Grace and I favour

Hailed as a significant return to i form. Paul Schrader‘s latest film. i Light Sleeper. develops the spiritual i

j l

- themes that marked his early work

in American Gigolo or the l

' screenplay for Taxi Driver. Trevor .

Johnston reports. '

f ambivalence of his attitudes towards it. but in his

It’s been something of a critical stand-by to talk about Paul Schrader's work in relation to his stern ('alvinist upbringing and the subsequent

eighth film as director it's difficult to avoid drawing attention once more to the context of his

formative years. Starting an excellent Willem

Dafoe as despairing drugs courier John Le 'l’our.

' Light Sleeper. like much of Schrader's output

before it. is again concerned specifically with the issue ofspiritual redemption and the acceptance of

divine grace within the surroundings of a fallen

I around him.

metropolitan world.

Le Tour ia a latterday cousin to Richard (iere's 7(is gigolo Julian Kay. or indeed the Travis Bickle and Jake La Motte characters Schrader created for ' Martin Scorsese. As he shuttles through the chic clubs and apartments of uptown New York a glorified delivery boy for his businesslike boss Ann (Susan Sarandon) the proximity of his fortieth birthday has him contemplating all that‘s missing in his life. starting him off on an inner journey that will culminate in violent upheaval for all those

Although the film does seem an obvious and highly fascinating variation on earlier Schrader

material. it wasn‘t quite planned that way. Struggling through a bout of flu that had just a few days previously forced the cancellation of his interview schedule at the Berlin Film Festival. Schrader explains that the genesis of the whole project was a particularly vivid dream. ‘l‘d been looking for a contemporary character to write and had almost given up the search.‘ he recalls. ‘until

1 one night this guy I‘d known five or six years ago

just popped in there and I realised that the character had started looking for me. From that point on. it was written quickly and we got it made


‘Essentially l was taking the kind ofcharacter I‘d written about before and bringing him up to date. putting him in my age bracket. They‘re shadow figures in society. moving from place to place. looking in on other people‘s lives but not really having lives of their own. They‘re searching for a connection to the rest ofexperience and in that respect they‘re almost like souls looking fora body. That's certainly how I saw Le Tour.

‘I went out and tracked the actual guy down. and

I remember him telling me that on one occasion he

had walked into a room. had a premonition that he was going to get busted and then walked right out

5 again. It occurred to me that what he talked about

when he talked about luck wasn‘t all that different from what Christians mean when they refer to grace some sort of magical intervention. an extra-human organising principle that comes into

' Ligt

5;. «MN l v l Ieeper: 'spiritual redemption in a fallen metropolitan world' your life by no action of your own. All these

5 superstitions that criminals have are really just

forms ofspiritual longing. so I realised that by writing about it you could then get through to pretty much heavier subjects.‘

After the diversification that his directorial career underwent in the 80s into variably successful projects like Cat People. Patty Hearst and The Comfort of Strangers. these are absolutely central Schrader concerns. With its careworn performances and richly brooding visual textures. Light Sleeper is the most intense and involving film we‘ve had from this most fascinating of major American filmmakers in many a long year. It was. ofcourse. a battle to get the project on screen at all with the entire cast and crew working for minimal fees but. as the man himself reckons. it‘s exactly this kind of art versus Mammon challenge that he relishes most ofall.

"I‘he very thing that keeps me from being

I enervated or deadened by this business.‘ he adds with a briefshuffle. ‘is the possibility ofdoing

things in a different way. Taking villains and

, making them heroes. taking themes that are rather

esoteric and putting them into the lives ofstreet people. That‘s what keeps you creatively alive but it also runs counter to the economic principles of the entertainment industry. You don‘t choose the kind ofsubjects I do and expect it to be easy.’ Light Sleeper opens at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Monday 30 March

i Vision on

Regardless of the pallid state of the Scottish film industry, independent film and video making in Scotland is , currently blossoming in good health in " allot its many formats. Such isthe 1 confidence in home-grown product that ' the organisers of New Visions—the first international festival of moving images to be held in Glasgow—feel that the nation can hold its head high when measured against the best work from i across the globe.

virtual reality. To achieve a true

New Visions: An lli Wind Blows by Fayd

instead of succumbing to the temptation of having a festival primarily in order to pat Scottish filmmakers on the back fortheirwork

overthe last year, New Visions is keen to use the 25 or so programmes to view Scottish work in a broader context and to assess its place in the international framework. The plurality of film and video making in the UK is reflected in the wide range of formats used in over 200 programmed pieces—from Super 8, through 16mm to computer- generated video images. Perhaps this is not unusual in itself, but New Visions has taken the bold step of mixing formats within individual programmes. Highlights include a retrospective of works by Video and Television Artist David Hall, and an emphasis on state-of-the-art technology that ranges from computer art to cyberpunk and


‘festival' feeling, New Visions will spill l over from its GFT hub to take in other I venues in the city, principally the Transmission Gallery, where a l videoteque will showcase all preview : tapes sent to the Festival, and the j Apollo Bar in Rentrew Court, which will g provide an information and social point from breakfast to midnight each day. (Alan Morrison)

New Visions International Festival of ? Film and Video runs in Glasgow from

1—9 April. Fordetails of programmes and venues, see Film Listings and

Index. A free brochure will be available from the GFT from 28 March.


The List 27 March 9 April 199211