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Taxi Driver (1976)
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Review Date: June 14, 1998
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Paul Schrader
Producers: Julia Phillips, Michal Phillips
Actors:
Robert De Niro
Jodie Foster
Harvey Keitel
Cybill Shepherd
Plot:
Taxi driver Travis Bickle drives along the scummiest streets in the world, New York City. He doesn't know "much about much", but he does know that he does not like the continuing propagation of the pimps, hookers, junkies and low-lifes in his fair city. He also likes a girl. She doesn't like him back. He is lonely. He likes to drink. He gets depressed. He gets angry...
Critique:
Great urban drama accurately demonstrates the development of a sociopath within a realistically portrayed city of hell. Travis Bickle seems like a nice guy, who just couldn't take it anymore. Have any of you ever felt the same way in your lifetime? Of course. We all have. And herein lies the continuing popularity of this classic film which despite some aging concerns, still stands up in time after all these years.

On the surface, this film will not blow you away in one sitting, but the symbolism used by Scorsese, the extremely effective acting by Robert DeNiro, and the superb writing by Paul Schrader, turn this movie into a cinematic adventure of many layers. The ticking of the cab fare ticker representing Bickle's growing dissatisfaction with the world around him (like a bomb), the red and green lights garbing Bickle's moods, and the plethora of other symbols used to convey anger, confusion and ultimate frustration.

The soundtrack is perfect (Mrs. JoBlo remarked that it set her into an icky and depressed state...exactly what was needed to appreciate Bickle's character), in that it allows you to feel the depravity of his being. You understand the point that he's reached when he begins to pour Peach Schnapps into his morning cereal (Bernard Herrmann wasn't going to write the score for this film, but agreed to do it (his last) when he saw this pitiful scene.) He is no longer very logical. His anti-socialism has got the better of him. The direction is top-notch, with Scorsese showing up in no less than two scenes. And the acting is superb with DeNiro leading the way, Foster pulling off an effective "12-and a half year old" hooker, and Keitel, well, being Keitel. The scene where DeNiro and Keitel haggle for Foster's "services" is one of my favourites in this movie.

Many classic scenes and lines are now splashed across this film, such as the infamous "Are you talking to me?" line (completely ad-libbed by DeNiro, bien sur), the trademark Scorsese slo-mo's, and the green Army jacket and penchant for pie and coffee (all used in an effective hommage in 1993's TRUE ROMANCE (10/10) by writer Quentin Tarantino and director Tony Scott.) I have always watched this film when I was feeling down and out, and now I know why. As bad as anything gets in my life, I could always count on Mr. Travis Bickle's life to be so much more pathetic.

Keep an eye on the last scene of the film after Bickle drops his passenger off and notices "his inner demons" quickly appear through the rearview mirror. Some of the monster still remains...
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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