By MCN Editor editor@moviecitynews.com

Paul Schrader

“There are people who talk about the American cinema of the seventies as some halcyon period. It was to a degree but not because there were any more talented filmmakers. There’s probably, in fact, more talented filmmakers today than there was in the seventies. What there was in the seventies was better audiences.And a lot of what was happening in the world had people in consternation: Women’s rights, gay rights, sexual liberation, drug liberation, anti-war. All of these things were rolling on top of each other and people were turning to the arts, specifically movies, for what should we feel about this? Bob and Alice about wife swapping, and coming home about Vietnam veterans, unmarried women about female liberation. So almost one a week, films were coming out to address these things that were on people’s minds. When people take movies seriously it’s very easy to make a serious movie. When they don’t take it seriously, it’s very, very hard. We now have audiences that don’t take movies seriously so it’s hard to make a serious movie for them.

It’s not that us filmmakers are letting you down, it’s you audiences are letting us down. Because if audiences are receptive to a quality movie, believe me, they will get it. We’re all just waiting to make it. At that time, that period about ten, twelve years, every single week there was some kind of film coming out addressing a social issue in a fictional form.

Clearly with First Reformed you tokk on the subject and problems around climate change as one of the themes that underpin the story. I wonder how you feel your audiences have responded to that aspect of the story?

I lost you after climate change. That’s a big question because there is no response. There is no response. As a species we have made our decision, it’s pretty clear. Now it’s a question of how long it takes for that decision to be fully effective. But you know, there is no—whatever tipping point there was, we’ve passed it and it is—you know, it’s very hard to—a friend of mine wrote an article for the New York Times calling on raising a child in a doomed world. And my adult children do not have children and they don’t feel they should, and that is a question that begins First Reformed: Should I bring someone in to this world knowing what kind of life they will have? So it would be nice to say the movie has a positive effect, but our gorilla brains are not going to get us out of the problem. Evolution has taken us as far as it can. The next stage will be some other form of evolved intelligence, but us gorillas, we’re not equipped to solve this problem.”
~ Paul Schrader’s BAFTA Screenwriter Lecture, Linked Here In Full

 

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“When books become a thing, they can no longer be fine.

“Literary people get mad at Knausgård the same way they get mad at Jonathan Franzen, a writer who, if I’m being honest, might be fine. I’m rarely honest about Jonathan Franzen. He’s an extremely annoying manI have only read bits and pieces of his novels, and while I’ve stopped reading many novels even though they were pretty good or great, I have always stopped reading Jonathan Franzen’s novels because I thought they were aggressively boring and dumb and smug. But why do I think this? I didn’t read him when he was a new interesting writer who wrote a couple of weird books and then hit it big with ‘The Corrections,’ a moment in which I might have picked him up with curiosity and read with an open mind; I only noticed him once, after David Foster Wallace had died, he became the heir apparent for the Great American Novelist position, once he had had that thing with Oprah and started giving interviews in which he said all manner of dumb shit; I only noticed him well after I had been told he was An Important Writer.

“So I can’t and shouldn’t pretend that I am unmoved by the lazily-satisfied gentle arrogance he projects or when he is given license to project it by the has-the-whole-world-gone-crazy development of him being constantly crowned and re-crowned as Is He The Great American Writer. What I really object to is this, and if there’s anything to his writing beyond it, I can’t see it and can’t be bothered. Others read him and tell me he’s actually a good writer—people whose critical instincts I have learned to respect—so I feel sure that he’s probably a perfectly fine, that his books are fine, and that probably even his stupid goddamned bird essays are probably also fine.

“But it’s too late. He has become a thing; he can’t be fine.”
~ Aaron Bady

“You know how in postproduction you are supposed to color-correct the picture so everything is smooth and even? Jean-Luc wants the opposite. He wants the rupture. Color and then black and white, or different intensities of color. Or how in this film, sometimes you see the ratio of the frame change after the image begins. That happens when he records from his TV onto his old DVCAM analog machine, which is so old we can’t even find parts when it needs to be repaired. The TV takes time to recognize and adjust to the format on the DVD or the Blu-ray. Whether it’s 1:33 or 1:85. And one of the TVs he uses is slower than the other. He wants to keep all that. I could correct it, but he doesn’t want me to. See, here’s an image from War and Peace. He did the overlays of color—red, white, and blue—using an old analog video effects machine. That’s why you have the blur. When I tried to redo it in digital, I couldn’t. The edges were too sharp. And why the image jitters—I don’t know how he did that. Playing with the cable maybe. Handmade. He wants to see that. It’s a gift from his old machine.”
~ Fabrice Aragno