“Listen Up Philip” at the Locarno International Film Festival
A discussion with writer/director Alex Ross Perry, stars Jason Schwartzman and Jonathan Pryce, and cinematographer Sean Price Williams was held on 12 August 2014. In the Concorso internazionale at the Locarno International Film Festival, “Listen Up Philip“ was also in competition for the Pardo d’oro prize, the Golden Leopard. The film won the Concorso internazionale Special Jury Prize. On 13 August, it was announced that it will also screen in the New York Film Festival.
“Listen Up Philip” – the story
Philip awaits the publication of his sure-to-succeed second novel. He feels pushed out of his adopted home city by the constant crowds and noise, a deteriorating relationship with his photographer girlfriend Ashley, and his own indifference to promoting the novel. When Philip’s idol, Ike Zimmerman, offers his isolated summer home as a refuge, he finally gets the peace and quiet to focus on his favorite subject: himself.
I ask Alex Ross Perry about his decision to use extensive narration voiced by Eric Bogosian
The narration is a gimmick. We talked about Husbands and Wives pseudo-documentary style and I think a film can have a gimmick like that. It’s an interesting way to provide twice the amount of information. It’s not cheating, for example, to tell how long the characters have known each other, and to see how to give background information about the characters. I thought since it was a film about writers this was the film to do it. I think good writing is letting the situation play out naturally.
On Jonathan Pryce’s character Ike Zimmerman
Pryce: Ike Zimmerman — he’s everything I want to be. He’s my fantasy world of someone who is nasty to people all the time. I like that he’s a cynic. I enjoyed playing a character who had no filter.
On Jason Schwartzman on his character Philip
Schwartzman: I didn’t see Philip as mean and there is something nice about saying what’s on your mind and it was one of the greatest experiences for that reason. On one hand they (Ike Zimmerman and Philip) speak their mind and they like to be around each other and on the other hand they don’t.
Why cast Jason Schwartzman as Philip?
Ross Perry: He was far and away the best person for the part. Everyone asked if I wrote this for him. I didn’t. I wish I had.
Schwartzman : We spent a month together in New York before the shoot, and we wrote every scene of the movie on notecards.