Title: Listen Up Philip

Tribeca Film

Reviewed for CompuServe ShowBiz by Tami Smith. Data-based on Rotten Tomatoes

Grade:  B

Director: Alex Ross Perry

Screenplay: Alex Ross Perry

Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Jonathan Pryce, Elisabeth Moss, Krysten Ritter, Josephine de La Baume, Eric Bogosian

Release Date: October 17, 2014

Philip, a New Yorker in his early thirties, is a man most of us would love to hate. He is short tempered, can’t stand people who are tardy and on most occasions will get away with telling people what’s on his mind. When a young woman in a party inquires: “Do you know where the trash is?” Philip blurts: “You are looking at it”. When one of his students asks: “Are you even qualified to teach?” Philip answers: “I don’t teach, I instruct”. Philip is a successful author who is about to see his second novel published. He now feels qualified and tell his photographer how to take his picture and informs his editor that he will not be doing any book tours to promote the novel. Philip does not appreciate his girlfriend Ashley very much, thus when opportunity strikes he accepts an invitation from an older writer, Ike, to stay in his country home in upstate New York. Ike is so impressed with Philip that he recommends him for a teaching position in a nearby college.

Listen Up Philip is a story about a guy with sense of entitlement, told by a narrator (Eric Bogosian) in a straight-forward manner. Jason Schwartzman plays Philip as a guy with chutzpa who is a literary success but a failure in personal relationships. This situation reaches a climax when Philip, now a college instructor, would not talk to his students outside his office, while admitting to one of them that he never read her term paper.

His suffering girlfriend Ashley is played by Elisabeth Moss, first as a loyal partner and then as an independent photographer, who just had enough of this self-centered author. Jonathan Pryce plays Ike Zimmerman with a special aplomb and it does not take us long that intuit that older Ike is Philip, forty years later.

As directed by Alex Ross Perry this film is character-driven, a fact which is over-emphasized by repeat head shots of all characters involved. Shaky hand-held camera photography, directed by Sean Price Williams, is laborious to exhaustion, while Brooklyn, Manhattan, Nyack, New Rochelle and Philadelphia look inviting in autumn colors. The entire production has a low audio sound to a point where some of characters sound muffled.

Listen Up Philip is a literary work for the indie crowd, a film that played at film festivals in 2014 at Sundance, Locarno, and New York.

Story – B+

Unrated. 108 minutes.  © 2014 by Tami Smith, Guest Reviewer


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By Harvey Karten

Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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