Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Great Movie #19 - Taxi Driver

We made it to the first Scorsese on the list.  I feel that next to Goodfellas, Taxi Driver was the first major milestone in his career.  By now there have been just so many great/memorable films by Scorsese you can't help to maybe forget about this one.  Understandable but let's be clear on one thing,  as great as his films are, they still aren't Taxi Driver.

This 1976 film by today's standards is definitely dated, but contains immense strength through its plot.  This character profile is eerie and disturbing to watch as Travis Bickle unravels at the seams.  Not much can be said about the film from a technical standpoint, but rather the film retrospectively.  For example seeing what New York looked like prior to the Giuliani era.  A time when Time Square was full of grime and not a place for tourist.  In addition I found personal enjoyment in the performance to a young De Niro.  A De Niro who has yet reached his full potential and has yet to create a pantheon of memorable characters.  Though I have only seen it once before, this was Byron's fist time seeing this movie (yet another in a series of shocks).  For him, it didn't live up to his expectations considering how much people hype it up.  Totally understandable, I had the same experience the first time I saw Scarface.

No doubt about it, Taxi Driver is from age in cinema we'll never see again.  An era where storytelling and film making techniques were fresh. An era before VFX and CGI was a house hold commodity.  The provocative subject matter and violence though common by today's standards is still intriguing to analyze compared to the other films released in that era.  With all that being said, the slow pacing of the film (something common in the '60s and '70s) still makes it difficult to watch along with the semi anti-climatic ending.  What the movie does have going for it is the provocative subject matter and violence which clearly has influenced later films to push the envelope even further.

All in all just watch it once and be done, it's a good appetizer before a great catalog of film by one of the best to ever do it.                          

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