From what I gathered, Paul Schrader, the writer-director of Hardcore, feels…
He makes better films now. Better written. Better directed.
His earlier films are chock full of bad writing, bad directing, bad casting decisions.
His earlier films are too brightly lit. The camera doesn’t move enough. The editing’s paced too slowly.
Hardcore‘s producer, John Milius, whose own writing is notable for its ‘bombast’ (according to Schrader), was a clear influence on Schrader’s (apparently subpar) writing of Hardcore— according to Schrader. In other words, if Hardcore has any punch as a piece of dramatic writing, blame it on Milius.
Fine by me: I love Milius’ writing (Jeremiah Johnson, Dirty Harry, Red Dawn, Dillinger, Big Wednesday, Apocalypse Now). Maybe that explains why– along with Blue Collar (1978)– Hardcore is my second favorite Schrader flick (no thanks to Schrader, apparently).
“That was exhausting. At least I won’t have to do it again. Thank you for listening.” -Paul Schrader, wrapping up his audio commentary for Hardcore, a film he obviously doesn’t think very highly of.
Listening to this audio commentary, I felt as if Schrader were telling those of us who shelled out thirty-plus dollars for the new Twilight Time Blu-ray that we were chumps for having enjoyed the movie enough to spend that kind of money on it.
Why is it that the Paul Schrader movies I enjoy the most (Blue Collar, Hardcore) are also the two movies Paul Schrader believes really aren’t that good at all?
I’m a dinosaur, apparently, who enjoys bombastic, brightly lit, slowly paced, ‘didactic’ melodramas, like Hardcore. Silly me.
UPDATE: Just finished listening to the new disc’s second audio commentary, recorded by three film historians, all of whom are fans of the film. Much more pleasant to listen to, mainly because, like myself, they actually appreciate that it’s a great movie.