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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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, 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.
Taxi Driver is one of the best films ever made. This is one of those
films that you do not get tired of seeing and every time you watch it
you realize a little detail that you have not seen before. Excellent
actors, a good director, an impressive soundtrack and a real story are
the main appeals of this film.
This film is about loneliness, about the isolation of a man in a society full of scum. His objective is to finish with the scum of the streets. The story uses a taxi driver as a metaphor of loneliness and it has some kind of irony because we can see that a city which is full of people can be the most lonely place for a man. The long nights in the city, the night environment full of whores, junkies, pimps and thieves are the main elements of the world in which Travis Bickle lives. Travis is an misunderstood guy who is seeking desperately for some kind of company because as he says 'loneliness has followed me all my life, everywhere' but at the same time he seems not to do anything to avoid his situation and it is seen when he goes with Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) to a porn cinema. At the end of the film the character makes real his most violent fantasies, with a look of certain soldiers from Vietnam, and he behaves like this because of his loneliness, his alienation and because he does not find any sense to his life. The violent behaviour becomes Travis into a hero, although he had killed many people and he could do it again. Although he acts with an extreme violence the spectator understand him and the reasons why he acts that way. The soundtrack of the film, which is composed by Bernard Herrmann, inspires some kind of loneliness and sometimes it is absolutely terrifying like in a horror film. This music and the slow camera showing the streets help to introduce the spectator into the world of Travis, to know what he is thinking about.
In general I cannot say any negative aspect of this film because I have not found anything bad. Although it is a film of the 70s it is not an old-fashioned movie because the essence of the story, the reality that is shown on it, can be perfectly referred to the current society. This film has the privilege of having made famous the sentence You talking' to me? You talking' to me?' which will remain in the history of cinema. This is an authentic masterpiece.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If a picture is worth a thousand words then this movie (moving picture) is
worth a million words, which is why it has probably generated at least a
What can one say. The obvious: that "Taxi Driver" is great, it is. That it is a masterpiece, it is. What sets this film apart from so many other films, including great films, is that it is an enigma. Every time I watch this film I see something else, I notice something else, I feel something else, I wonder something else. And I am, clearly, not the only one who reacts to the film this way that is why it lends itself to endless speculation and discussion.
Since so many positive reviews have been made, rather than add my own red hot glowing review I thought I would address those people who have written that they don't like "Taxi Driver" because, they say, they find it dull and boring, hard to follow, etc. These people miss some important points about the film.
ONE, "Taxi Driver" is NOT an action film. If you want an action film watch "Die Hard" and its numerous sequels, or "Lethal Weapon" and its sequels, not to mention "Rambo" and thousands of other "action flicks." Nothing wrong with them, per se. Nothing wrong with liking them either. But is wrong to put down "Taxi Driver" because of what it is not.
TWO, "Taxi Driver" is about loneliness and loneliness is characterized by an almost crushing boredom and emptiness and Travis Bickle's character reflects that. His life is dull and boring, hardly anything happens to him and that is what "Taxi Driver" shows - Bickle's pathetic life.
THREE, some people say that they don't understand the plot, Bickle's attitudes and behaviour, etc. But that is because "Taxi Driver" is about a man who is profoundly emotionally disturbed although he (and his buddies) don't seem to know it. His actions aren't rational because he isn't rational. His actions make no sense because he makes no sense. Offhand, I can't think of any other film that has depicted mental illness as well as "Taxi Driver" and no film that attempts to show the world as seen by someone like Travis Bickle.
There you go: three reasons to address the most common criticisms of the film with one notable exception, its controversial ending, but THAT is a whole topic in itself which is just more proof of why "Taxi Driver" is so worthwhile - when viewers aren't sure what actually happens in the end (Is Travis hallucinating as he is dying? Is that what the slow moving overhead tracking shot suggests? Or does he really become a hero in the media and get realeased back into the world with his buddies? Etc, etc.) The questions and issues raised by "Taxi Driver" just go one and on.
Now if after reading the above you still don't think "Taxi Driver" is a great film, I can't help you. I am NOT saying you have to like (or love) "Taxi Driver" just appreciate it or at least acknowledge its greatness even if it isn't your cup of tea. Actually, I don't love "Taxi Driver" because it doesn't lend itself to love. It is too disturbing a picture precisely because it is way too close to reality, it cuts too close to the bone for my comfort (or rather, discomfort). It is not comfortable to watch because it isn't supposed to be. So if "Taxi Driver" makes you feel uncomfortable and uneasy it should because real life is uncomfortable and uneasy (unless you are born rich or something).
Finally, after watching it again for the nth time I have begun to notice (and feel) just how smooth "Taxi Driver" is. The overall feel and flow of the film is incredibly smooth in which not only each scene but each and every movement and gesture flows into the other imperceptibly. Sometimes I play back scences and sequences over and over to catch how it happens. In fact, I see it happening and still can't quite figure out how it is done but I have a hunch - DeNiro. DeNiro is just amazing in this film. If you haven't done it already, watch it with the remote in your hand and play some of the scenes in slow motion and you will SEE what I am talking about. Only DeNiro could do what he does. The sheer minimalism of his performance is just stunning. How he gets so much from so little never ceases to amaze me. DeNiro's performance in "Taxi Driver" only reminds me of what sports announcer Curt Gowdy exclaimed after one of Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson's incredible plays in the 1970 World Series,"This guy is another world!"
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 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.
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 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.
A lonely Vietnam veteran who has insomnia spends his nights as a taxi
driver in the dirty streets of New York, where he encounters a young
prostitute who he tries to help make a difference.
This is a very good film and one of Martin Scorsese best (Goodfellas being my fave). An excellent portrayal from Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle the cabbie and good performances from Jodie Foster as the child prostitute Iris Steensman, Cybill Shepherd, Peter Boyle and Harvey Keitel as a pimp called Sport.
You actually get drawn into the isolation and anger that Travis is feeling towards these lowlifes and because of that you really feel sympathy for him. Though after a while the loneliness and the city really starts to haunt Travis's mind, causing violent instincts and paranoia.
This film is filled with such memorable lines e.g.Travis Bickle 'You talking to me? Well I'm the only one here.' and the many powerful scenes that stay in your head after it's finished. The hypnotic cinematography is a standout, as if your seeing the harsh & gritty New York streets and twisted people through the eyes of Travis when he is driving his cab. A great screenplay, a stunning score by Bernard Herrmann and a superb atmosphere created.
This is a brutally compelling and bleak look at a decaying and corrupt society of the 70's. An unsettling gem of a film.
Travis Bickle is a Vietnam veteran who cannot sleep at night and just
ends up travelling around. To try and use the time effectively he
becomes a taxi driver. Things start to look up for him as he works
nights and slowly starts to live a little bit. He meets a girl, Betsy,
and arranges to see her a few times despite the fact that he is a
little bit out of the ordinary a quality that seems to interest her.
His connection to the night allows him to see young prostitute Iris
being bullied by her pimp Matthew and he begins to see his role to
perhaps save her him playing his part in cleaning up the sewer that
he feels New York has become. However when his view of normal life puts
Betsy off him he starts to retreat more and more into the night,
looking for meaning in his life and growing more and more outraged by
the world he is part of.
Hardly the most uplifting of films it is engaging and impressive and truly deserves the reputation it has. Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader have produced a film that convincingly portrays a man cut out of society who has the slightest connection to normality before finding it eroded away. The script is brilliant because the detail is engaging but it is this descent into a very modern type of madness that drives the film forward. Travis has just enough about him that is recognisable that it makes it so easy to go along with the rest of his madness. A major part of this is getting the feeling right about living in a cesspit; a city that seems to have forgotten its way morally New York is the strongest example but elements of it could be parts of any city I suspect. In painting this world in such a real way, Scorsese has made Travis all the more convincing and, to a point, all the easier to follow in his fall. Like I said it is not a film to morally uplift you but one that is depressingly fair. There is no redemption in this modern world and although it appears that the violence at the end somehow redeems Travis in reality by showing "society" accepting his action it drags the rest of us down nearer the world that he hates and has become part of. I love King of Comedy for the same reason albeit in a different world.
Scorsese injects a real understanding of the place and a real sense of foreboding into even the earliest scenes. He inserts clever and meaningful shots into scenes that other directors might just have filmed straight and his choice of scene and shot compliments the script is depicting Travis descending into madness. What makes the film even better is De Niro showing the type of form that makes his recent form such a major disappointment. He is outstanding as he moves Travis from being relatively normal to being eaten up from the inside out. His eventual implosion is impressive but it is only as impressive as the gradual slide he depicts over the course of the film. Although he dominates it, others impress as well. Foster stands out in a small role, while Keitel makes a good impression as the pimp. Shepherd is not quite as good but her character was not as well written as the others so it isn't all down to her. Regardless, the film belongs to De Niro and although the quotable scenes are the ones that are remembered it is in the quieter moments where he excels and shows genuine talent and understanding.
Overall an impressive and morally depressing film that deserves its place in cinematic history. The portrayal of a city and a man slipping into moral insanity is convincing and engaging and it shows how well to "do" modern madness and the effects of the moral void of parts of society. Scorsese directs as a master despite this being at an early stage in his career and De Niro is chillingly effective as he simply dominates the film in quiet moments and quotable moments alike. I rarely use phrases like "modern classic" because I think they are lazy but this is one film that certainly deserves such a label.
So much has been written and talked about 'Taxi Driver' that it seems almost
redundant to add anything more. But watching it again the other night for
the nth time I was, as I have been every single time I've seen it, struck by
just how perfect this movie is. It is as powerful and disturbing now as it
was twenty-five years ago. It has not only NOT aged, it gets better and more
relevant every year. This is without doubt a modern classic, and one of the
handful of truly great, timeless movies.
Scorsese and Schrader went on to make other great movies after this, both separately ('The King Of Comedy', 'Light Sleeper') and together ('Raging Bull', 'The Last Temptation Of Christ'), but this is easily the best movie of their careers. And Robert De Niro's too. He has yet to top his stunning performance here as the deeply disturbed and alienated Vietnam veteran Travis Bickle, cabbie and would be assassin. This character has not surprisingly entered movie legend.
Scorsese surrounds De Niro with a first rate supporting cast, including small but effective roles from Harvey Keitel ('Reservoir Dogs'), Peter Boyle ('Hardcore'), the underrated Victor Argo ('The King Of New York') and Joe Spinell ('Maniac'). Albert Brooks and Jodie Foster are also very good, and even Cybil Shepherd, the butt of many jokes, is fine as Bickle's obsession.
When you combine these actors, Schrader's outstanding script, and Scorsese's brilliant direction, with the stunning cinematography (Michael Chapman) and haunting score (Hitchcock fave Bernard Herrmann's final effort), you have yourself a truly unforgettable cinematic experience. If you haven't seen 'Taxi Driver' I urge you to do so immediately. It is a masterpiece, pure and simple.
The impact that "Taxi Driver" had in its day hasn't diminished, on the contrary, it has acquired a relevance of Shakesperean proportions. Travis's loneliness is a hyper representation of the same loneliness most humans have experienced at different times in different measures. It is always associated with a nightmare and Martin Scorsese delivers it like a nightmare. Travis, possessed by Robert De Niro at the zenith of his powers, cruises in his taxi enveloped in Bernard Herrman and we, well, we're the passengers and everything looks terrifying and familiar at the same time. Paul Schrader sensational screenplay comes to life with the jolting force of a rude awakening. Like it happens, more often than not, with masterpieces, it signed in a rather direct way the lives of the ones who live it in a movie theater and the ones who made it. Scorsese being the giant that he is, survived it and will continue startling us I'm sure but I also bet that for years everything he did was compared to this movie. De Niro and his "You looking at me" became such an iconic phrase that even he himself ended up impersonating it. Jodie Foster awoke the insane devotion of a real life would be killer and New York, the greatest city in the world was shown with its underbelly up. A work of art, a superlative reminder of what film could actually give us and very rarely does.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Taxi Driver, the classic that made Robert DeNiro Robert DeNiro. It's
amazing to see how far this man has come in cinema, some of my friends
ask me questions about films and advice, one of my friends had asked if
they wanted to see where Bobby got the big notice I usually recommend
Taxi Driver, granted he was in The Godfather Part 2 and was incredible,
but Taxi Driver made him stand out as a strong lead actor. Taxi Driver
is just all together a great film that is absolutely perfection. Martin
Scorcesse who also was just really starting out made this movie that
brought us back to the film noir genre. He made this great classic and
I don't even think he realized how much it would stand against the test
of time, to this day we still know this film and even if you don't know
it, you know the infamous speech "You talking' to me?". This is a film
about isolation, loneliness, and self destruction at it's worst.
Travis Bickle who claims to be an honorably discharged Marine it is implied that he is a Vietnam veteran is a lonely and depressed young man of 26. He settles in Manhattan, where he becomes a night time taxi driver due to chronic insomnia. Bickle spends his restless days in seedy porn theaters and works 12 or 14 hour shifts during the evening and night time hours carrying passengers among all five boroughs of New York City. Bickle becomes interested in Betsy, a campaign volunteer for New York Senator Charles Palantine. She is initially intrigued by Bickle and agrees to a date with him after he flirts with her over coffee and sympathizes with her own apparent loneliness. On their date, however, Bickle is clueless about how to treat a woman and thinks it would be a good idea to take her to a sex film. Offended, she leaves him and takes a taxi home alone. The next day he tries to reconcile with Betsy, phoning her and sending her flowers, but all of his attempts are in vain. Rejected and depressed, Bickle's thoughts begin to turn violent. Disgusted by the petty street crime that he witnesses while driving through the city, he now finds a focus for his frustration and begins a program of intense physical training. He buys a number of pistols from an illegal dealer and practices a menacing speech in the mirror, while pulling out a pistol that he attached to a home-made sliding action holster on his right arm "You talking' to me?". Bickle is revolted by what he considers the moral decay around him. One night while on shift, Iris, a 12-year-old child prostitute, gets in his cab, attempting to escape her pimp. Shocked by the occurrence, Bickle fails to drive off and the pimp, Sport, reaches the cab. Later seeing Iris on the street he pays for her time, although he does not have sex with her and instead tries to convince her to leave this way of life behind. But after her rejection as well, Travis decides to take things into his own hands, "Pow!".
This is one of the most memorable movies of all time and has really stood it's ground. It's personally one of my favorites and made me fall in love with Robert DeNiro all over again. The script to Taxi Driver is just so incredibly powerful and the performances were just perfect. Jodie Foster, this little girl at the time was such a presence on screen, she pulls in what was a very tricky performance and was hauntingly beautiful. Cybill Sheppard was also very beautiful and I was absolutely in love with her character and felt so bad for her. Everything about Taxi Driver is just great, I don't know how much I could go on about the love I have for this film. It's a film that you will never forget and trust me, if you haven't seen it, go out and rent it immediately, you won't regret it. It's bloody, it's twisted, it's crazy, but it's one of the best films of all time.
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