FIRST REFORMED
2018, A24, 108 min, USA, Dir: Paul Schrader

Writer-director Paul Schrader’s gripping thriller tackles a crisis of faith that is at once personal, political and planetary. 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.


DOG EAT DOG
2016, RLJ Entertainment, 95 min, Dir: Paul Schrader

With two strikes against them, Mad Dog (Willem Dafoe), Troy (Nicolas Cage) and Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook) don’t have a lot of options. So the three ex-cons are receptive when mobster Grecco the Greek (director Schrader) approaches them with a kidnapping scheme … but the potentially lucrative operation quickly spirals out of control. Adapting Edward Bunker’s seminal pulp underground classic, Schrader employs a gonzo, guerrilla approach to create this brilliantly funny, scattershot noir, which takes us to the underbelly of California with endless bloodbaths, morally corrupt characters and a sadistic sense of fun. “A thoroughly disreputable, sordid and engaging crime drama.” - Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter.


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