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Winner of the prestigious Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival (1976) and nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture (1976), TAXI DRIVER stars Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's classic film of a psychotic New York cabbie driven to violence by loneliness and desperation. Co-starring Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle and Cybill Shepherd.
The commentary by screenwriter Paul Schrader occupies less than half of the film's total running time, but Schrader's comments are wide-ranging and richly informative regarding the origins of the film's titular character Travis Bickle, why Schrader chose that name for the character ("a clash of romantic and harsh"), the necessity of favoring images over words, collaborating with Scorsese and Robert De Niro, and various matters of theme, character, and dialogue. Also included is the full-length commentary by University of Virginia media studies Professor Robert Kolker (author of the acclaimed book A Cinema of Loneliness), who brings an academic depth of analysis to the film, with emphasis on composition, structure, repeated motifs and images, and the visual and thematic influences of Hitchcock (especially Psycho), John Ford (The Searchers), Jean-Luc Godard, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. With additional details relating to production history and Scorsese's other films, Kolker's commentary is the next best thing to attending a master's class on Taxi Driver. A handy interactive feature allows viewers to seamlessly view the film itself and the corresponding pages of Schrader's original screenplay.
Three hours of special features include with "Scorsese on Taxi Driver" (16:52), in which the director discusses the origins of the project (fellow director Brian De Palma brought Schrader's script to Scorsese), the personal impact of the material, proving his skills to producers Michael and Julia Phillips (and thus securing financing from Columbia), and various other aspects of production. In "Producing Taxi Driver" (9:53), Michael Phillips relates the process of discovering Schrader's screenplay, attracting Scorsese as director, getting the film green-lit by Columbia, assuming the role of on-set producer (while his wife, the late Julia Phillips, served as studio liaison), and appreciating the film's critical and commercial success and long-term influence. In the fascinating 21-minute featurette "God's Lonely Man," Prof. Kolker examines the loneliness themes that dominate the film, and Schrader discusses the personal hardships that led him to write the screenplay during a two-week stay in an ex-girlfriend's empty apartment in Los Angeles. "Influence and Appreciation" is an 18-minute tribute to Scorsese, featuring interviews with De Niro, Oliver Stone (a student of Scorsese's at NYU film school), Roger Corman (producer of Scorsese's early feature Boxcar Bertha), Cybill Shepherd, Albert Brooks, Jodie Foster and others. In the 22-minute featurette "Taxi Driver Stories," several past-and-present New York taxi drivers share colorful anecdotes about driving cabs in the 1970s, the way the industry has changed since then, and the various pleasures and difficulties of driving taxis in New York City.
"Making Taxi Driver" is a 70-minute documentary carried over from the 1999 single-disc Collector's Edition. It remains the definitive documentary about the film's production, featuring interviews with all of the primary cast and crew including cinematographer Michael Chapman and legendary make-up effects master Dick Smith. "Travis' New York" is a six-minute featurette about the state of New York (especially Times Square) during the Taxi Driver era of the mid-1970s, featuring interviews with former New York mayor Ed Koch and others. "Travis' New York Locations" is a split-screen comparison feature showing then-and-now footage of nine Taxi Driver locations from 1975 (when the film was shot) and 2006. (You'll be surprised by some of the differences, while other locations remain almost completely unchanged). In a 4-minute introduction, Scorsese discusses the vital importance of his original storyboards (in terms of on-set preparedness, etc.), and the "Storyboard to Film Comparison" (8:20) clearly demonstrates how the director's crude yet well-organized drawings were (in most cases) precisely translated into cinematic images. When using the "Play All" option, the photo galleries run as a 9-minute slide-show arranged in four categories (Bernard Herrmann's Score, On Location, Publicity Materials, and Scorsese on Location). --Jeff Shannon (This review refers to the 2007 Two-Disc Collector's Edition, which shared much of the same bonus features as this release.)
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First, at the end of the shoot-out scene, Bickle rolls his eyes backwards in the classic movie signature of death. Just before, of course, he put his blood-dripping finger up to his temple and mimed blowing his own brains out (after having failed with the empty real guns). Bickle is suicidal, dying, and will not recover.
Second, after this scene the camera pans across various news clippings on the wall of Bickle's room; these clippings describe him as a "hero" that saved a young girl. Also we hear the voice-over of Iris' parents saying that Bickle would always be welcome in their home for saving Iris. But think about real life crimes for a moment. When newspapers report about a man that goes on a shooting spree in a run-down part of town, do they really ever report them as "heroes"? Even if Bickle could explain to them why he did this (Iris' dad says he was in a coma after the shoot-out), would anyone really take a person like this at their word? And would Iris' parents really want to allow a murderous man a place at their table? What we have here is Bickle's fantasy about how he _wants_ the press and Iris' folks to interpret his actions, not a realistic view of how the world generally views such actions.
Third (along the same lines as #2), it's hard to imagine Bickle's buddies at the cabstand glossing over his rampage and treating him like old times. Really, if a co-worker of mine were involved in so violent an incident, I would probably not hang out with him so blithely. This is Travis imaginging that things are "back to normal" after getting out of the hospital -- a fantasy of peace.
Fourth, Bickle happens to find Betsy in his cab soon after returning to work. How fortuitous in a city of millions! But their conversation shows that she now respects him, considers him a hero like the newspapers and Iris' parents. Again, extremely unlikely -- especially given their history. In real life if she heard about the rampage (or recognized him trying to kill Palentine), that would only tend to confirm her earlier opinion of him as a depraved person. But here she also interprets his actions in the way he wants them to be interpreted (that he saved Iris from the human scum that were selling her) rather than how she probably would in real life. (Also note that the photography of this scene always shows Betsy's face from his viewpoint, floating in a dreamlike way in his rear-view mirror.)
Fifth, when Bickle drops Betsy off she seems uncertain, embarrased, and demure, and is obviously just on the verge of offering some kind of intimate apology. Instead she asks how much is the fare. He drives off without accepting a dime. This is Bickle's triumph -- he wins their relationship battle by rejecting _her_, and by being confident, independent, and morally superior. Typical subconscious inversion tactic.
Sixth, as he drives off, Bickle sees himself in the car's rear-view mirror, then adjusts it to see if he can see Betsy. As he does so, a violent wrench is given to the accompanying musical score. Then we see no one in the mirror at all as the credits roll to Bernard Hermann's haunting love theme. There's nothing in the mirror (except the rolling, ubiquitous city) because Travis is not there. Its symbolic of his death -- like that of a vampire -- that the mirror doesn't show his reflection. Travis is dead and we have just witnessed his last thoughts.
Travis is only a hero in his own mind. There is no hero in this movie. It does not have a happy ending. Travis continues to justify his own behavior and viewpoint to the last, and grants himself a kind of sainthood -- beatified by the press, Iris' parents, and Betsy's acquiescence.
The tragedy of the movie is deepend by this reading of its end. To my mind, this also makes the movie more coherent, since it's main theme is the psychological isolation of Travis Bickle. The end consumates his separateness. Others will never connect to his vision of himself as a master (rather than a victim) of circumstance, a protector of innocence, a scourge of evildoers, an instrument of God's judgement.
You know how you watch old movies and now, even when you watch them again, you still tend to rate them high due to memories of watching them when you were younger and feeling the obligation to remain faithful to how you felt?
That's how this movie is. It's an oldie with good acting and whatnot, but I did not enjoy it very much because of the following reasons:
INTENDED MAINLY FOR PEOPLE THAT HAVE WATCHED THE MOVIE OR PEOPLE THAT DON'T GIVE A BLANK.
In no specific order:
1. The guy gets ready and does all this training to, in the end, kill 3 or 4 low life losers, some of which were not armed and even tried not to provoke him? The basically provoked them and acted like some sort of tough guy. The whole movie sets you up, making you sort of think that he was going after big game aka the possible presidential candidate when the whole time, after all the training he's done....he took out 3 low-life's, which by the way sucks and made the ending really disappointing. It's like the whole plot revolves around the end where he kills those guys.
2. He goes and kills those guys and he's declared a hero without going to jail? Was that how it is back then? You go out and you kill bad guys and you not only DON'T go to jail....but treated as a hero? Doesn't make much sense to me, either that or times sure have changed. What he did was basically premeditated murder or mass murder.
3. The movie doesn't really make clear who the main character plans to take out and the main character never seems to do much research or investigation into his mastermind scheme....which I really felt to be completely coincidental due to that fact. So basically that part of the plot goes like this: He talks about how he dislikes the scums and low-life's of the city aka drug dealers, prostitution, etc etc. Then he trains with a few guns that he bought, then one day he just decides okay it's time to do it. Then he goes and kills three criminals. Again I bring up that he does not do any research into these guys or the movie never shows him do enough research to justify his final scenes. You're left confused till the very end and it's not a clever setup either.
4. There was a lot of useless scenes that did not assist with the ending scene. Scenes like:
a) He fell in love with this blond, which dumped him.
b) His hatred for the geek that keeps following the blond.
c) The scenes with the other cab drivers, never really builds a relationship with them much and they do nothing to the story except make it longer.
d) Scenes of him training, did he REALLLLLLY need to train to kill 3 guys???? Thought he was going to take out an army or something, totally anti-climatic.
e) Most of the cab scenes, read the following below.
5. The movie, I felt, did not efficiently utilize and implicate his role as a taxi driver. Why do I feel this way? Because whatever he did and whatever he felt and whatever he knew, could have been done, felt, or known even without being a Taxi Driver. Let's go deeper. He drives around and notices all this crap in the street which makes him dislike the city more and wants to do something about it. You don't need to be in a taxi to feel this way or find out about this. A better way to implicate his role as a taxi driver to further help the plot of the story would be him spying on bad guys or getting important information as a taxi driver, using his taxi driving identity to somehow sneak into certain places and acting as a spy, etc.
Thinking back on that movie, the only spying he really did was probably with the presidential candidate that coincidentally got into his cab and talking to him, but even that I felt was useless. And this scene alone confuses the plot, not help clarifies anything. He knows nothing of the guy, how can he be a supporter?
So what? He feels sorry for one prostitute and helps her get free and he's a hero? What the heck? What about those other hundreds or thousands of other prostitutes? It's like if I went out and adopted a single cat at the pound and ran around calling myself a savior. CRAP!!
The acting was good, but the movie, IMO, is not that great. It was probably a good oldie, but a present day analysis makes the movie not so good at all.
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I have had my eyes on this one for years.Read more