Listen Up Philip

Sundance 2014

Seems like just twelve days ago that Kate Erbland and I posted a list of our most anticipated films playing at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Our choices were based on elements as diverse as cast, premise, the filmmaker’s previous work, and even the two-word concept of an “abortion comedy.” As is always the case, though, expectations are never fully met, and while some movies we expected to love ended up disappointing us others that weren’t even on our radar completely blew us away. That, in a lanyard-wearing nutshell, is the beauty of film festivals. Unlike movies that open at your local cineplex or release onto Blu-ray and DVD each week, the majority of festival titles are unknown entities. There are no trailers or other marketing materials for these films, and the talent involved are often barely familiar faces at best. Most of the screenings are complete crapshoots, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This year’s Sundance was one of the most rewarding film festivals I’ve attended in regard to quality, and it’s evident in the high number of films already picked up for distribution. It’s telling that I had to exclude great and/or highly entertaining movies like Dear White People, Cooties, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, and The Battered Bastards of Baseball to narrow down my list below. Keep reading to see Kate’s and my top fourteen films of Sundance 2014.

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Moss-Schwartzman

Writer/director Alex Ross Perry’s most recent film, The Color Wheel, was a pretty challenging story to ask audiences to get behind, what with its protagonists who were near crippled with neuroses and narcissism, not to mention its incestual undertones—but it was nonetheless interesting and well-made enough to earn largely positive reviews. And it must have turned some heads in Hollywood too, because now Perry is slated to be back with another film, and one that’s set to include a couple of name actors in its cast, to boot. The story comes from The Wrap, who report that the same producing team who wowed Sundance this year with Ain’t Them Bodies Saints are helping Perry to once again get behind the camera and bring one of his scripts to life. This time around he’s written a character drama called Listen Up Philip, and according to the report, it’s a New York-set film that’s going to star Jason Schwartzman as the title character, Philip, a newly accomplished writer whose poor life decisions have often hurt those around him—most particularly his art photographer girlfriend, Ashley, who’s going to be played by Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss.

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