross Perry. Site Notes:
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