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Art Blog

A blog by illustrator and designer, Bryan E. West. This blog will focus on my artwork as well as my thoughts about art & culture.

Movie Recommendation: Light Sleeper

Light Sleeper(1992) - Paul Schrader


If anyone knows a lot about high-class midlevel cocaine dealers it’s Paul Schrader. Personally, I don’t know much about high-class anything, but I can say with confidence that these people feel real. They don’t seem overly greedy like dealers in most movies. This isn’t Scarface or Breaking Bad, there are no drug lords or epic falls from grace. These are just people trying to get by and searching for love. There is some real desperation on display as we watch the characters externalize their problems, searching for salvation in other people and blaming them when things don’t work out. Willem Dafoe gives one of the very best performances of his career. People often talk about how strange Dafoe is, and how he plays a good villain, but he is a master at communicating vulnerability. Many people compare this to Taxi Driver, which I think is largely due to the setting and occasional narration. The New York in Light Sleeper may look different than Taxi Driver, but it’s still the same. The city hasn’t really changed, it’s just covered in a veneer of 80’s sheen and neon lights. I find that Schrader’s films work best when seen in close proximity to each other. If you are able to watch this, Affliction, and First Reformed within the same week you’ll probably have one hell of an experience.