3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taxi Driver
To start this off, I'll just say this: Do yourself a favor and buy this fantastic film. If for nothing else, buy it for DeNiro's INCREDIBLE performance! I'm a movie buff myself, and I have never seen such amazing acting. It's a crime he didn't win the oscar. Secondly, it's directed by Martin Scorsese, one of the more brilliant filmmakers of our time, and written by Paul...
Published on July 19 2004 by shorty112390
3.0 out of 5 stars WEAK LOOKING PRINT - POWERFUL FILM!
Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) has a big problem - and not just one. He's a seemingly ordinary New York cabbie who's stalking one woman, Betsy (Cybil Shepard) while playing savior to another, Iris (Jodie Foster). But ol' Trav' is just a few coins short of a full meter, a neurotic oversight that will allow him to turn vigilante, threaten the political reelection campaign of...
Published on Dec 7 2003 by Nix Pix
Most Helpful First | Newest First
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taxi Driver,
To start this off, I'll just say this: Do yourself a favor and buy this fantastic film. If for nothing else, buy it for DeNiro's INCREDIBLE performance! I'm a movie buff myself, and I have never seen such amazing acting. It's a crime he didn't win the oscar. Secondly, it's directed by Martin Scorsese, one of the more brilliant filmmakers of our time, and written by Paul Schrader. This is the team that brought you Raging Bull. When these two geniuses get together, they make pure movie magic. And finally, Jodie Foster. She's only fourteen years old, and beautifully brings to life the child prostitute who is secretly hating the horrible city she lives in. One of the most brilliant touches of filmmaking was made here when Scorsese portrays NYC as hell, such as focusing on the smoke spewing out of the sewers, and making Betsy, Travis Bickle's love, seem like an angel among all the demons.
The story goes something like this: Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) Is a taxi driver who can't seem to sleep. He works at night, and the city around him fills him with paranoia, for the gangsters and the slime on the streets at night every day seem to be everywhere. Among all of these demons and devils, Travis sees an angel, a gorgeous woman named Betsy. He immediately falls in love with her, but his anti-social tendencies scare her off when he brings her to a pornographic movie on their second date, thinking it was just like all of the other movies. When she leaves him and won't return any of his phone calls, his depression rises until he meets a child prostitue named Iris (Jodie Foster) and her pimp named Sport (Harvey Keitel). Feeling the deepest sympathy for her, he tries to help her leave that terrible lifestyle, not believing her pleas that she loves her being a prostitute and loves her pimp.
To sum this whole review up, do yourself a favor and watch this great piece of work. See Scorsese's nightmarish vision of NYC, and Travis Bickle's slow descent into insanity.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taxi Driver - A disturbing experience,
After watching the classic 1976 film "Taxi Driver," viewers may be interested in their reaction. It can be depressing. Martin Scorsese directed this open-sore of a film and of his many classic works, this is the one most obsessively analyzed. "Taxi Driver" is such a raw, visceral experience that after viewing its nightmarish terrain one must decompress.
Seedy does not begin to describe the horror of "Taxi Driver," which details a world of pimps, prostitutes, drug addicts and a loner psycho brilliantly portrayed by Robert De Niro. This film established some of the great talents in motion picture history including De Niro, Scorsese, Albert Brooks and Jodie Foster. I wonder about disturbing epics like "Taxi Driver," "A Clockwork Orange," "Straw Dogs" and "Natural Born Killers." Whenever I visit the video store, I notice these films are usually checked out, empty boxes leaning against the shelf. Who's watching these films, and why so often? The films share a common thread in that they have likable actors (De Niro, Malcolm McDowell, Dustin Hoffman, Woody Harrelson) playing despicable men prone to violent rages. Alienated one and all, these characters have become anti-heroes for a world severely lacking in heroes. There are so many ways to view this film, with multiple levels serving as proof to its complicated brilliance. Urban alienation, cultural emptiness, veiled racism, Watergate analogy and Oswald repression are just a few of the metaphorical doors one can open in this nightmare.
De Niro's Bickle is a Vietnam veteran suffering from insomnia. He takes a job as a cab driver to work nights, driving through the most dangerous New York neighborhoods for fares. He becomes infatuated with a beautiful woman (Cybill Shepherd) who works at the campaign office of Palantine. Bickle takes the woman to a porno theater on their first date, and she dumps him immediately. To no one's surprise, Bickle soon begins to stalk her. He purchases a deadly arsenal of hand guns and intensely works out in preparation for his assassination of Palantine (and most likely the woman too). Along the way, Bickle stumbles across a 12-year old prostitute (Foster) whom he befriends. His attempted assassination fails and he walks over to the prostitute's home and kills her pimp (Harvey Keitel), landlord and an unlucky gangster. "Taxi Driver" unbelievably ends with the prostitute having been returned to her parents and Bickle becoming an inner-city folk hero. Shepherd's character tries to make a date with Bickle, but he's now at peace with the inferno around him and drives on disinterested.
This ending has been debated for years. It is so controversial that when the film first ran on television, stations posted warnings stating they did not consider Bickle a hero. They're right. Bickle's a whacked-out cultural icon, granted, but he's no hero. He wants to be a hero, and perhaps the final scene is Bickle at the moment of death dreaming of a happy ending. He's essentially saved the day and rescued a damsel in distress. Bickle was seriously wounded after the shootout, having been shot in the neck. So it could have been a dream sequence, though Scorsese purposefully made it too vague to be entirely sure.
It's clear Bickle wishes to be a cowboy hero in "Taxi Driver," as seen by the boots he wears and the guns he straps on like an inner-city John Wayne. His famously improvised "You talkin' to me?" speech is in fact a line of dialog lifted from the classic 1953 western "Shane." And the final showdown has Bickle taking on three men (outnumbered a la Cooper in "High Noon") in a bloody, ferocious battle that to this day is one of the most violent scenes in history. Bickle, adorned in Mohawk and Army jacket, fires at random. The violence is so sloppy one gets the feeling they are viewing an actual crime scene. There is no music, only the jagged noises of constant screaming and guns blasting within closed-in spaces. While we love the balletic violence of the final shootout in "The Wild Bunch," we turn away from the gore in "Taxi Driver." It's as repellant as reality.
Scorsese's masterpiece is not intended for the young or emotionally disturbed. Bickle is not a hero in a film populated by an army of non-heroes. Still, viewers just might get confused. I know Bickle is crazy, but I feel sorry for him. At times, I even identify with him. And that can be depressing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Social isolation brought to a stunning new level of realism,
Taxi Driver is Scorsese's second really great film; his first was Mean Streets, his third is Raging Bull and his fourth is Goodfellas. All these films differ greatly, but they all share Scorsese's brilliant direction and DeNiro's talent as an actor. I can honestly say that Taxi Driver is probably my favorite Scorsese picture.
The film centers around a man; Travis Bickle, who from past experiences (presumably Vietnam) has become isolated from other human beings and from society. He can't sleep, he can't think straight and all he wants is a direction. Travis needs something to make a living on, so he begins driving a cab at night; he sees that he might as well get paid for what he is doing.
The film deepens in meaning and though, and we begin to understand Travis more and more. He grows more isolated and hateful of the world as time progresses, and we are right there with him. DeNiro pulls of such a good performance that we are able to see him, not as an actor, but as a character. He becomes this man, and we become enthralled in this man's plight.
Taxi Driver is a truly stunning work of art; I have never seen a film detailing individual lonesomeness so well or realistically. The direction is brilliant, the acting is brilliant and the film itself is one of the greatest American films of all time. Taxi Driver is quite possibly the greatest film by Scorsese, and one of the crowning achievements of the 1970s.
5.0 out of 5 stars SCORSES'S GENIUS IS OBVIOUS,
In 1976, Martin Scorsese directed "Taxi Driver", starring Robert DeNiro. Calling this a "conservative" movie is a stretch, but it is a prescient look at New York attitudes that preceded the age of Giuliani. Paul Schrader wrote it. His story is a hoot in and of itself. He and his brother were raised in a strict Calvinist Pennsylvania family, emphasizing the strictest tenets of Scripture and absolutism. The Calvinists are big on pre-ordained destiny. Released from this environment, he came to Hollywood and tried everything. Naturally, he was a mess; a drug addict, an alcoholic and a heterosexual so confused he tried homosexuality just...to try it. Given the assignment to write a screenplay, he was holed up in a downtown L.A. hotel for weeks, then months. He had little social contact except occasional taxi rides to restaurants in and around L.A.'s skid row. He began to see the world from inside the taxi, and came up with a character and a plot revolving around the concept.
DeNiro's Travis Bickle is a Vietnam Marine vet, off kilter but moral, who is sickened by the crime, drugs and immorality of 1970s New York City, seen from the taxi he drives night and day. He has an ill-fated fling with a pretty campaign worker (Cybil Shephard), goes off the deep end and portrays himself as a possible assassination threat to a Presidential candidate, although this is never fleshed out. In the end, he commits an act of vigilantism to save the life of a teenage prostitute with potential (Jodie Foster), and like in "Death Wish" (Charles Bronson), is made a hero.
The message of "Taxi Driver" is that peace comes from strength. It was a popular theme in a number of flicks. Hollywood seemed to fail to grasp some important realities about its marketplace. Time after time, movies that veered away from "touchy feely" liberalism and gave teeth to conservative characters (Eastwood's "Dirty Harry", Bronson, DeNiro, and others) made boffo box office, yet the industry has never come to grips with itself. They return time after time to premises that insult conservative audiences, and wonder why the lines get shorter.
AUTHOR OF "BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SUPERMAN"
5.0 out of 5 stars A Controversial film that deserves controversy,
A good deal of the controversy about "Taxi Driver" revolves around its ending, and justifiably so. There are basically two criticisms that are particularly valid: The first revolves around the violence in the picture. Even by today's much too jaded standards, Travis Bickel's rampage is quite shocking. The question is: Was that extreme violence absolutely necessary to show the viewer? In other words, there is a sense that the viewer is being merely titillated by violence. Is it just violence for violence sake with no redeeming characteristic? Or isn't that Martin Scorsese's point? Isn't the violence pointless and irrational because Travis Bickle's life is pointless and he is himself an irrational person?
The second point of criticism is of course why the film ends as it does. Should it have ended with the exterior scene of police cars with their flashing lights and the assembled crowd of onlookers? Or is the extending ending just right? Did the post-rampage scenes really happen (in the story)? Or are they a halucination that Bickle is experiencing as he is dying from his gunshot wounds? Does it really matter anyway?
My own position is that, within the context of the story, it really doesn't matter whether Bickle is dreaming those "events" or not because Paul Schrader (the screenwriter) wrote the story that way to, among other things, highlight the nature of fame and celebrity. Aside from the fact that as viewers we know that Bickle is really no hero and therefore doesn't deserve to be treated as one, we recognize the absurdity of the press and its hunger for "red meat" stories and images. As the famous definition of celebrity goes: a celebrity is someone who is famous for being famous. If the film had ended suddenly with the exterior post-rampage street scene, Schrader would not have been able to make this additional point. Scorsese's directorial talents are therefore beyond criticism. In any event, Scorsese and Schrader worked closely on this film and I don't see the point in second guessing them. They are both men of considerable talent and their judgement has to respected. They knew what they were doing.
Besides, if someone wants to know what the film would be like without the post-rampage scenes all they have to do is stop the VHS/DVD player. By the way, the film that was used for Bickle's rampage scene was not chosen as "grainy." The correct term is that the colors were desaturated. It was done to avoid the possibility of garnering an "X" rating which would have severely limited the film's audience at the time. (Even today an "NC-17" rating is the kiss of death for a movie). Sadly, when a search for the original film stock with fully saturated colors was made many years later, it was found to have deteriorated beyond the point of recovery. What a shame! It would have made for an interesting restored version.
In any event, there is no need for me to recommend this film. It recommends itself.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest films of all time, easily,
There is but one aspect of this film that I felt was weak, but I'll get to that later.
Robert De Niro is captivating in this film, and performs an extremely difficult task (being the only central character in a film and appearing in essentially every frame) with a gift that few performers can lay claim to. How he didn't win an Oscar for this is anyone's guess, perhaps it was the proximity to his earlier win for "Godfather II." This is a good thing, because it is difficult if not impossible to imagine anyone but De Niro in the lead and even more difficult to imagine the film working with anyone else. The climax is still one of the most shocking and effective ever committed to film, and the grainy color of the film (used not for artistic reasons but to get the scene past the censors) adds to the surrealism of the rampage.
Now then, my beef with this film is that it doesn't end with that fantastic pan away from Bickle after he killed the men and ending with a slow zoom from the police cars and spectators arriving outside. That, in my opinion and taking nothing away from Mr. Scorsese's directorial talents, would have been the perfect end for an otherwise perfect film. The few minutes after this, which show Travis' commendation and a renewed interest from Betsy, do not really click with the rest of the piece. Granted, I do see the irony intended, that he went ballistic and instead of being committed or hanged he was congratulated and is back driving his cab, but I still do not think this end meshed well with the preceeding 100 minutes.
However, the greatest part of this film is De Niro, and that is why I stick with the five star rating. It is a must for any movie fan, although certainly not for the fainthearted.
4.0 out of 5 stars Taxi Driver (1976),
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel, Cybill Shepherd, Jodie Foster, Peter Boyle.
Running Time: 120 minutes.
Rated R for a scene of extreme violence and language.
All of us have known, in some shape or form, how Travis Bickle (played brilliantly by Robert DeNiro) feels. There is a time in every person's life in which he/she feels isolated from the world, perhaps out of place or unjustly a receiver of misfortune. Travis, on the other hand, is consumed by this sense of loneliness and despair, taking it to the brink of pure destruction and maniacal proportions.
DeNiro is hauntingly right on as the former Vietnam veteran who decides to get a job as a taxi driver for the streets of New York City. As he cruises the big-city landscape, he realizes all of the hidious crime, starvation, murder, death, and macabre that consumes society. When he is rejected by a love interest (Shepherd) due to his out-of-the-norm behavior, Travis begins a downward spiral: he begins to train as if he were still in the military, buys numerous firearms and weapons, and ultimately plans to stage an assasination attempt on one of the political candidates planning to take over the city.
When Travis meets a twelve-year old prostitute (Jodie Foster, in a extremely profound and witty introductory performance), his motivations for violence and release are geared towards the awful individuals who have taken this poor girl into their possession and are encouraging her into a filthy profession. This hatred for filth causes Travis to explode, creating a tormenting, horrific climax that will be remembered as one of the most severe in film history. "Taxi Driver" is certainly an acquired taste and not a film for all adults. It is a strikingly honest tale of how the inner troubles of a man can be extremely exaggerated, to the point that he knows no boundaries.
Director Scorsese uses dark camera angles and vivid images to portray his story, incorporating a musical score that embodies the essence of the film: an unoffensive saxaphone that dwindles into a deep, resounding boom. A film that can shock and chill, one that should be celebrated for its original genius, but also a work that is almost too graphic and emotionally-draining to enjoy.
5.0 out of 5 stars Certainly not for everybody,
To be frank, although I enjoyed Scorcese's Mean Stretts, the film did not leave a lasting impression on me. This does not mean that the acting was poor, rather the script was somewhat simple and unpolished. Scorcese took a lot more time on Taxi Driver, and this is apparent throughout the entire film. To begin with, the music score by Herrmann compliments the tone of the movie perfectly and conveys a feeling of loneliness and drifting. Secondly, the strength of DeNiro and Keitel's acting has improved considerably.
I don't want to give an explanation of what happens in the movie, rather to present an inidividual understanding. Many have dismissed Taxi Driver as a film which goes nowhere, and have called it too artsy. My interpretation differs. Certainly, it is not a unique film, but the feelings of loneliness and social awareness that DeNiro brings to his role are interesting. DeNiro may be thought of as a modern day Steppenwolf-a man completely alienated from his surroundings. Note, for example, the scene where he sits in the cafe with his collegues. His inability to communicate at even the most superficial level demonstrates his alienation from his surroundings, but also arouses the sympathy of the viewers.
Taxi Driver is unique in that the Scorsese did not hesitate to include racism in the movie(recall the scene when Bickle leaves the cafe and throws some menacing looks at a black man passing by). To see a film that is not concerned about making people happy and being politically correct is refreshing. Also the portrayal of the corrupt and superflous candidate is amusing.
Essentially, Taxi Driver is one of the most slept on films of the 1970's. Although it made a big impact at the time of its release, the touchy subject matter made it difficult for TV stations to air it to a home audience.
5.0 out of 5 stars A gritty superhero story?,
As I watched Taxi Driver for the first time in twenty-odd years, I was reminded of M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable. Not because Unbreakable comes anywhere close to Taxi Driver in terms of cinematic merit, but because Taxi Driver seemed to be aiming at the same broad theme--a comic book-style hero in a gritty, adult world. Because, if anything, Travis Bickle seems to fit quite closely a real world Batman, enraged by the injustices of the world, unable to fit in, and ultimately taking the law into his own hands. He has a raw honesty--in sizing up people, in not being offended by a porn movie--and an uncontrollable urge to act on a primal sense of right and wrong.
Clearly, Travis is also more complex--and more disturbed--than the average comic book hero. After all, Scorcese is aiming for real life (as to which Unbreakable is a pale, upper-middle-class imitation), and Travis' own, flat reaction to his apparent "psychosis" (his lamentations about having "these thoughts" was particularly impressive) betray a condition that at least fits our preconceived notions of what it means to be mentally "ill." But, unlike so many "sane" people, Travis does the unthinkable--he speaks to people honestly and openly, he gets enraged by injustice and immorality (no one else in the movie seems to care very much about 12 year old prostitutes), he has a nobility about himself (not giving in to sexual temptation from Jodie Foster's character). And his apparent planning to attack a presidential candidate (the movie is never really clear as to whether he intends to harm the man, or even scare him) seems driven by the falsity of the candidate's message--his "we are the people" mantra echoing in a world where the common people (at least those encountered by Travis) are the last ones you'd want running things.
The ending is fascinating. Is it real or a fantasy? The clippings of newspaper articles, as the camera scans across the board, say Travis is dead, and then later that he is comatose, but recovering. I suspect that the ending is a dream, the hallucination of a dying man who has his nobility vindicated in the end by appreciative parents and a city that needs more men like him.
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert DeNiro's best role,
Taxi Driver is set in New York, and focuses on a loner cab driver named Travis Brickle ( Robert De Niro). Travis is a somewhat mentally unstable Vietnam vet, who is sickened by the sleaze and violence that he sees at night on the streets of New York. One night, Travis has an encounter with a young prostitute named Iris (Jodie Foster) and becomes determined to persuade her to leave her pimp (Harvey Kietel). As Travis slowly decends into depression, paranoia, and overall madness, he becomes determined to rid the streets of crime himself.
Taxi Driver is without a doubt one of the best films I have ever seen. The reason the story is so great, is because it involves a taxi driver whose only human contact is the fares that he takes, which forces him to concentrate on the worst that society has to offer. This is what makes Travis feel like he is the only solution to society's problems. The film slowly takes you through each step of Travis's decent into madness. Travis Brickle is Robert De Niro's best performance in my opinion. DeNiro's ability to slowly break down the character is amazing, and watching De Niro transform himself into a crazy vigilante will give you the creeps. This includes the classic scene with De Niro standing in front of the mirror saying "You talkin to me?!!". Jodi Foster, Harvey Kietel, Peter Boyle, and the rest of the cast were all great in their roles as well.
Overall, Taxi Driver is one of my favorite films. The film effectively showcases the scum of society and the creation of a crazy vigilante, and Robert De Niro gives the best performance of his career. The DVD features an oustanding making of featurette featuring Robert De Niro, Jodi Foster, and director Martin Scorsese.
A solid 5 stars...
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Taxi Driver / Chauffer de taxi (Bilingual) [Blu-ray] by Martin Scorcese (Blu-ray - 2011)
CDN$ 19.99 CDN$ 11.99