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Playback: Aaron Katz on ‘Gemini’ and the Erosion of Mid-Budget Studio Filmmaking

Playback: Aaron Katz on ‘Gemini’ and the Erosion of Mid-Budget Studio Filmmaking
Welcome to “Playback,” a Variety / iHeartRadio podcast bringing you exclusive conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films.

Filmmaker Aaron Katz has been making movies for 10 years in the independent space. He lived in New York for most of that time, cranking out projects like “Quiet City” and “Cold Weather” before the award-winning “Land Ho!” opened even more doors. His latest film is “Gemini,” a stylish, Hollywood-set neo-noir that, for Katz, was partly a way of wrangling with a love-hate relationship with the City of Angels.

Listen to this week’s episode of “Playback” below. New episodes air every Thursday.

Click here for more episodes of “Playback.”

“One of the reasons to make this movie is to confront my conflicted feelings about it and sort of live in the tradition of movies and books that both celebrate and have a lot of trepidation about Hollywood,” he says.
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Paul Schrader: Masterclass and Shows His Latest ‘First Reformed’

Paul Schrader: Masterclass and Shows His Latest ‘First Reformed’
Taken from the Rotterdam (Iffr) Blog.Paul Schrader has always been exceptional, Though he is of the period of the first independent filmmakers, Coppola, De Palma, Lucas, Spielberg, he fits into no category. His screenplays and the films he directed are proof of this.Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried and Pau Schrader at a First Reformed event.

His strict Calvinist parents refused to allow him to see a film until he was 18. And what is perfect for his attending Rotterdam, is that his ancestors come from the Dutch.

He came Iffr with First Reformed, starring Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, and Cedric the Entertainer, a (kind of) spiritual follow-up to his screenplay for Taxi Driver, and in a masterclass he conjured up a cinematic resurrection of a troubled Nic Cage pic. As always with Schrader, the devil is in the detail.

The house was packed with an audience — most of whom hadn
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

“It Was Important to Me Not to Fetishize a Classic Vision But to Look to the Present for Inspiration”: Director Aaron Katz on his L.A. Neo-Noir, Gemini

His fifth feature, and the first following his co-directed (with Martha Stephens) breakthough comedy Land Ho!, Gemini returns writer/director Aaron Katz to the character-based neo-noir of his earlier Cold Weather but with the cloudy Portland grays of that film replaced here with a sunlit sensuality befitting the picture’s L.A. setting. Indeed, shooting in his new hometown for the first time, Katz looks for inspiration to the kind of ’80s thrillers — American Gigolo and Bad Influence in particular — that found their treacheries and ambiguities within the city’s sunlit highways, dark nightclubs and oversized mansions. And while city geography is […]
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine_Director Interviews »

“It Was Important to Me Not to Fetishize a Classic Vision But to Look to the Present for Inspiration”: Director Aaron Katz on his L.A. Neo-Noir, Gemini

His fifth feature, and the first following his co-directed (with Martha Stephens) breakthough comedy Land Ho!, Gemini returns writer/director Aaron Katz to the character-based neo-noir of his earlier Cold Weather but with the cloudy Portland grays of that film replaced here with a sunlit sensuality befitting the picture’s L.A. setting. Indeed, shooting in his new hometown for the first time, Katz looks for inspiration to the kind of ’80s thrillers — American Gigolo and Bad Influence in particular — that found their treacheries and ambiguities within the city’s sunlit highways, dark nightclubs and oversized mansions. And while city geography is […]
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine »

‘First Reformed’ Trailer: Paul Schrader Revisits A Spiritual ‘Taxi Driver’ With Ethan Hawke

Paul Schrader might be one of the great American writer/directors of all time with a slew of classics under his belt like penning Martin Scorsese pictures like “Taxi Driver,” The Last Temptation of Christ.” “Bringing Out the Dead” and helming “Blue Collar,” “Hardcore” and the crime drama “American Gigolo,” but let’s face it, his career has been terribly uneven in the aggregate.
See full article at The Playlist »

‘First Reformed’ Trailer: Ethan Hawke Walks Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Premiering on last year’s fall film festival circuit, Paul Schrader’s dark, existential spiritual drama First Reformed is one of the director’s best films–perhaps the best–and, in great news, you’ll be able to see it sooner than expected. Picked up by A24 and initially pegged for a late June release, they’re moving it up to May 18 and now the first trailer has arrived.

Led by Ethan Hawke, he plays a reverend with a drinking problem in upstate New York whose church is preparing for a 250th anniversary celebration. When the pregnant wife (Amanda Seyfried) of a disturbed man comes for him to help, questions of his spiritual path and the world at large come crashing down in wholly unexpected ways. Of course, it feels like a follow-up to Taxi Driver in some light for Schrader, but it’s also its own clear-eyed beast.

“It
See full article at The Film Stage »

Oscars head accused of sexual harassment!

Renowned cinematographer and head of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - the organization behind the Oscars, John Bailey, joins the list of Hollywood biggies to be accused of sexual harassment.

According to reports, three claims have been made against John, who is now 75. The academy has confirmed that a review is underway but did not say who was involved.

Notably, the ace cinematographer worked in films like American Gigolo, The Big Chill and Groundhog Day, and has led the Oscars since last year.

Cinema St. Louis’ Classic French Film Festival Continues This Weekend With Alphaville, Lovers On The Bridge, and Pickpocket

The Tenth Annual Robert Classic French Film Festival — co-presented by Cinema St. Louis and the Webster University Film Series continues this weekend. — The Classic French Film Festival celebrates St. Louis’ Gallic heritage and France’s cinematic legacy. The featured films span the decades from the 1920s through the mid-1990s, offering a revealing overview of French cinema.

There are two more events for the Tenth Annual Robert Classic French Film Festival happening this weekend:

Friday, March 16th at 7:30pm – Alphaville

A cockeyed fusion of science fiction, pulp characters, and surrealist poetry, Jean-Luc Godard’s irreverent journey to the mysterious Alphaville remains one of the least conventional films of all time. Eddie Constantine stars as intergalactic hero Lemmy Caution, on a mission to eliminate Professor Von Braun, the creator of the malevolent Alpha 60, a computer that rules the city of Alphaville. Befriended by the scientist’s beautiful daughter Natasha (Godard
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

Academy President John Bailey Talks Museum Progress and Why He Won't Speak at the Oscars

Academy President John Bailey Talks Museum Progress and Why He Won't Speak at the Oscars
American Gigolo, Ordinary People and The Big Chill, stepped in as the 8,300-member Academy undergoes a soul-searching transformation, reaching out to a wide and diverse array of new members, establishing a new code of conduct to combat harassment after expelling Harvey Weinstein and wrestling with the very idea of what defines a movie in the midst of the digital revolution. At the same time, he's presiding over the Academy, with...
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Paul Schrader’s Secret New Movie: How the Director Resurrected a Wild Nicolas Cage Performance Without Permission

Paul Schrader’s Secret New Movie: How the Director Resurrected a Wild Nicolas Cage Performance Without Permission
In September 2014, veteran filmmaker Paul Schrader was livid. He had recently directed “Dying of the Light,” a grim thriller starring Nicolas Cage as CIA agent Evan Lake, who obsesses over tracking terrorists while suffering from a brain disease and losing his mind. The movie’s financiers wanted a more conventional espionage thriller than Schrader’s experimental, subjective narrative, so they took the movie away from Schrader, who sent an email explaining the conundrum to Cage. The actor struck a note or resignation.

“The unfortunate aspect to my having had so many careers in so many genres is that they can make a case to put me in box b instead of box a for money’s sake,” Cage wrote, in an email shared with IndieWire years later.

Schrader could relate. “Dying of the Light” arrived nearly 40 years after Schrader catapulted to fame with his screenplay for “Taxi Driver” and maintained
See full article at Indiewire »

Crypt of Curiosities: The Cat People Films

  • DailyDead
Next to Universal, few studios have had such a big impact on horror than Rko Radio Pictures. Started in 1927, Rko was the first studio founded to make exclusively sound films, a then-brand-new invention that served as a major draw for the studio. Rko’s life was relatively short (it was killed just 30 years after forming), but during their time, they put out a seriously impressive number of classics, including Top Hat, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Informer, and most notably, Citizen Kane.

Of course, Rko didn’t shy away from horror. While their output wasn’t nearly as prolific as, say, Universal’s, it was still quite impressive, boasting some of the most formative and important horror films of old Hollywood. Rko saw the release of a few all-time classics, including I Walked With a Zombie, The Thing From Another World, King Kong, and the topic of today’s Crypt,
See full article at DailyDead »

Paul Schrader Slams Harvey Weinstein for Recutting Films in Bizarre Facebook Post

Paul Schrader Slams Harvey Weinstein for Recutting Films in Bizarre Facebook Post
While most of the scathing criticisms of producer Harvey Weinstein involve his inappropriate sexual conduct towards female employees and stars, writer Paul Schrader’s biggest issue with Weinstein is his reputation for drastically recutting movies.

Schrader added his voice to the angry outcry against Weinstein with a rather tone-deaf Facebook post that downplays Weinstein’s personality as a “sexual gangster” since “most people who crossed his path” knew about it.

“Of course I knew Harvey Weinstein was a sexual gangster. So did most people who crossed his path. It was an odor that preceded him,” the post says. “That’s not what offended me most about the man. It was the fact that he purchased films by both Bernardo Bertolucci and Wong Kar Wai and then recut them. TWC offered to purchase Bret Ellis and my The Canyons on the proviso that Harvey could recut it — Why would Bret and I, I screamed
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Five Questions for First Reformed Director Paul Schrader

Paul Schrader returns to form with a deeply introspective film, First Reformed, which, following screenings in Venice, Telluride and Toronto, screens tonight at the New York Film Festival, where it was a late addition to the program. The writer of films including Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and director of films including American Gigolo and Affliction delivers a new work that both contains echoes of his previous pictures depicting “God’s Lonely Men” while also being quite unlike anything he’s ever done. (Plus, argues Vadim Rizov, something of a treatise on the role of Slow Cinema today.) Ethan Hawke stars as a former […]
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine »

Tiff Review: ‘First Reformed’ Acts as the Full Realization of Paul Schrader’s Vision

Paul Schrader has been open about the original intentions for his most famous work, the screenplay to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. Writing it in the vein of Robert Bresson films like Diary of a Country Priest or Pickpocket, it was his full intention for the film to be directed in a similarly austere fashion. This writer perhaps doesn’t need to further recount what actually happened in the end result of one of the most famous American films of all-time, but nonetheless the multiple authors involved put it in a different direction.

It seems that some of Schrader’s own directorial efforts, be it American Gigolo or Light Sleeper, were certainly an attempt to complete the “Transcendental” experience to one degree or another. Yet four decades later, First Reformed — which, should be mentioned, also seems to be taking from Bergman’s Winter Light and Tarkovsky’s Sacrifice in the
See full article at The Film Stage »

Ethan Hawke-Amanda Seyfried Thriller ‘First Reformed’ Bought by A24 for U.S.

Ethan Hawke-Amanda Seyfried Thriller ‘First Reformed’ Bought by A24 for U.S.
A24 has acquired U.S. rights to Paul Schrader’s thriller “First Reformed,” starring Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried.

The film premiered on Aug. 31 at the Venice Film Festival, followed by screenings at Telluride and Toronto. A24 plans a 2018 release.

Hawke portrays a mysterious reverend based in a small town in upstate New York. When he’s approached by Seyfried’s character, who’s pregnant and struggling with a seemingly unstable activist husband, Hawke’s character gets embroiled in a treacherous scenario that forces him to confront his troubled past.

Related

Paul Schrader on the Extinction of the Human Race and His New Film ‘First Reformed

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman said in his review, “Paul Schrader courts respectability and leaves it in the dust, getting stoned on excess. But make no mistake: He’s still one hell of a filmmaker.”

The producers are Christine Vachon, David Hinojosa, Frank Murray, Jack Binder, Greg Clark,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Paul Schrader on the Extinction of the Human Race and His New Film ‘First Reformed’

Paul Schrader on the Extinction of the Human Race and His New Film ‘First Reformed’
It’s no surprise that Paul Schrader, a filmmaker associated with such dark classics as “Taxi Driver” and “American Gigolo,” has a pessimistic streak. But it’s still bracing to hear him argue that humanity, as we know it, is unlikely to last through the next century.

In an interview at the Toronto Film Festival, Schrader said he believes that global warming is accelerating at such a rate that there’s little that can be done to arrest the ecological changes. His Cassandra-like streak informs “First Reformed,” his new drama that’s been screening to strong reviews at the fall festivals. The film grapples with issues of faith while also sounding a warning about the destruction of the natural world. It follows Ethan Hawke as a small-town priest who toys with becoming a suicide bomber in the service of a radical form of environmentalism. Schrader spoke to Variety about religion in film, working
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Paul Schrader Digs Into Explosive Themes of Venice Pic ‘First Reformed’

Paul Schrader Digs Into Explosive Themes of Venice Pic ‘First Reformed’
In 1972, four years before his debut screenplay “Taxi Driver” hit the screen, Paul Schrader published his Master’s thesis, “Transcendental Style in Film,” on a very different kind of filmmaking. In his essay, Schrader identified how directors as geographically far removed as Yasujiro Ozu and Robert Bresson had arrived at similar formalistic techniques to convey a spiritual or metaphysical dimension in their work.

“I never really thought that I would end up making a film in that way,” admits Schrader, whose relatively confrontational directing credits dissect various forms of extreme and frustrated masculinity, from “American Gigolo” to “Auto Focus.” “I was too in love with psychological realism, with action, with motion and pictures, [whereas] this kind of film means that you have to step away from those elements.”

And yet, Schrader’s latest, “First Reformed,” which premieres in Venice before playing the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, finds the director channeling the austerity of Bresson’s “Diary of a Country Priest” — if
See full article at Variety - Film News »

‘First Reformed’ Review: Ethan Hawke Is Better Than Ever in Paul Schrader’s Tense Eco-Thriller

‘First Reformed’ Review: Ethan Hawke Is Better Than Ever in Paul Schrader’s Tense Eco-Thriller
For 40 years, Paul Schrader has made movies about serious, driven men isolated by deep-seated philosophical conflicts. From “American Gigolo” to “Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters” to “Affliction” — not to mention the “Taxi Driver” screenplay for which he’s best known — Schrader’s stone-faced protagonists are guided by a spiritual sense of purpose that reflects his Calvinist upbringing. With “First Reformed,” that obsession takes center stage in an absorbing late period achievement that brings Schrader’s talent back into focus.

First Reformed” consolidates the decades of bubbling guilt and frustration experienced by so many Schrader protagonists into a single enraged priest, played with brilliant layers of guilt and discontent by Ethan Hawke. It’s the best work in years for both men, a fascinating meditation on inner turmoil in which doing the right thing can lead down many wrong directions.

Read More:Paul Schrader’s Last Stand: How a
See full article at Indiewire »

Venice Film Review: ‘First Reformed’

Venice Film Review: ‘First Reformed’
Paul Schrader has always been an amazingly protean filmmaker — going all the way back to the late ’70s, when the screenwriter of “Taxi Driver” first stepped behind the camera, leaping from “Blue Collar” to “American Gigolo,” from “Cat People” to “Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters,” from “Patty Hearst” to “The Comfort of Strangers,” from “Auto Focus” to “The Canyons.” Throughout his career, though, there are myths, memes, and motifs that remain quintessentially Schraderian: the repressed Calvinist upbringing that resulted in his never seeing a film until he was in his late teens; his fixation on the “transcendental” high rhapsodic austerity of Bresson, Dreyer, and Ozu; and, through all the pointy-headed fixation, the way he retained a down-and-dirty B-movie grandiosity.

Schrader’s “First Reformed,” which premiered tonight at the Venice Film Festival, spans those high/low, art/pulp obsessions with a reach as arresting as it is (knowingly) nutty. The movie is about a pensive, melancholy
See full article at Variety - Film News »

6 Challenges Facing New Academy President John Bailey

6 Challenges Facing New Academy President John Bailey
As new Academy president John Bailey opens up about what he plans to do in his new job, we read the tea leaves. He faces an unusually tumultuous time, as the Academy confronts multiple challenges, from the industry’s transition to digital, and pressures from ABC to increase viewership of the Oscar show, to the need to raise more funding to build the troubled $400 million Academy Museum at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Here are Bailey’s main concerns. So far, he seems more than up to meeting this new assignment.

1. Will the Academy change its diversity outreach?

No. As someone who has long hired men and women of different ethnic, socio- economic, and racial backgrounds, Bailey supports Academy CEO Hudson’s outreach imperative via the A2020 program which is designed to double the Academy’s diverse membership by 2020. He’s proud of such Academy efforts as the Academy Gold internship program,
See full article at Indiewire »
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