Steven Spielberg has been making headlines recently with his disdain for Netflix and what he sees as their disrespect for the theatrical experience. But his opinion isn’t shared by everyone in the business. Paul Schrader, the writer and director of First Reformed (and many other films), understands that there’s nothing wrong with the changing landscape of movie watching. At the same time, the director is also happy that Netflix didn’t buy First Reformed. He also has come up with a good solution to the whole matter.
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The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.
In this edition, go behind the scenes of the production design for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. Plus, watch The Hollywood Reporter’s writers roundtable with John Krasinski (A Quiet Place), Tamara Jenkins (Private Life), Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade) and more, and watch the trailer for the timely and relevant White Savior: The Movie. Read More »
When last we spoke of Paul Schrader‘s next film, Nine Men from Now, Schrader was hoping that his First Reformed star Ethan Hawke would star alongside Willem Dafoe. Now, Schrader has an update. The film is still happening, but sadly, Hawke is out. But Schrader does have a fun new description of the film: a Western that plays out as if Terrence Malick and David Lynch came in and took a shit on the script. Who wouldn’t want to see that?
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Paul Schrader has never gone away, but his career is encountering a sudden upswing thanks to his acclaimed 2018 film First Reformed. So what’s next for Schrader? According to the man himself, he wants to make a Western called Nine Men from Now, and he hopes Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe will star. Those details alone are enough to pique my interest.
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Perhaps desperate to slow down any Oscar momentum surrounding First Reformed, Paul Schrader has decided to complain about movie audiences, and then say some really dumb stuff about Kevin Spacey. The writer and filmmaker first sat down to an interview to bemoan the sad state of unserious movie-goers. Later, he hopped onto his Facebook page to reveal he really wants to make a movie with Kevin Spacey, despite the allegations of sexual misconduct against the actor. Needless to say, this has raised a few eyebrows.
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You only need to take a glance at First Reformed director Paul Schrader’s extensive filmography to know that he’s a risk taker. Not just because of the subjects he choses or the approach he takes, but also in method. He’s worked in the studio system with big budgets, but he has also self-financed his work through Kickstarter. Schrader’s work bristles with themes of obsession and loneliness. Every film feels like an opportunity to explore those themes in a different context. What’s loneliness when you’re a drug dealer? A gigolo? A gay playwright? Schrader is one of those artists who, after 50 years, still feels like he’s in his prime.
He was in Montreal for a retrospective of his work at the Festival of New Cinema. We talked in a hotel cafe in Old Montreal. Here is our conversation.
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Paul Schrader began his career in the movies as a film critic, but it wasn’t long before his Calvinist upbringing and his love of contemplative films from the likes of Yasujirô Ozu, Robert Bresson, and Carl Theodor Dreyer brought him to begin working as a screenwriter, mostly telling stories, mostly about lonely men in spiritual or emotional crisis. He became one of the most important writers of the 1970s and 1980s, with such works as Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Last Temptation of Christ; Brian DePalma’s Obsession, and Peter Weir’s The Mosquito Coast, as well as a string of films he directed himself, including Blue Collar, Hardcore, American Gigolo, Cat People, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, and Light of Day.
His string of compelling work as writer and/or director continues until today, with such works as Affliction, Auto Focus, Light Sleeper, and Bringing Out the Dead (again, directed by Scorsese). His latest film, First Reformed, is something of a return to form and subject matter for the writer/director, as he centers his story on Toller, a former military chaplain turned priest (Ethan Hawke, in one of the finest performances of his career), who is wracked by grief and guilt over many events in his past, to the point where it has taken on a physical ailment. At his most desperate moment, he meets a parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) whose husband, a radical environmentalist, commits suicide, setting in motion a series of events in Toller’s life that lead him to radicalism as well. In a fair and just world (and maybe if the film were being released later in the year), First Reformed would undoubtedly be part of awards discussions.
/Film spoke with Schrader recently when he accompanied the film to the Chicago Critics Film Festival. The onstage Q&A he did after the screening (co-moderated by this writer) can be viewed here; this interview took place the following day. First Reformed is now playing in New York and Los Angeles, and expands today.
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A24 has become one of those names that always has your attention. We sometimes don’t hear about their movies much until the trailers start rolling in, and then we’re totally on board. And that’s exactly how we feel about their forthcoming release from Paul Schrader, best known for writing Taxi Driver and directing a slew of dark and often deranged thrillers.
First Reformed follows Ethan Hawke as a priest who is becoming more and more disillusioned with humanity as his congregation dwindles and the world around him becomes more and more troubling. The clergyman suddenly finds himself taking matters into his own hands as he grows impatient waiting for God to do something. Read More »
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We’ve quietly entered a renaissance of master American filmmakers tackling religious subjects with the gravity, dignity and seriousness they deserve. Add Paul Schrader’s latest movie First Reformed to a growing list of modern masterpieces on faith through hardship that includes Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man and James Gray’s The Immigrant.
Read our full First Reformed review from TIFF below. Read More »
If you’re going to hire somebody to write an American Gigolo TV series, Neil LaBute isn’t a bad writer for the job. Showtime and Paramount TV have hired playwright, screenwriter, and director behind In the Company of Men, The Shape of Things, and The Wicker Man remake to adapt Paul Schrader‘s ’80s classic, American Gigolo, for television. The original film’s producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, is behind the show.
Below, learn more about the American Gigolo TV series.
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