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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Listen Up Philip [Blu-ray]


(Alex Ross Perry, 2014)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Washington Square Films

Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #119



Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:49:02.000

Disc Size: 47,947,316,133 bytes

Feature Size: 33,989,709,888 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Chapters: 11

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: July 27th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit



English (SDH), none



• Audio commentary with Director Alex Ross Perry
Half-Price - a conversation between Alex Ross Perry and Sean Price Williams (1:03:37)

• The Making of Listen Up Philip / Behind the Scenes (12:13)

• An Interview with Teddy Blanks (7:20)

Jason + Sean vs. the Police (1:43)

• Deleted Scenes (7:02)

• Trailer (1:57)

44-page full color booklet featuring a director’s statement; all the Ike Zimmerman book jacket covers seen in the film, accompanied for the first time by the books’ respective synopses written by Perry and Blanks; and behind-the-scenes imagery

DVD included





Description: Combining intellectual ambition with a singular comic sensibility, the third feature film by writer-director Alex Ross Perry marked a defining moment for the American independent cinema of the 2010s. As with his previous features Impolex and The Color Wheel, the blackly hilarious Listen Up Philip is distinguished as much by its literary pedigree as by its fine attunement to atmosphere, sense of place, and, enabled by the camerawork of Sean Price Williams, the texture of the image.

Jason Schwartzman, in one of his most accomplished roles since such Wes Anderson collaborations as Rushmore and The Darjeeling Limited, achieves the height of comic verbal violence as the novelist Philip Lewis Friedman who, having received his first taste of literary acclaim, embarks upon the publicity campaign for his soon-to-be-published second novel, Obidant. The attention of his literary hero Ike Zimmerman (played by the first-rate Jonathan Pryce), a major novelist some decades his elder, leads to an open invitation to abscond from Brooklyn and work from Zimmerman's small-town home upstate. And so the stage is set for all-out warfare between Philip's seemingly irrepressible ego and the emotionality of his talented photographer girlfriend Ashley who, in a brilliant performance by Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss, exhibits the kind of dynamism that could dull Philip's edge for good.

Put into relief by a cast including Krysten Ritter, Joséphine de La Baume, Keith Poulson, Kate Lyn Sheil, and Bree Hemingway, Schwartzman-as-Friedman embodies what must be one of the most charmingly loathsome or most diabolically winning personalities in recent films. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Listen Up Philip, the picture Manohla Dargis of The New York Times called ''a masterwork about what it is to live for love and not just the self,'' in its UK debut on Blu-ray and DVD in a Dual Format edition.



The Film:

Jason Schwartzman stars as Philip Louis Friedman, a pugnacious New York author in his early thirties who, months before the publication of his second novel, “abruptly became confidently disenfranchised to the point of despondency.” That analysis comes by way of voice-over — a sort of running commentary by an omniscient, unseen narrator, voiced by Eric Bogosian, which has the density and vigor of literary prose. Like Nathan Zuckerman, Philip has an idol: Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), legendary man of letters, whose illustrious career as a novelist Perry portrays, quite wonderfully, in a montage of mocked-up book covers in the popular styles of the ’70s and ’80s.

Excerpt from The National Post located HERE

A triumph of composition and organization, Alex Ross Perry’s third feature, Listen Up Philip, tracks three creative types—a novelist, a commercial photographer, and an aging literary icon—across three seasons spent in, around, and as far away as possible from New York. In lieu of a hip, urgent now, Perry constructs the movie in a novelistic past tense, employing a third-person narrator and a very cool jazz quintet score to wrap everything together. He also uses endpoints—of romances, creative phases, and friendships—as starting points, which gives Listen Up Philip the structure of an extended epilogue.

It’s a movie of aftermaths—yet it crackles with a sense of immediacy, the handheld camera pushing its way into tight emotional spaces, framing the actors in revealing and unflattering close-up. Aside from James Gray’s The Immigrant, no other movie released this year has a richer relationship with its characters. It’s generous, but completely unsentimental. Its world is a present day composed of carryovers from decades past, captured on a grainy 16mm stock that has all the textural qualities of Arches paper, with every diffuse light source rendered as a watercolor stain.

Excerpt fromThe Onion located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Listen Up Philip, a bit of a technical hybrid, if I am right - it was shot in HD but printed in 16mm (Super16) and has made its way to Blu-ray from The Masters of Cinema group in the UK. Hence, it is very grainy with very kinetic, hand-held, camera movement. This is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. It is neither glossy nor tight but shows some impressive detail in the film's many close-ups. It is in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. We can assume the rough textured appearance is entirely accurate. This Blu-ray offers a consistent, and presumably authentic, 1080P presentation.





















Audio :

The audio is transferred via a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 2304 kbps. It is almost an exclusively dialogue-driven film - but at the mercy of the Indie production format. Keegan DeWitt includes a supportive, sparsely used, score. It all sounds decent - matching the image in being less remarkable. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.



Extras :

There is a lot of supplemental material on the Blu-ray - we get an audio commentary from director/writer Alex Ross Perry filling in many production-related details and explaining what the film was striving for as well as some anecdotes regarding the performers. he seems likeable and it is an easy listen. Half-Price is an over 1-hour conversation between Alex Ross Perry and Sean Price Williams - it is amusing and relates directly to the film process. The Making of Listen Up Philip is also described as a Behind the Scenes with some B-roll footage - it runs about a dozen minutes. There is an interview with Teddy Blanks, credited on the film as the 'title designer'. It runs just over 7-minutes. Jason + Sean vs. the Police is a short recorded run-in with the cops. There are 7-minutes of Deleted Scenes and a trailer. The package has a 44-page full color booklet featuring a director’s statement; all the Ike Zimmerman book jacket covers seen in the film, accompanied for the first time by the books’ respective synopses written by Perry and Blanks; and behind-the-scenes imagery. The Dual Format package includes a Second disc DVD.



I am kind of on-the-fence about Listen Up Philip. I enjoy Schwartzman's comedy, loved the Bogosian narration and like the literary backdrop. But, I suspect I need to see it again after letting it digest for a while. The commentary added to my appreciation and I think it was a decent choice for MoC to release on Blu-ray. It recently had some theatrical showings and this BD release will only help exposure. I'd be keen to see more from Alex Ross Perry in the future. There are some interesting themes here. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

July 21st, 2015



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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