Paul Schrader

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Harry Caul
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Re: Paul Schrader

#26 Post by Harry Caul » Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:46 pm

I was underwhelmed with Schrader's Dying of the Light; it seemed like it would be a somewhat interesting espionage-like film, but AFAIC it fell flat. I may need to give this another chance, however.

Auto Focus (2002) is a superb film - I was never a huge fan of Hogan's Heroes (maybe caught some episodes as re-runs years ago), but this story about the life of Bob Crane was compelling. Really enjoyed the '60's - '70's authentic setting (i.e. clothes, cars, etc.) & the acting - both Greg Kinnear & Willem Dafoe were excellent in this. I was also very impressed by the depiction of the horrific crime scene at the very end, where BC's body was found....because, based on the doc. "Murder in Scottsdale" (that was included on the DVD) the crime scene in the film was spot-on to the way this actually looked - very creepy.

I think the film & the MIS doc. definitely pointed the viewer in the direction of thinking that JHC (Dafoe's character) really killed BC in real life. However, I'm not 100% convinced: ... ne-murder/" onclick=";return false; ... a-results/" onclick=";return false;

Schrader's extremely underrated Forever Mine (1999) is probably one of his least-seen films. It's a disturbing story about a young cabana boy in Florida (played by Joseph Fiennes) who has an affair with a vicious gangser's (Ray Liotta) wife (Gretchen Mol)...set in the 1970's & boasting a great soundtrack, this is one of my favorite '90's movies. GM is a gorgeous & fantastic actress & I've always liked all of her films - unfortunately, she never became extremely well-known.

Another underrated & little seen Schrader film is Light of Day (1987) - I saw this last Fall for the first time. Excellent film; great story, and amazing soundtrack.

I'm not a huge MJF fan, but Joan Jett & Gena Rowlands (as well as many of the supporting actors) were fantastic. JJ seemed like she wasn't even acting but was basically playing herself, which was perfect because her persona really fit the role.

Great rock & roll songs, especially the original?! songs like "Light of Day", which opened & closed the film.

The scene towards the end - when Patty (JJ) spoke to her mother (Rowlands) at the hospital - was quite poignant.

It would be great see this with better picture quality/sound on DVD/Blu some day, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon. IMHO, one of the reasons (if not the only reason) this hasn't hit modern home video is because of the licensing rights involving the music in the film. There are a plethora of artists featured here re: many of the cover songs played by JJ's band, as well as The Fabulous Thunderbirds concert sequence, etc.

Side-note: It's interesting that three of Schrader's film have the word "Light" in the title. I.e., Light Sleeper, Light of Day, and Dying of the Light. Probably a coincidence, but still worth noting.
Last edited by Harry Caul on Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

Harry Caul
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Re: Paul Schrader

#27 Post by Harry Caul » Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:25 am

I'm not sure if American Gigolo is Schrader's best film (as a director), but it's definitely one of his top five.

AG really transports me back to the early '80's time-period; the music, attitudes, etc. - even though the movie was probably filmed in 1979. The opening scene of Julien (Gere) driving down the CA highway in a convertible, while Blondie's "Call me" plays over the scene epitomizes the whole era to some extent.

Re: the story, there is something intriguing about being a guy who not only lives off of women, but who takes pride in doing so. However, the movie also shows the "dark side" of such a lifestyle - which I found added a good dose of realism to the film: When Julien is being set up for the murder of a former "client", everyone that he was in good graces with prior to that ends up dropping him like a hot potato. I.e., his "relationships" are very tenuous & based on services rendered, and that's it.
This is why the politician's wife supporting him & staying by his side (despite the permanent damage this did to her & her husband's reputation) was especially touching- she was the only one that believed in Julien, due in large part because she had fallen for him - very poignant theme here. I don't consider this unrealistic, just unlikely - though definitely not impossible. Remember, she pursued him due to her being intrigued by him, etc. It's obvious she really wants to 'save' him & form a life with him - despite the obvious road-blocks she will have re: doing this by the end of the film (his being in prison, her husband divorcing her & cutting her off from $, etc.)

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Re: Paul Schrader

#28 Post by FrauBlucher » Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:55 am

Schrader talks about the death of slow cinema. BTW... I do hate the phrase, slow cinema.

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Re: Paul Schrader

#29 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed May 16, 2018 12:02 pm

DarkImbecile was kind enough to make a lead post for this thread, it is live now!

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Re: Paul Schrader

#30 Post by DarkImbecile » Wed May 16, 2018 12:24 pm

Having just discovered Schrader's archive of more than a half-century of film writing, I just wanted to draw attention to a couple of great general pieces on criticism and the state of the industry at various points in history: "Canon Fodder", his introduction to an abandoned book project establishing a Bloom-esque overview of the key works of cinema, published in Film Comment in 2006; and "Don't Cry For Me When I'm Gone: Motion Pictures in the 1990s", a prescient look at the future of movies at the dawn of digital technology from a 1993 issue of DGA News. Both worth reading if you've never had the chance before, as are many of the other works available there; from the latter article, I love his framing of the lament about the dumbing down of film as one that is as old as the medium, and that the state of film as a whole generally only gets better (a position I've been taking of late after taking some time to review the ratio of quality to garbage on annual release schedules from decades ago).

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