Friday, July 04, 2008

Paul Schrader

I have been exploring Paul Schrader's website which collects his critical writings on cinema written over more than two decades. I don't understand why he didn't use a more straightforward website design. It is quite inconvenient as it is now.

Anyway, his much discussed article on film canon is also there. More than the list of the films at the end, it is the preceding discussion about the history and the necessity of artistic canons and criteria of judgment that is more interesting, both of which are essential to counter the growing fanboy culture in film appreciation, with its uncritical allegiance to personalities, genres or even national cinemas.

New York Times also has a short article on his 1985 film Mishima which has just been released on DVD by criterion. I haven't seen it but I am a big fan of its score (composed by Philip Glass)... Here is an extract.

3 comments:

puccinio said...

His website has a great(and famous) interview with Robert Bresson and also one where he talks about ''Taxi Driver''.

I find Schrader to be a better film-maker(and screenwriter) than film critic. Most of his criticism aside from some insights feels too superficial and also at time guilty of the old-fashioned wisdom of film criticism where you have to talk about the good points and bad points. It's too Pauline Kaelesque unfortunately. But he's still worth reading.

His canon article is something that's really ridiculous as is his selection. Some good movies here and there but if you want to choose 60 films representative of cinema and you offer these...

Alok said...

there is also a long essay on Kael on the website which he wrote after her death. He seems to have moved away from his early allegiance to her school of film criticism (whatever that was). She would certainly have scoffed at his canon article.

I actually haven't seen any of the films he has directed. So many films to see!!

puccinio said...

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I actually haven't seen any of the films he has directed. So many films to see!!
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The best ones are ''Blue Collar'', ''American Gigolo'', ''Light Sleeper'',
''Patty Hearst'', ''Mishima''(the best). Schrader's films are very direct and intellectual, I mean that in the good sense. Then ''Comfort of Strangers''(book by Ian McEwan, screenplay by Harold Pinter) is a damn good film. It's very creepy though. Of his recent films, ''Affliction'' and now ''The Walker'' is the best.

His films are very good and interesting and ''Mishima'' and ''Patty Hearst'' are great.

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He seems to have moved away from his early allegiance to her school of film criticism (whatever that was).
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The school of taking film seriously but not too seriously. I am not a big fan of her, sorry. I'll never forgive her for her piece of mendacity on Welles and ''Citizen Kane''. Schrader to be fair clearly didn't have such a narrow mind towards cinema but the influence creeped into the superficiality of his writing style and his lapses into eurocentricism...Kael had that delusion among American critics that real art only came from European cinema.

But then it's not his fault. Paul Schrader didn't see a film until he turned 18 and Kael getting him a job to see movies for a living probably made him feel indebted to her.