It’s been a year of wins for First Reformed director Paul Schrader. Not only did his film win two Gotham Awards and Best Actor accolades from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and New York Film Critics Circle (plus Best Screenplay from the NYFCC), Schrader has personally won hundreds of games of Words with Friends. A24 spoke with the Taxi Driver screenwriter about his absolute domination of the sport. He’s quite mercenary. “In Words With Friends, you have all the time you want and you can make all the mistakes you want. You can sit there and try out ten or twelve words that might not even be words, you’re just guessing,” he said. “[O]ften you’ll choose a word with fewer points, but that simply keeps the board constipated.” His description of conceiving of and outlining First Reformed is almost as dispassionate: “In the case of First Reformed, you’re talking about the main character from Diary of a Country Priest, the setting from Winter Light, the ending from Ordet, the levitation scene from Sacrifice, but what really makes it contemporary and original is that these elements are all bound together with the barbed wire of Taxi Driver.” Is everything just letters on a board to Paul Schrader?
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