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Listen Up Philip

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LISTEN UP PHILIP Elisabeth Moss
Tribeca Film

Listen Up Philip

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
Unrated
runtime:
108 minutes
Limited Release Date:
10/17/14
performer:
Elisabeth Moss, Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman
director:
Alex Ross Perry
genre:
Drama

We gave it a B+

I can’t think of anyone under 40 who plays arrogant, self-absorbed jerks more convincingly than Jason Schwartzman. I have no clue what the actor’s like in real life, but if he’s not a complete prick, he deserves an Oscar. In his latest showcase of lacerating misanthropy, Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip, Schwartzman is Philip Lewis Friedman, an insufferable and once-promising New York novelist whose new book is met with indifference. He’s like Rushmore‘s Max Fischer, only a little older, a little crueler, and a lot more jaded. After refusing to promote his novel on principle, Philip accepts an offer from one of his literary heroes (Jonathan Pryce, channeling Philip Roth) to move into the elder author’s upstate cabin to write. He leaves behind his long-suffering girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss, excellent) and heads north, but he’s just as miserable there. Especially when his dwindling finances force him to take a gig halfheartedly teaching creative writing at a local college. As uncomfortably funny as the film is, it isn’t really a comedy. It’s a character study of an unlikable narcissist whose obliviousness to other people’s feelings happens to be hilarious. I could have done with less of Perry’s jittery handheld camera and fewer storytelling devices borrowed from his betters (Eric Bogosian’s deadpan narrator will be familiar to fans of Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums). But at least he’s picked the perfect leading man to give his savage tale some snarky, smart-ass bite. B+

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