Jason Schwartzman to play Philip Roth in upcoming movie - almost

Listen Up Philip concernes a self-involved Jewish writer, named Philip, who visits an older Jewish writer, named Ike Zimmerman, at his secluded country home.

You've read the canon, read the Roth Pierpont, read all the pieces about the Roth Pierpont (which, it should be remembered, isn't even a biography in the traditional sense - that is being worked on by Blake Bailey, and is due, sometime around 2022), seen the schmaltzy PBS documentary and untangled his great Paris Review interview. What next for the Philip Roth fanatic? Watch the movie, of course.

Listen Up Philip, a super-16mm project by Alex Ross Perry starring Jason Schwartzman, Krysten Ritter, Josephine de La Baume and Elizabeth Moss, premiered at the Sundance film festival on Monday 20 January. It concernes a self-involved Jewish writer, named Philip, who visits an older Jewish writer, Ike Zimmerman, at his secluded country home. The film also features a slew of women both admiring and aggreived, along with a Franco-esque (why not?) celebrity bromance.

The writer's name is Philip Lewis Friedman - not Philip Milton Roth - but the outline, if not the details, suggest the presence of the big macher. The same with the swinging vintage typology used, ala Wes Anderson, to introduce the film's cast:

Here are the production notes from the Sundance programme:

Anger rages in Philip as he awaits the publication of his second novel. He feels pushed out of his adopted home city by the constant crowds and noise, a deteriorating relationship with his photographer girlfriend Ashley, and his own indifference to promoting the novel. When Philip's idol Ike Zimmerman offers his isolated summer home as a refuge, he finally gets the peace and quiet to focus on his favorite subject: himself.

There is, as yet, no release date attached to the film.

Jason Schwartzman is Philip Lewis Friedman.

Philip Maughan is Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

Kyle Seeley
Show Hide image

For emotional value, Emily is Away – a nostalgic instant messaging game – is this year’s best release

If you want to express your lingering teenage angst, there’s no better option.

Every now and then, a game is released that goes beyond what it may look or sound like. It goes straight to the pit of your insides where you thought you had no soul left, and jolts you back to life. Or at least it attempts to. This year, it's Emily is Away.

Firstly, anyone and everyone can virtually play this thing as it’s a crude Windows XP simulator displaying an AIM/MSN messenger client and can run on the PC equivalent of a potato. And it's free. It’s a short game, taking about 30 minutes, in which you play a person chatting away to your friend called Emily (who could be more), choosing from a set list of pre-selected instant messages.

Each chapter takes place in a different year, starting in 2002 and ending in 2006.

You’re instantly smacked with nostalgia thanks to the user screen of Windows XP and a fuzzed out background of Bliss, which was the default wallpaper in the operating system, and probably the most widely seen photo in the world. And your ears aren’t abandoned either, with the upbeat pinging sounds reminiscent of how you used to natter away with your personal favourite into the early hours.

The first chapter starts with you and Emily reaching the end of your last year in high school, talking about plans for the evening, but also the future, such as what you’ll be studying at university. From this early point, the seeds of the future are already being sewn.

For example, Emily mentions how Brad is annoying her in another window on her computer, but you’re both too occupied about agreeing to go to a party that night. The following year, you learn that Brad is now in fact her boyfriend, because he decided to share how he felt about Emily while you were too shy and keeping your feelings hidden.

What’s so excellent about the game is that it can be whatever you wish. Retro games used the lack of visual detail to their advantage, allowing the players to fill in the blanks. The yearly gaps in this game do exactly the same job, making you long to go back in time, even if you haven't yet reached the age of 20 in the game.

Or it lets you forget about it entirely and move on, not knowing exactly what had happened with you and Emily as your brain starts to create the familiar fog of a faded memory.

Despite having the choice to respond to Emily’s IMs in three different ways each time, your digital self tries to sweeten the messages with emoticons, but they’re always automatically deleted, the same way bad spelling is corrected in the game too. We all know that to truly to take the risk and try and move a friendship to another level, emoticons are the digital equivalent to cheesy real-life gestures, and essential to trying to win someone’s heart.

Before you know it, your emotions are heavily invested in the game and you’re always left wondering what Emily wanted to say when the game shows that she’s deleting as well as typing in the messenger. You end up not even caring that she likes Coldplay and Muse – passions reflected in her profile picture and use of their lyrics. She also likes Snow Patrol. How much can you tolerate Chasing Cars, really?

The user reviews on Steam are very positive, despite many complaining you end up being “friend-zoned” by Emily, and one review simply calling it “Rejection Simulator 2015”.

I tried so hard from all of the options to create the perfect Em & Em. But whatever you decide, Emily will always give you the #feels, and you’ll constantly end up thinking about what else you could have done.