‘Taxi Driver’ Screenwriter Paul Schrader Drops Epic Diss Bomb on Terrence Malick
To say that Terrence Malick’s films have grown increasingly divisive would be an understatement; his dizzying (literally, there’s so much spinning), dreamlike aesthetic is something that is seemingly only loved or hated, rarely — if ever — eliciting a tepid reaction in between. (I’ve never seen someone walk out of a Malick film, shrug and say, “Eh, it was just okay.”) According to a very suggestive Facebook post, Paul Schrader, the Golden Globe-nominated screenwriter of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, has come out firmly in the hate camp — at least as far as Malick’s latest is concerned.
Before he wrote scripts for Martin Scorsese, and long before he directed films like American Gigolo and last year’s totally wack-a-doo crime thriller Dog Eat Dog (starring Nicolas Cage, if that tells you anything), Schrader was a film critic who studied under the late, great Pauline Kael. As such, he has some strong opinions about filmmaking, though I suspect Ms. Kael might prefer her former student to express them a little more elegantly than he did over the holiday weekend, when he posted his “review” of Malick’s latest film, Song to Song. Watch out because this take is coming in hot:
Someone call an ambulance because Terrence Malick just received one hell of a sick burn.
The diss itself isn’t surprising coming from Schrader, a filmmaker widely known and often respected for his curmudgeonly attitude and his disdain for the Hollywood studio system. (I asked Schrader about this when we spoke last fall, and he responded by saying, “There is no studio system.”) It is somewhat surprising, however, that Schrader delivered such a hardcore diss to Malick considering they have a fair amount in common — they’re both idiosyncratic and unconventional filmmakers that have had to work outside the mainstream studio framework to get their movies made the way they want to make them.
Still — whatever you think of Malick or Song to Song, that Facebook post is pretty hilarious.