Paul Schrader: “We have not lost the art, but the public” | Culture

Paul Schrader: “We have not lost the art, but the public” |  Culture
The filmmaker Paul Schrader, at the Sitges festival.SUSANNA SÁEZ / EFE

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Paul Schrader shakes his hand and says: “I’m going to have a sandwich. I have spent lunchtime sleeping.” Jet lag stuff. He is at the Sitges festival to receive a tribute and for the screening of Dog eat dog, that in its passage through Cannes garnered praise. The screenwriter of the best Scorsese, the one from Wild bull O Taxi driver, and director of American gigolo, Mishima, Possibility of escape o de Affliction, had regained his artistic nerve, after various disturbances such as The Canyons, with whom you visited Seminci in 2013, or Hunt down the terrorist. Schrader (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1946) makes his acting debut in a supporting character that drives the plot of this thriller with Nicolas Cage and Willem Dafoe, old acquaintances of his, which will premiere in Spain in the first quarter of 2017.

However, he doesn’t seem to appreciate the result very much. “I did not want to make a crime film, but I read the script and it was extraordinary.” The libretto is based on a novel by Edward Bunker, an effective and passionate crime writer, in which he spoke of his criminal past, and an actor: it was Mr. Azul in Reservoir dogs. “I had never read anything from Bunker.” Wasn’t he attracted to it? “I did not know his work. I had to change the era, move it from the nineties to the present. That was my goal.”

Schrader swallows a sandwich, his English – usually chewed – multiplying his unintelligibility. But he likes to talk about movies, he cleans up neatly, and goes on to the next reflection. “The cinema matters to me. Unlike many current filmmakers. It is not their fault. It is society’s fault. If you had lived in the seventies in Hollywood, a golden age in terms of talent, you would have seen that the difference between those years And today it is the public. They took movies seriously, they loved them, they learned about the social situation through them. The moment special effects changed the type of viewers, the cinema mutated. So we have not lost the art, but we have lost the audience. Those viewers are more interested in budgets and effects than in the cinema. I don’t think we can reverse the situation. ” It is said by someone who did not see a movie until he was 18 years old, because of the strict Calvinist upbringing he received from his family.

A newcomer actor

He offered the character of the Greek to Michael Douglas, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Nick Nolte, Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Winncot, and Rupert Everett. For one reason or another, no one was willing or able to accept it. So at 70, Paul Schrader makes his acting debut. “The casting It is fundamental, it ties you to the result. If you make a mistake, it sinks you. “And how does he see himself on screen?” He had never done something like that. And I don’t think I will repeat. What I can say is that at least I’m not doing it badly or boring. And I don’t really care how I look on screen a little bit. “

its Dog eat dog neither does it leave room for hope or redemption. “Don’t give it any more laps. I’ve had a good time doing it. I hope it is something transgressive, that it entertains, that it shows that I am looking for a special sensitivity that I demanded from all the members of the technical team, almost all of the young debutants. And that’s it. Now I’m focused on my next job, which will be very different. ” Your title, First Reformed, with Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried. “I think the time has come for me to make a more spiritual film, about life and death. A few years ago I had dinner with Pawel Pawlikowski, the director of Ida, and he convinced me that I had to film something like this. So I wrote it. “

Like in Dog eat dog, Do hatred and ignorance triumph in the world? “Of course. It is not difficult to make films, but look what reaches theaters. And you only have to look at the debates between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton, although I do not think we will do much better if Clinton wins. The United States has legitimized that hatred and that ignorance. For decades we were proud that oppressive and dictatorial movements such as Nazism did not triumph in our country, unlike in Spain or South America. Today I am not so clear about the revolts and so much trash about white supremacy ” . Even so, he is happy in the United States. “I don’t know where I could live more comfortably.”

Another thing is his position in today’s cinema. “Actually the world of cinema is vast. The good news: we can all make a film. The bad news: not all, rather very few, will be able to earn a living with cinema. As Francis Ford Coppola says: ‘If today you want to be filmmaker, you have to find another job to support you. ‘And we are in those. “

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Paul Schrader: “We have not lost the art, but the public” | Culture