Posts Tagged ‘Paul Schrader’
Wednesday, December 7th, 2022
Some time around the mid-‘90s I took a weekly screenwriting class for a while, and the teacher loved Paul Schrader. He seemed to bring him up in every class. The guy who wrote TAXI DRIVER. The guy with the strict Calvinist upbringing. Eventually he had us watch a Paul Schrader movie, and he chose LIGHT OF DAY – the one where Michael J. Fox plays in a rock band with Joan Jett. I had seen it before and I didn’t dislike it but I thought it was a weird choice to represent Schrader. I think maybe the teacher hadn’t seen it yet.
But, you know, after THE CARD COUNTER last year and finally watching LIGHT SLEEPER this year I was kinda high on Schrader and thought it might be worth going back to this one to see if there was something I was missing. Well, no, not really, but that’s okay. It’s not in the vein of those ones I just mentioned and it’s not as powerful or as distinctly Paul Schrader, but I don’t think anybody else would’ve made exactly this rock ’n roll movie.
I used to think of it as corny because it’s a rock star acting and a sitcom star rocking, but what’s cool about it is that it’s thoroughly working class. It’s about a band, but it’s never about the record label guy is coming to the showcase and it’s their big chance and they write a hit and they get the cover of Rolling Stone but then it’s the pressures of fame or whatever. No, they’re just a small band that plays at a little tavern in Cleveland called the Euclid (“the Euc” for short) and they try to keep that gig or set up a small tour or play in a different band that will pay better. They do pull a pretty good crowd for the size of the place, but they’re not famous. Nobody knows who they are. And they gotta have jobs. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: Billy L. Sullivan, Cleveland, Gena Rowlands, Jason Miller, Joan Jett, Michael Dolan, Michael J. Fox, Michael McKean, Paul Schrader, Thomas G. Waites, Trent Reznor
Posted in Reviews, Drama, Music | 13 Comments »
Wednesday, September 28th, 2022
Many of these August ’92 movies I’ve been reviewing have been grueling, but there are some good ones among them, even great ones. To make up for the toil of watching CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS: THE DISCOVERY and LITTLE NEMO, August 21, 1992 also brought us Paul Schrader’s LIGHT SLEEPER. It was the filmmaker’s first time writing and directing since 1987s’ LIGHT OF DAY (though he’d directed PATTY HEARST and THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS and written THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST since then). And it’s up there with his best work.
The troubled journal-writing outsider this one centers on is John LeTour (Willem Dafoe, WILD AT HEART), a New York City drug deliverer who’s having a bit of a crisis because his boss Ann (Susan Sarandon following THELMA & LOUISE and a cameo in THE PLAYER) seems pretty serious about starting a cosmetics company and going straight. He’s 40 and this has kept him going in the four years since he kicked drugs and he doesn’t know what he’s gonna do with his life. He has an idea about getting involved in recording music, but I’m not sure how realistic he thinks that is. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: Dana Delany, David Clennon, David Spade, drug dealing, Edward Lachman, Jane Adams, Mario Kassar, Mary Beth Hurt, Paul Jabara, Paul Schrader, Sam Rockwell, Susan Sarandon, Victor Garber, Willem Dafoe
Posted in Crime, Drama, Reviews | 11 Comments »
Thursday, September 16th, 2021
THE CARD COUNTER is the new one from writer/director Paul Schrader, with Oscar Isaac (THE BOURNE LEGACY) taking his turn as the Schraderian anti-hero. Like so many of these characters, William Tell (as he calls himself) is a troubled man with an unusual and lonely lifestyle, who narrates his story in the form of diary entries, telling us about his normal routine before things go horribly wrong.
In some ways he hearkens back to (non-narrating, from what I remember) Richard Gere in AMERICAN GIGOLO, because he’s handsome, and neatly dressed and coifed. On the surface he seems charismatic and sociable, especially compared to most of the other people in his circle as a professional gambler.
Like the title says, he can count cards. He explains the concept of it – keeping track of the cards being played to calculate his odds, saving larger bets for when they lean in his favor. He explains how he travels around to different casinos, telling us his strategies for different games, and his philosophy of making enough money to keep going but not enough to get the casinos after him. I’m not a cards guy or a gambling guy so I don’t really give a shit if some of it is wrong (as I read some claim). I’m happy to accept that he knows what he’s talking about, and I can follow enough of it to get by. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: Bobby C. King, gambling, Oscar Isaac, Paul Schrader, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, Willem Dafoe
Posted in Crime, Drama, Reviews | 14 Comments »
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…)
Tags: Alan Ormsby, Annette O'Toole, David Bowie, Ed Begley Jr., Giorgio Moroder, John Heard, Lynn Lowry, Malcolm McDowell, Nastassja Kinski, Paul Schrader, remakes, Ruby Dee, Tom Burman
Posted in Horror, Reviews | 9 Comments »
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…)
Tags: Bill Duke, Giorgio Moroder, Hector Elizondo, Lauren Hutton, Paul Schrader, Richard Gere
Posted in Crime, Drama, Reviews | 17 Comments »
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…)
Tags: Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer, Christianity, Ethan Hawke, Michael Gaston, Paul Schrader, Philip Ettinger
Posted in Drama, Reviews | 30 Comments »
Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
I 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…)
Tags: Gary Graham, George C. Scott, Paul Schrader, Peter Boyle, pornography, San Diego, Season Hubley
Posted in Drama, Reviews, Thriller | 11 Comments »
Thursday, December 17th, 2015
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…)
Tags: biopic, Bushido, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Japan, Ken Ogata, Lucas Minus Star Wars, Paul Schrader, Philip Glass, Roy Scheider, writer
Posted in Drama, Reviews | 9 Comments »
Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
DYING 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…)
Tags: Alexander Karim, Anton Yelchin, CIA, dementia, Irene Jacob, Nicolas Cage, Nicolas Winding Refn, Paul Schrader, revenge, terrorism, troubled production
Posted in Action, Reviews, Thriller | 42 Comments »
Thursday, January 28th, 2010
BRINGING 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…)
Tags: Mark Anthony, Martin Scorsese, Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette, Paul Schrader, Tom Sizemore, Ving Rhames
Posted in Comedy/Laffs, Drama, Reviews | 60 Comments »