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Shut Up Philip
tao90227 April 2015
A comedy about a young writer who, upon the publication of his second novel, increasingly alienates himself from his girlfriend and other friends through his arrogant behaviour. He turns for 'intellectual' and 'authorial' support to an ageing author he respects who is as obnoxious as he is.

The humour is meant to come from mocking these unappealing characters but the film itself isn't particularly appealing either. As a satire on the possible pretensions of the publishing world it suffers from lack of originality, an excess of cynicism and contrived delivery.

The overblown irony of the voice-over further ensures this comedy isn't that funny despite a few amusing lines. What presumably intends to be a comedy about annoying people end up being annoying itself.
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couldn't care less about Philip but Ashley is fascinating
SnoopyStyle4 June 2015
Philip Lewis Friedman (Jason Schwartzman) is a self-obsessed writer angry at everyone and everything. His new book is getting bad reviews. His girlfriend Ashley Kane (Elisabeth Moss) is tired of his antics. She finds companionship with her sister Holly (Jess Weixler) and a cat. Philip finds a new mentor in writer Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce) and he has a vacation home away from the city. Ike's daughter Melanie (Krysten Ritter) sees right through him.

Philip is a horribly tiresome character. It becomes a matter of how much of this annoying character one can truly take. I wouldn't call him an interesting ugly character either. He's simply an angry little selfish man. The Zimmermans aren't much better. Ashley is a much more compelling character. I'm really glad when the movie switches over to her story. Elisabeth Moss really hits it out of the park. If only this movie is about Ashley but it is not. It is sadly about Philip.
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A strong cast delivers better drama than laughs in a field of tired clichés.
Sergeant_Tibbs8 October 2014
The story of the struggling writer is not unknown to Jason Schwartzman. He lead the brilliant but oh-so-short HBO show Bored To Death, about a writer who has to turn to detective work for inspiration and cash on the side. It was fresh, because that was just a framing device for something more fun. Listen Up Philip uses struggling to write as the backdrop to cynical drama and sour "I told you so's." If the walls could talk, they would gossip about the fights that have taken place over the years. It opens with a sequence in which Schwartzman's Philip celebrates finishing his second book by rubbing it in the noses of those who didn't believe in him. That's where he gets his satisfaction.

That's the bitter world of Listen Up Philip. Every character is selfish, and miserable for it. The result is a film that's difficult to sympathize with the characters, especially Schwartzman, but it doesn't necessarily ask us to. They may be self-pitying victims of their own hostility, but they eventually do come to self-realizing conclusions, if too late. The film suggests that to make great art (in the form of novels) it requires isolation, cut off from the city and the ones you love, alienating them – as if this is the only way. The jerky behaviour aside, not just general standoffishness but frequent overlapping of relationships, it begs the obvious question of "is it worth it?" Well, no, it's not. Perhaps there are many creatives in the world that need this lesson, either way writer/director Alex Ross Perry is keen to explore it and take us with it.

With a less familiar cast, this would definitely be labeled a mumblecore film. It borrows a French New Wave aesthetic (complete with a jazzy score) featuring rugged and dark hand-held 16mm photography. It can be a little sloppy with a lack of restraint, having some sequences comprised entirely out of dizzying close-ups. It does however add important weight to the drama and fortunately grow more confident by the second half of the film. This style is inherently intimate, if not necessarily engaging, and we feel like voyeurs. In turn, the humour of the film just doesn't work. It didn't elicit a laugh from me, only a smirk. It's not necessarily cringe-worthy, it's just the offbeat nature of it doesn't land in this environment, despite its 'Laugh' categorization at this festival.

It's the ensemble that gives the drama the atmosphere the film needs. The script is otherwise serviceable, with a couple of idiosyncratic if indulgent licks scattered throughout. Instead it's more interested on being on the verge of tears. Elizabeth Moss is the undeniable highlight. She's always been fascinating to watch on AMC's Mad Men, and here she shows the ferocity and vulnerability that makes Peggy compelling. Her character may feel extraneous, but her presence is most welcome. Also great, but on a lesser scale, is Jonathan Pryce, who teeters fine lines with skill and makes a character that could've otherwise been trite (aka the cautionary vision of the future for Philip) believable and endearing. However, the film often seems too aimless with no end game in sight. It feels more organic, but it's missed potential.

In the second half, the narrative bounces through the three characters, a little clumsily, but it's better for exploring the characters with a bit more depth than it could have missed with a straightforward approach. The style is a little free form, which can feel quite liberating, but mostly hints at a lack of discipline in Perry. Even with the film's rawness, it does feature touches of Wes Anderson with a Tenenbaums-esque articulate and omniscient narration – one that only barely justifies itself – as well as insert shots of books inscribed with in- jokes. Maybe the involvement of Schwartzman just attracts that unique style, although here it's rarely connected to him. The cast saves Listen Up Philip from being a complete chore but it still suffers from unsympathetic characters and tired clichés. Save the struggling writer scripts for the exercise pile, please.


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Pretentious fools
themissingpatient8 September 2015
Listen Up Philip is a messy character-driven piece in which, oddly enough, the narration is the best part of the film. This is not a film for everyone. The two male leads are pretentious fools that, despite all of their knowledge, lack any true wisdom and consistently make terrible choices. By the end, it's difficult to even feel any pity for them. The female characters, on the other hand, are the saving grace of the story and the actresses are terrific in their roles.

It's far from a typical storyline. Even with the narration, it's hard to say what the plot is, if there is one at all. The film has us enter and exit these characters lives at their most sad, desperate and difficult. Some will find it to be an insightful dark comedy while others will find it to be a pointless, drab drama that is frustrating to watch. The most bothersome aspect is the unsteady hand-held camera work, which comes and goes needlessly.

Listen Up Philip is like only reading the middle chapters of a novel. Fans of Noah Baumbach, Wes Anderson and Woody Allen's films may find a lot to enjoy here but if you're not a fan of character studies, this won't be for you.
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Two Snobs Exchanging Advice. ♦ 34%
nairtejas10 December 2014
Electronically speaking, consider this film as a faulty, analogous low pass filter which should ideally pass all lower frequencies in a system and attenuate everything above a specific cut-off point, but in actuality doesn't attenuate any. The filter here is the central character Philip (Jason Schwartzman), the low frequencies are the witty dialogs, humor, Elisabeth Moss, & creative writing niceties, while the higher frequencies (which should have been done away with) are the blown-off storyline, shaky camera work, pretentious drama, & half-baked supporting characters.

Telling a story of a two-book old grim writer, the film takes you on an incessant expedition with him while he follows his path to find wisdom & peace, yet produces ounces of snobbery wherever he goes. He is then mentored by another snob (played well by Pryce) who is a pretentious writer reminding us of Shaw or Hemingway, in ways. In the end, they advice each other so abundantly that without having pressed the button, they self-destruct. Amateur director Alex Perry uses cliché to perhaps celebrate his rookieness. It is evident from the first scene that he is a good writer of dialogs, which remains the best compared to any of the films I have seen in months. But, it is in the second half that you realize that the story doesn't move an inch forward with only dialogs as its fuel. It requires substance, and that is what the film lacks.

BOTTOM LINE: Alex Perry's fourth feature is a cloudy attempt at a story that fictionalizes the last thing that should be fictionalized, which is "writerhood." (for lack of a better word). Pleasure yourself with those conversations, for they are amazingly quotable.

Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES
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Listen Up Movie
comicman11722 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Listen Up Phillip is a very pretentious movie. It's not a poorly made movie, but it gives me the feeling that it's trying to be more than something it is. Listen Up Phillip tells the story of aspiring author Phillip Lewis Friedman (Jason Schwartzman) who has just published his second novel. He wants to leave his adopted home city, and his relationship with his girlfriend, Ashley (played by Elizabeth Moss) is falling apart. When his idol Ike Zimmerman (played by Jonathan Pryce) offers him a chance to live with him at his isolated summer home, Phillip takes this opportunity to get some peace and quiet to focus on his favorite, and most important subject, himself.

The main character of Listen Up Phillip, Philip, is intentionally unlikeable and it's very hard to root for him. In some stories, unlikeable main characters change throughout the course of the story, but in this story, Phillip not change from beginning to end. Although I feel this is intentional on the director's part, if the protagonist was even meant to be relatable character at all, as the movie's narration suggests, then I believe the film failed in that regard.

Elizabeth Moss is pretty darn good as Jason's girlfriend, Ashley. She has all the right ingredients: she's full of emotion. Jonathan Pryce does a good job playing a messed up author, Ike, in a somewhat predictable role. Props to Krysten Ritter, especially, as Ike's daughter, who really gives us her all as an unhappy character. Also of note, is French actress, Josephine de La Baume, as Melanie Zimmerman, a woman Phillip starts dating at the end. Unfortunately, their relationship is underdeveloped, and somehow I was left feeling she was supposed to be more of a major character.

One of the better things I appreciated the film for, is how, despite the title, Phillip isn't the only character that gets some perspective. There are a few scenes, halfway through the film, where we see things from Ashley's viewpoint. There's even a sequence where she's talking to Phillip at a restaurant and we can only hear his voice, not see his face. There are even scenes where we are shown the perspective of other characters, Ike and Melanie, and we are given their thoughts on what they are thinking during those scenes.

There are some shots that I liked, too. The title sequence reminds me of a title sequence from the 70's and 80's, and I appreciate Eric Bogosian's narration (the opening almost made me think I was watching a documentarian for a second) describing the characters and their feelings. There's also a nice sequence where Phillip is driving the car which features some low-key jazz music in the background. While Listen Up Philip is not a film I would rush out to see again, it was enjoyable.
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4 stars for Moss; 0 for everything else
ArtVandelayImporterExporter27 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Is there a reason producers keep putting Hollywood's most untalented, obnoxious, midg.., errrr, short person in movies?

Schwartzman can't act to save his life. His quirky shtick worked well when he was playing a 15-year-old in Rushmore opposite a total pro like Bill Murray. But how many times can a guy go to the same self-conscious, hair-flicking, deliberately unlikeable, emotionally vacant well?

Scene after scene where his character acts like a complete d?nk to everyone. Enough, already. What was this movie trying to prove? How long viewers would sit there before walking out?

Let's not even talk about the shaky-cam super-closeups. Or the hack- writing narration.

On the other hand we have Elisabeth Moss and her portrayal of the main character's emotionally abused girlfriend. She humanized him and this film. I was never a fan of Mad Men. I thought it was self-important, nostalgic drivel. And Moss's supposed charms in that show escaped me. But after seeing her powerful performance in this movie I look forward to seeing her in more big-screen fare.
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Diabolical film that's as self centred as the lead character
thehurlings20 June 2015
This is a truly awful film with cameraship that's as shaky as the plot and acting. We hope from one unbelievable stage set to another with a narrator desperately trying to explain what's going on. The main character is a very unappealing human with no warmth surrounded by bit parts who aren't given the opportunity to develop beyond 2D. What makes someone think this kind of disconnected, theatre style drama would capture people's interest? Do yourself a favour and give this film miss. Watching your own toes is far more entertaining. On the other hand if you like pretentious arty stuff that's more about the director entertaining themselves than you then give it a go!
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He's my kind of misanthrope.
jdesando4 November 2014
"I'm not 'successful,' I'm notable. And I'm not even notable—noteworthy, at best." Phillip (Jason Schwartzman)

Such is the direct, diffident, and off-putting novelist Phillip (Jason Schwartzman) in the smartly-written Listen Up Phillip. As the quote suggests, he is so solipsistic as to think only of himself anyway. But unlike the case of cranky Ben Stiller's Greenberg, I am fascinated by this misanthrope who keeps getting lovely girlfriends and interesting acquaintances. Such is the lot of an emerging artist.

Ashley Kane (Elisabeth Moss), a successful young photographer, lives with this sourpuss or rather endures his withering criticism of her and himself. Indeed, he brings self loathing to a new level. I like that honest but unkind attitude because I often have those thoughts but would never be as incorrect as to announce them (Ibsen's Wild Duck warns against total honesty—we all need a basic lie about ourselves). When my friends and I have a rollicking good time, it's mostly over sardonic assessments of ourselves, so I identify.

Jonathan Pryce is priceless as the once great Jewish author, Ike Zimmerman (both authors remind me of the anarchic, brilliant Phillip Roth; think of Ghost Writer). He takes Phillip under his wing, but he also has resentments masked by his equally blunt mien (the two are a great match, word for bitter word).

As in Roth's and Woody Allen's world, NYC is an ever present character. The authors try to avoid its magnetic influence by vacating to write. For sure, the city is a boon for creativity but a failure at production. I surely can understand how the city's cultural overload could compromise the best of literary intentions.

Witty writer/director Alex Ross Perry's Listen Up Phillip is as much about fulfilling one's artistry and making friends as it is about publishing. Nothing in NYC is easy, and if you're a narcissistic author, its downright brutal. Yet, as Ashley tells Phillip, "It's hot, you being mean." Only in NYC could being mean get girls.
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Starts boring, picks up, gets boring, stays boring
LiamBlackburn22 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
That would sum this one up right there. It begins in a nebulous fashion, with a half- impression of what could be a character. It then begins to gather some steam on the strength of some well-timed comedic moments. Philip's relationship with his mentor is especially poignant. Then about halfway through, just before he starts his new relationship, the story loses steam. It was ebbing and flowing in small climactic patterns up until that point. You lose touch with the character Philip, and he just stops being interesting. Had to fast-forward at that point, to just about the very end....where it continues to be boring. His final encounter with his ex, reveals that she is happy having a cat instead of Philip. Wow. What drama... This movie fails.
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10 seconds of acting masterclass
MrMerrY24 October 2014
I will leave serious examination to others but Elisabeth Moss gives a solo 10 second masterclass in reaction and emotion half way through the movie which makes the film worthwhile. It would be very interesting to know more about the making of the scene, though I guess years of practice plus an abundance of talent plays a part.

Apparently I need to write 10 lines to qualify as a review - The movie is a longer version of the trailer - This is often enough information for most people in a review.

I wonder if the writer / director deliberately cast Moss along side 2 ex-models as the three leading female characters, but more to fill space in the review than anything.
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Profiles the thought process of one of the most perplexing subculture of people
StevePulaski26 January 2015
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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Elisabeth Moss is really the star here
Red_Identity21 October 2014
Pretty good first half, really suffered in the second half. Its structure could've been really effective, but it's just jarring and, quite honestly, bored me as it went on. The ensemble is the biggest reason to see it. Schwartzman is good, Jonathan Pryce is pretty good even if his segment is definitely where my interest waned. And then there's the easy highlight of it all.

My love for Elisabeth Moss has never been a secret. She's already given an all-time great performance in Mad Men, somehow managing to steal the show from Hamm at her best moments. Earlier this year she had The One I Love, a great film with a fantastic performance from her, and so I happily singed her praises. And now I can sing them again, to an even higher degree. Her character is easily the most interesting, although how much that had to do with Moss remains to be seen. Regardless, it's a shame she's not the main character throughout. She's able to really tap into so many facets of Ashley with pitch-perfect line deliveries and emotional expressions. She's a fantastic silent actress, and she's able to convey just about everything that the role requires with so little. Many actresses could've done well in the role, but we might not have even known how much the role really required. Moss is absolutely spectacular, definitely one of the finest performance of the year so far. For her it's worth it.
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Pretensions of art
howardeisman26 October 2014
I should be a perfect viewer for this movie. I know and care about the literary world and the characters portrayed in this film. Yet, I found it boring and pretentious.

The story telling style, the focus moving from one character to the other, the narration not quite connected to the screen image, the abrupt behaviors, the dizzying camera work and cutting all pointed to a director who wanted to make a showy splash; the jittery techniques of moving the story along overwhelmed the story itself. The tricks are not only not compelling, but they eventually become silly and boring.

Since the Philip character is intrinsically unlikeable, you would either have to hate him so much that you watch the movie to see him get his comeuppance or to laugh at him. But Philip is not that hateful and, while his ferocious self-centeredness might have been quite funny, the Philip character is just NOT funny. All the other characters are inadequately developed, so their self defeating behavior seems mysteriously motivated.

The performances are all superior. This actually makes thing worse, as the actors are all saying "something of importance is taking place here". This sense of importance is then sabotaged by gratuitous directorial razzle-dazzle and characters that will never change.

Thus, this film is not enlightening, not very funny, and not very interesting.
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Mildly interesting film seriously marred by camera work
brussels190024 October 2014
I found this film to be barely watchable at best but not necessarily because I thought it uninteresting or the principal character hopelessly insufferable. Someone should tell Alex Ross Perry that jerky, hand-held cinematography hasn't been considered to be cutting edge or revolutionary since directors such as Godard and Rossellini used it back in the 1950's and 60's (and Mr. Perry--you are no Godard or Rossellini). Woody Allen tried it once 22 years ago with "Husband's and Wives" and has not used it again in the many films he has made since then . All "Listen Up Philip" did for me while I was watching it was make me dizzy and nauseous. This I assume was supposed to be a serious, feature film and intimate character study about two writers---not a documentary or a big action film or a reality TV show in which hand held photography might be appropriate. Camera work which calls attention to itself in such an obvious, annoying way greatly distracts from the story and the characters (not to mention--in this case--making me physically ill).
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Shut the f–– up, Philip!
The_late_Buddy_Ryan15 March 2015
Writer/director Alex Ross Perry doesn't have much of an ear for natural-sounding dialogue, which is a problem, since "Listen Up Philip" is practically all talk. Jason Schwartzman delivers his lines in a stilted, overprecise way, I guess to convince us that his character really is a "notable" writer and a serious intellectual; occasionally he seems to be channeling in Max Fischer from "Rushmore," but without the irony or humor.

It seems to me that someone who writes such clunky, flatfooted prose (he misuses common words like "remiss" and "impart") hasn't earned the right to throw shade on a real writer like Philip Roth, and Jonathan Pryce, as Roth surrogate "Ike Zimmerman," has to struggle to put across some laughably stagy lines. The lowpoint is a cringy scene in which Ike and another alte kocker (who looks suspiciously like Bernard Malamud) pick up two younger women, bring them home and then have to call on Philip for backup. Kudos, on the other hand, to whoever mocked up the jackets for Zimmerman's books, which look exactly like Roth's bestsellers from the 60s…

Elizabeth Moss lucked out—she doesn't have to play a nasty, longwinded narcissist, doesn't have to emote like she's reading random pages from a self-published novel (I'm talking about you, narrator Eric Bogosian!), and the few scenes she gets to herself are riveting.

The pro reviewers were surprisingly indulgent with this one; maybe they were giving it credit for good intentions—seems like what Perry had in mind was something like "Llewyn Davis" (satirical character study of cranky guy trying to reconcile artistic ambitions with practical demands of life in 20th-century NYC) with a smidge of "Frances Ha" (lighthearted comedy of manners featuring arty Manhattanites, shot with shaky camera and other New Wave flourishes)—but, from our perspective, "Philip" doesn't have much to offer in the way of insight or enjoyment.

Perry's new one is getting good notices at BAMcinemaFest; I'll prob'ly watch when it turns up on Netflix or Amazon. Fool me twice, shame on me
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Excellent Film
supercalafragulistic31 October 2014
Indie at its best. I think that Jason Schwartzman and Elizabeth Moss both were amazing in their roles. She was beautiful and befitting to the role.

It takes you through the life of a writer and his relationships with his girlfriends and how he is finding himself in the world. It also centers around his mentor. If you enjoyed Rushmore, I think you will love this film. It is funny and you get the sense that the audience has to be educated to get it. Otherwise most of the material would go over their head. I also enjoyed the narration and he had a fine voice. Please see this film while it is still in the theater.
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Hated it! Totally not funny! 1/10
leonblackwood2 August 2015
Review: This film is awful! The storyline is all over the place and I totally lost interest after a while. I think that it's about a novelist who is due to bring out his second book. After the success of his first novel, his ego is boosted to a point were he is rude to people, including his girlfriend who is also a established photographer. I understood the movie up to that point but the director took the plot down many avenues which became confusing. I ended up falling asleep a few times because I was completely bored and I hated the way that the movie was shot. You've got this annoying jazz music throughout the film and the narrating just brought more confusion to the whole project. I would have been able to put up with tone and pace of the film if it was slightly funny but I really didn't find it amusing at all. At the end of the day, it really has to go down as a bad day at the office for Jonathan Pryce and Jason Schwartzman, who usually make good movies but this one was really boring and a total disappointment. Rubbish!

Round-Up: I can't believe that I wasted 2 hours of my life on this poor movie. The movie was directed by Alex Ross Perry who brought you Impolex, The Color Wheel, The Sixth Year and Queen of Faith, which I have never heard of before. I wasn't that impressed with his style of direction or the grainy camera-work which became annoying after a while. The acting wasn't bad from Schwartzman, who was great in Saving Mr. Banks and Darjeeling Unlimited but this film was a terrible choice. I'm sure that the director has quite a few fans of his work because he does have a unique style, but I really struggled with it. Jonathan Pryce, who recently joined the Game Of Thrones series, was a complete waste in this film but he obviously found something interesting in the script to take on the project. Anyway, I think you can tell that I really didn't enjoy this movie so I will stop putting it down.

I recommend this movie to people who are into their comedy/dramas about a novelist who seeks inspiration from another author, to bring out his second novel. 1/10
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Schwartzman had a field day in his best performance since RUSHMORE
george.schmidt3 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
LISTEN UP PHILIP (2014) *** Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce, Krysten Ritter, Josephine de La Baume (Narrator : Eric Bogosian) Schwartzman had a field day in his best performance since RUSHMORE as an angry, egotistical, mean-spirited and obnoxious NYC writer who finds life pretty much unbearable in spite of his recent success in the publication of his second novel. Along the way he is befriended by a fellow, mellower misanthropic author of well-reknown (Pryce equally giving snide goods) who offers his mentorship - and country home - for his young charge to use in his writings and in the process destroying his most recent relationship with an ambitious photographer (Moss marveling in a complex and winning performance) amidst his selfishness. Filmmaker Alex Ross Perry's nimble direction and clean screenplay has its share of the impossible made possible : having a jerk protagonist actually be sympathetic while not compromising his unique arch demeanor.
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Bravo for such brave and non PC film making
christopher-underwood12 February 2020
This is a very dark comedy but so dark that whilst I feel sure it will be possible to laugh out loud on subsequent viewings, a nervous smile is about that can be managed on a first view. Director, Alex Ross Perry clearly has a most jaundiced view of the New York hip and the City's literary elite in particular. Jason Schwartzman plays a frighteningly self contained and angry young bully of a celebrated author who comes under the wing of an older, even more celebrated version of himself, played possibly even more terrifyingly by Jonathan Pryce. Completely uncompromising with only the slightest respite thanks to female support from Elisabeth Moss and Kristen Ritter who have to bear the brunt of the egocentric and domineering ramblings of the aforementioned gentlemen. As I say this will be something to laugh at next time but on first viewing is harrowing but intellectually stimulating thanks to wonderful writing and acting. Bravo for such brave and non PC film making.
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For fans
Ladiloque2 April 2016
While this film is certainly not for mainstream audiences it depicts fairly well a typical position modern intellectuals-writers put themselves into when they stop "listening", learning and growing up due to either success or failures.

Only some illness can stop you from being smart, but being smart is not enough to live a fulfilling and authentic life. Especially when (what you believe is) your authentic self is actually the main obstacle to that, by aiming at systematically despise and mistrust the people around you.

The first 10 minutes already may remind you (also for the main actor) some early Wes Anderson movies or some Woody Allen ones: if you like them, you'll - at least mildly - appreciate this too. This is the first movie from Perry I watch and I'll look forward to see others but as a first impression I'd like him to put his efforts in more genre oriented stuff: being smart is not enough to make a fulfilling movie too. The difficulties (or impossibility) in communicating between people shouldn't become a 2h film themselves or... none obviously will like it. Whatever his objectives in filming and showing us intelligence together with emptiness, loneliness and crisis, I'm sure he can accomplish them by writing a richer story behind them.
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Well worth it (but there is a better movie in here somewhere)
Phillim2124 July 2017
Jason Schwartzman, Jonathan Pryce, Elisabeth Moss. Exquisite performers doing fine work, with novice writer/director Alex Ross Perry's rings-true, deeply hilarious, and often astonishing script.

Schwartzman's 'Philip', blunt young novelist on the verge of stardom, overthinks and over-expresses his live-in relationship with successful photographer Moss, in a tone masterfully tragi-comic. Meanwhile he takes on an aging mentor in the form of overly-prolific writer and all-round monster Pryce. (Must have been great fun creating the dozen or more satirical fake titles and book covers for Pryce's ouvre. And choosing the curley-queue typeface from 1960s paperback covers for the credits -- suggesting Jacqueline Suzanne and Philip Roth -- warmed my little nostalgic heart.)

Moss and Pryce bless the material with their usual raw, unvarnished truth. Pryce's holy terror is no hack movie villain -- he's the guy a lot of us know, admire, and dread. But Schwartzman -- ah, Monsieur Le Schwartzman -- is in a much better movie than the others. He is The Vortex, and when he is not on screen the film's purpose evaporates, like -- poof -- immediately.

Perhaps luring the fabulous Elisabeth Moss to the project at the 2014 point in her brilliant career required giving her an extended Schwartzman-free segment. Moss is always fascinating and unrelentingly appealing -- but the material meanders in her 'separate life' sequence -- and it all starts to feel tacked on. Should have developed this as a separate splendid movie for Moss instead (I know -- easily said . . .).

There may be structural problems with Alex Ross Perry's script, but his direction of the actors is inspired, and he has a true gift for casting. Location choices, framing choices, mise-en-scene stuff generally prove Perry's is the soul of an artist. Alex Perry knows what a movie is, the way Michael Powell knew, the way Douglas Sirk knew.

Alas, the script/edit in the released film breaks a film lover's heart: at times it veers toward greatness, then heads toward what one hopes is mimetic satire of bad writing (appropriate in a story about anguished writers), but, oh dear, after a point we realize the film has lost its way, even though the smart, committed performances keep us engaged.

The voice-over narration device creaks to the point of annoyance. Again, it is likely a satire of bad writing; it dawned on this humble reviewer too late that it is the voice of Schwartzman's character from his future as old embittered successful hack, relating the events of the film as reductive and clichéd memoir -- i.e., after he has aged into the Schwartzman counterpart of Pryce's dissipated beast. The tip-off is that the narration is not in Schwartzman's reedy voice, (nor Pryce's whiny growl, ruling his character out), but the seasoned baritone of Eric Bogosian. A lesser film would have spelled all this out for me in the beginning; a better film would have let me in on the joke a lot sooner.

But the world is a better place for this film -- it shows us once again that Schwartzman is a thrillingly observant actor. I always feel he is revealing truths you won't learn anywhere else. Like an earthier version of the young Richard Dreyfus, he ruthlessly justifies every action of the -- mostly A-holes -- he plays. I think his best is yet to come.

Overall I am compelled to give 'Listen Up, Philip' a ten for its many successes, its gadzooks! casting, its general ambition, and for its deep respect for the audience. Alex Ross Perry is a keeper.
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One of the best and most interesting movies of 2014
SeanBatemanJr17 September 2015
Very ambitious movie with strong performances, very literary screenplay, unique mix of dark humor and drama.

The highlight for me was Ike Zimmerman played by Jonathan Pryce - he was a delight to watch, very darkly charming character, combining anger, narcissism and pettiness with kind of a misanthropic wisdom and genuine warmth toward a protagonist played by Jason Schwartzman.

I appreciated the way movie switched from character to character and changed tone, but honestly for me and most people I watched it with the Ashley section wasn't as interesting as parts with main protagonist and his older mentor. But I respected the fact movie wanted to try more then stick with dark comedy of Philip and Ike sections - and also all parts of the movie veer expertly shot and cut, had great music and were a pleasure to watch.
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Better Than I Thought it Would Be
Moviegoer1930 November 2014
About midway through watching this film, I wondered whether it had been written and/or directed by Woody Allen, mainly because of the narration. I found the narration, both use of it and its content, to be very similar to what Woody has done often. I enjoyed having a voice-over both narrating and analyzing the feelings and behaviors of the characters. As others have said, I felt the first half was more engaging, and also found Elizabeth Moss's performance to be excellent. I'm not sure why Jason Schwartzmann was chosen for the male lead, but I'm assuming it was intentional to have someone who looks somewhat like a werewolf and at the same time plays a character who is insufferably arrogant. The film was outstanding and original in the dynamics between the characters which for the most part were deep and complex. I found there were also some humorous moments. Overall I'd say see it especially if you enjoy watching films about people who spend a lot of time thinking.

There was one thing I found confusing and that was the time frame: at first I assumed it was the present, nothing to think otherwise. Then I noticed the phones, all house phones, all had wires attached to them. There were no cell phones, no computers. Writers used electric typewriters. Yet I saw nothing else to back up what looked like a pre- 90's or even 80's time frame.
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A double bill review with Queen of Earth
lasttimeisaw29 May 2016
Double bill time! US indie filmmaker Alex Ross Perry's two latest offerings, vary in their own strains, LISTEN UP PHILIP is a Woody Allen-esque drama-comedy and QUEEN OF EARTH probes into a more psycho-horror genre without resorting to cheap scare.

The former, stars Schwartzman as the titular Philip Lewis Friedman, an up-and-coming novelist is on the cusp of publishing his second novel, but finds himself in contradictions with everything in his life. Wearing a seasonally-inappropriate jacket, a metaphor of his failure of accustoming his ever-distending ego to the reality, Philip waywardly puts a damper on the relationship with his live- in girlfriend of two years, Ashley (Moss), an aspiring photographer, after he accepts an open-end invitation from a venerable writer Ike Zimmerman (Pryce), whom he vastly admires, to stay with him in the latter's country house under the pretext of rendering a finishing touch to his upcoming novel.

Cynical as me, an instantaneous question emerges, why Zimmerman wants to help Philip at the first place? Since what we have been imbued as far is that Philip is an objectionable egomaniac who may or may not have the potential to be a sterling writer, betrays his sexist stance and well- conceived jealousy as soon as he has the possibility to achieve something (Ashley has always been the breadwinner in their relationship). Cunningly the downside of Ike's seemingly comfy life bares itself, he needs Philip - not just as an impressionable young man to whom he can impart his wisdom, as much as Philip needs him, the tension between him and his daughter Melanie (Ritter), the writer's blocks and shrouding loneliness consume his strength, more pragmatically and pathetically he needs Philip to be his wing-man if he want to get laid with younger chicks. So, to answer my question, Ike sees himself in Philip, and Philip takes him as a role model, they share the same rotten DNAs. Great writers can inspire epiphany and confer wisdom to readers through their erudite thoughts and conception, one might think they (or at least the really estimable ones) would lead a sensible and judicious life, obviously Perry cannot second that.

Introduced by an obtrusively wordy voice-over (Bogosian), continues like a running commentary rambling on the characters' pickles with unapologetic-ally pseudo-intellectual eloquence; shot with hand-held immediacy and close-ups a gogo, LISTEN UP PHILIP is at its worst being too quirky and conceited in its high-brow affectations, while at its best retaining an honest take on a real-life jerk's ups-and-downs, significantly owing to a well-chosen cast, Schwartzman is in his wheelhouse to be mercilessly arrogant and self-centered, which otherwise, accentuates Moss' visceral and layered performance which gratifyingly holds the ground in the finale, and Pryce has been allotted with munificent screen-time to establish Ike as someone whose remorse is as vague as his smugness.

In QUEEN OF EARTH, Alex Ross Perry ventures into a more daring and unsettling territory, pairs Moss and Waterston as two life-long friends Catherine and Virginia, but intriguingly pivots around the mental deterioration of Catherine, who has not only recently loses her artist father (in suicide), not also in the opening sequences, breaks up with her longtime boyfriend James (Audley).

Immediately the camera takes us to a lake house retreat, which is owned by Virginia's uncle. Catherine is invited by Virginia to stay with her there, to recuperate from the nadir. Then flashbacks and cutaways shows that one year earlier, before Catherine losing those two important men in her life, she and James had also spent their vacation with Virginia in the same place, and the atmosphere was not all that pleasant, the two girls were bickering all the time, throwing snide at each other, do they suppose to be besties?

The tranquility doesn't quite work in favour of Catherine, who has no interest in swimming in the lake or jogging in the morning, as if she is struck by some strange lethargy, and the interaction between them is also not wholesome, constantly felt being watched by Virginia, Catherine tip-toes around when she is making phone-calls, their intimate conversations loses its momentum pretty quickly, although, nothing really happens, Catherine becomes increasingly watchful and retreats to herself, especially after the advent of Rich (Fugit), Virginia's man friend lives nearby, whom Catherine and James met also one years before.

Imposing a more static strategy of framing, this time, Perry collectedly deploys natural sound (humming, droning, whirring, rustling) and an unsettlingly ambient score from DeWitt as major players in the game, together they suffuse the narrative as a haunting and mythifying undertone, fittingly trace out Catherine's paranoia and slide. After the sly (if not entirely unnecessary) implications of a murder (with a discombobulating cameo from Keith Poulson) and body horror (the pain in the face could lead to an apposite nightmarish scenario when the bones beneath are struggling for emergence), Catherine consummates her meltdown by giving Rich a mind-blowing dressing-down and later a creepy surrender-pleading-seduction combo to further throw herself down to the mental dysfunctional abyss. Moss is unbelievably versatile and emotive here, chilling, disquieting and unforgiving and Waterston proves herself a dab hand of deception and subtlety in her passive-aggressive retribution.

That's when Perry cagily divulges the reason behind in the last snippet of flashback, if everything turns out to be a carefully planned revenge, could it justify the entire story? It's a tricky question, but one thing is for sure, QUEEN OF EARTH is a surprising oddity endeavors to fearlessly tap into the boundary and essential compositions of friendship between two (female) friends, and artfully construes its aftermath with a firm sleight-of-hand.
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