When it comes down to it, spending time with genuine douche bags is rarely time well spent which leads me to the weird position of having watched a great film that I didn’t enjoy.
Listen Up Philip is beautifully filmed on 16mm, superbly scripted and the acting is universally perfect. The problem is that both Philip, played by Jason Schwartzman, and his mentor Ike, Jonathan Pryce, are such completely terrible people that time in their company is painful. And not in a Larry ‘this is what the world would be like if we didn’t censor ourselves’ David way because these guys are so cynical and misanthropic that their company is suffocating.
They are unbearable and so is this well crafted, insightful and at times funny film.
Did I mention that Elizabeth Moss is in this? Well she is, and she is as brilliant as ever.
Okay, so it’s Hammer and we are firmly in British horror territory here as a professor and some students go to an old house and delve into the world of parapsychology and, if you can get past a couple of bits of silliness (mainly an ‘experiment’ seemingly so cruel at the start that I don’t believe the central character would join it in the first place) , it’s a decent watch even if a bit derivative, but it’s genre so that’s half the fun.
The gimmick in this tale is a theory that paranormal activity is an extension of mental illness and the always great Jared Harris brings just the right amount of gravitas to the Professor role (you know, well-meaning but too invested etc) to keep the film going, whilst Sam Claflin’s curiously muted lead, a character that stands to the side of the action, makes a nice change of pace.
The use of 8mm and 16mm flavoured excepts help keep things interesting even if it does make you hanker for the atmosphere that shooting the whole thing on stock would have produced.