Saturday, May 28, 2016

TAXI DRIVER (1976)

Vietnam vet Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) suffers from insomnia and, most likely, some sort of mental disorder.  As the film begins he lands a job as a taxi driver in NYC.  The long overnight hours don't help his fragile brain and he soon begins to lose his already faint grasp on reality.  By some stroke of luck, he lands a date with the attractive Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) who is a campaign worker for a presidential candidate.  The date goes about as disastrous as you would expect.  This pushes Travis closer to the edge and the last thing in the world Travis needs right now is to buy some guns and become obsessed with a 12 year-old prostitute.

TAXI DRIVER is still, even all of these years later, a powerful film and a fascinating look into a man that has a whole host of mental issues.  The film never gets to the root of his problems (it would've been great if we knew more about his childhood or his stint in the military) and at times the film is so dream-like that the viewer doesn't even know if what's on the screen is real or not!  Travis is also a walking ball of contradictions...he writes in his diary about being healthy but yet he's constantly popping pills and eating crap food; he speaks of purity but spends his free time in porno theaters; he whines about his crushing loneliness but yet when he's around his co-workers all he does is stare in silence...it's like he's subconsciously contributing to his problems.  A self-fulfilling prophecy.

You often see TAXI DRIVER on lists of Greatest Films and while I do like it and definitely have a lot of respect for it, I'm not putting it on my Best Films list.  That'll probably upset some people, but since this is my own personal blog (that probably only I read) then I can do whatever I want.  For example: here's a link to THE ABOMINATION.  Why?  Cuz the movie's awesome.  My reasons though, if anybody does care, are: the story is not as violent enough; there's way too many pedestrians staring at the camera; the entire dancing scene should have been left out (it's boring and I think it detracts from the fact that nearly the entire film is from Travis' view); the horrible desaturation of the colours in shootout scene (yes, I understand this was to appease the pussies at the MPAA, but it's still a perversion of Scorsese's vision and it's lessens the impact of that jaw-dropping scene) and I think the film should have ended right as that unbelievably amazing overhead tracking shot leaves Iris' bedroom.  That exact moment was the emotional height of the film and the remaining few minutes only detracted from the film.  Disagree?  Think I'm an idiot?  Then quit reading my shit.  Go away.  I look at it like the freeze-frame at the end of ROCKY.  That exact moment was the pinnacle of Rocky's life so it made for the perfect ending.  Travis Bickle, on the other hand, his goal was to be the rain that would "wash all this scum off the streets" as he says at the beginning of the film.  This moment was his wildest suicidal fantasy come to life.  To go out in a blaze of glory while killing some of the "degenerates" that are destroying the world...

"Listen, you fuckers, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the cunts, the dogs, the filth, the shit. Here is a man who stood up."

Anyway, that's just my uneducated two-cents.  I could be right or I could be wrong.  Either way, I still highly recommend TAXI DRIVER and think that it's a landmark in American Cinema.  If you need me I'll be in my room eating a cereal bowl full of white bread pieces with sugar, milk and peach brandy poured on top.