Resolutions 2014: Taxi Driver

TaxiDriverPosterLarge

After nearly a whole week of letting everyone else do the work on my blog, I decided it’s high time for me to step back up and fulfill some more of my own film resolutions. If you’ve missed this series so far, definitely peruse the Resolutions 2014 Archives because there have been some truly excellent write-ups. And now I come to this resolution—quite possibly the most critically acclaimed of the three films I’ve reviewed and, according to Rotten Tomatoes, “a must-see film for movie lovers.” I would consider myself a movie lover, but you know what? I did not love this film. Please resist the urge to unfollow me while I give you my take on Taxi Driver.

Taxi Driver (1976)

Synopsis: “A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.” –www.imdb.com

taxi driver

What I liked:

  • Robert De Niro. There is no denying his talent in this film. As messed up Vietnam vet Travis, De Niro portrays a very real, believable character. His awkwardness, his earnestness, his disgust—De Niro expresses all these things expertly. Frankly, I’m a little surprised that he didn’t win an Oscar for this performance.
  • The behind-the-scenes look at taxi drivers. It’s not a viewpoint you get very often. I liked this especially in the beginning when one worker is announcing addresses into a microphone and cabs are coming and going. I’m sure this system has changed, but it’s interesting to see.
  • The diary/letter format. It’s a great way to get in Travis’s head. He’s a character that tends to ramble and repeat things out loud, but the diary format helps him get right to the point. Several excellent monologues from De Niro.
  • Travis’s relationship with Iris. Travis has trouble getting along with most people, but he latches on to Iris (Jodie Foster), a young prostitute. He shows a nicer side of himself when he tries to help Iris escape her profession, not because he has a romantic interest in her, but simply because thinks she’s too young and he worries about her. It’s a bright moment for an otherwise dark anti-hero.
  • Travis’s mirror monologue, which includes the famous “You talkin’ to me?” Yes. So much yes.

taxi driver 2

What I didn’t like:

  • There is no one to root for in this film. Travis is the only character we really get to know, and he’s such an unsavory person most of the time that he’s barely even an anti-hero. His only redeemable quality is his attachment to Iris. I see that the film is trying to make a point about Vietnam and the state of the U.S. in the ’70s and yadda yadda, but that doesn’t make me sympathize with Travis, let alone root for him.
  • To me, this film drags. I realize it’s 35+ years old, so naturally the pacing is going to be slower—I’m used to that with older films—but this one went such long periods without anything very interesting happening that I often got bored.
  • So he doesn’t shoot the presidential candidate and instead settles for…a pimp? Really?
  • The ending. It’s confusing. How does Travis survive? How is he not in jail? Why does he suddenly seem somewhat normal? Is this real or some kind of crazy dream ending? Martin Scorsese, why must you mess with me like this?!
  • That saxophone music. MY GOD MAKE IT STOP.

A Worthy Resolution? Meh. I’m sorry, Scorsese lovers, but I could’ve skipped this one and been perfectly happy. This film made me uncomfortable, frustrated, confused, and, unfortunately, a little bored. De Niro is phenomenal, so if nothing else I’m glad I watched it for him, but the film is so damn grim and heavy that I couldn’t enjoy it. Perhaps it’s silly of me to even try to apply the word “enjoy” to a movie like Taxi Driver, but hey, isn’t that why we watch movies? To get caught up in a story and enjoy ourselves? Maybe I’m just not classy enough for Scorsese. Sorry, guys. Please don’t hate me. :/

My Grade: B

So for better or worse, there you go. I’m more optimistic about some of the other films I plan to do, so here’s hoping things go up from here. I’ve had a few people say they’re sending reviews my way, so more guest resolutions to look forward to next week! Also, I went to the movie theater last night, and I intend to bring you a review of that film ASAP, so be on the lookout. Hope your weekend is excellent!

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46 thoughts on “Resolutions 2014: Taxi Driver

  1. I have never actually liked Scorsese. He is a very hit and miss director for me and I don’t hold him in as high a regard as everyone else does. That being said, Taxi Driver is my favorite of his film’s, mainly because it is one of De Niro’s finest roles.

    • De Niro is fantastic in it, but it still wasn’t enough to completely redeem the film for me…Glad to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t love Scorsese though! Lol.

      • Just watched it. Finished it tonight.

        I didn’t. Like it more than you did. Though I too understand how well made it is. I feel about this one much the way I feel about A Clockwork Orange. It might be a brilliant movie, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

  2. I completely disagree but there’s no way I’m unfollowing you. You really have one of my favourite blogs. Nice try though ha. We all have films we don’t like that everyone else seems to and it’s always good to hear your opinion on a film.

  3. Great review Cara,

    I saw this once, years ago and wasn’t too thrilled with it. Maybe I should see it again one of these days.

    I’m far from being a Scorsese fan, but I think there are more of his films that just don’t speak to me than the ones that do

  4. Couple things:

    1) This is my favourite film of all time, or at least one of them. Of course I must unfollow your blog for this disrespect! (Kidding)

    2) I didn’t really love it the first time I saw it, although some elements did really resonate. For example, I dislike Hermann’s score on first viewing and now can’t imagine the film working without it. So maybe, like me, you’ll come to appreciate it much more the second time you watch it. It’s also a very deep film – just check out this SparkNotes of its themes/characters to get a sense of how much is going on under the surface (http://www.sparknotes.com/film/taxidriver/)

    • Haha thanks for sticking with me, Dave! I might give it another chance someday. I’ll just need a loooong break. Lol. I had no idea there were SparkNotes for films! I must explore now!

  5. I miss this version of Deniro. He appeared briefly in this years American Hustle bringing back memories of his golden days, but his roles in other movies are mostly lame.

    Taxi Driver is something I am quite sure I watched when I was younger, but cannot remember it at all. 35 years old now? That is quite crazy.

    • Yeah it’s a shame that De Niro doesn’t take on very great roles anymore. He was only in American Hustle for like 5 minutes! Although I did like him in Silver Linings Playbook. And yep–38 years, to be exact! Hard to believe that De Niro is 70…

      • That 5 minutes was enough to make a big impact though. If his character had a spin-off, I would buy a movie ticket. Hmm, have not seen Playbook, but for a 70 year old, the man is still busy appearing in a new film every couple of months!

  6. Scorsese was trying to get you to root for the bad guy. The thing is, De Niro’s bad guy was not as likable as say, Mel Gibson’ bad guy in Payback (1999). You make very valid points that the movie was slow but that is understandable because of the time it was made. De Niro is a decent guy who just gets fed up and cracks. But he still has a heart. I think that is why he doesn’t kill the presidential candidate, but instead the pimp. I think the film was just a direct shot at the effects of Vietnam. It tried too hard to make a point. I love Scorsese and De Niro. The movie is worth watching, but it is hard to enjoy and I think that is exactly what Scorsese meant for it to be. It’s a unique classic, but I’m surprised you gave it a B after reading your review. Nice review, by the way : )

    • Thank you, sir! Sounds like you and I see the film in a similar way, although you probably have a more thorough understanding of it. All due respect to it, but I’m completely fine with not seeing Taxi Driver again…at least for quite a while. Maybe I’ll come back to it in a few years and see if I think differently.

  7. What a pity Taxi Driver didn’t win you over. Maybe give it another chance somewhere down the line. For me, it’s almost perfect…a supreme depiction of a character out of kilter with society. It’s gripping thanks largely to De Niro’s performance. Ultimately, Travis Bickle becomes an anti-hero that in some ways you find yourself rooting for.

  8. I haven’t seen this one but I’d be interested to see DeNiro’s earlier work. Ohh, a slower paced older movies with saxophone music … since it’s a classic, I’d still consider watching it to check it off my list. 🙂

  9. Sorry I missed this the other day Caramerica : ( I had a busy weekend…

    I don’t like this movie very much either. It’s really NOISY and LOUD and that makes me uncomfortable so I’ve never been able to enjoy it.

    Happy Monday!!!

  10. Awwwwww, so much hating on the Scorsese 😛 Just kidding. AWESOME review, though I am a big Scorsese fan. All I want to do is watch this again now!

  11. What?! How DARE you!!!! Lol! I’m totally kidding because, despite my top ten Scorsese films list, I’m not a huge Scorsese fan. Plus I shouldn’t have put this in my ten as I barely even remember it and I’ve not seen it all at once from start to finish. ; ) Nice review!

  12. I think it can be a tough watch. I remember not liking it much the first time. Watched it again, and it all just clicked. It’s amazing. I’d recommend you watch it again in a few years or something, and see what you think.

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