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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Schrader’

Cat People (1982)

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

In 1982 Paul Schrader followed AMERICAN GIGOLO with a look at another oft-ignored segment of society, the CAT PEOPLE. It’s a much hornier movie than GIGOLO – some of the posters even call it “AN EROTIC FANTASY” – and it compares sexual desire to turning into a hungry animal. That may sound like some ‘Schrader was raised as a strict Calvinist’ shit, but he actually didn’t get a writing credit on this one. Believe it or not he used a script by Alan Ormsby (CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, DERANGED, DEATHDREAM, PORKY’S II: THE NEXT DAY, POPCORN, THE SUBSTITUTE)! I’ve read that he rewrote the ending, but I don’t see how he could’ve changed the very premise. So I honestly don’t know what this one is supposed to be saying – it seems to be a sexy anti-sex movie – but it’s artful and weird and compelling in all the right ways.

Irena (Nastassja Kinski, TERMINAL VELOCITY) is a pescatarian virgin orphan who arrives in New Orleans to reunite with her long lost brother Paul (Malcolm McDowell, FIST OF THE NORTH STAR). Paul lives in a big house with his Creole housekeeper (Ruby Dee, UP TIGHT) whose name is pronounced “Feh-molly” but spelled “Female.” The brother and sister do a juggling act together as they reminisce about playing circus as kids, and Paul is immediately standing uncomfortably close to her and doing weird incestuous nuzzling. The movie never addresses that if the actors are playing their real ages Paul would’ve been 18 when she was born. But Ruby Dee seems to be playing her real age of 60 while looking about half that, so what is age, anyway? (read the rest of this shit…)

American Gigolo

Monday, September 30th, 2019

AMERICAN GIGOLO. Paul Schrader’s prequel to AMERICAN PIMP. Older brother of AMERICAN PSYCHO. Cousin to AMERICAN NINJA. Quite a family of movies there.

I really should see more of Paul Schrader’s stuff. Obviously I respect him for writing TAXI DRIVER and revere him for writing ROLLING THUNDER. I remember loving BLUE COLLAR. MISHIMA: A LIFE IN FOUR CHAPTERS was incredible. More recently FIRST REFORMED really impressed me. But there are some very famous ones I haven’t seen. This one, I gotta admit, I ignorantly assumed wasn’t my thing. Some Richard Gere movie. Who cares?

It was getting more into movie soundtracks on vinyl that turned me around. AMERICAN GIGOLO is a pretty common, relatively inexpensive find, so I picked one up, and really liked it. Then I figured okay, I should see where these sounds come from.

Young, slim, squinty-eyed dreamboat Richard Gere (a little after DAYS OF HEAVEN, a little before AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, way before FIRST KNIGHT) stars as Julian Kaye, L.A. gigolo. In his business there’s alot of ambiguously talking around things on account of the illegality. Lots of not stating what’s going on, or denying it – saying “you’ve heard wrong” or “you’re mistaken” when someone’s too direct or seems like trouble. So it’s interesting that he ends up suspected of a murder he didn’t do. We’re not sure at first if they really did hear wrong, really are mistaken, or if he’s just doing his usual shtick. (read the rest of this shit…)

First Reformed

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

FIRST REFORMED is another Paul Schrader broken-man-slowly-boiling-over character piece in the tradition of TAXI DRIVER and ROLLING THUNDER. This time his subject is Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke, DAYBREAKERS), the very nice and thoughtful reverend of a small 250 year old church in upstate New York that still exists because it’s a historical landmark. He sermonizes to about half a dozen people on Sundays, but his duties also include being a tour guide and stocking the gift shop.

He cares about the job, but it seems like it’s one of those transferred-to-Antarctica type situations. We slowly piece together some of the problems he has, the things he’s punishing himself for and how his life went south after the death of a son in the military. He writes journal entries in a spiral-bound composition notebook which we hear as calm, reasonable sounding voiceover, but sometimes he’ll casually drop in some bit that makes you do a double take, like when he laments, “If only I could pray.” Uh… you seem like a guy who would pray, is all I’m saying. (read the rest of this shit…)

SAN DIEGO EXCLUSIVE: Hardcore (1979)

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

tn_hardcoresdccI know all the major websights are covering the San Diego Comic-Con this week. I will not be there in person and never have been but in my opinion there is alot I can cover from home in terms of the city of San Diego. For example I have learned that Paul Schrader’s movie HARDCORE from 1979 has a part that takes place in San Diego. This is an EXCLUSIVE SCOOP for Outlawvern.com or an EXSCLOOPSIVE for short. © 2016 Vern please credit.

Jake Van Dorn (George C. Scott) is a single father in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a successful factory owner (“we make rivets for the auto industry”) and devout Calvinist. It’s Christmas time and the family’s all together, Uncle Joe (Paul Marin, THE HAPPY HOOKER GOES HOLLYWOOD) being an angry prude about the dancing Santas on the Christmas special the kids are watching.

“I’m sick of watching this television stuff,” he rants after abruptly turning it off. “You know who makes it? All the kids who couldn’t get along here, they go out to California and make television. I didn’t like ’em when they were here and I don’t like them out there.”

Jake is the more laid back grownup who laughs and says “Give the kids a break, it’s Christmas!” (read the rest of this shit…)

Mishima: a life in four chapters

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

tn_mishimalucasminusstarwars

This is the story of Yukio Mishima (Ken Ogata, VENGEANCE IS MINE), once “Japan’s most celebrated author,” but now largely known as a crazy who commited public ritual suicide. Paul Schrader’s complex, lushly produced film weaves together both sides of the writer’s legacy, illustrating what he called “the harmony of pen and sword,” an attempt to fuse his art and his actions into one.

It starts in 1970 the morning of the day when we know from the onscreen text that Mishima is going to take “4 cadets from his private army” to a military base, kidnap a general. Mishima, and those of us who have heard of this incident, know he will make a speech about the soul of Japan and then cut his belly open with a sword. But he doesn’t seem nervous. He skips breakfast but has one last leisurely morning, reading the paper, enjoying some tea in his lovely backyard. (read the rest of this shit…)

Dying of the Light

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

tn_dyingofthelightDYING OF THE LIGHT is yet another troubled Paul Schrader production. The story is: it was a Schrader script that Nicolas Winding Refn almost directed with Harrison Ford and Channing Tatum as the leads, but Ford and Refn disagreed on the ending (guess who wanted a happy one?) so I guess Ford went and did COWBOYS & ALIENS and Refn did DRIVE. Then Refn became executive producer for Schrader directing it himself with the, uh, less-assured-of-a-theatrical-release team of Nicolas Cage and Anton Yelchin. Then after it was filmed the other producers shut out Schrader and did their own edit and scoring, so Schrader, Refn, Cage and Yelchin effectively disowned it by wearing t-shirts with the “non-disparagement” clause of their contracts that prevents them from complaining about the movie. Also cinematographer Gabriel Kosuth (2nd Unit DP of SHADOW MAN, ATTACK FORCE, FLIGHT OF FURY, AGAINST THE DARK and A GOOD MAN) wrote a righteous guest column in Variety about the producers recoloring the whole thing against his will and ruining what he and Schrader were trying to do.

We’ll get into that stuff later, but first let’s consider the Damaged Goods Cut on its own merits. It’s a flawed movie but more watchable and original than other recent basically-DTV Cage vehicles. Cage plays Evan Lake, a decorated CIA field operative who 22 years ago was tortured and had his ear mutilated by a young track-suit-wearing terrorist named Muhammad Banir (Alexander Karim from the Johan Falk series). Lake refused to give up any information and was about to be executed when commandos stormed in and saved him. Now he’s kind of like their mascot. They have him give the tough guy speech to the fresh-faced new recruits, but he’s a depressed desk jockey who isn’t taken very seriously by the agency or allowed in the field. A big part of his day is trying to control or hide his shaky hand. (read the rest of this shit…)

Bringing Out the Dead

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

tn_bringingoutthedeadBRINGING OUT THE DEAD is Martin Scorsese at his most nightmarish and hallucinogenic, a movie almost entirely in helicopters-overhead-paranoid-end-of-GOODFELLAS mode. That’s ’cause it’s about night shift EMT workers, which I think we can safely assume is probly a pretty stressful job. The movie is written by Paul Schrader based on one of those “this job is fucked and we’re all on drugs” type exposes, like Kitchen Confidential was for chefs.

Man of the hour Nic Cage plays Frank Pierce, who doesn’t get enough sleep and thinks he sees the ghosts of everyone he’s failed to save. He has a hard time feeling like a hero since most of the calls he gets are DOA or false alarms. He’s always doing CPR on dead babies or begging the hellishly overcrowded hospital to take in a vegetable. He’s so tired of bum-out cardiac arrests (“COME ON, PEOPLE!” he scolds) that he’s happy dealing with the notoriously foul-smelling drunk Mr. O, who calls in every time he’s wasted. The one time Frank does succeed in resuscitating a guy he feels guilty about it and imagines the man telling him to let him die. (read the rest of this shit…)

Exploitation Filmmaker John Flynn Passes Away, And Outlaw Vern Pays Tribute

Monday, April 9th, 2007

John FlynnHey, everyone. “Moriarty” here. As much as I hate ever having to write an obit, I love when the right person writes one. In this case, our very own Vern has sent me a really lovely piece to celebrate the memory of John Flynn. And if you asked “Who?” then this article is worth your time to read.

Last night I was reading Harry’s GRINDHOUSE review and was taken off guard by his reference to John Flynn having died this week. I can’t find any news articles or obituaries, but the source of this news seems to be the people at The Grindhouse Film Festival who have reported that Mr. Flynn died in his sleep on Wednesday.

Flynn is not a director that has been intensely studied, you’re not gonna find a whole lot of information on him (although Shock Cinema did an interview with him a couple years ago.) I really know nothing about John Flynn the man, but since I’m very fond of three of his movies in particular Moriarty asked me to write up a little something.

Mr. Flynn’s most famous movie, the one every one of you should see, and my number one “FOR GOD’S SAKE WOULD YOU PEOPLE PLEASE PUT THIS OUT ON DVD?” pick since POINT BLANK came out is ROLLING THUNDER. Written by Paul Schrader, this movie is in the vein of TAXI DRIVER if it was a little more of a straight ahead revenge movie. William Devane plays a Vietnam vet who comes home to a hero’s welcome, but becomes very distant and feels nobody understands him. Things get worse when he gets robbed and loses his hand to a garbage disposal. He definitely has more to complain about than John Rambo in FIRST BLOOD. So later there is revenge. (read the rest of this shit…)

Rolling Thunder

Saturday, April 24th, 2004

This great overlooked revenge movie was one of if not the first movie to deal with the effects of the Vietnam War. With a script by Paul Schrader (rewritten by another dude) it works on two levels, as a raw exploitation picture and as a depressing statement about the mess our country was in at the time. Fortunately we never repeated those mistakes ever again so this movie is completely irrelevant now and only good as a curiosity.

The picture opens with corny music as heroic Vietnam POWs arrive home at an airport, among them William Devane and Tommy Lee Jones. Mr. Devane will be our protagonist this evening, and as he pretends to enjoy the ceremony honoring him as a great american hero, you can tell right off the bat that he’s not quite there. He’s got a wife and kid waiting for him, and the kid doesn’t even remember him he’s been gone so long. Some guy named Cliff is there to give them a ride home. “You remember Cliff?” the wife says innocently, and you fuckin know what that means. (read the rest of this shit…)

Blue Collar

Monday, January 1st, 2001

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Paul Schrader. He is sort of a lesser known legend of independent film. Legendary because of the many screenplays he wrote for Martin Scorsese, including Taxi Driver, lesser because he went on to direct crap like the rock band movie Light of Day with Michael J. whatsisdick. And that sort of thing tends to lower people’s opinion of you. I mean, you don’t see the dude who did Satisfaction with Justine Bateman going on to inspire a new generation of filmmakers. That’s just the way it works.

But Paul Schrader did make sort of a comeback. After a really terrible Elmore Leonard/Tom Arnold picture called Touch he did Affliction with James Coburn and got some Oscars and what not. Now I am in favor of any picture that gets an Oscar for James Coburn just on basic principle, but I haven’t seen it yet so instead I will review Mr. Schrader’s first work as a director, and still maybe his best, Blue Collar. (read the rest of this shit…)