Writer/director Paul Schrader’s first movie since “First Reformed” is shaping up with an enviable cast, which now includes Tiffany Haddish, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker confirmed in a recent interview with The Metrograph. As previously announced, Oscar Isaac is set to lead the film currently titled “The Card Counter” as a gambler and ex-serviceman who tries to reform a young man looking to exact revenge on a mutual enemy. According to the interview with Schrader, Tye Sheridan and Willem Dafoe are also on board and the film is financed. (It’s repped by HanWay Films.)
Regarding Haddish, the fast-rising star who’s become a favorite of many an auteur, including Paul Thomas Anderson, Schrader said, “I love Tiffany. I’ve never met her, but I was on the phone with her for an hour. She’s a firecracker. It’s like talking to a live-wire connection. She’s very funny and, of course, she makes you funny. When someone’s sharp, that makes you get sharp because you want to keep up. So that’s all good.”
Schrader said “The Card Counter” is in the spirit of his past boundary-pushing work, which also includes “Dog Eat Dog,” “The Canyons,” “Auto Focus,” “Affliction,” “Light Sleeper,” “Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters,” “American Gigolo,” and “Hardcore.” (In a recent Facebook post, Schrader described his body of work as “understated narratives of male maladies.”) Schrader told The Metrograph: “In my films, I’ll sort of combine two worlds that seem to have nothing to do with each other. In the new one, it’s the world series of poker and Abu Ghraib.”
Schrader also shared his thoughts on the current state of theatrical cinema, dividing it into four categories: “One is spectacle. Another is the family and children’s films, because you love to see your kid watching with other kids. The third is date movies. That’s primarily horror, some comedy thrown in. And the fourth is club cinema. It used to be called art house cinema, but now that has changed, pretty much, not only around the country, but the world. And club cinema is where alcohol is the new popcorn and you become a member.”
During last year’s awards-season run for “First Reformed,” Schrader spoke at a Q&A about another project in the kiln, a Western remake of Budd Boetticher’s 1956 “Seven Men From Now” titled “Nine Men From Now.” “Basically, if you took a script from 1956 that Budd Boetticher made with Randolph Scott, and you asked Terry Malick and David Lynch to come in and take a shit on the script, you would have the movie I’m making,” he said.
“The Card Counter” has yet to begin production, but is already highly anticipated among the cinephile contingent. Call it “club cinema.”
IndieWire has reached out to Paul Schrader and sales reps on “The Card Counter” for comment.