Director Alex Ross Perry, the guy behind new release Listen Up Philip, is an ardent cinephile. When
asked about the movies that inspired and influenced his latest film,
he obliged with this list of essential viewing. Prefer the printed word? He also gave us a list of five books he loves. Check out Perry's five picks (and one bonus film!) below. -- Jason Anderson
"Narratively, the film that I probably thought about the most when preparing to make Listen Up Philip, though I can’t say I ever thought of it when writing. It just sort of announced itself as the most relevant and admirable film about a miserable, horrible artist and the sadness and anger he inflicts upon the women who try to care about him. This film’s relationship with linear time is also fascinating and indecipherable. It is often unclear if a day, week or month passes in between scenes. A horrible, violent fight can cut to a day at the beach."
"Stylistically, this film is just everything I love and fetishize. I can’t not mention the anxious, erratic handheld cinematography, as it was something I very much studied with my DP Sean Price Williams. It is illogical, insane, and superlative the way the most simple scenes in this film are shot documentary-style, never resting and forcing the viewers to feel as manic and tense as the characters. Furthermore, the production design, clothes, lighting, basically everything that makes up cinema is as perfect as it gets here. I would have been seven when this movie came out, and it just looks the way the world first looked when I was aware of it. Perfect, perfect filmmaking without a sour note."
"This could just as easily be Faces, Love Streams or A Woman Under the Influence. There was a 35mm Cassavetes retrospective two months before we shot and I revisited every single one of them, and was so confident to just go for it as far as possible with aggressive close-ups and manic behaviour. There is an extended sequence in Listen Up Philip where Jonathan Pryce’s character brings two women to his home and has a party with them that, in addition to being my favourite scene in anything I have ever done, proved to me that in order to even approach the spirit of Cassavetes you need actors that can absolutely commit and go the distance. The sequence runs about eight minutes, and when I first watched it I thought, “I wonder what a whole movie with this style and energy would be like,” before realizing that said movie exists, and is Husbands."
"This film — like The Squid and the Whale, another film I love — is a sad, funny, brown-looking movie about divorce in New York. That sense of forced change as well as the muted, late-‘70s into early-‘80s look of the city, is something I am deeply attracted to and wanted to stylistically attempt while shooting a movie in 2013 with far fewer resources. I think the appearance and tone of Rich Kids is very simple and beautiful — [it's] not really a comedy but quite funny. Not a heavy drama but pretty sad throughout."
"I had never seen this but Jason [Schwartzman] felt it was appropriate, so we watched it together and I was quite blown away by it. Like every other film on this list, a desaturated, dark and muddy-looking film. It also spans many years, and does so somewhat flippantly. There is a close-up of Candice Bergen in this film that we directly copied for a shot of Elisabeth Moss. I describe Listen Up Philip as a movie about changing seasons and changing attitudes, and the same is certainly true for Carnal Knowledge."
"This film (which I revisited in the already-discussed Cassavetes retrospective) also takes place on location in New York and spans about the same amount of time as Listen Up Philip, approximately nine months (obviously). When watching it, I wondered how they did it, if they shot in the warmer months and dressed certain things for winter or the reverse. This is an interesting thing to think about when filming a story that takes place partially in summer and partially in winter."