Excerpt: First Reformed, Paul Schrader’s newest (and possibly best) film as a director, is presented in the boxy, old-school aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (the shape of twentieth century televisions and most movies made before the mid-1950s).
Excerpt: Shot fullscreen and devoid of score until almost halfway through, First Reformed proves a claustrophobic enterprise that keeps Reverend Toller’s descent (or enlightenment depending on your political, philosophical, and religious ideals) front and center. Unfortunately, it also finds itself devoid of nuance in the process. Schrader has never been accused of subtlety, but in this case a little would have gone a long way.
Excerpt: First Reformed questions how the ancient world of tradition and the modern world of capitalism co-exist when they are fundamentally opposed in so many ways. Above all, Schrader examines how extremism can sprout from many dark corners of the human psyche, of which religion is merely one.
Excerpt: It is a poetically cinematic work that features the performances of its actors’ careers. It’s also a stunningly heavy-handed work whose script often mistakes nuance for a mallet over the head.