Paul Schrader

He's one of the legends of 1970s Hollywood cinema. He grew up in a Calvinist community and saw his first film when he attended University. His passion for cinema matched his obsession with guns. A fascination with masculinity would inform his finest work, but before becoming a writer-filmmaker he was a Paulette – one of the protégées of firebrand critic Pauline Kael. Admiration for the cinema of Carl Theodore Dreyer, Robert Bresson and Yasujiro Ozu would inform his films. He wrote 'The Yakuza', based on his brother Leonard's story and directed by Sydney Pollack. A bleak period informed 'Taxi Driver' (1976). It cemented his reputation. Further collaborations with Martin Scorsese followed: 'Raging Bull' (1980), 'The Last Temptation of Christ' (1988) and 'Bringing Out the Dead' (1999). But his personality proved too strong to remain just a writer. 'Blue Collar' (1978) is a stunning debut. 'Hardcore' (1979) felt more like an exorcism of his strict religious background. 'American Gigolo' (1980) was a key film in defining the 1980s – all shoulder pads and Armani suits – and drew heavily on Bresson's 'Pickpocket' (1959). It was also first in a trilogy of sorts, followed by 'Light Sleeper' (1992) and 'The Walker' (2007). He is at his best when he surprises: the rapturous splendour of 'Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters' (1985); the smart satire of religious comedy 'Touch' (1997); the dysfunctional biopic 'Autofocus' (2002). 'Affliction' (1997) is a stunning adaptation of Russell Bank's novel, 'Adam Resurrected' (2008) is a genuine oddity, 'The Canyons' (2013) is a mess. 'Dog Eat Dog' is as ferocious as it sounds, falling somewhere between 'Natural Born Killers' (1996) and a hardboiled crime drama.

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