Paul Schrader

"The films of Paul Schrader are marked by schizophrenic tension: thematically, between repression and indulgence, spirit and flesh; stylistically, between art and entertainment. Indeed, few American directors have produced such an obsessive, personal body of work." - Geoff Andrew (The Film Handbook, 1989)

Paul Schrader

Director / Screenwriter
(1946- ) Born July 22, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Key Production Countries: USA, UK
Key Genres: Drama, Crime Drama, Psychological Drama, Addiction Drama, Biopic, Family Drama, Thriller
Key Collaborators: John Bailey (Cinematographer), Willem Dafoe (Leading Actor), Leonard Schrader (Screenwriter), Ed Begley Jr. (Leading Character Actor), Christopher Walken (Leading Actor), Natasha Richardson (Leading Actress), Linda Reisman (Producer), Ed Lachman (Cinematographer), Tom Rolf (Editor), Jacqueline Cambas (Editor), Kristina Boden (Editor), Dana Delany (Leading Character Actress)

“Like other directors who began in the ranks of cinephile critic, Schrader loads his work with reference and allusion… Schrader's interest in film noir is evident in works from the neo-Expresssionist Taxi Driver through Light Sleeper to the film noir romance of Forever Mine (1999).” - Constantine Verevis (501 Movie Directors, 2007)
"He has proved himself an edgy, intellectual director, who has always stood on the periphery of the mainstream, choosing subjects that mark him out as a marginal independent… Schrader has alternated between scriptwriting jobs for other directors, and the making of his own tormented films, which include the excellent Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), and the extremely overwrought The Comfort of Strangers (1990). A philosophy major and film theoretician, Schrader has the courage to take risks, but his self-awareness can sometime backfire on him." - Mario Reading (The Movie Companion, 2006)
"Schrader had a strict Calvinist upbringing - he was not allowed to see a movie till his mid-teens - and many of his films are obsessed with guilt and death. His script for Taxi Driver (1976) was the first of three collaborations with Scorsese, later he wrote Raging Bull (1980) and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). But he also showed himself a talented director with such films as Blue Collar (1978), Hardcore (1979) and American Gigolo (1980)." - The Movie Book, 1999
"While it is doubtless fanciful and recherché to read Paul Schrader’s movies as unmediated reflections of his own life and feelings, it is nonetheless true that the director/screenwriter’s ‘‘religious fascination with the redeeming hero’’ echoes his extreme fascination with himself. The incredible urge that his characters have to confess (Schrader frequently resorts to voice-overs and interior monologues), exemplified by Travis Bickle’s mutterings in Taxi Driver, Christ’s musings on the cross during his Last Temptation, and Patty Hearst’s thoughts about her abduction, suggest that his films are firmly rooted in self-analysis." - G.C. Macnab (International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 2000)
“Falling in love with the movies, Schrader eventually became a film critic for the L.A. Weekly Press and also served as editor of Cinema Magazine. In 1972, his book Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer was published… An intense screenwriter and director whose films are often challenging and controversial. Schrader intends to entertain, but his films are never mindless excursions into fantasy; unlike many Hollywood writers and directors, he rarely makes concessions to the marketplace. For the most part, he has been far more successful as a screenwriter than as a writer-director. In particular, his talents have been best brought out through his collaboration with strong, independent directors such as Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese.” - The Encyclopedia of Hollywood, 2004
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
Light Sleeper (1991), Affliction (1997)
Worth a Look
Blue Collar (1978), American Gigolo (1980), Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) , Auto Focus (2002), First Reformed (2017)
Approach with Caution
Hardcore (1979) ✖︎, Cat People (1982), Light of Day (1987), Patty Hearst (1988), The Comfort of Strangers (1991), Touch (1997)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films ✖︎ 1,000 Noir Films
Martin Scorsese
Paul Schrader / Favourite Films
Citizen Kane (1941) Orson Welles, The Conformist (1970) Bernardo Bertolucci, In the Mood for Love (2000) Wong Kar-wai, The Lady Eve (1941) Preston Sturges, Orpheus (1950) Jean Cocteau, Pickpocket (1959) Robert Bresson, The Rules of the Game (1939) Jean Renoir, Tokyo Story (1953) Yasujiro Ozu, Vertigo (1958) Alfred Hitchcock, The Wild Bunch (1969) Sam Peckinpah.
Source: Sight & Sound (2012)
Paul Schrader / Fan Club
Spike Lee, Joachim Trier, Martin Scorsese.
Blue Collar
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