Paul Schrader’s 2017 film about a middle-aged pastor named Toller (Ethan Hawke, in a truly extraordinary performance), who is shocked out of his self-inflicted torment when he is called to minister to a troubled young environmental activist and his wife (Philip Ettinger and Amanda Seyfried), is as deeply personal as it is politically and spiritually urgent. The film also stars Cedric the Entertainer as the leader of the megachurch that oversees Toller’s 250-year-old landmarked structure and his ever-dwindling congregation. Schrader has created a potent cinematic experience, a carefully constructed, beautifully crafted communion with one lonely soul that allows us to gaze right into the eye of modern media- and money-fueled horror. An A24 release.
For nearly half a century, Paul Schrader has crafted a personal and provocative body of work typified by an obsessive focus on moral decay, isolation, and self-redemption across various dispirited pockets of the United States. Rounding out an era-delineating thematic trilogy that began with First Reformed (2017) and The Card Counter (2021), Master Gardener (NYFF60) continues what the writer-director has referred to as his “man in a room” movies with a startling tale of dormant violence and the possibility of regeneration.
In anticipation of Master Gardener’s theatrical release at FLC on May 19, which will feature a Q&A on opening day with Schrader and stars Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver, we are pleased to present a double feature of First Reformed and The Card Counter on May 17, followed by a Q&A with Schrader.
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