With First Reformed marking a wondrous return for the filmmaking genius that is Paul Schrader, it’s proven that he’s a director who isn’t slowing down anytime soon. We had the pleasure to speak to him and ask him all about his favourite movies, which seems apt, for he’s come up before in this feature, as Taxi Driver (which he penned) has been an answer on more than one occasion for others taking part, while Mark Cousins used Schrader’s love for Taylor Swift as a means of proving there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure.
WHAT’S THE FIRST MOVIE YOU EVER FELL IN LOVE WITH? “The movie that was most important to me was Pickpocket, because when I saw that in 1969 it made me realise that there was a connection between a religious upbringing and my profane presence and there was a connection to style, and out of that came the book Transcendental Style. It almost made me realise that there was actually a place for me in filmmaking, I was a critic and I didn’t think there was, but then I saw this movie about a guy who writes in a journal and goes out and steals stuff and I thought, I can make something like that. Then three years later I wrote Taxi Driver.”
WHAT’S THE ONE MOVIE THAT YOU NEVER GET TIRED OF WATCHING? “I guess I would say An Autumn Afternoon by Ozu. It was the first Ozu I saw and it just had the right balance of everything and the use of colour was so nice and I saw it and it opened up a world to me, and every time I re-see it, that world opens up again.”
WHAT’S YOUR FAVURITE MOVIE SOUNDTRACK?
“That’s a good question because I haven’t really thought that much about it. I think that Bernard Herrmann’s work on Taxi Driver was pretty fucking great.”
WHAT’S YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE? “If you like something trashy, and you’re a smart, intelligent person, you’re responding to something that’s not trashy, even though it seems to be. If you’re an intelligent person and you like junk, it’s not because you’re watching junk it’s because you’re seeing something that isn’t junk. When Quentin Tarantino sees those junky exploitation films, he’s not seeing the junky exploitation films, he’s seeing something else that interests him.”
WHAT SCENE MAKES YOU CRY EVERY SINGLE TIME?
“I guess it would be when Setsuko Hara breaks down in Late Spring. When she starts crying.”
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE OF YOUR OWN MOVIES? “Well you have different favourites for different reasons. Obviously First Reformed has a cumulative joy, it feels like I did the thing that I set out to do fifty years ago, I’ve done it. That feels great. The other end you look back on a film like Mishima and you think, wow, that’s still an original film, there’s only one film like that… and I made it.”