Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Listen Up Philip (2014)

Director: Alex Ross Perry
Writer:    Alex Ross Perry
Cast:       Jason Scwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce

Anger rages in Philip as he awaits the publication of his second novel. He feels pushed out of his adopted home city of New-York 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, whom is very much like him but older, offers his isolated summer home as a refuge, he finally gets the peace and quiet to focus on his favorite subject: himself.

The main two characters in it, Philip and Ike are unabashedly self-absorbed and narcissistic to the point that most people will find them intolerable like the other characters in the film seems to. I guess the level of enjoyment that you will get out of watching this film would depend on how much you relate to these characters. They are people who don't want any baggage that come with investing one's time on human relationships of any sort. The way they do that could appear to be very self-defeating but the point is that they seem to need it for their own ego and some sense of artistic integrity that they want to maintain. Plenty of the film is also driven by narration that would evoke a feel of Wes Anderson films but got to say whether the explanation given by the narrator about how Philip is feeling is actually correct  at all. The timeline jumps that it takes can be a bit disorienting but shouldn't be a problem for people who are watching these kind of films. There is a little bit of exaggeration in how Philip is behaving and you doubt whether anyone could be this level of deliberate twattishness. That said I have found that people will tolerate you more if you are honest about your own narcissism and selfishness since there is a feeling of nobility in embracing those things rather than doing it slyly. 

I was also reminded of Noah Baumbach's films when watching this and the color palette coupled with the New-York setting reminded me of 'The Squid and the Whale'. Overall it is a great watch but might not be suitable to everyone's taste. I haven't seen any other films from the director and his debut feature is an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's 'Gravity's Rainbow', which is supposed to be a very difficult to read masterpiece. Jason Scwartzman is someone had who made his debut with 'Rushmore' having no prior acting experience and this role might be his best since that.

Rating: 4.5/5