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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 10.45%
Just Average: 3.18%
Pretty Crappy: 1.82%
Sucks: 2.73%

8 reviews, 172 user ratings

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Taxi Driver
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by Rob Gonsalves

5 stars

"Taxi Driver" is the classic cinematic thunderstorm — Paul Schrader’s cool, sexually repressed formalism drifting into the humidity of Martin Scorsese’s lurid, urban expressionism.

The result is a masterpiece unlike anything either man could accomplish on his own, and though they went on to collaborate a few more times, this first team-up gains from their relative youth and psychological instability. Schrader’s near-plotless script, and Scorsese’s hypnotized and hypnotizing tendency towards art-house flourishes like zooming into a bubbling glass of Alka-Seltzer, make this an almost entirely hermetic and interiorized experience, even though the sleaze and noise of pre-Giuliani New York City forever encroach on the portrait of the slowly dissolving Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro). Every once in a while, we leave Travis’ viewpoint and spend time with co-workers at a political campaign, or with a pimp slow-dancing with his underage whore, and it’s like stepping into an air-conditioned office out of a sweltering July afternoon. The pimp (Harvey Keitel) and his whore (Jodie Foster) have a deeply diseased relationship, yet on the surface they carry more tenderness and humanity in their quiet scene together than anything Travis seems capable of. This is probably more a commentary on the degrading quality of the city than it is a romanticization of the pimp/whore dynamic: this is the closest thing to love we see in this universe.

Travis, of course, is both a dramatization of and a prediction of the curiously modern phenomenon of the psycho who yearns to smash through layers of dehumanizing anonymity. He’s not a serial killer — violence isn’t how he gets off, it’s a means to an end. After Travis shoots a burglar, his reaction isn’t triumph, it’s panic — “I don’t have a permit for this gun, I don’t know what to do.” What it does for him is to show him he can indeed kill someone close-up. (He was apparently wounded in Vietnam, but we have no idea if he ever killed anyone there; many, perhaps most, soldiers in war never get any kills that they can confirm with their own two eyes.) His plan, I think, is to blast his way to the center of the city’s — the world’s — consciousness by assassinating the unctuous Senator Charles Palantine; when that fails, he turns his focus to rescuing Iris, the whore, having blown his chance to be with Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), the madonna. This is why I referred to Iris by the offensive title “whore” — Taxi Driver swims around in the toxic madonna/whore dichotomy. Schrader and Scorsese implicate themselves in this sickness, to the point where Scorsese puts in a perhaps too-gleeful cameo as a cuckold who delights in fantasizing about killing his wife. About the man his wife is sleeping with, all we learn is that he’s “a nigger.” That’s just insult to injury to a twisted Italian guy, who never talks about avenging his honor on the man, only on his wife.

Taxi Driver could easily be adapted as a stage play — much of it is two people talking in diners or on sidewalks. Its cinematic force comes from the abstracted inferno of the city and from certain tricks Scorsese plays, such as when Travis is delivering his “Here is a man who would not take it any more” monologue, and he stops and starts over again and the film does, too. The filmmaking, though fevered and impassioned, is also fluid and sometimes eerily becalmed. Bernard Herrman’s dissociative score (his last) alternates between mellow saxophone and shrill brass, and though Pauline Kael’s review singled out the music as one of the film’s few flaws, I don’t know what the movie would be like without it — it puts us in Travis’ embattled psyche as firmly as anything Scorsese does. The mellow sax, interestingly, moves from being non-diegetic to diegetic, emanating from the pimp’s turntable. So the music Travis has evidently been hearing in his head turns out to be the pimp’s theme song.

Multiple viewings give us an appreciation for rhyming scenes, such as Sport the pimp pulling Iris out of the cab, echoed later by Travis trying to grab onto Betsy as she disgustedly makes her way to a cab after he has taken her to a porn flick. (Later still, Travis is the one who gets pulled away, hilariously, by a terrified Albert Brooks. I’ve always seen Brooks and Shepherd as a weird oasis of West Coast sensibility in this definitive New York film.) Travis just barely functions, and isn’t nearly a natural-born killer — he has to rehearse again and again, including the famous, over-parodied “You talkin’ to me?” sequence, wherein he’s basically fantasizing himself responding to someone who said something to him. The one-sidedness of this “conversation” is an actor’s moment, maybe arising from improv, but also rooted in Travis’ reality as someone who increasingly can’t communicate with anyone unless hostility is involved. He’s always playing roles, though — putting on a Secret Service man as “Henry Krinkle”; putting on what’s probably his best crappy red sports coat to woo Betsy. In his dealings with Sport the pimp, Travis goes from being a “cowboy” to being a mohawked “Indian” (“Go back to your fuckin’ tribe,” Sport tells him).

De Niro’s Travis is frighteningly opaque; what makes it from his brain to his mouth is mostly verbal garbage, and De Niro doesn’t play Travis with any extra awareness of how blinkered Travis is. We don’t feel at any point, “Ah yes, De Niro the actor is obviously more healthy and intelligent than this.” He taps into something dark and cold. He also has a vicious, unfeeling smile he uses a few times that’s scarier than anything he does in more overtly violent roles (like, say, Cape Fear). It’s the kind of performance that makes one wonder how much of a number it did on De Niro’s head at the time, something like how some critics worried about how the Joker messed with Heath Ledger’s mind. Unlike Ledger’s externalized work, though, De Niro’s Travis is all implosive, tamped down, rotting away from within, inexorably leading to a fireworks display of homemade dum-dum bullets and arterial gush.

And what of the ending? Is it a dream? Travis’ dying fantasy? No and no. This interpretation robs the movie of its satirical sting — that Travis occupies a universe substantially more insane than he could ever be (as Kael put it, “It’s not that he’s cured but that the city is crazier than he is”), and that for his pains, and due to momentary ineptitude at bagging his first target, he becomes not an infamous assassin but a folk hero. He shifts his madness from the rich white man to the urban underclass, and is lionized for it. He is noticed; his anonymity is blown away, and Betsy even regards him with appraising interest. He’s sweated out his fever, but what happens a year or so down the line? The point is that Travis and others like him are still out there, waiting to explode, to carve themselves upon the general consciousness.

"Taxi Driver" will probably be publicly chained to John Hinckley for the rest of time, but it’s really jacked into every nut who goes off, every shooting spree — not that it influences these psychos but that it understands them.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=517&reviewer=416
originally posted: 11/04/14 13:47:19
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User Comments

11/26/17 Anne 1/2 hour viewed the 1st time gave it score 1. 2nd viewing, was more patient. Good film. 4 stars
9/09/17 morris campbell not bad but who cares its awful corny 2 stars
4/24/16 Ken Whoever thinks this movie is bad, has no good taste in movies. 5 stars
3/01/16 Corbin Boyle Gotta love the mohawk 4 stars
4/24/15 stanley welles a brilliant and compelling study of alienation, obsession and paranoia 5 stars
7/02/14 I am You 2 stars
3/23/14 Justin R. Exquisite. Go see it! 5 stars
2/26/13 David Hollingsworth Urban masterpiece of social malaise that is one of the greatest. 5 stars
8/20/12 edutra so overrated, so boring, and nothing takes place 1 stars
5/23/11 action movie fan thouroughly engrossing with realistic characthers and diolough very memorable 5 stars
6/08/10 Flathead King This film deserves its impressive reputation. 5 stars
5/31/10 User Name Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsecce in a tour-de-force look at the grittier side of NY. 5 stars
10/24/09 Omar De Niro's best performance, along with "Raging Bull". 5 stars
9/29/09 harry lime this guy is crazier that ethan edwards 5 stars
5/31/09 Jeff Wilder One of Scorsese's numerous masterpieces. 5 stars
3/28/08 Renzo Classic 5 stars
8/12/07 Quigley Exceeded my expectations. Scorsese and De Niro are superb. An excellent film on every level 5 stars
4/10/07 josh Fantastic movie, i feel that travis died at the end, who else feels this? 5 stars
4/07/07 Chris Redmond Phenomenal. I feel sorry for the contemporary film-goer who needs instant, cheap thrills. 5 stars
4/03/07 David Pollastrini deNiro is very creepy in this 3 stars
12/21/06 Eric Phelps "You talkin' to me?" A kick ass movie. 5 stars
11/19/06 R.W.Welch Among the best directed movies. Oozes atmosphere. 5 stars
9/28/06 Josh Racine One of my top 5 of all-time. 5 stars
7/30/06 Lawry.Sabadi Lawry Kix Ass 1 stars
7/25/06 Sepi53 Great acting by Mr. De Niro 5 stars
4/29/06 Joshua Whoever hates this is a faggot. This movie kicks ass. 5 stars
4/10/06 Bean Maybe groundbreaking back when. Boring today. 1 stars
3/30/06 kerry Another highly overrated film.Pretentious and self-indulgent.Taxi Driver sucks 1 stars
12/20/05 Jeff Anderson Cold & bleak. See Francis Von Zerneck's chilling & brilliant GOD'S LONELY MAN instead!!!!! 2 stars
12/02/05 Gene Carmean One of the best 5 stars
11/17/05 John Dog "Are you talkin' to me?" 5 stars
11/04/05 Tim I honestly thought this was one of the worst films i've even seen. Nothing happens! 1 stars
10/15/05 Moctezuma This features DeNiro's greatest performance 5 stars
10/06/05 Johnny Powerfully intense. 5 stars
9/29/05 Michael Blower This film got me into movies 10/10 5 stars
9/21/05 Fritz Scorsese's best film. Dark, brooding, powerful, and brilliant. 5 stars
6/12/05 Agent Sands Brilliantly dissects with empathy, and gets the audience to side with, a psychotic killer. 5 stars
5/28/05 Jake A dark and powerful film 5 stars
5/07/05 susan varney intense drama loved de niro 5 stars
5/05/05 Regis A must-see. 5 stars
4/20/05 brody snozzer 1 stars
4/11/05 Ann Lemire A classic 4 stars
3/23/05 matja Scorsese stands for provocative only in 3 films -Taxi is one of them. 5 stars
3/14/05 Russ Gladchenko My favorite movie! 5 stars
3/11/05 craig varney riveting de niro 5 stars
3/04/05 kimerie jones I really enjoyed this movie it was funny and different 5 stars
2/25/05 Stephanie classic! must see it 4 stars
2/09/05 Colleen Goldrick The Best!! 5 stars
2/09/05 Kelly Greenwood DeNiro shines in this movie, loved it! 5 stars
2/08/05 Al Guy Damn! Still gripping, even in the 21st Century. 5 stars
2/04/05 bongeezer Back when Love stories had real heart...Sniff,Sniff 4 stars
1/27/05 Monday Morning The feelgood movie of the '70s. The best! 5 stars
12/18/04 Placekicker damn fine creepiness, de niro is never better 5 stars
12/18/04 chris. something missing...can't put my finger on it. but otherwise excellent 4 stars
12/08/04 juupx Greatt 5 stars
10/31/04 Willz Damn it's great! 5 stars
10/28/04 dave are you talking to me, are you talking to me 5 stars
10/23/04 UMER definitely the BEST EVER anti-hero movie 5 stars
10/02/04 Naka A tad bit overrated, but still highly engrossing. 4 stars
9/01/04 A upton Sweet 5 stars
8/30/04 Abbath Very good movie, but I can't help but feel as if it's somewhat incomplete. 4 stars
8/24/04 Sean Scanlan Wonderful line 5 stars
8/02/04 Evan Are you realy talking to me ? 5 stars
6/24/04 Karen Stockdale Looks dated now, but the acting, especially de Niro's, is perfection 5 stars
6/13/04 dfc A Scorsese masterpiece. NYC was really like that in the 1970s. 5 stars
5/25/04 Sergeant Hartman great acting, somewhat boring. 4 stars
4/25/04 The man with the plan The greatest film on earth 5 stars
4/23/04 The Last Temptation Of Travis Bickle Paradoxical final scene will leave you mistified and disturbed, if you notice it! 5 stars
4/17/04 Father Merrin Wow! Blew me away! Superb film. 1 of the best ever! De Niro is mesmerising! 5 stars
4/16/04 Morally Sound Changed the face of cinema forever! 5 stars
4/02/04 gray powerfull 5 stars
4/01/04 Jack Sommersby The screenplay lacks ratiocination, but it's effectively pungent and wonderfully acted. 4 stars
3/31/04 y2mckay De Niro and Scorcese at their most intense. This movie owns. Cybill looks good, too. 5 stars
3/31/04 sansho No denying its cinematic flair and influence, but i dislike the "cathartic" violent ending 3 stars
3/18/04 Umbrella Corporation. Now this should be remade into a BETTER FILM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/15/04 killak shows the good that can come from evil 5 stars
2/19/04 AJ The film that made a difference... 5 stars
1/30/04 Jay best of the best. Marty! 5 stars
1/22/04 Betty White Violent, but well-acted drama; solid Scorsese piece. 4 stars
1/19/04 Film Critic amazing 5 stars
12/07/03 john a bravoura performance - a disturbing yet brutally honest film - a masterpiece! 5 stars
10/19/03 Samuel Justus A great Film! my favorite DeNiro film..ever! 5 stars
8/30/03 DHite I thought the end was pretty unbelievable, but overall pretty good 4 stars
7/21/03 AD suck on this 5 stars
5/21/03 janjic sinisa great movie 5 stars
5/14/03 joshx42 Another Scorsese classic. 5 stars
2/25/03 GMan Coooooool (derek sucks ass) bickle....you talkin' to me? 5 stars
2/11/03 Kyle This is not a classic... 4 stars
2/11/03 Aussie Film Maker Brutal and at times trippy. But intresting to the end. 5 stars
1/31/03 croweater This movie gets you in from word go.. Excellent. 5 stars
1/27/03 The Aussie Film Reviewer Brutal stuff, perfectly realized on film. 5 stars
1/24/03 Jeremy It's worth a look, but not 4 out of 5 stars for me. Decent movie. 3 stars
1/05/03 WestcoastPunk DeNiros greatest movie 5 stars
11/24/02 Margaret If you understand the subtext then the film will make more sense and come off as well done. 4 stars
11/21/02 Drop Great message about Vietnam 5 stars
11/20/02 Mason Scorcese=genius 5 stars
11/14/02 COCK one of de niro's best flims 5 stars
10/19/02 cara salmeri the one instance in a movie where society viewed the two wrongs to make a right. 4 stars
10/09/02 LIAM JACKSON Violent. Disturbing.Thought-Provoking.This movie is fucking brilliant.De Niro Rules!!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/15/02 The Conscience Objector A Great Classic American Film, That Will Never Be Forgotten 5 stars
5/24/02 Charles Tatum Too trite, until finale 3 stars
5/18/02 Edwin Menguin Cum on the backseat, only in America! 5 stars
5/15/02 Danielle Ophelia Deeply textured...dark, yet luminous. 5 stars
4/18/02 Mr. T Classic, Full of Richness and Warmth 5 stars
2/21/02 Sarah Perbes I luf lesbo films, it makes me so very horny 5 stars
2/07/02 christine conzo the best movie of the 70's 5 stars
1/31/02 Alex Moir Hey Erik, maybe we should hook up sometime! You can do me like your dog anytime! 5 stars
1/31/02 Erik Martinez Deniro is 1 fine piece of ass here, I wana bend him over and do him like i do my dog 5 stars
1/22/02 Justin C Favorite movie of all time, got me into 70's cinema, bobby deniro, an other chain reactions 5 stars
12/02/01 xler8lee@hotmail.com Portrayal of NY / city life & mentality such an environment can produce brilliantly. 5 stars
12/02/01 travis r. sorensen the best film of the 70's and no i'm not forgetting the godfather 5 stars
11/23/01 Andrew Carden Wondefully Done, Great Plot, and Excellent Performances. 5 stars
11/14/01 Zizzerzazzerzuzz This movie will mess with your mind, assuming you have one. 5 stars
10/21/01 Jodie is one hot lesbo! Did Jodie Foster crave pussy when she made this? Or did this pre-date that? 5 stars
9/23/01 Larry Smith "You talking to me? You talking to me?" 5 stars
7/02/01 King of Bros It's alright, but not worth the kleenex that film students use. 3 stars
7/02/01 Boomshanka to the guy below this, you were watching a 70's indie flick, you tool. 5 stars
7/02/01 Obi Wan Huh??? I felt like I was watching a indie 70s flick. Sorry but not my cup-a-tea. 3 stars
6/23/01 erik the movieman A great movie - but not my favorite Scorsese 4 stars
6/14/01 zombie awesome! i hate the score though 5 stars
6/09/01 Rick One of the best movies ever 5 stars
5/27/01 Edward Shandis Broke ground, but it's not a masterpiece 4 stars
5/21/01 Monster W. Kung Scorsese's best, it's a disturbing masterpiece about society, loneliness, and alienation. 5 stars
4/01/01 Jesse L Overrated ... not exactly a classic... broke some ground though 4 stars
3/20/01 bterry Bizarre, but good. 4 stars
3/01/01 Klute Masterpiece. All sorts of excellent. 5 stars
2/17/01 Jake Way overrated just like Scorcese. Watchable but not great. 3 stars
2/05/01 Classicdog A True American Masterpiece!!! Scorsese is god. 5 stars
1/31/01 jordan genius 5 stars
1/12/01 Skip Scorsese, De Niro, Schrader, Keitel, & Foster all deserved Oscars for this one. Masterpiece 5 stars
12/17/00 Doug Dogg Scorsese is a fuckin' genius, he pulls of some sickeningly wicked shots off, hooray! 5 stars
12/03/00 vitamin_D visual jazz - the score and rhythms of dialogue are enough to make me swoon 5 stars
11/09/00 bruno deniro is great (you looking at me) 5 stars
11/02/00 Cristopher Revilla shocking ending, masterful!!!! 5 stars
9/19/00 Jeff Scorsese's best film, De Niro's best performance. 5 stars
7/30/00 bob knob slob some fuckin good shit 5 stars
7/20/00 Joel Craig Never before has a movie been so edgy and disturbing. 5 stars
5/29/00 Zatoichi Jones Scorcese is a god. DeNiro is a god. This is filmmaking at it's best. 5 stars
4/14/00 Gremlin Oh yeah!...kick ass movie. 5 stars
3/22/00 Booyah! Just incredible. A landmark. 5 stars
3/01/00 Mic A look at the underworld of America. Excellent bar the ending. 4 stars
2/11/00 Skye Chapman the stuff of legends 5 stars
11/26/99 Matt Henderson Superb exploration of post-Vietnam American ideology, media, violence. Scorsese rules! 5 stars
11/16/99 perpetual loser harvey keitel as a pimp. gotta love this flick. 5 stars
10/21/99 Surinder Travis Bickle Singh Bob at his best, a masterpiece and the best film of the 70's! 5 stars
9/07/99 Elijah Very well worth the look. 4 stars
8/10/99 Ted Wetzel A fascinating look into the mind of a lonely and slightly disturbed (but sympathetic) man. 5 stars
7/28/99 Matthew Bartley Sometimes they are as good as they say 5 stars
7/19/99 Wade Walsh It draws you in because you are not Travis Bickle, but can relate to his madness. 5 stars
7/16/99 soccer_mum Are you looking at me?!?!? Classic DeNiro....See it...more than once! 5 stars
7/14/99 Marshy Taxi! Arrrrggghhh! (dies). Seriously, this is classic and shouldn't be missed. 5 stars
7/06/99 The Bomb 69 the first half was slow but with an ending like that it was worth it 5 stars
7/03/99 J-Dogg Great portrait of an insane lunatic. I especially like Scorsese's cameo. 4 stars
6/17/99 Vick Di Brecci Hey look! Another Fucking Awesome! 5 stars
4/18/99 jimmy jam A young Jodi - pretty skanky. Good film though 5 stars
3/05/99 Meepos A repeat viewer for time eternal. Will always be on another level. 5 stars
2/08/99 Bob, Lord of Evil This is DeNiro's movie. Well, this and Raging Bull... Oh and Awakenings!!! 5 stars
11/27/98 Mr.Pink One of Scorsesse's best films!! 5 stars
11/25/98 Fred Everything about this movie rocks!! I can watch it anytime, anywhere!! 5 stars
11/20/98 little jerry Greatest example of interior acting I've ever seen.De Niro's best. 5 stars
10/27/98 Silent Rob A brutally insightful film, expertly crafted and unflinchingly excellent! 5 stars
10/19/98 Kwyjibo Scorcese and Schrader were a great team. A seriously brutal awesome movie. 5 stars
9/15/98 Ben A classic movie which these days are few and far between 5 stars
9/04/98 pooky the bald The ending made me nauseous. But the film was great. DeNiro rocks. 4 stars
9/03/98 Badass Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/29/98 Mister Whoopee Not a hole to poke in this classic. It's up and down fucking awesome. 5 stars
8/29/98 Johny DeNiro's preformance is not to be forgotten 5 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball Just classic. The quintessential film for angry young men. 5 stars
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  08-Feb-1976 (R)
  DVD: 15-Jun-1999

  N/A (18)

  10-Jun-1976 (R)

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