A searing study of an important American writer-director
As the first full-length study on Paul Schrader's films, this book examines the different styles of his work and the multiple influences on which it draws. A defining feature of Schrader's career is his capacity to engage in a range of collaborations and production contexts while returning to a consistent set of themes, character types, and dramatic scenarios. Going beyond the affirmation of a directorial vision, Schrader creates a cinema driven by issues of obsession, memory, and the difficult nature of experience. Representative of a new generation of American writer-directors of the 1970s, Schrader's films highlight the tension between old and new ways of telling a story and between the maintenance of commercial formulas and openness to individual expression.
George Kouvaros draws on a personal interview conducted with Schrader and the director's prior commentary to trace common motivations and impulses behind such well-known films as Light Sleeper, American Gigolo, Affliction, Auto Focus, Taxi Driver, and Patty Hearst. Kouvaros reads Schrader's films not only in terms of a number of important themes such as male obsession and estrangement, but also in regard to harder to define issues that include melancholia, trauma, and the complex linkages of violence and guilt that bind individuals to places and each other.
"Schrader was a big part of the American film renaissance of the 1970s--which produced films that challenged and provoked, although they sometimes failed to find an audience--and Kouvaros offers a good argument as to why his films matter."--Library Journal
"A good book for film students and Schrader enthusiasts, and it provides ample springboards for further discussion of the director's oeuvre."--Pop Matters
"Across an impressive series of writings, George Kouvaros has been one of our ablest commentators on the performance of self by both film directors and their fictional characters on-screen. With his sharp and concise study of Paul Schrader, Kouvaros productively and compellingly brings these critical talents to bear on a complex, contradictory body of films in trenchant and far-reaching fashion."--Dana Polan, professor of cinema studies, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
"A much needed source for those interested in Paul Schrader. This stimulating and engaging work illuminates his career and provides incisive analysis of his films, making it an especially valuable contribution to the field."--Cynthia Lucia, author of Framing Female Lawyers: Women on Trial in Film
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Edited by Stephen Tropiano