Jason Schwartzman recaptures old glories in this smart New York indie, a witty takedown of literary egomaniacs
Riffing on his ‘Rushmore’ character Max Fischer, Jason Schwartzman plays an egotistical author in this subtly riotous New York comedy. He is Philip, who’s had a taste of critical success with his first novel, ‘Join the Street Parade’. With a second on the way, he’s ramping his attitude up to full-on asshole. ‘I hope this will be good for us,’ he tells his girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss) as they head to a retreat from the city – ‘but especially for me’.
‘Listen Up Philip’ takes off during this country-house section, as Philip’s mentor (Jonathan Pryce, doing a frosty riff on Philip Roth), urges him to lunge for the perks of an intellectual lifestyle. Compromises of money and collateral emotional damage take their toll, although the movie never quite punctures its hero’s dream.
This isn’t your usual indie breakthrough. Director Alex Ross Perry, whose previous features have a similar hermetic quality, has never been as confident as he is here, teasing out vulnerability and ridiculousness and avoiding cliches. It’s a movie that loves boldly ‘important’ 1970s-style dust jackets, loves its own lecturing voice (courtesy of neurotic narrator Eric Bogosian) and somehow makes that odd mixture appealing.
Cast and crew