Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: Taxi Driver


I finally watched the iconic Taxi Driver last night, having forgotten why I had not seen it before.  It wasn’t a conscious choice to avoid the movie.  However, I hadn’t seen it when Ronald Reagan was nearly assassinated by John Hinkley, Jr. and afterwards my interest in the movie was null.

But time has a way of blurring details and I eventually forgot why I hadn’t seen the film.  About halfway through I did remember.  By then I was caught up in the film noire tone–the voice over by Robert De Niro with the beautiful bluesy jazz music playing in the background.  I was put off by some of the racist language, forgetting that we truly have come a long way (and still have a long way to go).  This is the city I grew up in with checkered cabs and a gritty, dirtiness to the city that I know I am guilty of romanticizing.

To be honest, I was surprised the movie was not more violent.  Somehow I assumed it was much more violent than it turned out to be with one very graphic climax at the end.  I didn’t like the epilogue much at all but I have recently learned that there is discussion of a sequel which makes perfect sense to me assuming that there is some progression and a change in the denouement.  (I also hope that the writer and director don’t go for more violence simply for the sake of more.  Less is more, after all, and the violence, albeit remarkably graphic, suited the text of the movie perfectly.)  The acting is brilliant.  It is hard to believe that Jodie Foster was merely 13 when this film was made.  Absolutely amazing.

One last thought, I mentioned to Rob that I could see how this movie informed the filming of Fight Club (one of my favorites!) and he suggested that perhaps it had influenced the novel as well.

I don’t agree with him on this.  De Niro’s character is more a misanthrope than “marginalized” and in Fight Club, the narrator is clearly part of the trappings of corporate America (at least when the novel begins) and caught up in his own navel gazing misery.  The two characters are disturbed (and disturbing) for entirely different reasons.

Not that my opinion is right or more right than Rob’s.  I just like to throw this out there in case anyone wants to discuss.

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