Martin Scorsese directs Robert DeNiro, Cybil Shepherd and Jodie Foster in this paranoid character study where an insomniac cabbie slowly drifts into a world of loneliness and violence.
Maybe it took a blunt pastiche like last year’s Joker for me to completely discover the power of Scorsese’s original. This ain’t no theme park misanthropy, no soft play seedy, no safety scissor self-destruction. This has the ache and the negative energy of true cinematic oblivion. It bored me a little as a kid, the late night timings of its scheduling on TV meant I was exhausted by the drained operatic finale, adverts interrupting didn’t help… In my twenties I had fears that maybe the mirror was being held up. Me > Robert DeNiro > Travis Bickle. How do you marry up being a good person with the casual indifference you develop to the daily destitution you see on the city streets? How do you combat a wobbly sense of the self when every interaction you have with humanity feels false and doomed to rejection? How do you find love when your attitude towards women swings from white knight tendencies to over consumption of pornography? How do you take action in a world you detest when all efforts not to go with the sickly flow are seen as intense and overbearing? Luckily I’m surer of myself now, never suffered the curse of mental illness, know how to control my paranoia, anger and doubt to healthy levels. The closest I run to being a Travis Bickle these days is the occasional burst of rudeness or inappropriateness. But in my twenties… who knows how close I got… a few more bad decisions or unlucky days… Maybe I couldn’t get on board with Taxi Driver in my youth as it felt just a little too close to home. Now I’m mature, happy and have evolved tools to deal with other people on my terms… I can appreciate the urban hellscape Marty conjures up. Appreciate Paul Schrader’s fatal assessment on humanity. Appreciate Bernard Herrmann’s final mournful, rumbling score. Appreciate DeNiro’s hungry, desperate intensity. Appreciate how no-one can capture the colours and illuminations of a city like DoP Michael Chapman. Appreciate what a little powerhouse Jodie Foster always was and is. Travis got it wrong… Fuck Betsy (even though it is Shepherd’s best performance)! Iris… “THEY… CANNOT… TOUCH…HER!” The meters on, I’m in the second half of my life, I don’t think Taxi Driver will ever be elevated into my personal God Tier but I finally see the true qualities in it that you all could before me.
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We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/