Alex Ross Perry

Impolex (2009)
7.0 The Color Wheel (2011)
7.0 Listen Up Philip (2014)
6.9 Queen of Earth (2015)
7.0 Golden Exits (2017)
7.1 Her Smell (2018)

Alex Ross Perry (USA, 1984) debuted with Impolex (2009), inspired by Thomas Pynchon's novel "Gravity's Rainbow".

screwball comedy The Color Wheel (2011)

Listen Up Philip (2014) is the psychological portrait of a dysfunctional creative mind, vaguely related to Philip Roth's "The Ghost Writer". The narrating voiceover is verbose, hysterically fast (like a record played at double speed) and so literate to sound like a scriptwriter reading vainly his script at the mirror.

Philip meets his ex-girlfriend Mona and vents his frustration that she never believed in him. But now he is a published writer and he talks to her in rude terms. He then meets an old friend, who is now relegated to a wheelchair, and treats him equally rudely. Philip lives with his photographer girlfriend Ashley, who tolerates his rude manners. He tells her that a famous writer, Ike, loved his second book that is just being published. A shy employee of his literary agent tells him that she likes it too and he has a date with her but barely kisses her, treating her like a groupie. He tells his agent that he doesn't want to do any publicity for his book. In the agent's office he meets another writer, Josh, and he is offered the chance to write an article about him. But at home Philip realizes that Josh and Ashley have met before and possibly slept together so he makes sure to ruin the opportunity to work with him. Ike invites Philip to his country house. He tells him that a girl named Melanie looks after the place. Philip accepts, another instance of him neglecting Ashley. When he arrives, he finds out that Melanie is Ike's daughter. Melanie is hostile to Philip as much as she is to her father. Ike throws a party for Philip where everybody is nice to Philip and he gets annoyed by it. Philip calls Mona and sees her again. Again, the main purpose seems to be to insult her. She retorts that he is selfish. Philip later talks about Mona to Melanie. Then he suddenly walks back into Ashley's home in the middle of a celebration for Ashley's new contract. He spoils the party and she reminds him in vain that she supported him when he was nobody. Now she hates him. He even owes her money. Luckily for her, he has accepted a job offered to him indirectly by Ike to teach at a college. At a dance club she meets a stranger but then she can't have sex with him. She adopts a cat which becomes her main companion as she moves in with an old housemate in the house where she used to live with Philip. She gets rid of all the memories of Philip and even has dinner with an ex-boyfriend. Meanwhile, Philip has moved to the college. He gets tired quickly but Ashley doesn't want him back. He drives to Ike's countryside home and finds only Melanie and then leaves right away. He misses Ike, who is bored, constantly at war with his daughter, and incapable of writing anymore. Ike and his old friend Norm pick up two girls at a dance club and bring them home. Ike then phones Philip and asks him to join them, which he does. Ike is basically gifting the girls to the younger Philip. Their little party is interrupted by Melanie who spoils the party. They read in the newspaper that Josh has killed himself. Melanie has another fight with her father and leaves in tears. Ike is condemned to loneliness after having hurt and insulted everybody, and only desires the company of Philip. Philip is lonely too at the college, mainly because another teacher, Yvette, has destroyed his reputation out of envy, and isolated him. But now she has second thoughts and they even become lovers. Philip is rude with the students and clearly incompetent as a teacher. Philip is no less insensitive towards Yvette. He justifies himself by telling her that his parents died in a car accident and he was raised by his uncle. Philip writes letters to Ashley but she doesn't even read them. He doesn't care for Yvette and Ike himself advises him to go back to Ashley. Philip tries but Ashley doesn't even open the front door. Ashley is content with her new life. The narrator tells us that Philip will go back to teaching at the college several times while becoming a rich writer, but hopelessy lonely (just like Ike).

Queen of Earth (2015)

Golden Exits (2017)

Her Smell (2018) is a portrait of a delusional star, a less tragic version of Sunset Boulevard.

Three girls (Ali, Mari and Becky) celebrate that their all-girl band got the cover of an influential music magazine. This is shown as a home video. The film proper begins with the band on stage and we see that Becky is the lead singer and the band is called Something She. After the concert, Becky kisses her little baby and is angry to hear that her ex-husband Danny hangs out with his new girlfriend Tiffany while taking care of the baby. Becky then calls Ya-ema, a man whose real name is Alvin but who plays shaman. Becky hands Ya-ema a photo of Tiffany, desiring to make sure of her "purity" before she allows Tiffany to hang around her baby. The shaman's prophecy is that the baby will cause Becky's downfall. Becky's first reaction is to try and kill the baby but then she soon turns playful again. Danny learns that the band's European tour has been canceled and that their new record will only be an EP: the band is clearly on a downward trajectory. Their manager Howard brings Zelda, a successful musician whom Becky hates, who offers the band the chance to open for her own tour. Becky insults Zelda and refuses. Delirious, she grabs the child and walks away but soon collapses to the floor and injures herself. Another old home video interrupts the story, showing the girls again celebrating another milestone in their career. The story resumes some time after the incident. The band is recording the new album, but it's an absolute disaster. Howard comes to check on them. They are using a studio that he needs for another band. They have produced nothing of value in nine months. He has mortgaged his home and has debts because of Becky's inability to finish a decent record. His only hope is the record of the new band that is waiting to use the studio when Becky leaves. Ali, fed up, quits the band. Mari sniffs cocaine to calm down. The other band is waiting for Becky to leave the studio so they can start. Everybody is embarrassed that Becky keeps playing songs even if nobody cares anymore. When Becky sees that the other band, three younger and shy girls, is waiting for her to leave the studio, Becky thinks of recruiting their drummer to replace Ali, further complicating Howard's life. Mari, disgusted, quits just like Ali. Becky, undeterred, wants to be the leader of the young band. The three young girls walk out and Becky remains alone in the studio, still singing her songs. The story is interrupted again by a home video of the past, that shows Becky, Ali and Mari at the beginning of their career. The story resumes in a club where Danny and Becky's love are looking for Becky who is supposed to perform. She is 40 minutes late. Her mom remarks that Becky used to fill arenas and now she's an opening act in a small club for a band of proteges. The club is packed by fans of the younger band, called Akergirls, and Akergirls are doing the largely forgotten Becky a favor by letting her be the opening act. We hear that Becky is being sued for all the contracts that she breached. Howard is furious. He lost a home because of Becky. Becky shows up two hours late, delirious as usual, and mocks all the staff and friends who are anxious about the mess she has created. She has hired a film crew to film her and is followed by her shaman. The crowd outside is getting angry. Her mother tries to hand her some papers from her deadbeat father but Becky doesn't want to forgive her father. Her mother leaves accusing Becky of being as selfish as her father. The film crew is filming everything and the shaman keeps whispering behind her. A rambling Becky injures herself but then walks on stage to the chanting audience. Instead of singing Becky gives a weird speech. The crowd goes silent. Then Becky falls off stage, still followed by the film crew. Howard pulls the curtain as bouncers carry Beck away. The story is interrupted again by a home video of the past, showing Becky and Danny when they had the baby. The story resumes with an older Becky living alone in a nice apartment. Years have gone by. Her daughter Tama is no longer a baby. Danny shows up with Tama and Mari. Becky tells Danny that she just had a dream that explains her past behavior. Becky is facing many lawsuits from promoters, Howard and even Danny (child support). She is broke. Both Becky and Mari sobered up but Becky still sounds insane, although a calmer version of insanity. Mari tells Becky that the Akergirls have become stars and Ali is married. Becky asks if anybody is curious about what happened her. Becky still believes in the prophecies of Ya-ema, in particular that her daughter is the cause of her downfall. After another brief home video of the past, we see Becky, Mari and Ali preparing backstage for a reunion concert of Something She, organized by Howard at a special event of all of his bands. Becky meets again after some years Zenda, the Akergirls and other fellow musicians of the past. They all show support for her. Danny and his now wife Tiffany are there. Becky's mother and Becky's daughter are there. Becky is nervous like a debutant. Before going on stage, she apologizes to her mother for the pain she caused her. Then she walks on stage with Mari and Ali to perform one song and calls Zelda and the Akergirls to join them. The crowd loves it and asks for an encore, but Becky declares that it's over and hugs her daughter.
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