Disgruntled and Disillusioned: Listen Up Philip

Upon consulting Alex Ross Perry, writer and director of “Listen Up Philip”, I immediately sighed, “oh that guy!”. He also wrote and directed “Color Wheel” which if you’ve never seen that film, rent it and buckle up, surely you’ll say, “Never saw that before!” Then again, if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, maybe you have. Anyway, Listen Up Philip is in the same out there mumble core genre, rough, somewhat disillusioned and certainly not possessing an ending wrapped and tied up with a pretty bow.

It stars Jason Schwartzman as you’ve never seen him before, not your bouncy insightful JS, but a grouchy, narcissistic guy. The trailer was pretty deceiving alluding to another Peter Pan guy tale who sleeps around on his girlfriend type…but that’s not quite the situation.

People who live alone will relate to this flick. For as much as I enjoy aspects of living alone (and No, please don’t picture an unshowered woman with many cats, I shower-JK! I don’t own cats AND I bathe daily:); there are aspects of despondency in my monthly solo journey. Fortunately my reading, writing and film life keep me buoyant, as well as the numbing fatigue after teaching middle schoolers all day as does …well…privacy, my dears.

Elisabeth Moss does a nice job as JS’s supposed girlfriend, but am I wrong in that if you haven’t seen or heard from a guy in more than a month that you no longer consider the person a love interest, unless they’re in the French Foreign Legion without a cell phone.

Jonathan Pryce does an excellent job as JS’s curmudgeonly mentor and I may end up paying to get a set of lips like his onscreen daughter Krysten Ritter.

So a rich New England chowder type soup of a film, definitely worth a watch via Netflix.

While We’re Young; a six cheek pincher

Noah Baumbach’s writing and directorial oeuvre is impressive. If you’ve never seen Greenberg, The Squid in the Whale, or Frances Ha, get thee to a Netflix account pronto…or go to the theater and see his latest “While We’re Young” which is of a similar stature.

Every main character was believable (Watts, Stiller, Seyfried, Driver) and ever since the Walter Mitty debacle, I cheer for roles that highlight Ben Stiller’s talent. So cheek pinches for Baumbach and Stiller. Also gentle cheek pinches for Charles Grodin who looks particularly frail in age, albeit hearty in girth. Who didn’t love Grodin in his films ‘back in the day’, Midnight Run and The Heartbreak Kid just to name a few. And even now, he’s phenomenal as Louis CK’s curmudgeonly doctor.

And to show gender neutrality, Naomi Watts, who annoyed me as the Russian prostitute in St. Vincent, and often seems haughty in her roles, allows herself to show true vulnerability in this film.

What’s even better is there’s actually a thought provoking plot about the poetic license documentations sometimes take to show the ‘truth’ of real life. Yet another pensive topic is the idea of marriage, and of the work it takes to ensure things stay fresh. Stiller’s talent is he can make us laugh as his doofy exploits and still root for him in his occasional ‘boy who cried wolf’ indignation.

Charles Grodin

And while I still attempt to master Mail chimp in have a subscription link show up on the page, I can add you to a subscription list if you care to comment….pretty please with sugar on top?

Happy Christmas Justified

Looking out my window in Upstate New York this morning, my car window was covered with snow. I lost the opportunity, though contemplated it, of writing in the snow: Spring break ends?

Hence, I was justified in watching Joe Swanberg’s “Happy Christmas” who I found out about via Marc Maron’s podcast. While I enjoyed hearing Swanberg talk, and while I was mildly entertained by the film, I can’t recommend it. The conflict was just too flimsy and never came to a head. Akin to the first game of the Final Four game last night, just wayward and sloppy (Duke and Michigan) instead of taut and exciting (Wisconsin and Kentucky).

In need of keeping it positive (it’s Sunday before work, come on!), here’s what I did like:
Melanie Lynskey is more than a one trick pony (aka the nut job on Two and a Half Men) and who knew she hid her New Zealand accent for all those years!
Anna Kendrick is a real actress in spite of the fact that she annoys me occasionally.
Lena Dunham is always fun to watch.
Both male leads were very credible: Joe Swanberg, Mark Webber.
The movie ended realistically with….oops, no spoilers. Now you have to watch it:)

Two and a Half