First Reformed — Behind-the-Scenes Featurette: 'Paul Schrader's Process'


added: Wed, Aug 1st '18

He's the screenwriter that penned director Martin Scorsese's best-known classics "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull." And over his 40-plus year career, he has written and directed several acclaimed features such as "Hardcore," "American Gigolo," "Light Sleeper," and "Affliction."

But with his latest effort, "First Reformed," former film critic turned filmmaker Paul Schrader has taken on his first ever "spiritual film."

"When I was younger I wrote about kind of spiritual films. I never thought I'd make one myself, " says the 72-year-old film vet in a new behind-the-scenes featurette, which offers an insightful look at his filmmaking process, including a peek at his script notes and cinematography references.

Schrader continues, "And then I was having dinner with Pawel Pawlikowski, a Polish director who did 'Ida' that won the Academy Award two years ago. And I left the dinner and I said [to myself] it's time ... it's time for you to write one of these scripts."

And, the result of that dinner conversation became what is now "First Reformed," a critically acclaimed spiritual-themed drama that stars Ethan Hawke as a grief-stricken New York pastor, and former military chaplain, who reexamines his faith when he starts counseling a radical environmentalist.

The film, which was released theatrically back in May, has garnered some of the best reviews of Schrader's career in recent years. And while it marked Schrader's return to the moody, self-examining dramas that were his bread and butter, the film didn't exactly turned out to be a box-office smash, despite sitting comfortably at a 94 percent on the Tomatometer. It will likely attract a bigger audience on the VOD and Blu-ray markets.

Speaking of which, "First Reformed" is currently available digitally and will hit Blu-Ray later this month, on August 21st.

Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a solitary, middle-aged parish pastor at a small Dutch Reform church in upstate New York on the cusp of celebrating its 250th anniversary. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the church is now a tourist attraction catering to a dwindling congregation, eclipsed by its nearby parent church, Abundant Life, with its state-of-the-art facilities and 5,000-strong flock. When a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband, a radical environmentalist, the clergyman finds himself plunged into his own tormented past, and equally despairing future, until he finds redemption in an act of grandiose violence.


directed by   Paul Schrader

starring   Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric "the Entertainer" Kyles, Victoria Hill, Philip Ettinger

release date   Now Playing -- August 21, 2018 (Blu-Ray)

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