Paul Schrader x 4
An untamed and fiercely independent figure, unreconciled to and still undefeated by the forces of corporatized cinema, Paul Schrader has through his long career remained almost perversely loyal to his guiding preoccupation with the figure of a lonely man wrestling with his soul and with himself, driven towards a moral crucible. Branded by his early encounters with the films of Robert Bresson, about whom he wrote passionately as a critic, Schrader has through his career as director and screenwriter returned to what he calls the “man in a room,” subject of four of the finest films to bear his imprint. In Taxi Driver (1976) it’s Robert De Niro’s brooding Travis Bickle; in American Gigolo (1980) and The Walker (2007), paid male escorts played by Richard Gere and Woody Harrelson, respectively; in Light Sleeper (1992), Willem Dafoe’s insomniac high-end drug dealer. To this body of work we can now add the searing, sublime First Reformed, an apotheosis of sorts, in which Ethan Hawke gives the performance of his career as a clergyman pursued by guilt, driven towards a startling reckoning. To mark its release, Metrograph will be welcoming back the greatest of New York cineastes, good company in which to celebrate a superlative cinema of solitude.