Chicago Cab (1997)
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I recommend this movie for those who are looking for something a little different from the norm. I'm still mad though about how this film has been mismarketed.
The Christmas eve I spent behind the wheel I got probably less than one passenger an hour, but I noticed that the atmosphere was definitely different from the typical weekday/weekend. So to busy Chicago, where the bald-headed driver is ferrying around a wide variety of people. He handles most things in a relaxed and fairly unstressed manner, and shows concern for others, but unfortunately is in that place in life which would see him earning his way by being behind the wheel of a taxi.
It looks like taxi driving is basically the same thing no matter where you are, mainly ferrying around city folk, the carless people and those who are intoxicated to varying degrees. I've felt the fear that the taxi driver felt when he picked up John Cusack's character, when the person won't tell you where they want to stop off. Are they going to do a runner? is there a dead end around the next corner where five guys with clubs lie in wait? Probably 99 times out of 100 it's a false alarm, but the 100th time...
At the end of the film I sympathised with the cabbie, where he's worn out, he's got the echoes of dozens of conversations in his head, and he's had some good times and some bad times. And back at it again the next day...
A plotless movie might sound boring, even waste of time, but with great writing, good actors and good director "Chicago Cab" dwells up to be nicely cut slice from a population of big city, in example, religious family, married couple pregnant with their first born, etc.
Acting is overall very good, but Paul Dillon makes outstanding job in the role of Cab Driver. Without his subtle performance this whole movie could fall in pieces.
"Chicago Cab" balances between drama and comedy. Some things in this movie are so surprising and well thought of, that they made me laughing out loud. Some things made me sad, or feel compassion towards the Taxi Driver or his customers.
This is a movie, which can be recommend for people, who want to see little different kind of drama/comedy or are just fed up with all regular actors of this specific genre.
Better known to most of the world for his hilarious role in the first "Austin Powers" flick, Dillon gets an opportunity to flex his muscles as a fully rounded character actor. Over the course of his very long day (from sun-up to sundown and then some), he picks up a plenitude of fares ranging from sanctimonious (his first fare of the day is a rather smug Born Again couple and their little daughter on their way to church at the very ungodly hour of six in the morning) to the frightening (too many to mention). All are played with conviction by a large number of talented actors ranging from the virtually unknown to very familiar faces in cameos.
One of these well-known faces is Gillian Anderson. It's fun to see her as a foul-mouthed Southside girl; a nice break from her prim, proper Agent Scully persona. Also worthy of mention is Reggie Hayes as Dillon's final fare of the day. The dialogue between the two men is touching and provides a necessary respite from the overall dire (yet entertaining) tone of the film.
I hope Will Kern graces the screen with another effort. This was adapted from his play of the same name and I'd like to see more from him.
As a final note, the video title, "Hellcab," is perhaps misleading. This movie is in no way related to the early CD-ROM game "Hellcab" created by comic artist Pepe Moreno.
As an aspiring indie filmmaker, this film really gets to me in many ways: more obviously, the acting is superb, in all cases. that Paul Dillon really is awesome (as are his eyes, they're killer!), as were all the cameos. I honestly could not find one bad actor among them (the shortness of some screen times may account for that, but let's not get negative here ;)). The story was very interesting and original, and although I've heard of people criticising the film's lack of interesting plot, I really tend to disagree. I've always enjoy "a day in the life of" type movies, especially those that give a perspective on real people, and give you the opportunity to get to know the characters, identify with them very well, unlike most "action-packed" cheesy Hollywood movies filled with little perfect phonies. Instead, to me, this movie had many small plots, and however small they were, they gave you enough to, if you use your imagination god forbid, to really know some characters, and connect with some. The number of real emotions I experienced while watching this movie -- and continue to, no matter how many times I see it -- is staggering. To me this film represents independent filmmaking of the people genre at its best: real and honest, for better or for worst. I also really admire the direction, production, camera work, music, etc. The genius of these elements together gave you a real feel for the topic, the city, the driver, and the drivees. The ending was also superb, for although the movie often showed how much life can suck, the ending gave me some hope for the future of humanity (of which I have very little), or, at least for certain individuals who can think clearly. ;) It really touched me and I identified greatly with it, and it gave a real sense of closure to the film, although I was whining for more when the credits started a-rollin'. :)
I now own this film (yay me!), as I purchased it literally the moment after the video store in which I work released a previously viewed copy for sale, and have watched it in full half a dozen times (and counting) and in parts a countness number. I have also shown it to (read: forced to watch) some friends and family, and although the numbers are pretty equal as to who likes it and who doesn't, the ones who dig it really dig it, and to me that's more than worth it! I want to show it to the world, wooo!
I was surprised because the IMDb rating is deceptive - it's actually pretty good. A bit flawed, yes, and the lead actor (who plays a cabbie traveling the city at night) could have employed a less cheesy NYC accent, but otherwise I was entertained. The overall tone of the movie is more pessimistic than I would have imagined; the ending is bittersweet and surprising.
Cusack's cameo is the best, as a secret service agent-type who is taking a ride in the cab in an effort to spy on someone. It's worth watching for his scene alone.
It concerns an odd cab driver played wonderfully by Paul Dillon, who seems a bit absent minded and odd, yet he's entirely harmless. The denizens of the city take his cab and what follows is his experience with these strange and sometimes sick people. Some of the pieces are poignant.
Also recommended: D.C. Cab (1983) Collateral (2004) Taxi Driver (1976) Night on Earth (1991) Taxi! (1932) My Son The Fanatic (1997)
The cabbie is even-tempered and tries to help people, perhaps too much. One is a "Steve" who happens to be a deli chain executive fortunate to have the full attention of his date. He seems responsive and only later when she leaves does this man reveal the true intentions he has about her--she is meaningless to him; she is being, classically, "used". In this film, the driver suffers the same fate: he is used... used by a crack head to score dope; used by a woman who has car trouble and causes trouble for the driver of her cab. Then, too, a body shop wants $185 to put on a new rear door pull with ash tray, thus perhaps totaling more than Dillon the driver's total take for the day. He boldly takes it upon himself to often assist. He buys a young woman a donut, informs "Steve's" date she is a plaything, and while a woman ascends normal steps back to her apartment following a rape and subsequent abrupt discharge from the police station, he sits in his cab still serving her by watching until she's through the door. Sometimes he's physically touched by his fares and hates it; but with the architect who sings Tannenbaum better than any German ever would he extends a handshake that seems never to end.
This movie is telling he how I might be as a taxi driver. Those I'd try to get to their destinations and away from at the soonest are people-types I, this time, found myself fast-forwarding through. Some others I'd replay to hear certain phrases over again--for these folks I do visiting!
So he's a skin head grown up and can fantasy drum with the best of them! So he swears when little kids march by, smokes in the cab of another driver who sports a Malcolm X cap and doesn't allow smoking; so he pulls out and just about creams the outside of his cab... he's still an utterly decent guy. It's the horror of Christmas approaching those lonely ones--for whatever reason--who is the "killer" in this movie.
He tries to understand people yet not intervene in their lives; he can't be considered a friend to any, and yet he tries, in his way, to give them whatever dignity and politeness they are attuned to receiving from this stranger. He's no actual confidant.
I would ride in this man's cab. I would give him an extra $10 because he obviously has an enlightened soul, and, well, let's face it: it's getting close to Christmas!
There is no main plot. It is just an array of characters passing in and out of scenes and our lone constant is the somewhat frustrated cab driver. The film is a nice distraction, although viewers might find the incessant strange and overly-aggressive nature of several random passengers to be redundant or tedious. But, just like 'Night on Earth' this is probably destined for some measure of cult fame (which is already evident from the comments posted here on IMDb). The sheer outrageousness of the events and some of the conversation are likely to generate some laughs.
This was a pretty good movie, though not really the type I usually enjoy watching. I think it will appeal to a certain kind of person. All the acting performances were good, and though I can't single anyone out as the best, I really liked the first lawyer and the architect. The scene with the architect may have been the best in the entire movie.
The sound went out a number of times during this movie--but it was often obvious what characters were saying. In a couple of cases I think the expression used could be abbreviated F. Y. I'm happier when substitute words are used on network TV, though in this movie, maybe it would have been too much work to fix the incredible number of bad words. I liked one scene where the driver said a bad word which, of course, I couldn't hear, and a child walking by said to the adult with him or her (probably a parent or grandparent), 'He said ****!'
I didn't like a lot of the music, but there were several good songs. One was played when the two white drivers and the black driver were discussing whether they should refuse to pick up certain people. Another was used for the scene with the second lawyer. And of course 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas', played near the end, was very enjoyable for me. The credits listed a lot of Christmas songs that I didn't really notice. The decorations were nice. Few people in this movie seemed to be enjoying Christmas, though.
This was a worthwhile film, but if you're not lucky enough to see it cleaned up for TV, be prepared for some rough language.
I wouldn't say it was brilliant but it was quite entertaining. Nothing much is happening but it's just very interesting to see that wide range of people. It was just very well made and had different feelings in it from serious to funny.
The production values were also good. I liked the way the plot was shown. The music was good. And all the actors were brilliant. Paul Dillon ("The Pretender") again showed his talented acting skills. He proved that he was not one of those actors who can only play one type of role.
Also it didn't try to do too much. Like that girl he tries to help. It didn't turn out to be a cheesy do-gooder plot but it was much more realistic. In fact I'll give it two thumbs up - for a small film it was actually pretty good...
(I watched this film on TV (titled Chicago Cab) intrigued by the short description. Why anyone would change the title to Hell Cab and give it a 'horror-esque' cover is beyond me - I wouldn't go near it in this box in a video shop.)
The movie's story structure is the same as the play's, even though the play's set is nothing more than the front of a cab and the two bench seats representing the interior. Some of the vignettes were improved by the film treatment, but many were more effective in the stripped-down set of the play, where the focus was more on the human interaction.
By the way, the REAL original title is indeed "HellCab." And it IS an appropriate title: this guy's job is a special kind of torment. Please don't judge this movie by its misleading and cheesy video cover.
Followers of Chicago's theatre scene will recognize many of the actors, and even the more familiar faces have ties to Chi-town.
Usually this kind of shaggy-dog story is boring on film, but it kept both me with my art-house bias and my guy with his taste for cheap exploitation on the edge of our seats, wondering what was going to happen to this nice guy with a lousy job.
Worth watching if only to know that not all strong stories have a strict three-act structure!