Saturday, 1 January 2011

Taxi Driver - DVD - 01/01/11

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking; "I thought MyFims only reviewed films that it hadn't seen before.  What on earth is "Taxi Driver" doing as the first review of 2011?  Oh, maybe it's a "classic" review...looking back on a favourite movie."


This isn't a look back at an old favourite.

Look, I have a confession to make.

I'm not proud of this and it kind of flies in the face of the image I may have given you of the sort of film blog I am but, well, I've see, the thing is, what with work and the bills and...listen, I just don't want you to judge me too harshly.  The truth is...

I haven't ever seen "Taxi Driver".

No, no, wait...come back.


I'm sorry.

I'm only human and there are only so many hours in the day...think about all the other movies I've seen and written about.  Can't you just, I don't know, forgive me?  I'll work harder if you just stay...I won't let you down again.

Let's just get all of our skeletons out of the closet at the start of the year.

I haven't seen everything...OK?  It's not possible.  I try to see as much as I can and I know I give off this air of "Oh, I'm MyFilms and I know all about movies" but the truth is I don't...I'm just a man with a blog trying to do his best in a world full of distractions.

If you stick with me you'll see that there are other classics that I haven't seen..."Citizen Kane"?  Never seen it.  "Casablanca"?  Never seen it.  "Grease"?  Never seen it.  I will, I promise...I will and I'll write about them.  Well, not "Grease"...I'm not watching that but the others I will.


Can we move on?


I'm glad.

I don't want for us to fall out.

"Taxi Driver" is a film that all of you will have seen already I'm sure.

Directed by Scorsese, written by Schrader, scored by Herrmann, starring De Niro...this is a film that is truly deserving of the "classic" tag.  During a decade when American directors were pushing boundaries and making films that could really be called groundbreaking "Taxi Driver" manages to stand out as something even more significant and important than the likes of "The Godfather", "The Conversation" or "The French Connection".

De Niro as "Travis Bickle" is simply astonishing. A mess of emotions and contradictions...a prophet lost in a wilderness of pornography, crime, drugs, violence and corruption he exposes himself as being as flawed as the very people he despises.  Like a shamed voyeur he watches his city from behind the safety of his windscreen until a broken heart forces him into action.  His role as saviour of a pre-pubescent prostitute though is accidental...his first choice of action is to assassinate a Presidential candidate who he believes to be a phoney.  Like  Holden Caulfield, Travis is alone, frightened and confused but unlike Salingers anti-hero he is also armed and dangerous.

Support for De Niro comes from an angelic Cybil Shepherd and babe in the woods Jodie Foster.  These two women appear to have been cast in the wrong roles with Shepherd, the adult female, a bastion of morality and Foster, the child, a streetwise, drug addicted whore.  It is the innocence of Fosters youth that makes casting her in this role a masterstroke by Scorsese; watching her ply her trade on the mean streets mere months after she was playing lead in the likes of Disneys "The Parent Trap" forces us to confront the reality of the world around us.  When Travis makes his first desperate attempt to save her he is shocked by her casual attitude and approach to the selling of her body...she appears, if not happy, then resigned to the life she is leading.

Shepherd however is shocked by Bickles decision to take her to see an "adult" movie and despite being intrigued by him it is this one bad decision that forces him out of her life.  She is all soft focus and repressed sexuality.  When one considers the reputation of the real life Shepherd it highlights, again, the genius of Scorsese in casting her in this role.  "I want the one I can't have" appears to be running through Travis like "Blackpool" through a stick of rock and it is this frustration that sends him over the edge from angry loner to deranged man of action.

Writer Paul Schrader alongside Scorsese created a world that was simply too awful but was also sickeningly real.  Into this cesspit they drop De Niro as a damaged Vietnam veteran with difficulty sleeping and making relationships.  The result was always going to be explosive and so it proves.  Long after its initial release I was stunned by how relevant "Taxi Driver" felt.  It is possible that in the face of the current economic crisis, government cuts, rising unemployment and growing crime rates that "Taxi Driver" is now not only a glimpse into a world that is past but a prophetic vision of a world that is to come.

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