Paul Schrader

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Dead or Deader
Joined: Sun May 08, 2016 12:47 am

Re: Paul Schrader

#77 Post by Dead or Deader » Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:28 pm

"What was there in the 70's was better audiences".

The era when Love Story and The Towering Inferno were hitting the jackpot at the box office?

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hearthesilence
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
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Re: Paul Schrader

#78 Post by hearthesilence » Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:55 pm

Dead or Deader wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:28 pm
"What was there in the 70's was better audiences".

The era when Love Story and The Towering Inferno were hitting the jackpot at the box office?
Yeah but name a single era that didn't have terrible, high grossing films.

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Brian C
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Re: Paul Schrader

#79 Post by Brian C » Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:15 pm

hearthesilence wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:55 pm
Yeah but name a single era that didn't have terrible, high grossing films.
That would be an argument against smarter audiences in one era over another, though, wouldn't it?

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Dead or Deader
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Re: Paul Schrader

#80 Post by Dead or Deader » Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:25 pm

hearthesilence wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:55 pm
Dead or Deader wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:28 pm
"What was there in the 70's was better audiences".

The era when Love Story and The Towering Inferno were hitting the jackpot at the box office?
Yeah but name a single era that didn't have terrible, high grossing films.

The romanticism of Schrader's comment is what rubs me, just cause the era gets so much mythicized that artists like him forget much of the popular cache wasn't his stuff. Sure, Taxi Driver was a hit mainly because of the violence and Robert De Niro, not out of audiences starving for a deep American film on male alienation. Hollywood did try to make more adventurous faire in the decade that would have trouble getting distributed by the majors, that I agree with. It's possible that First Reformed could have been a studio picture in that era with the clout of Schrader previous screenplay's success. This notion of audiences as being better back then is ignoring what the real moneymakers were in that decade.

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domino harvey
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Re: Paul Schrader

#81 Post by domino harvey » Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:29 pm

Unchallenging crap has always done big business, that doesn't refute his point, which is that smaller films like First Reformed also had bigger audiences than they do now

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Ovader
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Re: Paul Schrader

#82 Post by Ovader » Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:22 pm

Eddie Muller tweets about the above article: "Lots of folks slagging on Schrader for this, but I concur with him — I don’t feel he was insulting younger people, per se, but more the new cultural “norms” that have led to less adventurous filmmaking in America. In the 70s artists and audiences took far more risks."

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Brian C
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Re: Paul Schrader

#83 Post by Brian C » Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:34 pm

Ovader wrote:Eddie Muller tweets about the above article: "Lots of folks slagging on Schrader for this, but I concur with him — I don’t feel he was insulting younger people, per se, but more the new cultural “norms” that have led to less adventurous filmmaking in America. In the 70s artists and audiences took far more risks."
That’s a very generous reading of Schrader’s comments since Schrader specifically exempted artists from his criticism.

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solaris72
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Re: Paul Schrader

#84 Post by solaris72 » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:49 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:29 pm
Unchallenging crap has always done big business, that doesn't refute his point, which is that smaller films like First Reformed also had bigger audiences than they do now
Is it an audience problem or an exhibition/marketing problem? I feel like marketing has become such an overblown part of the studio filmmaking process that box office is based a lot more around marketing push than actual audience wants. Plus budgets getting more and more inflated (marketing of course being part of this) while the number of release dates per year (obviously) remains the same and the number of screens per square mile surely has hit some kind of saturation means smaller movies simply getting pushed off the theatrical map.

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whaleallright
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am

Re: Paul Schrader

#85 Post by whaleallright » Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:00 am

domino harvey wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:29 pm
Unchallenging crap has always done big business, that doesn't refute his point, which is that smaller films like First Reformed also had bigger audiences than they do now
Even if you include the home video options that all but didn't exist in the 1970s? I'd like to see some data on this. I admit that I doubt that a lower-budget, somber American art film like First Reformed really would have been seen by that many more people (factoring in changes in population) in an earlier era. American filmmakers (Lionel Rogosin, Morris Engel, Jack Garfein, John Cassavetes, etc. etc.) were complaining all through the 1960s and into the 1970s about the paucity of venues to show "serious" American films and the seeming lack of popular response when they did get screened.

Anecdotal, but: First Reformed came to a small downtown cinema in my tiny city of 50,000 people and did decent business—decent enough for them to hold it over a second week, as I recall. (They do worse with foreign-language films. Let the Sunshine In for example seems to have belly-flopped.)

What would be a 1970s equivalent to this film, I wonder? It wouldn't be something like Five Easy Pieces which had a big star. Maybe something like Born to Win—a pretty relentlessly downbeat, serious, small-budgeted social-problem film with a minor star.

Anyway, unless I see some convincing figures I'm going to continue to suspect that this reflects less an objective assessment of the film scene and more Schrader's nostalgia for a time when he had a fuller head of hair.

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Aunt Peg
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Re: Paul Schrader

#86 Post by Aunt Peg » Sun Dec 02, 2018 1:42 am

I think another factor that has to be considered is that studios are making films for the world market now more than ever before.

Back in the 1970's they did the bulk of these business within the U.S. They had little access to Eastern Europe and none in China. Over the years the international take has increased and therefore had an impact on what studios will back.

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colinr0380
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Re: Paul Schrader

#87 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:58 am

On Aunt Peg's comment about films being made for the world market, that reminds me a little of some of Barry Norman's comments on film in the mid-90s when Independence Day and The Rock were topping the box office, in which he wrote with some concern of the notion that films with limited and graspable dialogue ("Come on!", "Move!", "We gotta go!", etc. Dialogue that does not particularly matter if you catch it or not, and may even be unintelligible hidden under the sound of all of the explosions going on!), might be the way films work in the future. Films would need less costly and distancing dubbing for different territories and instead feature lots of action to visually propel the story forward as a consequence of the biggest films now having to work globally for everyone, rather than being locally tailored for specific audiences and then maybe travelling internationally if it was thought to be economically worthwhile. Maybe we are seeing that with the majority of the biggest blockbusters now, which appear to have narrowed the scope of cinema down into Disney films for the kids and Marvel films for the adults.

It also sounds similar to the argument that comes up in many interviews with actors (and Soderbergh when he retired), often coupled with the comment that television has taken that middle ground drama role now, that the 'middle budget, specific story' tier of films have gone and now everything has to be a comicbook movie or a struggling low budget indie (though the one thing that has been nice to see is how Scarlett Johannson, Chris Evans and Tom Hiddleston seem to be using their time off from Marvel films towards getting behind smaller and stranger films such as Under The Skin, Snowpiercer and High-Rise), but whether that is because audiences are not interested in smaller films or the studios do not greenlight such projects (because the return is less, even if that would help to spread the risk a little over a wider number of films) is debatable. It seems a vicious cycle in some ways, where risk averse studios assume that audiences will not want to see such and such a film and stick with what they know was profitable in the past (which has been an issue since numbered sequels first appeared, let alone remakes of already existing properties either for different territories or different generations of filmgoers, assuming that people will not just go and see the original if they can), even if in doing so they cause diminishing returns because audiences have seen four other very similar films in the series already. Whilst arguably risk averse audiences might not want to take a chance on a strange new film unless it is based on an already known quantity (a book series, a well known actor; any Disney property that provides some sense of a basic pleasurable experience at the very least). With maybe one party feeding into and reinforcing the mindset of the other. But I do not think this is a particularly new situation, maybe just that it has started to affect those directly involved in film production more keenly in recent years. But I would be more likely to put the focus more on bigger studios than audiences for not at least attempting to be adventurous, if just to try and experiment with new material instead of just relying on licensing outside pre-existing material and milking already proven franchises to death, even if many such attempts at different films might not all be successful.

But then I often think as an audience member that I don't want to see a film specifically aimed at me, or my demographic, or my income bracket or targeted at a particular book club that I am a part of, or anything as specifically calculated as that. I would just want to see a well made, interesting film that is true to itself and the story it is telling. That may be riskier in that I personally may not like the story it is telling, or the way that it is told, or have any number of other issues with it, but that should be my role as a member of the audience to understand that after the film: to have material to think about and turn over in my mind and even talk to others about on forums like this one. That may lead to me liking the film more, or maybe even the opposite (which is why people who make films should in the end not have to worry about the act of film criticism in itself, more concern themselves with the idea of whether they were satisfied with the work that they produced), but the chance to think and understand your reaction after seeing a film is part of the fun of cinema. And while I would not say to court controversy for controversy's sake (which can be tiresome in itself) that is what can sometimes feels lacking in films which 'play it safe' and seem to have pre-digested themes and ideas into the most palatable, obvious form possible before they ever reach an audience.

I understand that this is rather naive, pie in the sky talk for an industry that is so focused on managing risk, marketing to the widest possible audience and 'positioning' a film within a market, and economically that makes sense to do so. But within the bounds of fiscal responsibility I find that some of the films I like the most are those which I am not even sure of my own reaction to on multiple re-viewings, or when it seems as if the filmmakers have not come into a particular story with specific pre-conceived notions and are exploring the material for themselves during the production process as much as the audience does when they are watching the final product.

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