One of the most buzzed-about films at Sundance last week was Alex Ross Perry’s latest, “Listen Up Philip,” starring Jason Schwartzman as a misanthropic novelist without a filter in what’s being called “his best role since 'Rushmore' " (read our A-grade review here).The stellar cast is rounded out by Elisabeth Moss as Philip’s long-suffering girlfriend, Jonathan Pryce as his egotist-author role model (based, most likely, on Philip Roth), and a string of past and potential paramours (Dree Hemingway, Joséphine de La Baume, Kate Lyn Sheil). Even the peripheral acting by Krysten Ritter and Jess Weixler is first-rate, allowing Perry’s work to shine like it never has before.
Perry’s writing here is on fire too, with Schwartzman often delivering I-can’t-believe-he-said-that lines with a visceral and hilarious punch. (The story is moved along by Woody Allen-esque narration by dry wit Eric Bogosian.) At the same time, Pryce and Moss’s characters are given substantial screen time, allowing the audience to see both the (somewhat?) cause and effects, respectively, of Philip’s unhinged bile. Visually, audiences will recognize cinematographer Sean Price Williams and Perry ’shomage to the style, music and color palette of classic films by master directors, including John Cassavetes, Woody Allen and Wes Anderson, to name just a few.
We were lucky enough to connect with the quick-witted Perry and deadpan Schwartzman this week at Sundance, where we discussed the script’s inspiration, the actor’s glee at playing such a hateful person, and why Paul Schrader is “a king.” Interview below.