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on May 23, 2004
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.
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on December 1, 2003
Whoa!! Fireball performance by De Niro, competent direction by Martin Scorcese and good supporting performances by Jodie Foster and Harvey Keitel - all the elements which worked together in bringing out this classic.
De Niro is the lonely guy who takes a one-way ticket to the loony bin when he is shunned by the world. The world around him is too busy to take notice of him and his loneliness turns into frustration, then into desperation and culminates in psychosis. He becomes in hell-bent in rescuing a young prostitute (Jodie Foster) from her way of life and shoots up some pimps and low-life along the way. That is Taxi Driver in a nutshell, but what makes this great is how all the actors literally live their roles and make us feel as if they are just on candid camera. You feel a bonding with De Niro since once in a lifetime, everyone goes thru this patch of neglected loneliness.
The DVD specials consist of the usual fare - making, storyboards, trailers etc. There was some problem with my DVD and I couldn't see the 'making' completely. But it was good till the point I had seen, so no gripes. Get the DVD!!
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on October 20, 2003
Now first off I should warn people that this is not a movie for all tastes. If the following offends you:
- Graphic, ultrarealistic violence.
- Porn films
- The idea of taking your date to a porn film.
- 12 year old hookers.
- Graphic language involving sex with a 12 year old.
- Graphic language in general.
- Racial slurs
...then don't watch this film.
OK, now that I sound like I'm giving the movie a bad rap, let me continue with the good stuff: this film is the only movie where you root for the depressed psycho stalker. It sounds incredible, but its true. Robert DeNiro's character Travis Bickle is described in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Colossal Guide as "an ordinary guy with a few problems." Few problems includes not being able to sleep, having a steady job as a taxi driver only because he has too, and dealing with his hatred for the world around him.
He attempts to change things by turning to a young woman working on a presidential campaign. What starts out great turns rotten after Travis tries to make her watch a porn film. Stalking her doesn't work, so he gives up and decides to take his rage on the corrupt New York of the time on some one else. That being the hoodlums toying with Jodie Foster, a 12 year old prostitute. He sets out to save her from life on the street - a one man war on prostituting minors.
Like I said, its the only movie where you cheer for the psycho.
Any way, you might wonder why I rank this "the perfect bad-day at work movie." Thats because it really is. Travis has to deal with customers having sex in the taxi or making him park the vehicle outside a house where they explain on killing some one. Travis doesn't like it, but its the only job he can have at the moment so he has to put up with the horrible conditions. Finally, he breaks free of his torment and gets back at in any way possible.
One night I came back after working an exhaustive 9 hour shift as a clerk for a grocery store. I had had a HORRIBLE day, so when I got home I popped this movie in my DVD player. I tell you, you never see Travis so much a hero as when you've had a horrible day at work and know just how he feels. Even if you feel disgusted by some of his actions, in reality we all have a bit of Travis in us all, and there are times when we all just wanna break out in, "Listen all you f***heads, you screw ups, this is the story of a man who would not take it any more..."
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on October 17, 2002
This review refers to the Collector's Edition (aka Special) of Taxi Driver by Columbia....
Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jody Foster and Harvey Keitel show us early on their special gifts to cinema, along with screnwirtier Paul Schrader.
Taxi Driver is the tale of Travis Bickle(De Niro), a lonley man,who drives a cab through the nighttime streets of New York. Although he is all but invisable to those around him, he witnesses all the disturbing events going on in the city.
Travis is not just lonely. He is obsessive and psychotic, and we slowly sees these traits arise in him through the film.
First he becomes obsessed with the beautiful Betsy(Cybill Shepherd) a campaign worker for a presidential hopeful, only to be rejected by her, and Travis goes after the candidate. He then turns his attentions to the 12 year old Iris(Foster), a prostitute working for a pimp named Sport (Keitel). He tries desperatly to save her from the streets and herself and when she doesn't respond he becomes extremly violent.
Throughout the story we see Travis' dessent into his psychotic behavior. De Niro really is superb at this. We first see it in his eyes,at one point he even talks to another cab driver(Peter Boyle) about the feelings he has, he purchases weapons, and prepares for battle like a warrior.
The movie is a classic and will stand the test of time.
The DVD has a host of bonus features, documentaries on the making and casting,it is in Widescreen(anamorphic), there are storyboard sequences among other things. The reason I gave this "Classic" film only four stars was the picture and sound, Although it is a pretty good transfer and is digitally remastered it just didn't seem up to par with other older movies espcially in the sound dept. The Score is great, but it is in 2.0 channel dolby digital, and I have even older movies(i.e. Gone With the Wind 1939) that have been remastered in 5.1. Also the color seemed a little dated. BUT!..... I would not trade this in for any other edition of this film, I am happy to have it as part my collection and those little details did not detract from the brillance of this film.
I would still reccommend this DVD to any Scorsese or De Niro fan.
"You talkin to me?"...from the famous mirror scene.......Laurie
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on March 6, 2002
once again the deniro/scorsese team has struck cinematic gold.althought this was a little on the talky side,the construction of travis bickle made this well worth it.if harvey keitel's charactor was more antagonizing/involved,his demise would have been more effectual.i mention this because in a round about way,hes responsible for travis' transformation.nontheless,the simplicity of the story is genius.a lonely man with too much time to think on his insomniatic travis is hired as a cab driver to waste away his sleeplessness.while on duty,he encounters societies extremes.a chance encounter with a young hooker(jodie foster)changes him(more so than his brief affair with cybil sheppard) her,travis finds purpose for his life.this,coupled with the break up of his quasi relationship with the senetors aide(sheppard)pushes travis to the brink.although the VHS version is adequate,i would splurge and go for the DVD.either format,this is a great movie.1 thing though,THE INCIDENT(you know,that multiple oscar nominated FILM)costs more than TWICE this(and im talking about the VHS version of the all time classic THE INCIDENT).does this make ANY SENSE!?!?!?!?!?
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on December 29, 2001
Martin Scorsese's 'Taxi Driver' is a most graphic and harrowing tale of loneliness and its effect on the human psyche.
Robert De Niro, the most versatile and talented actor ever in my opinion, plays Travis a man so plagued with insomnia he turns to taxi driving to while away the late hours.
In a job not usually associated with isolation, Travis, a misanthrope, feels a sense of solitude that is almost inexplicable. A man who finds it impossible to articulate his feelings, the slow degenerative process of rationalisation leads him to question his very being. With so much time to think, sickened at the state of New York City, Travis sees an opportunity to be someone - a self appointed bringer of justice.
This is not a pleasant film. In fact, it's the ugly tale of a man's sedulous quest for purpose culminating in extreme, explicit violence.
It's a frightening, grim and true-to-life film; an historic monument in cinematography, but those of a nervous disposition may prefer to give it a miss.
In respect to the actual DVD, it, like most DVDs is impressive. The 70 minute documentary that compliments it, gives a clear insight into the mind of the director and his motives for being involved in such a controversial movie.
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on July 13, 2000
After watching this movie, John Hinckley went out and tried to kill Ronald Reagan. This would indicate that "Taxi Driver" is a worthwhile movie. In more basic terms, however, the reason this is such a good movie is because it shows how close the categories of "hero" and "psychopath" are, and indeed, how close these categories are to normal life.
Travis(Robert De Niro) is a young, lonely, slightly obsessive taxi driver, who displays in the course of the movie, the two main male passions - sexual love and fatherly love. The first of these is directed towards a young professional, Betsy(Cybil Shepherd), a campaign worker for a Presidential candidate; the second towards a child prostitute, Iris acted by Jodie Foster.
the first of these passions brings him into fleeting contact with the cold aloof world of US politics characterized by empty sloganeering and an absence of policies. By actually meeting the candidate, Palatine in his cab, Travis begins to instinctively realize the connection between the messed up New York streets with their pushers and prostitutes and the opportunism and cynicism of those who defile their responsibility.
After being misunderstood and rejected by Betsy, these vague political misgivings crystallize around his dented male pride and lead him to plot the assassination of Palatine. As he prepares himself for this, however, his paternal feelings are aroused by the plight of Iris, the child prostitute, whom he resolves to rescue. Already living on the edge, he decides that the best way to do this is by killing her pimp.
In his mind these two goals become almost identical. Killing the apathetic. patronizing politician, who is socially or politically responsible, and the pimp, who is individually responsible for the abominations of modern city life, like child prostitution, have little to separate them. Indeed, only the candidate's security guards make the difference.
Foiled in his first attempt, it is only the second of these goals that he manages to accomplish. Ironically, the courage that would have had him damned as a sociopath in the first case, allows him to become a hero in the second.
This film raises the question: Is someone who takes a gun and tries to blow away a President or one of the other fakirs of the frenetic passivity of ungovernment, a hero? The answer is probably yes.
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on May 22, 2000
Taxi Driver is one of the most important film in the American cinema of the 70's . Also, after almost a quater of a century after its release, it still is an exciting as well as horryfing experience to see it. What is discribed in this movie is still chillingly true in our days. For Scorsese fans, the Criterion Laser Disc was long thought to be a must-have item. The transfer used in this new DVD looks quite different from the Criterion version which was surpervised by cinematographer Michael Chapman. Frankly, the LD looks better than the DVD, or at least it's more beautiful. The rich color of the Chapman-trasnfer is not on the DVD. The color looks a bit desaturated and often off-balanced. For instance, in daylight exterior, what you see outside the windows are simply too blue (especially in scenes taking place in the Palantine campaign office). It looks more contrasty and you loose certain details in the shadow area. But I do not dislike this transfer: while the Chapman-trasnfer makes Travis' Urban Hell look a bit sexier, Hell's Kitchen in this version is tough, gritty and merciless. The desaturation of colour employed on the notorious "blood bath" sequence is more effective in this edition. If you have the chance to see the film on screen with a good print, the effect is devastating (Scorsese applied the same technique in Bringing Out the Dead, this time throughout the entire picture) . The DVD also features an insightful series of interviews from the filmmakers including Scorsese, writer Paul Schrader, Michael Chapman, Robert De Niro and the other cast member, and the special make-up creator Dick Smith. The interviews with the supporting cast, especially the one with Albert Brooks (who played the presidential election campaign worker) is particullary interesting. Another interesting function is that you can compare the film with the screenplay simultanously, and understand how Scorsese preserved the structure of Schrader's script while filling in more details that makes the characters and the story alive. This DVD is really worth buying if you like the movie. You can see it repeatedly, and learn a great deal about how it was made. But I think Criterion should re-issue their version (with audio commentary by Scorsese and Schrader) on DVD as well (and also Raging Bull).
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on May 2, 2000
After going through the 85 reviews or so on this film, I feel very proud. People have done an extremely good job of explaining the brilliance of Taxi Driver and the emotional experience that it evokes. And although I have little to add in those areas, I do have another perspective that I hope will be of interest.
Probably the one aspect of being a cinephile that I most enjoy is finding a connection between two filmmakers that I really like. It helps explain my reaction to their work---as if to say, it's only natural that you relate to this film; this filmmaker likes the same films as you. In these terms, Taxi Driver has been a tremendously rewarding experience. Watching it again, this time as a more knowlegable cinephile, I discovered connections that I'd overlooked in the past. A couple of these observations, I think are particularly revelatory, and I'd like to share them.
But before I do so, know that these are merely conclusions that I have drawn and that they are by no means fact. If you agree, great. If you learn something, great. If you don't agree and don't learn anything, well, I hope you at least enjoyed the read.
Although Mean Streets is my favorite Martin Scorsese film, I think Taxi Driver is far more interesting from a stylistic standpoint. More than anything, I say this because of Michael Chapman's cinematography---the lighting, the framing, the camera movements, everything. Coincidentally, in recent years, of all the young cinematographers, I have been most impressed by Christopher Doyle and his work with the Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai. I love the way he captures the big city and have always felt that there was something truly original about his work.
Until recently, however, I was unaware of any precursor to the Christopher Doyle style. I thought it was one of those artistic breakthroughs that come without warning and defy all claims of artistic inheritance. But then I re-watched All the President's Men. In the work of Gordon Willis, I recognized those blues and reds and greens that I had always attributed to Christopher Doyle. And now that I've gone back and watched Taxi Driver, I see that Michael Chapman was responsible for many of the other things that I'd always credited to Christopher Doyle. In 1976, he gave the nocturnal city a new look---revolutionizing the way the streets shine and the signs glow and the colors all blend into one another.
Like I said before, findings like these are one of my greatest pleasures as a cinephile. When I like a film, I want it to mean that I've been moved. Recognizing similarities like Doyle-Willis-Chapman enables me to continue filmgoing as an emotional experience. I like a certain kind of lighting. When a film is lit that way, I react. It's not a theory. And I don't have to justify my tastes in any intellectual manner. And for me, that's why I became interested in film in the first place---because it affected me emotionally. That said, back to the game of uncovering parallels between the work of Wong Kar-Wai and Martin Scorsese. As I mentioned earlier, my favorite Martin Scorsese film is Mean Streets. It's not the filmmaker's most stylistically characteristic or even most impressive work, but it is my favorite. I respond to it more than to any of his other films. It moves me, and I care about the characters. Taxi Driver, on the other hand, because of some of the truly anti-social flaws in Travis Bickle's character, leaves me cold. I don't fully respond to Travis' plight. He never exhibits the positive qualities that I need in order to be fully taken in by a character. And he doesn't ever give me a good reason to be sympathetic towards his loneliness.
I've never fully responded to Taxi Driver on an emotional level, and now I understand that it is because I don't relate to Travis Bickle. Yet I still like the film. This paradox---liking a film yet not caring about the central character reminds of Wong Kar-Wai's Chungking Express.
When I first saw Chungking Express (the first Wong Kar-Wai film I ever saw), I thought it was cool. Its style was new and intoxicating. But I didn't feel totally satisfied. Wong's mysterious swapping of central characters left me confused and kept me from fully implicating myself into his story. I wanted more from a film.
Then I saw Days of Being Wild. Although it lacked the excitement of Wong Kar-Wai's signature style, I found myself responding much more deeply to its characters than I had to anyone in Chungking Express.
And now it all makes sense. For a long time, I fell into one of two traps. I would see a film knowing it was classic and if I wasn't moved, I would think that I had missed something. My defense mechanisms would be set in motion and before I knew it, I'd be convincing myself that I had also thought it was a classic. Or other times I would base my opinion of a film entirely on a film's surface. I'm not saying that any of the previous reviewers have fallen into this trap, but with work of unusually exciting style like Taxi Driver (other examples include Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting, The Wild Bunch, or Clockwork Orange), it is a likely pitfall. From here on out, and I don't think it'll be easy, I hope to live by the following---if the film moved me, I liked it. I don't care if it's a classic or not.
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on August 19, 1999
I enjoyed this movie, but I have to say it's neither de Niro nor Scorsese's best work (Raging Bull is better by a hair because of its flowing rhythm and totally engrossing quality). The narrative can be confusing at times, and the "shoot-out" scene in the sleazy whorehouse at the end is badly cut and timed, with strangely grainy film quality compared to the rest of the movie (maybe it's due to the MPAA's cutting job that another reviewer mentioned). Also, maybe it's because I saw the older, non-Special Edition DVD version, but the film print seems sort of faded and a little scratchy, and I noticed that part of the image is cut off even in widescreen (especially noticable in the end credits, where it says "starring Robert de Ni"). So I take off half a star each for problems in DVD transfer and for problems in the movie itself. If the Special Edition is of better quality than the original DVD version, think of it as four and a half stars. But don't fret over the little things; see the movie anyway! It's a great movie, certainly better than this year's idiotic blockbusters like Wild Wild West or Deep Blue Sea. They sure don't make 'em like they used to.
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