Alex Ross Perry, whose films will be screened this weekend at the IU Cinema as part of the series “Alex Ross Perry: Willing to Risk Everything,” is a filmmaker like no other, said composer Keegan Dewitt.
“He’s got a very specific voice in terms of being a screenwriter and a director,” Dewitt said.
Dewitt began making music in film school. He later began collaborating with his peers for several films, including “Queen of Earth,” “Listen up Philip,” and “Golden Exits.”
The series began in late January with a screening of Perry’s film “Listen up Philip,” but will continue this Thursday and Friday with screenings of some of the director’s other works.
The series will even include an opportunity to see the filmmaker’s newest work, a drama entitled “Golden Exits,” which only began playing in U.S. theaters in limited release Feb. 9. This film will be screened at 7 p.m. Thursday evening.
Perry is scheduled to be present at all screenings.
At 3 p.m. Friday afternoon, the cinema will host a Q&A between Perry and local film blogger Nathaniel Sexton as part of its ongoing Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker series. The Q&A will be followed by screenings of “The Color Wheel” and “Queen of Earth” at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m., respectively.
Tickets to all screenings are $4.
Another attribute of Perry as a filmmaker is that he is more open to allowing the voices of the other creatives working on his films – editors, composers, cinematographers – to guide his vision, Dewitt said.
“Alex does a lot of his work in the script,” he said. “He doesn’t have this feeling of vulnerability that new music is suddenly going to betray the entire meaning of his film.”
He also said viewers can look forward to the diversity of Perry’s body of work.
“I think that across the different collaborations that I’ve had with Alex, with ‘Golden Exits’ and ‘Queen of Earth’ and ‘Listen up Philip,’ they’re all pretty substantially different,” Dewitt said.
Sexton also said he admired the generic variability of Perry’s films.
“Every time he’s made a film he’s tried to do something different,” Sexton said.
Sexton writes regularly for IU Cinema’s “A Place for Film” blog and said as a huge fan of Perry’s works, he’s immensely excited for people to get a chance to see some of his films not only in a theater, but with the filmmaker himself there.
“It’s kind of difficult to articulate exactly how valuable that can be,” he said.
To have a filmmaker like Perry present, Sexton said, is a rare treat. He added that the filmmaker is also charming and funny.
Sexton said his favorite Perry film is the director’s 2011 independent film “The Color Wheel.”
“I think I find it to be his most emotionally and intellectually challenging film, despite the fact that on its face it’s a total farce,” Sexton said. “That kind of disconnect between its generic underpinnings and its soaring emotional insights I think is really exciting.”
He also said he admired the director for his screenwriting aptitude and compelling formal choices.
“I like how well-written they are,” Sexton said. “They’re really verbose, there’s a kind of rapid language interplay with a lot of characters kind of riffing on one another that is reminiscent of an older Hollywood screwball comedy.”
Sexton likened Perry’s films to works of the past, citing the tenor of Woody Allen, without the uncomfortable connotations Allen’s name brings, and even a number of films to come out of the Sundance Film Festival in the ’90s. But he also said he admired the director’s willingness to experiment and to diverge from the past.
“I think what makes his films especially remarkable are the formal attention he brings to them,” Sexton said.
Though Perry is only five films into his career, Sexton predicted amazing things in the filmmaker’s future. He also said he hoped people in town would recognize the up-and-coming talent and take advantage of the opportunity to hear from the director.
“This is a really rare opportunity to see someone who could very well be in future decades written about in film textbooks as an important figure,” Sexton said.
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