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Plot: Travis Bickle is an ex-Marine and Vietnam War veteran living in New York City. As he suffers from insomnia, he spends his time working as a taxi driver at night, watching porn movies at seedy cinemas during the day, or thinking about how the world, New York in particular, has deteriorated into a cesspool. He's a loner who has strong opinions about what is right and wrong with mankind. For him, the one bright spot in New York humanity is Betsy, a worker on the presidential nomination campaign of Senator Charles Palatine. He becomes obsessed with her. After an incident with her, he believes he has to do whatever he needs to to make the world a better place in his opinion. One of his priorities is to be the savior for Iris, a twelve-year-old runaway and prostitute who he believes wants out of the profession and under the thumb of her pimp and lover Matthew. Runtime: 113 mins Release Date: 07 Feb 1976
Disturbing, powerful, relevant, important (by andrew7)
A towering classic of American cinematic power. Martin Scorsese teams up with one of the most intense actors of that time to create a masterpiece of urban alienation. Paul Schrader's magnificent script paints a portrait of loneliness in the largest city of the world. Travis never once enters into a meaningful relationship with any character anywhere in the film. He is the most hopelessly alone person I've ever encountered on film.He is alone with his thoughts, and his thoughts are dark ones. The film fools you on a first viewing. Is Travis an endearing eccentric? Sure, he's odd, <more>
but he's so polite, and he's got a quirky sense of humor. His affection for Betsy is actually rather endearing. But on a second view, you see it for what it is. The audience comes to see Travis's psychosis gradually, but there's actually far less development than one might think. When he talks about cleaning up the city, the repeat viewer knows he doesn't mean some sort of Giuliani-facelift. This is less a film about a character in development as it is a kind of snapshot. To be sure, it takes the stimulus to provoke the response, but does that imply some kind of central change in the character?Tremendous supporting roles are brought to life through vivid performances by Keitel and Foster especially. Shepard's character, Betsy, is little more than a foil to highlight Travis's utter alienation from society, but she is still impeccably portrayed. With only two scenes that don't center on Travis, it is unavoidably De Niro's show. The life with which the supporting cast imbues their characters is a credit to themselves, and to the director's willingness to let the film develop from the intersection of diverse ideas and approaches. What would the plot lose by eliminating the Albert Brooks character Tom ? Nothing at all. He makes almost no impact on Travis's life, which is where the plot lives. But his inclusion makes the film as a whole much richer and fuller.As a piece of American cinema history, this film will live forever. But far more important than that, this film will survive as a universal, ever-relevant examination of the workings of the alienated mind. The story doesn't end when the credits roll. We know Travis will snap again. But the story doesn't end with Travis either. It continues today in the cities and in the schools. The film is about the brutal power of the disaffected mind.This film didn't cause the incidents in Colombine, or Hawaii, or Seattle, or wherever you care to look, even with all of its disturbing images of violence. It didn't cause those things. It predicted them.
Scorsese's dark masterpiece of urban alienation (by TomC-5)
Despite what some might see as limited by technical flaws and/or as an overly simplistic plot, Taxi Driver deserves its critical reputation as a cinematic masterpiece. Some 23 years later, the existential plight of Travis Bickle, "God's lonely man," continues to pack a hard emotional punch. In fact, it's hard to know where to begin when praising the elements of this film - such elements as the dark location shots of a now gone seedy Times Square, the cinema verite settings of the cabbies and campaign workers, the magnificent Bernard Hermann score, Paul Schrader's fine <more>
script, the memorable performances of Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, and Peter Boyle all must be mentioned. However, the brilliance of this film is primarily a result of the brilliance of De Niro and Scorsese, one of the greatest actor-director teams in movie history. This is an unforgettable film and rates a 10 out of 10, in my estimation.
The script of "Taxi Driver" is built like a diary, the diary of a very ordinary guy who gets hired as a night taxi driver back from Vietnam, because he can't sleep at night. A very ordinary guy who tries to break his isolation, but can't, while violence accumulates inside him. One of those unnoticed people with dark things on their mind, one of those who break up the news one day with some extraordinary outburst of rage, to fall back immediately into anonymity.The gradual transformation of man into beast in this movie is chilling. It's still funny and pathetic when the <more>
hero threatens himself in front of the mirror "you're talking to me?" , but when he comes out with a mohawk hairdo and dark glasses, it is obvious that nasty stuff is going to take place. As in "A Clockwork Orange", violence is recuperated by society depending on what purpose it is used for. Whereas he was about to murder the candidate for presidency, "god's lonely man" fails and instead kills a vicious pimp who exploits teenage prostitutes. The potential criminal becomes a hero for a day.Such stories happen everywhere of course, but it seems that the bewildering atmosphere of New York City's summer night was the best choice. "Taxi Driver" gives us a very realistic approach of New York, in a way that is not seen on screen so often, at least not anymore, whilst that city is probably the one in the world that has been filmed the biggest number of times.Most of the movie takes place at night. The credits open on the blazing lights of the yellow taxi cab moving slowly in the dark rainy streets. A kaleidoscope of neonlight appears through the dripping windows as the driver's eyes blink in the front mirror. The night is the hero's universe, it's the time when "all the animals come out", as he says. By contrast, the few daylight scenes look somewhat off-key, but this was definitely intentional.The final scene still appears today as extremely violent, but at least, it shows murder for what it is. Brutal, ugly, crude. It is something one tends to forget about after seeing so many police series where people get shot so often that it gets casual. Real violence is not casual when you face it, and here is a film that makes you face it.The directing is first class and deservedly made path for Scorsese as a world renowned artist. Some techniques he used here are unusual for American cinema, like focusing on details for a few seconds. The movie is enhanced by an excellent music soundtrack by jazz composer Bernard Herrman who died before the picture was even released.Two of the actors also deservedly made it to stardom. Robert de Niro plays a very unglamorous character, but his presence on screen is so intense that it's no wonder it made such an impression. As for Jodie Foster, she already appeared in films as a child, but playing a teenage prostitute was certainly not an easy challenge, and probably it was that role that really turned her into a major actress."Taxi Driver" was a big hit when it came out, both for the public and the critics. It won the Palme d'Or in Cannes, and served as a trend setter for many later films, like for instance Quentin Tarantino's and Abel Ferrara's. But even today, the original model seems difficult to emulate, probably because achieving a masterpiece is a rare thing, by definition.
"Taxi Driver" starts off with a beautiful and perfectly fitting score from composer, Bernard Hermann, as we see the blurred city of New York as the fast paced lights from cars and signs are distorted and put into slow motion. "Taxi Driver" is one of Martin Scorsese' finest achievements as he teams up with Robert De Niro. Travis Bickle De Niro is the title character. The acting as a whole is exceptional. Harvey Keitel has an extremely small part as a pimp named Sport, and he brings a forgettable character to center stage. Keitel is so good in this you wish you would <more>
get to see more from his character. Jodie Foster plays the prostitute under Sports rule. Iris, is 12 years old, and for a 14 year old actress at the time , Foster deals with some heavy and extremely adult material, and she handles it incredibly well. Keitel and Foster have a scene together where Sport holds her and slowly dances with her as he whispers into her ear about how lucky he is to have a woman like her. It's an utterly repulsive scene. The look on his face mixed with the calm and safe look on the face of Iris, is pretty disgusting. It's extremely well acted even though it's a pretty quick and minor scene. In this one scene we see the type of control Sport has over the young, impressionable child that he abuses and takes advantage of. These are the kinds of things that set Travis Bickle off. The film is a classic that dissects the fallout of one mans loneliness and his thirst for acceptance, recognition and notice. The editing is very good, the direction is great, but it's carried by a magnificent script from Paul Schrader and a great lead performance. This probably stands as De Niro's second best work to "Raging Bull," and among the finest acting performances of all time. Travis Bickle is the self proclaimed, "God's lonely man." Bickle walks amongst the people on the filthy, crowded streets of New York City. Wherever he goes, he goes unnoticed; like a ghost meandering through life's morbid boredom of repetitiveness as each day endlessly runs into the next. Bickle suffers from an inability to sleep so he goes to the porno theaters after 12 hour shifts. His mind is constantly racing as he takes various forms of pills and abuses alcohol. The former Vietnam Veteran has a damaged psyche that continues to get worse and worse as the disgust for the lowlifes of New York eat away at his consciences. The first act of the films starts with a normal looking man, with a regular hair cut and regular job in an irregular city. We watch Bickle go through everyday routines and his work habit is the main focus to derive attention away from his bloodlust. We don't see much wrong with him other than some signs of frustration and restlessness. He decides that his body needs some fine tuning as he reverts back to his days as a Marine. He meets up with a gun dealer and buys three pistols and a .44 magnum. He's ready for war, and the table is set. The ending of the film is controversial for its vagueness and its inability to state a clear purpose of reality or fantasy. The film strongly suggests a dream-like state as we watch with a long running overhead shot possibly signifying Bickle's departure from the world? of the carnage left in Bickle's wake. Then there's the music of a dream inducing state at the end of the scene, which is the strongest hint towards a dream like state. What we do know is that Travis Bickle takes the lives of lowlifes, degenerates, and the scum of the earth. He's treated as the hero and glorified by the media for his actions. This is a slap in the face to the media for finding that a vigilante did the right thing because it was for a good cause: Kill 5 scumbags, save 1. The final scene of the film is also controversial. We see Betsy for the first time since their big fight and she's no longer disgusted with Travis. Now the media has changed her opinion of him too. Travis has reverted back to the same look he spouted in the first act of the film. He's quiet, reserved and humble. He looks harmless. As the ride home goes along we find out that Palantine has won the nomination. After, Travis drops Betsy off, he leaves without taking her money and with a smile on his face he gives her a simple, "So long." As Travis drives off, he menacingly looks back into the mirror, representing a problem still exists, then we fade back to the start of the film. With the symbolic scenes throughout the film depicting Bickle's brooding, boiling, rage within; symbolizing the fact that nothing has changed. The near death experience doesn't cure him. The accolades from the media and the recognition from everyday people doesn't make it any better. He's still ready for war.
Explains What It`s Like To Be Male (by Theo Robertson)
***** SPOILERS *****How would anyone be able to relate to Travis Bickle ? He`s a freak show , a fantasist and a loner who watches porn films in cinemas with a cola in one hand and a candy bar in another and to all intents and purposes is an assassin and a stalker , but he also strikes a cord with any man who`s been angry and young and rejected . He`s an outsider that society has turned its back on : " Why won`t you talk to me " is the heartbreaking question every young angry man screams at the world when he`s very alone Scorsese directs Paul Schrader`s low concept script on a <more>
shoestring budget - That`s not a criticism , quite the reverse because this leads to a hyper-realism and it`d be impossible to think that a major Hollywood studio would produce something like this nowadays where everything is about making money while playing it safe : A character study of a disturbed loner ? 12 year old prostitutes ? Vigilante executions ? Too controversial , not enough explosions , not enough CGI . If there`s a flaw in the screenplay it`s at the end where Travis wipes out the pimp business and becomes a hero which left me confused . Doesn`t society punish murderers even if they kill scum that use 12 year olds as prostitutes ? Even if he was cleared by the jury surely Travis would still have stood trial for murder ? but this is never referred to in the closing scenes , but I guess this is a comment on how society can quickly make a hero out of a villain and how a nobody can become the talk of the town , but still it seems to go against the grain of the script where we - Or at least the young males in the audience - recognise that an uncaring society is the villain where as Travis is the hero all along Despite the flawed ending of the screenplay Which is superb untill the last ten minutes this is still a movie masterpiece with Scorsese getting an acting tour de force from his cast . Jodie Foster as a child who sells her body on the streets of New York , a totally disturbing , brilliant performance , and DeNiro and Keitel in the same movie ! I`ve no idea if this is just hype but I heard all the stage schools in the USA were swamped at the time by applications from applicants in Compton , Hell`s Kitchen , South Central and The Bronx who`d seen DeNiro and Keitel in the " I`m hip " scene A scene that was totally adlibbed by the actors and decided that acting could be cool and macho after all . As I said I don`t know how true this is but the performances of these two actors has given a massive amount of credibility to the acting profession and it really is sad to see the DeNiro of today churn out so much garbage . This his greatest performance . I also rate it as Scorsese`s best movie As a footnote may I recommend to all the angry young men reading this review to track down the albums of Matt Johnson aka The The especially the mid 80s albums SOUL MINING and INFECTED which have lyrics that could have been written by Travis himself . Matt is a great fan of Scorsese and it shows
De Niro standing in front of the mirror practicing his insults 'You talking' to me?' is one of the landmarks of contemporary Hollywood cinema (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
The opening images of the yellow taxi cab moving slowly through clouds of steam, seems an authentic vision of the city as netherworld, a landscape of gaudy nightmares Travis himself is an unnerving combination of psychopath and naive innocent, a victim whose attempts to put the World to Rights produce yet more victims Like other troubled heroes of the era, Travis is an ex-Marine, working nights as a New York taxi driver, observing with increasing disgust the human flotsam that comes into his cab His attempts at human contact are a failure An icy political worker whom he takes on a <more>
date Cybil Shepherd is repelled by his taste of porno films He tries to rescue Iris, a teenage hooker Jodie Foster , but increasingly his mind is under tension, and, prevented in his attempt to assassinate a Presidential candidate, he murders Iris' pimp Sport Harvey Keitel and a client in an orgy of what he intends a redemptive violence Scorsese's film: a study of urban alienation, and a restless, fluid camera contributed to a view of New York as hell on earth, and mirrored the protagonist's growing insanity
Scorsese's best. Not too many hyper-critical reviews of this film have anything near as intelligent to say about what the director and the screenwriter had in mind when they created this American gem.To those people that have seen it and thought it was "slow" or the pacing was sub par, they don't know what they're talking about; "Taxi Driver" is about the gradual and eventual take-over of insanity, and not about violence, action-shoot-'em-up 'slash' car chase... or whatever they expected from it. The modern audience today is expecting <more>
everything--comedy, drama, unbearable suspense, spfx--all rolled-up into one-stop entertainment... and no, I'm not anybody's grandfather, or here to tell you that movies were great in my day, but, viewers, lighten up already.De Niro, and the rest of the cast, do a serviceable job in this micro-cosmic window into the life of Travis Bickle--a Vietnam vet--who, true, writes mind-numbing entries in his diary, leads a, for the most part, dull existance as a cabbie, and strikes out with a female political campaigner who, after Travis becomes a hero, discovers she is indeed attracted to unstable, sometimes violent chauffeurs.The rest of this movie's story is for the less initiated viewer; decide whether you've truly become desensitized to sexual and violent content in today's films... Ah, forget it! You have to have lived at least some of which goes on in "Taxi Driver," or you've just been plain lucky in this life so far.
Travis Bickle is the sort of person you wouldn't even see if you encountered him on the street -- and if you did take note of him, you would make a point to ignore him. He is a non-entity. In his role as a cabbie, you would be aware of him only in the same way you would notice the color of the upholstery or be aware of a strange smell inside the cab. On the rare occasion that Travis might make his presence felt, you would tolerate his existence -- maybe even graciously acknowledge him with a smile or a noncommittal comment. You would only remember Travis if he said or did something <more>
particularly rude or offensive or bizarre; and then only as long as you might remember what you had for lunch or what your horoscope said.There is no reason to remember, or to feel bad about not remembering, a Travis Bickle because he has no real effect on your life. He does a job, he fills a space; just like millions of other anonymous everyday workers. But the sad thing about Travis is that he has no real effect on anyone. Most people have a life -- family, friends, interests, a purpose beyond being part of the machinery. Travis only has a job. You would not notice Travis, but Travis might notice you. And judge you: He might decide that you are part of what makes life worth tolerating, but more likely he might see you as part of what makes the world an unbearable hell. It is the nature of film that when it casts an eye toward the "little guy," the attempt is to show that the ordinary man has something extraordinary about him that society is missing -- even if that is just an everyday niceness. This being a Martin Scorsese film, written by Paul Schrader, filmmakers with a near-suicidal view of mankind, the point of TAXI DRIVER is just the opposite. If Travis Bickle is a remarkable person in any sense, it is in a negative way. Travis is not a good man; he is petty and mean-spirited and bigoted and self-absorbed and judgmental. He views the world with contempt; he has to, he has to have more hate for the world than he has for himself. TAXI DRIVER is the story of a man living the proverbial life of quite desperation. In self-imposed isolation, Travis is mentally unstable, and probably was long before the film starts. The film supposedly is loosely based on THE SEARCHERS, but it has much more in common with PSYCHO. Travis, like Norman Bates hides his insanity behind a facade of banality and nurses it with his loneliness. Insignificant men with a significant amount of pent up anger. The main difference -- and it is a telling difference -- is that we don't see Norman's rage until the end, it takes us by surprise; while we never doubt that Travis has inner demons. What Travis does is a foregone conclusion. Paul Schrader's dark, oppressive script pointedly refers to Travis as a walking contradiction, often at the cost of the story's credibility. He's not particularly bright and at times almost shockingly slow, but his journal entries are surprisingly articulate. He declares a woman to be "an angel," but is dismayed that she is offended by being taken to a porno film. He claims to have an honorable discharge from the marines, yet he seems to have been born yesterday, not even knowing the meaning of a common phrase like "moonlighting." Schrader's superficial screenplay is long on obscenities and racial slurs, but short on simple logic. The shortcomings of the script are offset to a great degree by solid performances and Scorsese's stylish direction. As Travis, Robert DeNiro is in virtually every scene and even though the screenplay falters at various times, DeNiro holds the film together with a consistency of tone and insight. Forgoing his usual bombastic method posturing during most of the film , DeNiro plays Travis with a compassion that makes this otherwise horrid little man pitiable, if not sympathetic. He makes us care for Travis, even though the story offers us no real reason to. Jodie Foster, playing the child prostitute to whom Travis hopes to play savior, still has the youthful freshness and wise innocence that made her a treasure as a child actress. Though I have trouble respecting Scorsese for casting a 13-year-old child, even one as mature and worldly as Foster, in a part that is so squalid and degrading. Scorsese sees in Travis' New York City a teeming cesspool, but with cinematographer Michael Chapman, he makes it the most photogenic cesspool imaginable. He doesn't romanticize New York, but he does romanticize Travis' seething hatred of the city. However, he does wisely counterpoint Travis grubby view of the world with a sense of a real world, where friends and coworkers joke and talk and, well, exist. Unlike RAGING BULL, GOODFELLAS and CASINO, Scorsese films where psychotic characters exist in closed worlds where their lunatic behavior seems the norm, TAXI DRIVER underscores Travis' outsider status by giving us a realistic world that he is isolated from. As such, TAXI DRIVER has an honesty that his other violent epics lack.But Scorsese provides us with at least two scenes that ring utterly false. His own gratuitous cameo as a passenger graphically boasting of his plans to murder his wife seems to be Scorsese's way of showing that there are people who are even crazier than Travis. Why? To suggest that Travis is justified in his paranoia? Also the final climatic bloodbath provided only a cheap shock at the time and now seems like a tiresome cliché of special effects gore. Such over the top mayhem doesn't underscore the brutality of the violence, it trivializes the rest of the film. TAXI DRIVER, like DeNiro's performances, is best in its still moments of quiet desperation.The irony of the violence is that it eventually makes Travis famous, though it could have just as easily have made him infamous. The bullets that kill the pimp could have killed the politician. In Travis' mind they are pretty much the same. Unfortunately, I don't think some people get that. Travis, in the end, is not a hero, he is a murder. He is not purged of his demons; they are just temporarily placated. The famed "you talking' to me?" scene has reached iconic status, symbolic of tough-guy cool -- not unlike Dirty Harry's "Make my day." But both Travis and Harry are dangerous icons; filmgoers delude themselves into accepting their insane displays of violence because the right make-believe characters get killed. They are protected by the fantasy of film; in the real world they would eventually be revealed to be the monsters. To his credit, Scorsese at least suggests that in the end Travis Bickle is still insane, and armed and dangerous. Even so, the ending is uncomfortably ambiguous: I don't think that Scorsese is as afraid of Travis' insanity as he is in awe of it.
Spoilers herein.Readers of my other comments know that I believe that there are different types of films, depending on whether the skeleton is the writer's, the actor's, or the camera's. The more I use it, the more confidence I have that in general, one drives out the other. Just before reseeing this, I worked on `One-Eyed Jacks,' which is probably the touchstone of the actor driving out the eye.But here, we have a happy accident of three talents that don't step on each other: DeNiro, Schrader and Scorsese. Of these, Schrader is the strongest and every deviation from his <more>
vision weakens the fabric. The one main example is Keitel's dance with Jodie.The key device here is that the narrator is Bickle. Everything is/must be something he personally witnesses until his death and reports to us. The idea is far from novel. Why it works here is Scorsese's intuition to play the camera OFF of Bickle, while De Niro works to keep the attention on him. That tension which Schrader intended is what makes this work.But this is not perfect. Keitel, like De Niro doesn't get this dynamic; we don't want De Niro to, that would ruin the main device because we want him to pull to himself against the camera. But when Keitel does his stuff, it has a negative effect because there is no narrative countermeasure..Foster's presence was good enough when this film was new because the very idea of a 12 year old whore was enough. But seeing it a quarter century later, you can see her thinness compared to the rest of the cast. They really understand their characters and crawl into them. She has no idea, none at all.Another problem is the cab metaphor. Paul didn't quite center that one. He did get it right later with the ambulance in `Bringing Out the Dead,' which used the same energy of selfish actor pulling one way and camera pulling another way. But that time, they fought over the vehicle at the same time they fought in your mind. And of course that had De Palma's eye.Finally, the camera we see here has energy, but far less than what Scorsese's buddy De Palma was doing at this time. Imagine what De Palma or Hitchcock would have done with that angel shot after the massacre.